In the second chapter of AMC’s “The Terror” franchise, a number of suspicious deaths rock a a tight-knit Japanese American community during World War II. As the season progresses, the show explores the internment camps, something which showrunner Alexander Woo believes has been thus far underrepresented in storytelling.
“There has been criminally very little done on-screen,” Woo said of the camps at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas Thursdays. “We have a great responsibility to show them in as much detail and with as much accuracy as possible.”
Woo, who co-created the second season of the anthology drama with Max Borenstein, reached out to a famous expert — survivor George Takei — for aid in crafting the story honestly.
“One day, I got a call from Alex — he lives in the same neighborhood,” Takei said. “He came over and explained the project to me. I consider this chapter of American history…to be an [overlooked,] important chapter. It’s my life mission to raise the awareness. When he described the story, I said it is an honor and a privilege and my responsibility to accept the project as a consultant. And then he said, ‘Well, you’re an actor, too. How would you like to be in it?’”
Added Woo: “It would be nuts to have George Takei [and not have him act]. I felt I had to write something for George and to honor what he’s done. It’s very much a gift to him.”
Takei was relocated with his family when he was a young child, a time in his life he now calls “an adventure of discovery.” Taken out of Southern California and “plunked to Arkansas,” Takei shared that his father told him they were “on a vacation.” Years later, though, Takei spoke in more detail with his father about the experience to better understand the things that may have gone over his head, or been hidden from him, at the time it occurred.
“He was the one who shared his experience, his pain, his anguish, and also his sense of building a community when people were so depressed and anguished,” Takei said. “But also, I learned about American democracy from my father. He said the people can do amazing things, but they’re also fallible.”
While the series will dive into serious subject matter, it will be done with a supernatural tinge, ala the first season. “The strategy of the show has always been to use the genre of Japanese ghost stories…as an analogy to the terror of the historical experience,” Woo said. “I want to tell it from a very personal level, so you feel like you’re in the skin of these characters and you build an empathy for them over the 10 episodes.”
And Takei praised Woo’s approach, saying, “No project has ever dealt with the internment on this scale. It’s groundbreaking.”