How Apple TV pulled off the Monarch team by landing Kurt and Wyatt Russell

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters It is one of the best surprises of the year.

After years of mostly enjoyable Monsterverse films from Legendary Pictures that largely struggled to focus on the human elements of Godzilla stories, the Apple TV Plus series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters It rises precisely because of its grounded approach to its characters and the strength of its cast. It all starts with the most exciting part of the show: father-son duo Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell playing the same character, army officer Lee Shaw.

With the story split into two very different eras (the 1950s and 2000s), it would be easy to… monarch To feel separate. Instead, everything seems to connect seamlessly, largely on the back of Russell’s performance, tying it all together through their shared portrayal of Shaw.

“She has integrity, doesn’t she?” Director Matt Shakman told Polygon. “You’ll believe this is the same character. He allowed us to do it in a way that I thought was more convincing.”

Casting Russell was a dream come true. Director Matt Shakman and directors Chris Black and Matt Fraction told Polygon they were big fans of both actors, and hoped they could pull off a casting coup by having both in their show. They had a few things on their side: the father-son duo were looking to work together (but weren’t interested in the father-son parts they were offered) and saw the opportunity to play the same role as an interesting character. challenge. Oh, and Kurt Russell is a huge Godzilla fan. That helped.

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Image: Apple TV Plus

The pair took the opportunity and ran with it, creating the character together from top to bottom. Both Russells participated in “all the conversations” about costume, hair and makeup, to keep the character consistent across the ages, says Shackman. While one of them was filming, the other was taking notes on his performance.

“Kurt would hang out on set and watch Wyatt do scenes and say, Oh, well, I can do that. “And then Wyatt would watch Kurt do the scenes,” Shakman says. “They were able to create a character together, which was special, and bring what each of them does well together.”

“They would direct the scenes together,” Fraction says. “It was really cool to watch them build the character as actors while we were building the character as writers.”

While the Russell family has a lot in common, they are two very different actors. Kurt Russell has made his bones in this kind of cinema, excelling as heroes in difficult situations with rough edges (The thing, Escape from New York). Wyatt Russell, whose star is still on the rise, is a former professional ice hockey player who adopted a more “sensitive idiot” personality type (Download 49, 22 Jump Street(or even morally evil roles)Under the banner of heaven, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier).

“White grew up watching his father’s films,” says Shakman. “So he knew that the kind of shows his father gave were not like his own. He’s a different kind of actor. He’s not the kind of person you can put down as a person [Escape from New York’s] Plisskin snake. And Kurt wouldn’t be the type to play some of the things Wyatt plays. But they were able to come together and take bits and pieces of each other’s approach and build one character, which was really fun.

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“There were times when [Wyatt] “He’ll turn his head a little bit or something,” Black says. “And you might wonder, ‘Is he doing this on purpose? Or is it in the DNA?’

Image: Apple TV Plus

Shaw plays a crucial role in the series as the connective tissue between the show’s two periods, but he also serves as the catalyst for many of the show’s biggest plot points. And finding actors so familiar with each other that they could reliably portray two versions of Shaw as the same man at different points in time was ideal.

“Even when we were writing scripts, in the past it was me, and in the present it was Shaw,” says Fraction. “Ultimately, over the course of the season, we watched Lee become Shaw, and we found Shaw being able to reconnect with who he was when he was Lee. There are moments where you can get whiffs of that, where Wyatt kind of acts out his father a little bit, and acts more Than Lee usually does. It’s as if Lee has become this character.

In the end, it’s the character work that separates us monarch One of its modern American counterparts is Godzilla.

“TV is about a weekly date with characters you love and root for,” says Shakman. “It’s basically a different recipe, and it requires building a group of characters that you can love and root for.”

And of course, it helps that Kurt Russell can lend his charm to a character – and his son Wyatt can compete with his father to keep that character feeling like a unique voice.

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“At one point, [Kurt’s] Like, “Yeah, you guys write so well for me, you guys really have my voice,” Fraction says. “We’re like, ‘Yeah, Kurt, we’ve been watching your movies forever, you’re on my mind, man.'”

“Since I was.” Computer who was wearing tennis shoes“,” Black says.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters It premiered on Apple TV Plus on November 17, with new episodes every Friday.

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