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Interview with Clive Standen and
Jennifer Beals of "Taken" on NBC 2/23/17
Moderator: Sharon Pannozzo
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
And I think itís very easy to kind of, to
see him as every man and be in there with him for that
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.
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
Alex Cary: Good.
It looks great. So the best to you on this.
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.
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?
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,
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
Alex Cary: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from
the line of Katrina Bartocillo with NBC Digital. Please go
Katrina Bartocillo: Hi, I have a question for
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Awesome. Thank you so much.
Alex Cary: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question is a follow-up from Jay
Jacobs with PopEntertainment.com.
Brooklyn Sudano who plays Bryanís love interest is so good,
and she looks spookily like her mother. Whatís she like to
Clive Standen: Sheís incredible to work
with. I can answer to start because I had some scenes with
Alex Cary: Go for it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
sheís taken the love interest role and actually made it a
full - fully functioning, breathing character.
Jacobs: Now Jennifer, itís hard to believe that next year
will be the 35th anniversary of Flash Dance.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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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