Meet the Writers of Humans


Talk Nerdy With Us had the chance to speak with Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent. They are writers on AMC’s new show Humans. Read our interview below.

Could you start off by talking about where the idea and everything came from and how the show came to be, which I’m really enjoying by the way.

Jonathan Brackley: Thanks very much. Well the show is actually based on a Swedish show called, Äkta människor which translates as, real humans.

And we were approached by Qdos, the British production company that made the show, who we’ve worked with several times over the last two or three years. And they’d won the rights to remake the Swedish version – remake the Swedish show and they asked us if we were interested.

And we watched the original and it was so full of wonderful and fascinating ideas that we jumped at the chance because we thought we could bring our own take to it.

And then is there a favorite part that you guys (unintelligible) about without giving away too many spoilers? Is there like a favorite scene or something that you’re excited for people to see?

Sam Vincent: I will say that in Episode 3 there is a moment that a lot of people; maybe a majority of people will have to watch through their fingers. I’m not giving any way – anything more than that, but it’s a key moment for the show. Yes, we have a few good ones. You, Jon?

Jonathan Brackley: Yes, seemingly it will be rather spoiler free, but Episode 4 is going to be – yes, the audience is going to be pretty shocked with what happens in Episode 4, so look forward to seeing that one.

Hey, so we just got off the phone with William Hurt, so I just wanted to ask you, it seems to add a lot when you cast a guy like that because he’s kind of like a gray element. He could be a doctor or professor as easily as play one. Kind of just discuss how you thought of him and casting him, and what does a guy like Hurt do when you add him to your show?

Sam Vincent: Gravitas, in a single word. He just – he is an intellectual himself and I think he just bleeds through into his characters and he just provides such intellectual (unintelligible). It’s just not actually that easy to find an actor who you feel could have done such world-changing, high level work.

One thing that I really found interesting about these two episodes we were able to see was that you know, flaws obviously make characters really memorable. But through the Synth, we not only experience or they kind of pull out the flaws of other characters, and then they themselves are also shown their flaws or their shortcomings as synthetics. So can you talk about designing the Synth as this kind of plot device to reflect flaws and shortcoming in characters?

Jonathan Brackley: You know I think as you’ve rightly pointed out that the humans are sort of thrown into sharp relief by the sort of perfectness of the Synths in their sort of movement, and also the way they, you know, conduct themselves.

I think that was a very sort of deliberate choice physically for us when we were creating this show. We wanted the Synths to move in a very graceful way and that was borne out of a sort of very practical concern because we wanted to treat the show in a very realistic way.

And if these things really did exist, they would use a massive, massive amount of power. So they would have to store that in batteries so when they did move they could never waste a single movement. Everything would have to be very economical. And so they tend to move with a very sort of graceful smoothness, yes.

Sam Vincent: Yes, and I would say that, you used the word reflect. I think a lot of it is that they are reflections, particularly William – George, the character played by William Hurt. His Synth is, you know, it doesn’t have a personality. It’s not Synthian.

And yet because it’s been so long with him and has absorbed so many memories, it has taken on this new value and is now a kind of reflection of the happier years in the past that George spent with his wife before she died.

And the – so I think the reflection and as Jon says, providing a counterpoint is a real sort of human messiness and (unintelligible) is kind of one of the sort of key (unintelligible) of the show and it kind of brings out all of your, particularly in the character of Laura, brings out so many insecurities and paranoia that might have been already there.

You were talking earlier about all of the different series and books and things like that that have dealt with the sort of robot question, do you guys have any particular favorite things or that was an inspiration for you while you were writing (unintelligible) or different things that really speaks to your imagination?

Sam Vincent: Well, we certainly went back to Asimov’s short story, robot short stories, you know there’s actually a volume you can get, he wrote so many robot short stories and there’s a, there’s a very thick volume you can get, I think you know there’s about 50 stories in there and it just about his, his robot related ones.

And there are, you know just a few you know, there’s a real scattering of absolute masterpieces among them, you know he explored that area from so many directions and so he was, he was definitely a big influence.

And then we also have we, you know we had to think of all the wonderful instances of AI and robots of various kinds that you know we’ve seen in cinema and on TV, less so I think on TV, it’s more the, been more the province of films historically and yeah, things like Blade Runner and AI itself, which of course stars William Hurt and 2001, you know I think Hal is one of the, is probably my favorite instance of artificial intelligence in the cinema of all time.

So yes we have a kind of very aware of all of those kind of wonderful references and we just have had to work hard to learn what we could from them and also try and avoid doing anything too similar to them and also finding out what was new, what was fresh, what was the new take on this, what was the new perspective on this idea that we’ve been fascinated by since Frankenstein, you know if not before.

I’ve noticed, what I really like about this really it kind of tells the story from kind of the robot’s perspective, or the Synths perspective as well as the human’s. Do you think there’s ever going to be a time when we kind of have to take sides or is this going to be about the characters and their choices or is that spoilers?

Sam Vincent: Do we, do we have to take sides on the so we didn’t catch that last bit, we, do you have to take sides on the Synths or humans?

That’s not where the kind of conflict line resides necessarily because I think we very much have, we have humans who are a big supporter of the Synths and humans who are definitely against them and think they pose a very dire threat to humanity and we have Synths that you know want to integrate with humanity and live peacefully alongside and we have Synths who come to starkly different conclusions.

So there’s kind of, it’s kind of a more complicated picture than that, there isn’t kind of one side to drop on, it’s more about which particular character or characters you, you find yourself sympathizing with. But there, yeah there’s definitely more than two sides.


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