In lieu of a physical Comic-Con International event in San Diego, showrunner David Wiener (Homecoming) and cast members Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones), Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Nina Sosanya (Killing Eve) Kylie Bunbury (When They See Us) and Joseph Morgan (The Originals) gathered remotely in a panel for Comic-Con at Home to talk about their new series Brave New World. The panel provided an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the series. The series is based on the novel by Aldous Huxley under the same name and is currently available to stream exclusively on NBCUniversal’s new platform Peacock. The series has 9 episodes that range from 40 minutes to an hour. According to the Comic-Con San Diego website, the series “imagines a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family, and history itself.” Beginning Wednesday, July 22 and ending Sunday, July 26, the panel with Wiener and others was one of many made viewable on Comic-Con San Diego’s website.
The panel began with an introduction from Angélique Roché, the moderator, who also coordinates the Brave New Podcast with Peacock. As a precursor to the panel, she asked Wiener to summarize the show for people who have not yet streamed it. The synopsis, given by Wiener, was that Brave New World takes place in New London where everyone is happy or thinks that they are until a stranger infiltrates their lives. From the Savagelands, John the Savage, played by Ehrenreich, brings intense emotions and ideas that New Londoners have been conditioned to reject in favor of happiness. The synopsis was followed by the show’s trailer which can be seen below:
Roché then transitions into a discussion with Wiener about why he chose to create Brave New World for the present day. In terms of why Wiener chose to adapt the 1932 novel for present day, he said, “He was concerned about how humans would use technology to prevent themselves from being uncomfortable and he worried that tendency would prevent themselves from being uncomfortable. They would stop existing in the now; they wouldn’t look inside themselves in an uncomfortable way. Now, it’s more important than ever for people to do that. It’s one of those rare books that becomes more resonant and relevant as time goes on.”
The panel then shifted gears and looked at which cast members had been familiar with the work prior to casting with varying answers. Morgan shared his sentiments that even though he was familiar with the text prior to being cast, he preferred the script to the book because it felt more accessible than the original text with a more modern imagination of the world. As a main character, Ehrenreich expanded on the idea that being a part of a series with a book adaptation needs to allow for variation between the two, but the overall feelings can be conveyed if the essence of the story is kept consistent. John-Kamen preferred to go into her character with a fresh mind and less emphasis on the book’s depiction of her character because it was said her character Wilhelmina or Helm was one of the most different from the book to series adaptation.
The panel then shifted to character journeys and the ways they intersect. Wiener said he was “struck by once we started making the show and that was really fun to react to as a writer was how much of the show is actually about friendship and how kind of radical that notion is in New London. These people aren’t robots. They’re conditioned not to lean into the sentiment because part of being friends with someone is sometimes getting hurt. It’s caring about someone enough and being vulnerable to them. If you look at the whole show, it’s really just a bunch of webs of different friendships.”
The conversation shifted then to the success of the show’s on-screen chemistry and bonds as friendships developed off-screen as well. The panel ended with a discussion about how the cast viewed John the Savage from their character’s perspective. The responses varied from fascination and curiosity to a challenge to overcome in the protection of the New London world. In his role of John, Ehrenreich explained that because his character’s roots are tied to both New London and the Savagelands, he understood his cast member’s complicated relationship with the outsider.
Roché ended the panel by asking Wiener and the cast to weigh out the main choice from Brave New World: happiness or freedom? The answer was unanimously freedom. Brave New World is currently streaming on Peacock. The full panel can be seen on the Comic-Con International’s YouTube page below: