WAYWARD PINES: Chad Hodge Teases ‘Get Ready for the Ride of Your Life’ | Give Me My Remote

WAYWARD PINES: Chad Hodge Teases ‘Get Ready for the Ride of Your Life’

May 14, 2015 by  

Cr: Frank Ockenfels/FOX

Cr: Frank Ockenfels/FOX

Fox is debuting WAYWARD PINES — the network’s newest event series — tonight, and the twisted drama (based off the Blake Crouch trilogy) is deliciously fun.

The show follows a Secret Service agent, Ethan Burke (played by Matt Dillion), who ends up in Wayward Pines while trying to track down a couple of missing agents. (One of whom is his ex-lover/former partner.) Unfortunately for him, once he arrives, he finds out he can’t actually leave the town…and the residents have to obey some very specific rules while they’re staying there.

While the series sets up a fair amount of questions about what’s going on, WAYWARD PINES also pays off with answers well before the ten-episode arc ends…and they’re not the sci-fi-esque answers you might expect.

“Everything adds up,” WAYWARD PINES showrunner Chad Hodge shared of the eventual reveal, which remains the same as what played out in the book series. “And it’s so mind-blowing, and it’s actually something that could happen. It’s very grounded. There’s a huge payoff, and absolutely worth it.”

I spoke with Hodge about getting involved with the WAYWARD PINES world, the long road to air, and more…

What initially led you to WAYWARD PINES?
Chad Hodge: A producer, Donald De Line, sent me this book. He and I had been looking for a way to do a show together for a couple of years, actually. And he sent me a few books here and there, articles, and then he sent me this book about two or three months before it was published. I read it in one day, I loved it, I completely flipped out, and went, “This is great. Oh my God, this is amazing. What’s going to happen? What’s the ending? Holy –.”

It was so fun to read, I immediately saw what I could do with it as a TV series. I called Donald and I said, “I want to do this.” And he said, “Really? Great. Amazing.” And I said, “But I don’t want to pitch it; I want to write it. Right now.” Because I could see — it’s like when you go on a really good first date, and you’re like, “Yes! Let’s go on a second date.” I just wanted to be with that book and write that script immediately. So that’s what I did…it’s very twisty-turny, it’s very mysterious, and I didn’t want to have to go pitch that show and get 1000 questions. It would be a less successful script, I think, than a spec script. If I can make people feel the way I felt when reading the book [while] they’re reading the script, then this will work out. But the biggest reason is I just wanted to write it. I sat down, wrote it in about four weeks, and then we went very quickly from there.

We attached M. Night Shyamalan, we took it out to the marketplace, and it was really exciting to sell it to Fox. We had a 10-episode commitment, and the whole thing, and then the cast we got. It was a very, very lucky experience. It started from such a genuinely good creative place of, “I love this book, I just want to sit down and write it. I don’t even care if this sells, I want to spend the next four weeks writing this.” It was fun.

Book adaptations have taken many different forms on television: some stay really true to the source material, whereas others use the general framework and spin into a whole other direction. How do you view this?
CH: It’s definitely not beat-by-beat. There was so much about that book that worked, and the book was written in — I don’t want to say a TV way, but there’s lots of scenes that are so cinematic. I didn’t want to go changing the whole book. There are a couple of things I thought would work better if they were slightly adjusted, but mostly it’s very faithful to the book. Especially the first book.

What do you really want to make sure people know about the show, pre-premiere?
CH: Just get ready for the ride of your life. It’s incredibly thrilling, incredibly funny, actually. And weird. It’s the kind of thing — I’m not a huge sci-fi person. And you can look at this and go, “Oh, this is going to have some crazy sci-fi twist” or whatever the truth is is going to be silly and crazy, and it’s not going to add up and I’m going to be disappointed. But I can tell you the real reason when I finished reading that book and wanted to do this, everything adds up. And it’s so mind-blowing, and it’s actually something that could happen. It’s very grounded. There’s a huge payoff, and absolutely worth it.

M. Night Shyamalan’s work is really know for its huge twists. What conversations did you have about the expectations his being a part of the project might bring to these reveals?
CH: We both were on the same page about it from the very beginning: he read it, and he called me, and he was like, “What is it?! What’s the truth? Because if they’re all dead, I can’t do this.” So it was all about taking our cues off the book. That sense of humor combined with the deep human emotion of “am I crazy, or is everybody else crazy?” It’s something that there in every episode. Night really set the tone, cinematically, for what it looks like with the first episode. But the voice comes from those novels. We weren’t trying to find a new spin on it. There’s definitely different paths we take, story-wise, but the tone we take is from the books.

This is billed as a 10-episode event series, but in your mind, is there more story to tell beyond these hours?
CH: The first season covers the story of all three books. In fact, the author, Blake Crouch, was writing the third book as I was writing the scripts. So some things I’d come up with the scripts, he’d be like, “That’s great, can I use that in the book?” So we’d go back and forth. We got close doing this project. But yes, there could be a second season, it would just be new material. New material that jumps off after where the third book ends.

If I adapted the book straight as it is, the first one, we would get to what Wayward Pines is by like the middle of episode 2. So I had to stretch it out.

On paper, this really doesn’t seem to be like your previous television projects. (Hodge also created NBC’s THE PLAYBOY CLUB and The CW’s RUNAWAY.) What core characteristics do you feel your projects share?
CH: They all share deeply interesting stories about normal people in extraordinary situations. Whether you’re a girl who becomes a Playboy bunny, or you’re a Secret Service agent who winds up in a town you can’t get out of, or my first show, RUNAWAY, about a family on the run, living in a town using fake names, that’s the similarity. To me, all of these projects aren’t that different, but I can see how to outsiders they are.

But it also keeps me interested. It’s the same cake with different icing.

That absolutely makes sense. What’s the wait for the show to air been like for you?
CH: It’s a push and pull, because I’m just so excited about the show and I want people to see it. But at the same time, I also understand scheduling, and you want your show to launch in the best possible time slot, in a time of year where it makes sense for the network. That’s worth the wait, because you can blow it if you schedule it in the wrong way.

In the meantime, a bunch of your cast has also scored a few other high-profile roles —
CH: Thank you Terrence Howard (WAYWARD’s Sheriff Pope) [and] EMPIRE. [Laughs]

Given your impressively deep cast, was there a particular member where it hit you just how solid this cast is?
CH: Melissa Leo (Nurse Pam). Really, all of them, but Melissa was the second person we cast. Matt Dillion was the first big, “Oh my God.” And then because we got Matt Dillion, the show got picked up. And then when it was “Melissa Leo wants to play Nurse Pam,” I fell on the floor. She’s one of my favorite actresses, she’s insanely talented, and I knew she would bring something to the role I could never put down on paper. That really, to me, was the biggest one where I felt, “Holy shit.”

And then from there, it was Carla Gugino (Kate), Juliette Lewis (Beverly), Terrence Howard, Toby Jones (Dr. Jenkins), Hope Davis, and Justin Kirk. There’s this young man named Charlie Tahan (Ben), who plays Matt and Shannyn [Sossamon (Theresa)]’s son in the show. He is insanely talented; just watch for him…his role gets bigger and bigger.

This is certainly a show will be speculating about what’s going on. Aside from the “already dead” thing you vetoed, any other theories you’d like to shut down?
CH: I want to absolutely let people guess what they want to guess. I can’t wait to see what all the theories are.

Will it have the exact same end as the book series?
CH: In terms of what the truth of Wayward Pines is, it’s exactly the same. So if you really want to spoil it for yourself, you can read it in the books. The books are fantastic, and I suggest reading them, but after you see the show!

WAYWARD PINES debuts on Fox on Thursday, May 14th at 9 PM.

Related:

WAYWARD PINES’ Cast and Executive Producer Share Why You Should Watch the New Fox Drama
WAYWARD PINES: Watch the Pilot Now!
WAYWARD PINES: Watch the New Series’ Trailer

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