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By Krista

Clive Standen and Jennifer Beals 

Interview with Clive Standen and Jennifer Beals of "Taken" on NBC 2/23/17

Moderator: Sharon Pannozzo
February 23, 2017 12:00 pm CT

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Taken Series Premiere Press and Media Call.

As a reminder this call is being recorded Thursday, February 23, 2017. Iíd now like to turn the call over to Ms. Sharon Pannozzo, NBC Publicity. Please go ahead.

Sharron Pannozzo: Thank you Shauna. Iíd like to thank everybody for joining us today for our press call for our mid-season blockbuster Taken, which premieres on Monday evening at 10:00 Eastern.

On the call today we will have our showrunner, Alex Cary, along with two stars of our show, Clive Standen who plays Bryan Mills, and Jennifer Beals who plays the Head of the ODNI, Christina Hart.

So at this time Iíd like to turn it back to Shauna and open it up to questions. Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Our first question comes from Rebecca Murray with ShowbizJunkies. Please go ahead.

Rebecca Murray: Good afternoon and thank you guys so much for doing the call today.

Clive Standen: Thanks a lot.

Rebecca Murray: My question is for Clive. I was wondering, after doing a show like Vikings where itís so action heavy, why were you ready to take on another show thatís going to put you through so much physical punishment.

Clive Standen: Well, Iím a glutton for punishment. Vikings was my stomping ground for learning how to do all that kind of action and Iím refining it. What Iím really interested in is trying to put the camera on the actor and the action. And thatís what Vikings taught me.

And I thought I could give something to Taken and push the envelope of this kind of genre by trying to kind of get to do those stunts and to get that action and get my hands dirty.

But not because I have a death wish. If you can put the camera on the actor, you suddenly see the whites of their eyes and it becomes a story moment. You see the anger or the aggression or, you know, the frustration of not being able to get the job done.

You certainly start telling the story more, rather than it just being the back of a stunt guyís head, and we all turn off. And Vikings taught me that.

And Iíve tried to work with Alex and go through Taken that way where, just like the film with Liam Neeson, itís relentless. You see that guy and when he gets punched in the face heís bruised. When he gets shot heís bleeding. And you know heís limping to the finish line but, weíre with him all the way.

And itís because itís not just action, itís character moments. Itís story. And youíre in there with him in the thick of it.

Rebecca Murray: Great, thank you so much and thanks again for doing the call.

Clive Standen: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Stephanie Piche with Mingle Media TV. Please go ahead.

Stephanie Piche: Thank you. Hi everyone.

Alex Cary: Hi.

Stephanie Piche: My question for Jennifer and Clive is, what was it about this role that you related to the most?

Clive Standen: Jen, do you want to go first?

Jennifer Beals: Yes, I donít know if I relate to her, but I think the thing that got me really excited was this balancing act of discipline and the need to protect, and what price that paid in terms of self-denial. And I thought that was interesting to explore.

Clive Standen: With me I liked the idea of, I always get drawn to putting the mirror up to nature; to humanity. And I think with Alexís writing, heís written an action show which is based in reality and dealing with human beings.

Iíve got no interest in playing people that run up walls and do double back kicks; spins and back flips and things. It has to be in a real world scenario. And thatís where Taken is written.

Even the role of Bryan Mills, heís just a father. And Iím a father of three. And I donít think you have to be a father to relate to Bryan Mills. You know you will do anything you can to get your kids back, in that situation.

And I think itís very easy to kind of, to see him as every man and be in there with him for that journey.

And thatís what I was looking for in a character. And I think I aspire to be more like Bryan Mills in life. Heís a very kind, considerate, and modest man. But when the shit hits the fan so to speak, he does what it takes and heís relentless with it.

Stephanie Piche: Great. And a follow-up question for Alex, what inspired you to take this on?

Alex Cary: Well you know I was interested in really just humanizing the character, Bryan Mills. And you know being able to spend more time with a character, you know kind of where he ends up if youíve watched the films.

Stephanie Piche: Yes, I have.

Alex Cary: And itís not essential to watch the films. You know where he ends up. But I think itís just interesting to start him as a younger man and see who the defining characters are in his life and what are the defining moments up until that point.

And so it was really just about building the character of that man. Because you know in the film there was not a lot of runway, you know, before the action. It got straight into it almost immediately. So that was really what interested me.

Stephanie Piche: Iím excited.

Alex Cary: Good.

Stephanie Piche: It looks great. So the best to you on this.

Jennifer Beals: Thank you.

Clive Standen: Alex writes real people. Thatís whatís exciting about this genre is, usually these characters always look pretty all the time.

And they seem to kind of not have any problem with jumping through winds and chasing bad guys down streets. And they seem to - it doesnít seem to cost them anything. Where in reality we all know that when you get hit, it hurts. And when you get hit by cars it hurts something.

And the humanity of someone. Thereís always a sacrifice. A flip side of the coin of a character like Bryan or Christina or any of the main characters within the team of our show. They all have something to sacrifice.

And seemingly on the surface they may seem heroic, but thereís always a counterbalance. And Alex is so good at finding that in a story and in a character.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line Jay Jacobs with

Jay Jacobs: Hi, nice to talk to you all. Now obviously the series is not beholding to the movie. It takes place in the modern day and everything.

But do you keep the films in mind when youíre planning the future of the character and stuff like that? And does it affect how you write and play things?

Alex Cary: Well yes. I mean you do keep the films in mind. You know a television show in success is a five, you know, five, six or seven year endeavor.

So with the actual sort of connective tissue to the films, the direct connective tissue to the films I think, Iím sort of trying to look sort of deeper into the question a little bit, that connective tissue probably comes later.

The specific connective tissue, you know if youíre talking about real characters and his daughter and all the rest of it, thatís something that must come later.

I think what weíre trying to do now is establish the sort of foundations of who he became and why he became that.

Jay Jacobs: Now Jennifer your character, I found it interesting because sheís obviously very smart and very knowledgeable and into her job. But she has had to do some seriously sort of cold things - hardened things in the first few episodes, just to make sure that justice is served. Is finding that dichotomy difficult for you to do as an actress?

Jennifer Beals: Oh my god, after the pilot I went home and I thought I had an ulcer. Itís kind of interesting how you can take it in physically, you know.

And yes, there are times that it was, you know, a challenge to try to find that balance. And you have to understand that youíre dealing with things that are of the utmost importance to national security. And you have to do what needs to get done to keep everyone safe. And thatís not an easy decision.

Jay Jacobs: Yes. Okay, thank you.

Alex Cary: Thank you.

Jennifer Beals: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Katrina Bartocillo with NBC Digital. Please go ahead.

Katrina Bartocillo: Hi, I have a question for Alex.

Alex Cary: Hi.

Katrina Bartocillo: Hi there. How are you today?

Alex Cary: Iím good, thank you. How are you?

Katrina Bartocillo: Good. So I was wondering, what was it like taking a very popular character from a film and transforming it so that it fit into a television platform?

Alex Cary: Well you know thatís a challenge to do from a popular film. I think there are a few elements to it. First of all itís just how you conceive the character.

And you know what weíre not doing is weíre not taking that character from that film an just sort of doing a copy - a sort of carbon copy. In many ways this is everything you didnít know - you know this is a character you didnít know before. This is the back story to the film.

So in many ways the challenge is in creating that and hoping that you will be able to link the two in the end without, you know, imitating the film. Thatís the first part of it.

The second thing is in the casting of it. And I think that for me I was much more interested in casting, you know, a real man rather than any kind of facsimile of what was - of the sort of fiction that was created in the movies.

So it was more important for me to cast the real man who I believed in who had the sort of real behavior and a real psychology to him. In his performance and also in who he is in real life. And so those were the sort of two main elements.

Katrina Bartocillo: Good, thank you. And as a follow-up to that for Jennifer and Clive, how did you guys adapt your characters from the film into this new television series?

Jennifer Beals: Well my character isnít in the film.

Clive Standen: Well I feel Bryan is a chance - I think itís almost rebooting the character for a generation. I mean the film is ten years old now as well.

So as much as I watched the first film, I like seeing the first film before I even read the script that Alex had written. And then Iím a big fan of Liam Neesonís performance.

And like I said earlier, I think what I love about Bryan is heís human and heís not James Bond or any of those action heroes that exist. He exists in his own entity.

But it was a chance to just go right, weíve got this character who is human, who hasnít got any particular super power or any special ninja skill. Heís just got full momentum, and he has this lovely, selfless desire to protect people. But, that always comes at a cost.

And thatís what I wanted to do. I wanted to actually be able to take this genre by its balls and go, weíre all a little bit fed up with seeing people who look perfect all the time, who seem really like thereís no effort in saving the world.

This is a guy, there has to be sacrifices. There has to be consequences to his actions. And therefore for me it starts off this lovely idea of starting this origin story about this character that we donít actually know that much about.

We just know this grizzled veteran of the CIA, what heís become. And other than that, and what Liam plays on screen, thereís a lot of sacrifice there. That heís a very unhappy man.

Heís moved back to Los Angeles because his wife has left him. He wants to see his daughter. Thereís a lot wrong with his life. You know heís not - itís not all roses.

But, why is it like that; because this is a man whoís given his life. A selfless man whoís given his life to his country and to the CIA. So letís just see how he becomes that man and by god, itís going to be a journey.

Katrina Bartocillo: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Alex Cary: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question is a follow-up from Jay Jacobs with

Jay Jacobs: Brooklyn Sudano who plays Bryanís love interest is so good, and she looks spookily like her mother. Whatís she like to work with?

Clive Standen: Sheís incredible to work with. I can answer to start because I had some scenes with here.

Alex Cary: Go for it.

Clive Standen: But, Brooklyn is great and sheís a really important character to the whole setup of the show as well. Because from my point of view sheís the one character that Bryan gets to let a little bit of himself out on. Itís away from work and he gets this little bit of real Bryan.

But sheís not - Iím bored of action shows where the women characters just serve the men. You know itís almost like women need to be saved by men from other men.

And as you see the show, I mean you guys have only seen maybe up to Episode 4 if youíve watched all the Episodes that have been sent to you.

Jay Jacobs: Right.

Clive Standen: But by the end of this season you will see a woman who will get put through the wringer. And she doesnít need men. Sheís a strong woman and sheís incredible.

And I think if you watch Brooklynís performance, thatís a real actress whoís taken apart and, obviously Alexís writing. But sheís taken apart and sheís actually taking a female character just as Jennifer does, and you know Jennifer has a completely different role to play in the show.

But sheís taken the love interest role and actually made it a full - fully functioning, breathing character.

Jay Jacobs: Now Jennifer, itís hard to believe that next year will be the 35th anniversary of Flash Dance.

Back when you were making that, could you have ever imagined that youíd still be acting in stuff like Taken, and Before I Fall, all these years later?

Jennifer Beals: Well the fantasy was always being part of an action show from the moment I saw La Femme Nikita. Iím just really so happy to be working in projects that move me and challenge me. And I just feel really grateful to be part of a meaningful storytelling process.

Jay Jacobs: Terrific. Now speaking of La Femme Nikita, Luc Besson has not really been involved with the TV versions of his previous films. But he is involved in this one.

How in to it is he and, do you know why he chose to work on this particular show when he hasnít in the past?

Alex Cary: Well he has been involved, you know, as somebody who cares deeply about the character. And I think he is as curious as anybody else as to who this guy was before the movie.

And I think that part of the genius of the movie was that everything was short-handed and they got into the action. And they showed the character going forward in the action.

But I think he was as interested in seeing who he was, you know, in the beginning, but he was also fiercely protective of the character, just in terms of we started out in the pilot and all the rest of it.

So thatís really where all the conversations have been. And since then heís been very supportive.

Jay Jacobs: Okay, thank you.

Operator: We have a question from the line Blair Beene with NBC Digital. Please go ahead.

Blair Beene: Well good afternoon everybody. Thanks so much to you all for doing this call today.

Alex Cary: Youíre welcome.

Clive Standen: Hi.

Jennifer Beals: Thanks for joining us.

Blair Beene: Iíve got a question for Alex. How do you see the show progressing from week to week, how do you see the story line changing? What is that going to look like, especially for people who have seen the movies and kind of have this already idea in their minds?

Alex Cary: Well thatís a good question. And you know the first answer - the real answer is, I donít know particularly. I mean I keep an open mind until I actually sort of commit.

So - I do think that what we will see is we will see Bryan Mills enter into different phases of his relationship with the intelligence community, with authorities - with the authorities, and with the authority figure in the show so far whoís Christina Hart, played so magnificently by Jennifer.

And I think that that relationship, for me at the moment, what Iím most interested in really is that particular relationship. And also the relationship with the other members of his team and how that will change. And that will change due to circumstances and due to the types of missions that they go on.

So itís really about building the experiences of Bryan Mills. And Iím not talking really about how to shoot a gun or how to roll into a room or anything else. Iím really talking about the character interactions with the people who are going to matter most in his life.

And obviously this story is going to change, or itís going to be guided a little bit by where he ends up. We know how this ends in many ways, because it ends with the first movie.

So you know, we have to lead into those stories too, in terms of you know, him being a father and a husband and all kinds of other things.

Blair Beene: Thank you. Thank you very much. And Iíve got a follow up question for Clive. How do you personally prepare for the weight of Bryanís mission? Just in your own role as an actor, and also just thinking as Bryan, how do you prepare for that?

Clive Standen: Well generally the preparation is quite boring. To me itís the doing of it thatís fun. But the preparation is just - itís the same way that someone like Tiger Woods probably just swings and swings and swings until he actually perfects his swing.

When I take on any character I start from scratch. I kind of wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. And itís just a lot of laborious chipping away at kind of questions I ask myself. And I just keep going until suddenly I kind of find a way in.

Thatís the acting side of it. With the action side of it itís very similar. You just have to keep practicing and make it idiot proof until you get to the point where itís in your muscle memory. And then therefore you hope that - because I think the main difference between acting and action is that when you act you have to be entirely in the moment.

When me and Jennifer do a scene together I donít know what sheís going to say. I have to be completely present in the moment. And whatever she throws at me I have to be prepared to throw it back at here.

But with action you canít really get away with it that way because thereís a bit of safety involved and danger involved. So you need to almost be one step ahead of yourself.

But the key to it in my eyes is to try and blend the two things together. They should be seamless.

So if you learn something enough, you know I obviously learn my lines to the point where I donít have to think about them in the scene. So when I learn my choreography for a fight scene for instance, I do it so well that I donít have to think about it in the scene.

And you hope at the last minute that youíre going to remember - your muscle memory is going to remember to put your hand up and block at the right time. Maybe you donít, and then itís just no different from the improvising in an acting scene.

But thatís the only way you can truly be present. So itís just preparation. I mean I canít really explain. It would take me all day to try and explain to you my preparation as an actor. But yes, itís just hard work and graft.

Blair Beene: Perfect. Thank you very much.

Operator: Ms. Pannozzo, there are no further questions at this time. Iíll turn the call back to you.

Sharron Pannozzo: Great. I want to thank the press for joining us today. I want to thank Clive, Jennifer, and Alex for their time this afternoon.

I want to reminder everybody to please tune in on Monday night, NBC at ten oíclock for the premiere of Taken.

I also want to remind the press that we do have the screeners available at our Media Village site if they havenít had a chance to watch them yet. And we have a number of other collateral materials there as well for them. So everyone have a great day and thank you again.

Jennifer Beals: Thank you.

Alex Cary: Thank you very much.

Clive Standen: Thanks everyone.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen that does conclude todayís conference. We thank you all for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your line.


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