Michael Costigan on producing ‘Based on a True Story’: ‘My jaw hit the ground’

“I think what strikes both of us, both [Jason] Bateman and myself is what feels original,” says Aggregate Films producer Michael Costigan about what attracts him and his producing partner to projects. Whether the story has “classic bones” or is “wholly original, how has the story not been told before?” This past season Aggregate Films took on the period limited series “Lessons in Chemistry” and the dark comedy series “Based on a True Story.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Costigan above.

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“Based on a True Story” is certainly a story that hasn’t been told before. It follows a married couple (Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina) who cross paths with a serial killer and do what any rational couple would do: make a podcast. Costigan’s “jaw hit the ground” when he heard the premise. “We said, wait, is it a drama? Is it a comedy? And the writer and creator [Craig Rosenberg] said, it’s both. And that’s where Jason and I looked at each other and he had this huge grin on his face.” It’s a show where “you are rooting for these people to pull something off that feels complicated and maybe a little morally dubious … It’s all a balancing act, and it lands on the head of a pin,” but the creative team “really pulled it off.”

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Meanwhile, “Lessons in Chemistry” is based on the novel by Bonnie Garmus and tells the story of Elizabeth Zott (played by Brie Larson), a brilliant chemist who experiences sexism in the science community in the mid-20th century and then hosts an empowering science-driven cooking show. That series was a case of “another extraordinary writer who writes a story that literally breaks all the rules” in terms of its protagonist’s journey through love, loss and career. “People just embraced it. And I think it really felt like a family making it, which in a way is what the book is like. You don’t know where life is going to take you. As smart as we are, there are things within our control, things outside of our control. And watching this group of people make the show is really one of the most thrilling of my career. Something we’re really proud of.”

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