Amazon Takes Reich Turn at ‘Man in the High Castle’ NYC Premiere

Man in the High Castle DJ
Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

Showrunner Frank Spotnitz: I just wanted to honor Philip K. Dick's book

Amazon Studios rolled out a Nazi-red carpet for the New York premiere Monday of “The Man in the High Castle,” an alternate-history drama based on Philip K. Dick’s novel about a world in which the U.S. and its allies lost World War II.

Frank Spotnitz, who adapted the book for the Amazon original series, revealed that his biggest fear was angering fans of Dick’s award-winning 1962 classic. “To me, I just wanted to honor the book,” he said, adding, “Grasping the meaning is hard — it’s so complex.”

Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of the famed author, said her dad would have been tickled that one of the biggest retailers on the planet funded the show. “He would find it hilarious that selling paper towels is what made it possible to get this made,” said Dick Hackett, who exec produced on the project. “I would hope he loves it as much as we do.”

At the affair, held at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, attendees were met with greeters in scarlet ’60s-era flight attendant outfits sporting “MITHC” logos while throwback showtunes played.

Amazon released the hour-long pilot of “The Man in the High Castle” in January, free for anyone to watch, as part of its development process to decide which shows to pick up. The entire 10-episode series will debut Nov. 20 on Amazon Prime Instant Video, available only to members of the company’s Prime program.

Series stars Alexa Davalos and Luke Kleintank (“Pretty Little Liars”) attended the premiere, along with cast members Rupert Evans, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Joel De La Fuente, Rufus Sewell and DJ Qualls.

In “The Man in the High Castle,” Germany and Japan have carved up regions of the U.S., with the Nazis controlling the eastern part of the country and Japan holding the Pacific states.

Davalos plays Juliana Crain, a woman who is part of the American resistance fighting the occupation. She said she loved Philip K. Dick’s novel and saw it as a sign when she saw the script for the series. “The most surprising thing is you find yourself rooting for characters you didn’t expect,” she said.

Tagawa, who grew up in Hawaii, said his grandfather on his mother’s side was a senior minister for the Empire of Japan and his father was born in the U.S. — which informed his portrayal of the conflicted Japanese official Nobusuke Tagomi. “My brain was split like that,” he said. Almost the entire cast of the show, he said, has a bicultural background.

For Kleintank, who plays an American who’s a double-agent for the Nazis, the experience was a chance to sink his teeth into a character with a meaty and nebulous backstory. “I feel like me and my character bonded,” he said. “I’m sure there were people who were Nazis but who felt the way we do about the history.”

“Man in the High Castle” is the first Philip K. Dick work to be adapted specifically for TV (Fox’s “Minority Report,” cut back to 10 eps this season, is based on the film, Dick Hackett said). Originally it was in development at the BBC and then moved to NBCUniversal’s Syfy as a four-part miniseries before Amazon stepped in.

Morgan Wandell, Amazon Studios’ head of drama series, noted that BBC and Syfy passed on the series and told the crowd at the screening: “Fortunately, today, it is ours.”

As for potential future “Man in the High Castle” seasons, if that happens, Spotnitz said he’s already thinking of plotlines: “You have the whole world to explore.”

According to Amazon, “Man in the High Castle” is the most-watched pilot it has ever put on Prime (but, like Netflix, the company does not reveal viewing metrics).

Spotnitz, best known as a scribe for “The X-Files,” wrote the first two episodes and serves as exec producer along with director David Semel (“Madam Secretary”). Also executive producing are Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker, with co-executive producer Jordan Sheehan of Scott Free Productions and executive producers Stewart Mackinnon and Christian Baute of Headline Pictures. In addition, Kalen Egan co-executive produces on behalf of Electric Shepherd and Christopher Tricarico is also exec producer.

 

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Carsten Norgaard, David Zucker, Rupert Evans, Rufus Sewell, Frank Spotnitz, Alexa Davalos, Joel De La Fuente, Luke Kleintank, DJ Qualls and Isa Dick Hackett
Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

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