If you haven’t watched the first season of “Counterpart” you honestly don’t know what you’re missing. Easily the best continuing show on Starz (“Howard’s End” may trump it as a limited series) not only is “Counterpart” a triumph for star J.K. Simmons, but a simmering and compelling thriller that often leaves you with more questions than answers in the best way possible. And while executive producer and pilot director Morten Tyldum deserves credit for setting the cinematic tone for the series, creator and showrunner Justin Marks deserves even more kudos for shepherding a very complex narrative.
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“Counterpart” is set in a reality where thirty years ago East German scientists opened a door to a parallel world (known on the series as Prime) or, depending on how you interpret it, created a duplicate of our own world (known as Alpha). In the decades since each world has diverged in different directions and that means someone who may have been a violist on Alpha could end up a professional assassin on Prime. Marks and his writing staff want to explore not the nature vs. nurture debate in a unique context and center it around Howard Silk (Simmons), a seemingly boring pencil pusher on Alpha who just happens to be a feared spy on Prime. The series earned strong reviews (76 on Metacritic, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) and is already deep into production on its second season adding James Cromwell and Betty Gabriel to an already impressive ensemble including Simmons, Olivia Williams, and Harry Lloyd.
The production has been stateside for a few weeks as it splits time shooting in Berlin and Los Angeles. That meant Marks had the opportunity to take some time out of his busy schedule (he was still writing episode nine of season two when we met) to sit down and discuss the origins of the show, the difficulty of Simmons performance and reveal some secrets about the new season.
And it goes without question that if you don’t want any spoilers about the first season you probably shouldn’t listen. That being said, it might just perk your interest enough to finally convince you to watch it if you haven’t already.
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Check out previous episodes with “The Disaster Artist” screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, “Darkest Hour” screenwriter Anthony McCarten, two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz, Ben Mendelsohn, “Blade Runner: 2049‘s” Denis Villeneuve, “Thor: Ragnarok‘s” Taika Waititi, “The Florida Project‘s” Sean Baker, John Boyega, get behind the scenes with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” producers and more on Soundcloud or on iTunes.
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