The streaming wars have heated up with the launch of Apple TV+ on Friday, November 1. The streamer launched four highly-anticipated originals, including The Morning Show (with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell and Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Dickinson (starring Hailee Steinfeld), For All Mankind (starring Joel Kinnaman) and the Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard-led See.
With See, the ambitious, big-budget, world-building drama has a huge task on its hands to cut through the massive landscape of Peak TV in a world filled with series aiming to be the next Game of Thrones. The description from Apple TV+ reads: "In the far future, a virus has decimated humankind. Those who survived emerged blind. Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, the father of twins born centuries later with the mythic ability to see--who must protect his tribe against a powerful yet desperate queen who believes it’s witchcraft and wants them destroyed. Alfre Woodard also stars as Paris, Baba Voss’ spiritual leader." The series (written by Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence) enlisted cast and crew who are blind or have low vision, including Joe Strechay, the show's blindness consultant, who is also a producer. Strechay also worked on Marvel's Daredevil for Netflix.
Ahead of the series' debut, Shadow And Act had the chance to talk with all of the show's series regulars, including Momoa, Woodard, Sylvia Hoeks, Hera Hilmar, Christian Camargo, Archie Madekwe, Nesta Cooper and Yadira Guevara-Prip.
On what intrigued her most about the project prior to signing on, Woodard said, "I was a big fan of Steven Knight’s imagination before this. And when I got the script, I shouted out loud a few times, I did a lot of ‘WTF!?,’ I did a lot of 'Holy smokes!' That was just me sitting alone reading it for the first time. You’ve got to come along with someone who has that kind of ability. For me, if it’s not in the script, I’m not coming. The writer is king or queen. I am on because of that script and wanting to be present to see how this world is built."
Guevara-Prip, who plays Bow Lion, added, "I also love Steven Knight’s work and I love Peaky Blinders. And Francis Lawrence as well, he’s an incredible director and an amazing world-builder. So the people drew me in and that was just off of my little audition email. I was just like those are really amazing people! Then I read the script and had the same experience. Like what does that even look like...how do they navigate through the world...how do they fight...how do they get their food...how do they fight without this sense that’s so essential to my experience of life?”
Momoa opened up about imposter syndrome in landing the role of Baba Voss. “I feel lucky to be picked. I feel like it was written a bit pigeonholed where I could play off of certain things I had to offer, but yet they didn’t know that I could pull off maybe certain other things. There’s normally a lot of other better actors in line to get those roles, and it's just one of those things that I would take on as much as I could to try to get the role. It was something I was very passionate about. It’s really hard because there are a lot of people ahead of you. It’s an honor to be on it," he said.
As far as working with Strechay as the blindness consultant and preparation for taking on these roles, Woodard said, “You approach it the same way you approach any language--with respect, and starting at the very beginning. We were so at the beginning, you wouldn’t even call us infants. For me, it was just the awareness that there was an actual language in terms of the way that you speak, like any other language. You discover the creativity [of it]. There was something there. The awareness of that is how far I got, just to the point where I didn’t step into the potholes.”
“I certainly came into the project with preconceived notions of what blindness is and how people who are blind and have low vision navigate through the world," said Guevara-Prip. "And I didn't know how much I didn’t know. He [Strechay] was an important resource in holding our hands through the process and learning the skills that blind people use to navigate through the world. We just dipped our toes in it. We are by no means experts."
“What we do know and what all of our viewers will know is that they can kick ass, they can battle, they can make love, they can make babies, new worlds...it’s like, duh!" added Woodard.
Hoeks, who plays Queen Hera, added, “I’m not blind, and I can see, so there was a cautiousness that I had. And then you don’t want to portray the cliché or the generalization because that is not what it is. That’s not how we have seen people that are blind on-set, the actors that we worked with. Everyone has their own way in, and so we tried to find our own way in.”
Camargo, who plays Tamacti Jun, said, “No one expected us to go, ‘OK, you’re going to play a blind person and you'll do that.’ It was like, ‘No, we’re going to play the what-if game, the imagination,’ but we’re going to have a consultant who comes in and says, ‘This is what I do.’ These little techniques that Strechay has developed for himself, he shared with us. And everyone has their own way of coping and figuring out things. And he shared his way, and with that, I was able to personally apply the character in that situation to that. And Joe being so inclusive and compassionate towards me and my process, there was a sharing of information. But it’s just the smallest sliver of understanding of what it’ll be to be blind. And after that it’s just story, just human need, we’re just not using [eyes] to connect.”
We asked Cooper and Madekwe, who portray Baba Voss' adoptive children, Haniwa and Kofun, what they thought would surprise people most about the show.
“It is a very visceral show based in human emotion and with that comes love, family, fights, battle, consequence...I think of all of that, the scope and the gravitas and how expansive the show is and the broad range in which this show travels [will surprise people]," said Madekwe. Cooper added, “I think the broadness of the world is what will be surprising to most people. Some people may go into the show seeing Jason’s face and he’s in the fur, [and in the] wilderness and they’ll be like, 'I’ve seen this before,' but if you actually watch the show, you see that it is an entirely made-up world with its cultures, customs, prayers and everything. It’s different than anything you’ve seen before."
See is streaming on Apple TV+ now.
Photo: Apple TV+
From Harlem to Hollywood, get the Black entertainment news you need in your inbox daily.