‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ Creates a Believable Alien

New Showtime series The man who fell to the groundcreated by Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, is a sequel to Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film of the same name, starring David Bowie as an idealistic alien corrupted by human vices.

“We were just trying to be honest [The Man Who Fell to Earth author Walter] Tevis and Bowie and Nicolas Roeg and the amazing narrators who preceded us, but we also exist in a continuum of science fiction narratives, “says Kurtzman in episode 513 of the Geek Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I want to believe that we can be at the forefront of what science fiction is now and what it will become.”

The series stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as an alien from the planet Anthea who arrives on Earth 45 years after the events of the original film. Kurtzman and Ejiofor created a detailed background story in order to portray a credibly alien character. “The idea came to us that their planet was so strong, only the winds and everything that was going on, the destruction of the planet was so strong that they evolved to communicate verbally and they had to communicate in a non-verbal way. verbal “. says Kurtzman. “We ended up building all this sign language that they use to communicate, and a very particular way of moving together. So this is just a process of many, many trials. “

In a memorable scene, the alien is found naked, drinking water from a garden hose that has been thrust a few meters down his throat. “It’s really just a riff of what they did in the novel and the movie, because it comes to Earth in search of water, because its planet is completely dead from water,” Kurtzman says. “I think we took the spirit of this idea and interpreted it in our own way, that if you came from a planet without water but need water, if water suddenly abounded everywhere, you would probably want to drink “All the time because you don’t take it for granted.”

Another major influence was Buster Keaton’s physical comedy, which was known to move his body in unusual ways while keeping his face perfectly still. It wasn’t until filming was complete that Kurtzman discovered that he wasn’t alone in being inspired by Keaton. “I found a set of photos that were taken on set The man who fell to the ground“The original movie, and Bowie is sitting in his trailer, with an autobiography of Buster Keaton, with a big picture of Buster Keaton’s face, and he’s imitating Buster Keaton’s face side by side.” says Kurtzman. “We hadn’t even seen him, and somehow, osmotically, we got him out of his performance, which was amazing.”

Listen to the full interview with Alex Kurtzman in episode 513 of Geek Guide to the Galaxy (on top). And look at some of the highlights of the discussion below.

Alex Kurtzman on characterization:

How many stories of “aliens coming to Earth and then the government trying to catch them” can you tell, especially in an original way? We knew we needed to [Jimmi Simpson] character, but I think what Jenny and I didn’t want was to write this, hopefully, this beautiful character story and suddenly feel like when you go to the CIA where you are. Bourne’s identity. There would just be a massive tonal dissonance there, it just wouldn’t feel right. And so we said, “How do we do that?” I think often the way to solve a problem like this is to say, “Okay, forget about the fact that they’re in the CIA. What makes them interesting and engaging?” And we came to this idea: “What if he’s literally the worst man in the world? What if he’s just a total sadist and a total masochist all at once?”

Alex Kurtzman to fandom:

There is something interesting about that [the Black Mirror episode “USS Callister”] it says about fandom in general, not just for Star Trek, but fandom in general. Fandom of any kind is a place — especially, I think, in our childhood — where we escape to create an alternative reality for ourselves if our realities aren’t exactly what we want them to be, and that’s why things like Star Trek or Marvel . or Star Wars, which is why people have such deep personal reactions, because there’s something very personal about connecting with a franchise that talks about “this is where I felt safe when I was little.” And I guess there’s an inherent darkness, though it’s also a wonderful and amazing thing, and there’s a lot of light as well. So it was kind of a perspective on what happens when it comes out very, very badly.

Alex Kurtzman on David Bowie:

There were a couple of days when I only did these very deep dives in Bowie’s interviews … As a young man, he’s totally fearless, incredibly fearless, and he has a confidence and insecurity that is truly extraordinary. It’s pushing all the boundaries out there, but you can see there’s an incredible vulnerability in who it is. And then you get into the middle of his career, and he’s definitely calmed down more, but he’s still not afraid to say what needs to be said and provoked. And then when you get into your older years, there’s the wisdom that comes with age, and a life lived the way only David Bowie could live his life. So I like to think it was defined by courage.

Alex Kurtzman on science fiction:

I know, as a member of the audience, I get excited when I see something trying to do something different, which is doing it in something I like but doing it differently. And that’s really what we set out to do The man who fell to the ground. And I think it’s very cathartic, I think it’s about things that are not only relevant now, but will determine the future of whether or not we’re on this planet, but in a way that’s very entertaining. Great science fiction makes you think about your place in the universe, that’s the question. But it also entertains you, and allows you to go to different worlds, imagine things that you didn’t even think were possible, and transport you to a whole universe, and I think that’s what the show does.

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