Interviews , Television

Chiwetel Ejiofor And Naomie Harris On How 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' Offers Diverse Storytelling Rather Than A Remake

We love to see Black sci-fi leads!

Black fans of science fiction show up in support for bodies of work that fall under its umbrella, but the love being reciprocated in representation is typically lacking.

So it’s rare to see Black leads in major projects for the genre, so two of today’s biggest names in the industry starring on a premium network series is a cinematic experience to marvel at.

Showtime’s The Man Who Fell to Earth is inspired by the Walter Tevis novel of the same name and the iconic David Bowie film. The 2022 version of the beloved work takes viewers into the worlds of Faraday (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) an alien whose actions determine the Earth’s state and scientist Justin (played by Naomie Harris) who is faced with the decision of whether or not to join him in his urgent mission to save the planet.

While the show draws from core elements of the previous works, creators and executive producers Janet Lumet and Alex Kurtzman’s diverse storytelling is set to resonate with today’s world.

“I love the fact that this is not a remake, this is a sequel,” Harris told Shadow and Act in a recent interview. “It’s offering something completely different, completely different characters and storylines. But, it’s still continuing the same themes as well. They’re even more relevant themes to today than they were 40 years ago when the film was made. They speak to us in very different ways as a new audience watching it. I think people will be really excited and moved by that. And more than anything, I want them to connect to these new characters and to be entertained.”

Prior to landing the roles alongside one another, the Oscar nominees have each had their own entry into sci-fi. In 2016, Ejiofor plays Karl Mordo, a Doctor Strange supporting character, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. For Harris, she worked with her Moonlight co-star Mahershala Ali for Apple TV+’s Swan Song.

Just as the two of them have been fortunate to lead in the genre, Ejiofor hopes for show creators to be intentional about writing out Black roles so that the next generation of Black actors and actresses don’t have to face as many barriers.

“I think that one of the really important parts of this show is that it talks about humanity and humanity is very diverse,” he said. “And so any representation of humanity should be diverse in that way. What I hope is that this show and shows like it shows that have Black leads in, by normalizing having black leads in sci-fi to the point that it’s not noteworthy. I just hope that that happens so younger actors don’t feel like there are any constraints in what they may be able to do and might be able to express creatively and artistically in this medium. I think that’s really important and it’s an important part of this show as well.”

The Man Who Fell to Earth premieres on Showtime on April 24.

Watch the full interview above.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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