The creators and stars of USA’s new drama Falling Water sat on a panel for the Television Critics Association yesterday. The TCA is over 200 TV critics from across the U.S. and Canada who meet twice a year to interview the casts and executives behind new and returning television shows. Gale Anne Hurd and Blake Masters produce the series from a pilot Masters wrote with his late partner Henry Bromell.
Lizzie Brochere, David Ajala, and Will Yun Lee play three people with complicated relationships to their dreams. Tess (Brochere) not only has the power to enter other people’s dreams, but she dreams vividly of giving birth to a son who does not exist in her waking life. Burton (Ajala) is still dreaming of a lost lover and he thinks the dreams may be clues to finding her. Taka (Lee) finds his dreams giving him clues for his police work.
The group behind Falling Water gave us 11 reasons to get excited to watch the show when it premieres on October 13 on USA Network.
1. These Dreams Are Real
You might think it takes a lot of special effects to bring dreams to life. As Blake Masters says, you would be wrong. “Everything is a set, actually,” Masters said. “We do use some CGI, but actually, going back to cinematic history, we found ways to do things in-camera because it always looks better, and our goal is to actually use as little CGI as possible.”
Helping Masters find real ways to portray dreams was the director of the pilot, for whom Hurd spoke. “It's really also a credit to our pilot director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who you may know from 28 Weeks Later and Intacto,” Hurd said. “Along with Blake, [they] created a very cinematic look for the show.”
2. It Will Teach You How To Dream Better
Maybe we won’t all have Tess’s power to enter other people’s dreams, but we can still learn to use our dreams more productively. Brochere has applied these lessons to her real dreams.
“I remember my dreams all the time, especially since we started this show for sure,” Brochere said. “I've been giving it a lot more attention. Apparently if you do little offerings to your dreams, like if you take them seriously, if you dream of somebody and call them the next day, for example, your dreams will give you more information. So they've been growing more and more, and I have been remembering more and more for sure.”
3. It’s Easy To Get In, But Hard to Forget
Falling Water tackles some big ideas. It might seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry. They explain it all up front. There’s only one dream and every dream you have is connected to the big dream, but only some people can cross from their dream to other dreams. Boom, you’re in.
“We wanted the core mythology to be very, very simple yet flexible,” Masters said. “Something that we could spell out to the audience by the first season and still have a terrain on which to play drama. Then you can actually do what television is great at, as opposed to cinema... you are planting a tree, and you've got to see where it grows. If you have a flexible and simple mythology, you have the flexibility to take the story where it naturally wants to go, where the characters want to go, because, really, in the end, in television, characters drive everything, and that's where the great writing is.”
4. Will Yun Lee Gets To Act, Not Fight
Lee has been a James Bond villain, a comic book villain, and in many roles that featured him performing martial arts. While those are great skills, he’s happy that Falling Water focuses on his acting.
“I'm appreciative of so many things about this show, but part of it is that, when I talked to Blake initially, he was like, ‘You're not going to kick. You're not going to fight.’" Lee said “Along my career, I think I've done every single Chinatown episode of every single show that exists. For him to not have me try to take down James Bond -- or do a roundhouse kick for some strange cinematic reason -- is the biggest blessing to me. I'm just so thankful.”
5. Everyone’s Dream is Connected, Even Yours
This isn’t just about the dreams on the show. If every dream in the world is connected, then you can imagine where your dreams fit in with Falling Water too. At least it will make you think about how your dreams prepare you for your real life.
“What happens in your dreams isn't a Greek chorus to your life,” Masters said. “It is the other half of your life. So if you have a fight with your girlfriend in your dream, you wake up, you've had the fight. If you have a bad dream, it can make you wake up in a bad mood. So if you can go into other people's dreams, and you can manipulate those dreams, you can affect their behavior in the waking world.”
6. It’s Going To Answer All Our Questions
We’ve all been burned before with shows that promised us answers and then we get to the end and go, “Huh?” So Falling Water won’t wait. They’re going to deliver answers in the first season, answers that will make us want to keep watching.
“I think that there are answers to the set-up of who is that boy that Tess dreams of, what was Jones doing, all those things,” Masters said. “By the end of the first season, we're going to give you all those answers. We are not a show that's going to hold back our answers, because we think these three fabulous people are interesting enough to keep you watching. There's always more road for them to travel. I'm not interested in keeping secrets from the audience. In terms of pacing, I think, by the end of the first season, for all the questions you have, you will have all the answers.”
7. It’s More Intense Than The Fast and the Furious and The Dark Knight
Ajala was inThe Dark Knight and Fast and the Furious 6 -- two very exciting films. Yet Falling Water has challenged him in ways that no other role before has.
“One thing that Blake was interested in doing is taking Burton on a real journey on many, many levels,” Ajala said. “We recently shot some stuff, and every time we were getting close to the episodes, Blake would always mention that he wanted to break Burton down. There's always a gleam in his eyes, and I wonder how much he likes me. The stuff that we shot recently, which I had to do, was some of the most physically demanding, spiritually challenging stuff I've ever done in a very long while, but it was awesome. I came out on top, so I'm very grateful for that.”
8. These Three Aren’t The Only Ones
We can’t wait to meet Tess, Burton and Taka, but what’s even more exciting is that Falling Water could be bigger than the three of them. Whether we meet more dreamers, or just know that this trio follows in the footsteps of those who came before them, it makes Falling Water a dense, thriving world.
“I think what I would say is that these are not the first three people to stumble across this knowledge,” Masters said. “Therefore, it would be tightly guarded knowledge. People would be trying to use that knowledge to manipulate the stock market, to control the things that people always want to control: power, sex, money, all of the really human desires we all have.”
9. Will Yun Lee Transformed For The Role
Actors always get a lot of attention when they lose a lot of weight, like Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers’ Club, or gain a lot like Charlize Theron in Monster. Will Yun Lee went big.
“One of the things Blake wanted me to do early, which is hard to let go as vain as actors are, is he called me and said, ‘Look, if you want to do this, you have to eat pizza. You have to eat until you can't eat any more and you just cannot go to the gym.’” Lee shared. “That's like kryptonite for me. [I gained] 22 pounds for the pilot and I was trying to figure out why he wanted me to do that. Part of it was just breaking me down and having this character that basically falls into his dreams because he's so broken, and that's his escape. What happens on this other side of this kind of falling water, this waterfall, is the dream side, and he slowly starts getting things that help him become a good detective. He's known as "The Hunch." But, as he falls further and further into the dream, he starts getting clues that start linking all three of our characters together in finding this is cult-obsessed dream group.”
10. Falling Water Is Never Going To Trick Us
Dreams can be a real cheat in movies and television. If the ending of any story is “it was all a dream,” then what was the point of watching it? (Unless it brings back Patrick Duffy on Dallas -- then it’s a good dream.) Falling Water will always be clear about what is a dream -- and what is not.
“Our goal was never to trick the audience,” Masters said. “There's this cliché you’ve seen where the doctor walks into the hospital today and somebody pulls out a gun and shoots him three times in the chest. Then they wake up and it's a dream. We're never going to play that game. Our goal is never to trick the audience. There are moments when we want the lines between the waking world and dream world to blur, but we are very, very clear 'This is a dream; this is reality.'”
11. We Get To See Diversity Represented On This Show
The stars of Falling Water are a woman, an African-American man, and an Asian man. Let’s take a moment to celebrate that!
“It was never the focal point of any of our characters that had to be a women, be black, be Asian,” Lee said. “I think it's partly the writers that bring it out into the universe that we need to see our world reflect the way it is.”
Falling Water premieres this October! See the trailer here.