Ryan Murphy Gets Watcher’s Situation Tip While Filming Netflix – The Hollywood Reporter

Ryan Murphy says he knows he wants to adapt Viewers for TV after reading the true story of a suburban nightmare in a 2018 article in New York magazine’s The Cut.

“I immediately think of my family and I think that’s the idea of ​​how we live in a world right now where everyone around the world, I guess, seems to be being attacked. in a way and the idea of ​​’how do I keep my family safe?’ It’s something that drives me right away,” said Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale, the co-creator of the psychological drama. “I wrote it on sticky notes and I put it on my computer as we wrote the script.”

After reading the article, Murphy, who has an overall production contract at Netflix, said that he knew this was his next project and made a phone call, but the rights were sold. “And it was sold to someone at Netflix. And I went, ‘What?’ So it sells very quickly. And so I found out that it was my friend Eric [Newman]. “

Newman, who also has a master deal with the streamer and is a producer on Viewers, then got a call from Murphy. “I said, ‘I’m a fan of this work and I’m a fan of the genre so I’ll write it for free; just let me write it. ‘ And he said OK. And that’s how I got involved,” said Murphy. “I joined as a fan, just because I enjoyed the story so much and I deeply involved. It’s personal, I think it’s personal to Ian Brennan, who co-created it with me. “

Murphy shared the show’s origin story in a conversation on the couch with the women who played the main characters of the show. Viewers, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Coolidge, Mia Farrow, Noma Dumezweni and Margo Martindale. The Conversation (below), produced by the streamer, was filmed before the October 13th horror release and following Murphy and Brennan’s Netflix true-crime limited series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

Both Viewers and Dahmer It has since become a hit for Netflix, with 3.66 billion minutes of watch time in its opening week and one of the 10 biggest titles since Nielsen started tracking online viewing. The limited series pairing has also sparked conversations around the morality of the true crime genre, as well as the glitz of serial killers, following backlash from the families of the serial killers. Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims who spoke out said they were not consulted about the series and were regrouped.

In speaking to his co-stars, Murphy and his lead women noted a heightened interest in the true crime genre, especially from women, and fear and horror. How the collective experience of dealing with fear brought audiences together. And it is his obsessive nature that attracts the creator American Horror Storyalso just released the 11th season on FX/Hulu, for both Netflix projects.

“I just do things that I want to see. I have a very strict rule about that and I always stick to it,” said the prolific producer. “And I always think that the more specific something is, the more popular it becomes. I don’t know if that’s one of the secrets to my career, or if I’m obsessed with those things.”

He continued, “When I do Dahmerwhich I did right before that, we’ve been working on that for 3.5 years, and it’s been interesting to me. [The Watcher] is a very universal theme for me, it’s parenthood – I have three kids – and the idea that you work really hard, you get the American dream; What if someone took it away? “

(L to R) Noma Dumezweni as Theodora Birch, Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock in episode 105 of The Watcher.

Noma Dumezweni as investigator Theodora Birch with Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock in Viewers.

Courtesy of Eric Liebowitz / Netflix

As detailed in Cut In 2018, Derek and Maria Broaddus (played by Cannavale and Watts in the film) were the new owners of a six-bedroom home at 657 Boulevard in the idyllic suburb of Westfield, New Jersey, as they began to receive anonymous letters from a person claiming to be “The Viewer.” The letters, recreated in the series, include specific and threatening details about the family. Cut Writer Reeves Wiedeman detailed the mental and psychological torture this brought to the family in the passage of time, as investigations by both the local police and the family themselves never made The Watcher’s identity.

The story eventually went viral when Broadduses sued the previous owners, and after the article came out, Wiedeman said there were many offers to choose from. “A horror film producer offered to buy 657 Boulevard, hoping to use the house as a movie set. story for Netflix to maintain “a mode of control.” They have two approved production requests: that the show change their name (Watts and star Cannavale as the Brannock family’s parents) and that Viewers The more similar the family is, the better.

The case to this day remains unresolved, and Viewers spends its seven episodes creating suspicion in every character. The series, in its opening title tag, claims to be based on a true story, but most of the actors, when told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s premiere, said the show was heavily fictionalized.

Murphy – who said he wrote each part with the actresses, and they all said yes before reading the script – said the investigation was still ongoing during filming, which led him down.” wormhole” and even brought him to the end of advice. “When we filmed it, there would be things that would come up on Reddit like, ‘Here’s a new suspect, here’s another idea. This is another thing,” he said. “It’s like working on something alive, we’re constantly adding characters.”

Their filming style is script work, so the actors don’t know how whodunnit will end up either. “We’ll get advice about, ‘Here’s another suspect.’ I will receive anonymous emails: ‘Don’t forget this suspect.’ And then I’ll follow this person’s wormhole,” said Murphy. “And of course… some identities have been changed, like an identity.”

(L to R) Terry Kinney as Jasper Winslow, Mia Farrow as Pearl Winslow in episode 101 of The Watcher.

Mia Farrow as neighbor Pearl Winslow (background: Terry Kinney as Jasper Winslow) in Viewers.

Courtesy of Eric Liebowitz / Netflix

Viewers marks Murphy’s comeback with Coolidge (Nip / Tuck) and Martindale (American Crime Story: Impeachment), and Watts will appear in his upcoming second season Feud. But this is the first time Murphy has booked Farrow for a role, for recommending her American Horror Story pilot over a decade ago and was rejected. During their conversation, all the women thanked Murphy for writing such over-40s female roles.

“When I wrote the pilot of American Horror Story, I wrote a piece for you and begged your agents to pass it on to you, and they said, ‘Oh, Mia doesn’t want to work right now,’ ‘he recalls the time Farrow was inactive. “I’m really sorry I didn’t do that,” said Farrow, who also said she only watches her own horror thrillers. Rosemary’s Baby once, answered. “I regret not doing it.”

Coolidge also went around with Murphy in AHS, when one of the seasons shot at her house. She said she tried to find a role while “Jessica Lange was upstairs in my bedroom,” but Murphy never cast it. Perhaps in an attempt to fix that, he came up with an idea for Viewers part two to wrap up the conversation: “The Further Adventures of Karen Calhoun, Takeover of the Darren Dunn Company,” he said of White Lotus character of the star, who ends the season with a high score. Check out the 33-minute conversation below.


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