Hulu’s “Heightened Reality” World War II story Catch-22 will premiere on May 17, Entertainment Weekly reports. The six-episode limited series is based on Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel of the same name. The series follows John Yossarian as he fights for his life while his commanding officers continue to put his life in danger. According to Catch-22 star Christopher Abbott “it’s not that he is afraid to die,” “he doesn’t want to die at the hands of some inane bureaucratic rule.”
The cast includes George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Christopher Abbott, and Kyle Chandler. Clooney and Heslov co-star, executive produce and direct two episodes each, with the remaining two produced by Ellen Kuras. In the World War II-set Catch-22, Abbott plays the leading character Yossarian (also called YoYo), who is the U.S. Air Force bombardier antihero. Chandler plays the commanding officer Colonel Cathcart and Clooney plays the supporting yet key character Lieutenant Scheisskopf, the training officer and parade enthusiast at the Air Force cadet base where Yossarian trained. Heslov plays Doc Daneeka, the army psychiatrist.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Catch-22 “walks a line between drama and comedy, with action-packed mission scenes (which include two real B-25 bombers) and their emotionally affecting consequences combined with subversive humor.” The series differs from the book since it tells a linear story and the four-and-a-half hourlong runtime included “extra credit” that is also needed to develop the supporting characters. “It’s war and a lot of these young men get killed,” explained Clooney, “and if you try to do it in a two-and-a-half hour movie, you don’t really get to know six or seven characters, so it doesn’t matter when they die. You don’t have a sense of who they are. When we are able to spend time with them, it makes it feel like their lives actually matter, which is a really important part of the story we are telling.” Furthermore, in order to nail the “heightened reality” tone, “you just have to make sure that everybody is acting in the same movie. … if you get too much, it falls into farce and it doesn’t work,” Clooney added.