Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety Senior Features Editor, TV Danielle Turchiano talks with David Farr, creator and executive producer of Amazon’s “Hanna.”
Based on the 2011 film of the same name, which Farr co-wrote, “Hanna” tells the story of the titular young girl who has lived in a forest her entire life and has gained extraordinary physical abilities as a result. Hanna is thrown into a thrilling chase with an off-book CIA agent, while trying to find out who she really is.
Farr explains that the reason he wanted to tackle the story again was because the film “only told a slice of the story,” and he wanted to “go much further” and tell a “deeper story” this time around.
“The piece hopefully talks to young people…but it also talks to parents and the lies we tell our kids and the versions of truths we tell our kids and how those come back to haunt us,” Farr says.
One of the hardest parts of writing the show for Farr was “intermingling the personal and the thriller elements,” which he sees as “deeply intertwined.”
“When I write it, I really enjoy that sense that you move in and out of the personal and the far more energized, political action-thriller stuff,” he says.
At its core, “Hanna” is a coming-of-age story about a girl who is trying to find herself on an emotional and more literal level.
Spending her entire life in a forest has left Hanna “physically extraordinary,” but also “emotionally naive,” Farr explains.
“She’s not a ‘Stranger Things’ kid, she’s becoming an adult, she’s on the cusp of adulthood, which we all remember as being one of the most difficult, tortuous, but also exciting part of our lives,” he says. “It’s like any teenage story, it’s just writ large because of the stakes that are involved.”
When it came to finding the right actress to play the central part, Farr and his team spent a long time looking and searched in “five or six different countries” across Europe.
Eventually, they settled on the relatively unknown actress Esme Creed-Miles, partly because of her “incredible ear” for language and accents.
“Through that ear she had an access to the character, and then this wonderfully vulnerable, pure face,” Farr says. “Her acting style if very economical, she doesn’t do an awful lot, it’s very simple, but the camera gains access to her emotional world very quickly.”
Joel Kinnaman also stars in the show, and Farr notes that while the Swedish-American actor has done plenty of action roles before, his character in “Hanna” shows the audience a “very different side to him.”
“We see a father, a very vulnerable man, haunted by his past too…and he does it with surprising gentleness and I think people will find that revealing of him,” Farr concludes.
Later in the show, TV writer Will Thorne joins Executive Editor, TV Daniel Holloway to talk about the latest developments in the case of “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, who is being accused of staging a hate crime.