MIPTV 2012: Frank Spotnitz and Melissa George Take a Shot at the Spy Drama in 'Hunted'
You wouldn't know it to look at her, but Australian actress Melissa George — sitting under the sun poolside in Cannes bejeweled in Chanel — is sore from head to toe.
“I can’t close my right fist,” she said, adding of her intense fight scenes: “I get really into it. I cant even remember the next day after a fight scene how violent it was, but I know from muscle spasms in my neck the next day.”
As the lead in X-Files creator Frank Spotnitz’ latest small screen venture Hunted, George plays Sam, a spy who has just escaped an assassination attempt by a member of her own team and goes back to work undercover as a nanny, not knowing who tried to kill her or who to trust.
“There are no fancy little Jackie Chan moves. Everything has been catered to reality. I need to physically be able to do all of the stunts,” the actress said. “I get really lost in those fights. It’s so realistic that I get really scared for my life and I get cathartic."
George also admits to taking the intensity home with her. “Of course, whatever role you take on affects your personal life. I have no energy to live my own life anymore!”
A small screen veteran now thanks to roles in HBO's In Treatment of ABC’s Alias, George says she was drawn to Hunted immediately. “When I first read the script, I said ‘I don’t want to read for anything else this year.’ I just knew it was going to be a fulfilling role. It’s like meeting the right man. It was love at first sight. And it’s been the most complex dense emotional journey that I’ve been on in my career.”
Hunted will air on BBC One in the UK and on HBO Cinemax in the Fall of 2012. The show is written by Spotnitz and directed by SJ Clarkson, whose credits include Dexter, Heroes and Hustle. Produced by by Kudos Film and Television in association with Big Light Productions, the thriller was filmed on location in London, Scotland and Morocco.
“There are no sound stages. It’s all location filming. It’s really expensive and difficult to do, but it looks so much better and has a real feel of authenticity,” Spotnitz said. “It’s international and it looks international.”
Hunted marks Spotnitz’ return to TV post X-Files, but the writer-producer isn’t nervous about following up such a beloved show. “You can never anticipate how things are going to be received in the world and how deeply they’ll capture people’s imagination. You just need to love it so much if you want other people to love it as well. That’s the passion that I feel for it,” he said.
Spotnitz took an unconventional route back to the small screen. “I saw that the world was changing, that it was starting to become possible to do a show in Europe and sell it back to the states,” Spotnitz said of the new international business model. “The showrunner model works very well in the US, but it’s a different creative culture [in Europe]. I’ve been trying to take the best of both worlds and I’m still in process of figuring out how to do that.”
Spotnitz will remain in London for the time being, even after shooting wraps. Hunted differs from other spy dramas in that the agency that Sam works for isn’t the CIA or a government agency -- it’s a private security firm. “She doesn’t know whether her client is a good guy or bad guy. You have to be on your toes as you watch this show,” Spotnitz said.
The first season will follow the same storyline over eight hours, and Spotnitz and his team are already thinking about upcoming seasons and different locations, though nothing has been confirmed just yet.
So will Spotnitz’ latest project take on the cult status of The X-Files? “It’s completely different from X-Files, but it has the intelligence and sophistication of it,” he said,
While Spotniz says that since The X-Files wrapped the international TV landscape has changed radically, he's optimistic that Hunted's international pedigree will be a selling point.
“It’s been quite an adventure doing it on the other side of the Atlantic,” Spotnitz said.“Everything I do I try and do the best work I’ve ever done. And this has the potential to be the best work I’ve ever done.”