Interview: Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie Talk ABC’s “The Crossing!”

Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie, ABC Crossing,

(Courtesy of ABC)

Before the highly anticipated premiere of ABC’s new sci-fi drama, The Crossing, Villain Media has an exclusive interview with creators Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie. The quiet town of Port Canaan will never to be the same with the sudden arrival of their surprise guests.

Refugees from a war-torn country start showing up to seek asylum in an American town. Only in this country, these people are from is America but the war they are fleeing is going to happen 180 years in the future.

Before the premiere of The Crossing on ABC April 2nd, 2018 at 10pm, showrunners/executive producers Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie talk about the mystery of  their characters and the cast members who play them. What do a sheriff with a mysterious past, a determined federal agent, and a mother-on-the-run have in common?

Villain Media: After working on the pilot, and being a major part of the show, how has this project changed you as a storyteller?

Jay Beattie: That’s a good question!

Dan Dworkin: Well, it has been an experience! We’ve been juggling different kind of stories. It has a pretty expansive cast of characters and a very expansive story. We’re dealing with a few different worlds. So in that respect, it has been a challenge but in a good way. It has allowed us to figure out a way to tell multiple stories at once, keep moving everything forward, everything engaging. There would be a tendency to make everything surface-y. We’ve learned how to keep it rich.

JB: Yeah! We’ve put ourselves in shoes of other people with different backgrounds on this show. We really consider multiple points-of-view, from people with different locks of life. That includes what we hopefully we’ll never have to experience; that’s been interesting.

VM: Having seen the pilot, I have to say, a lot of the imagery has stayed on my mind afterwards. Tell me about working with director Rob Bowman, who previously helmed The X-Files: Fight The Future.  

DD: For me, The X-Files is the seminal show of my twenties. It’s one of the seminal shows of my life! I was a fan. We never worked with him before. We didn’t know what to expect and he was fantastic on every level! He was super! You could tell when someone loves the material and really puts their heart into it. And he really did!

He thought everything through! He had a vision! I just literally love him! I love the man! [Laughs] I sent him an email the other day. I’m like “I miss you!” So he’s great!

Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie,, ABC Crossing,
THE CROSSING – “Pilot” – Refugees from a war-torn country seek asylum in a small American fishing town, only the country these people are from is America Ð and the war they are fleeing hasnÕt happened yet. As the government tries to uncover the truth behind this mysterious migration only one thing is certain: The lives of the people here, both the townspeople and these newcomers, will never be the same. (ABC/Jack Rowand)
SANDRINE HOLT

From the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Emma Ren (played by Sandrine Holt) is leading the investigation into the arrival of the refugees. How did they get here? Why have they come to Port Canaan? Her dogged pursuit for the truth will take her on an unforeseen path.

VM: Sandrine Holt is particularly amazing as Homeland agent Emma Ren. Tell me about the qualities  you think Holt embodies with her character.

DD: Well, with Sandrine Holt, I’ve been a fan of hers from a long time ago. We’ve seen her work on House of Cards and Mr. Robot. And we really needed Emma to be someone with a similar background. She’s a refugee who has been brought to this country as a child, but by legal channels. As an agent of Homeland Security, she has to be tough on refugees who coming in illegally. It’s a complicated, confrontative point-of-view. We needed someone who has the gravitas as a government official.

We saw that with Sandrine’s work. That’s why we went up to her. She was really one of the first people we went to for that role.

JB: She’s got a cool combination. Having that strength but there’s also fragility. We didn’t want obviously a cookie-cutter law enforcement type. So she helped us with that.

Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie, ABC Crossing
THE CROSSING – ABC’s “The Crossing” stars Natalie Martinez as Reece. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

VM: I particularly loved Natalie Martinez as Reece, a mother searching for her missing daughter.

DD: Reece (played by Natalie Martinez) happens to be a refugee, but there’s something odd about her. She’s especially different from the others. Viewers are going to discover what makes her so special.

JB: As far as Natalie, we worked with her on another show we did, called Matador. She guest-starred on one episode. We thought she was great! In terms of the physicality of her role, which you’ll see more of in the series, I had watched her on a show called Kingdom, it was about MMA. She played an MMA fighter. She was extremely convincing! [Laughs] We knew she could handle that!

Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahan) thought he was supposed to keep the tranquility going within his small fishing town. But the arrival of the refugees brings back a dark secret from his days as a big city cop. But can he trust anyone with this investigation, especially Emma Ren?

Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie, ABC Crossing,
THE CROSSING – ABC’s “The Crossing” stars Sandrine Holt as Emma, Steve Zahn as Jude and Natalie Martinez as Reece. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

VM: Steve Zahn brings such heart and humor to his role as Sheriff Jude Miller. Known for his work in Modern Family and Treme, Zahn easily switches between comedy and drama on the show. Having Zahn in the role, does that make the writing easier?

DD: Absolutely! Yeah he can do it all! We like to incorporate good humor into our stuff. So it’s nice to know you have someone there and deliver those lines, which he does easily. Obviously like you said, he  has an incredible sense of humanity. In the pilot, you see it a couple of times, when the bodies are coming up on the beach, calling his wife when he wants to talk to his kid. It just makes you want to cry! So yes, it’s great having someone who can do both those things!

VM: With the pilot premiering on April 2nd, what are you most excited about in the upcoming season?

DD: It’s tough because it sounds like a cop-out. The reason we did this show, we had this idea and we pursued this show. There’s a lot in here that we like! There’s a lot with the human drama but there’s also a lot on the sci-fi end. We were very excited to kind of explore facets of genetic engineering. It plays a significant part of the show, in terms of where Apex comes from and the science of that. We get to that in the show. That was really fun! We had a consultant on staff, who’s this synthetic biologist who helped us with our science. That was great!

We were very excited to think about what the future might look like in 100-150 years. That’s the best research, the most fun we’ve ever had talking to researchers. We were talking to futurists about what they think the future might hold. That was awesome! All of that was fun to get into!

VM: What are you working on now?

JB: We’re still working on post production and finishing up all these episodes. We in fact air April 2nd. We’ll be putting the final touches on these 10 episodes probably through April. And then, we’ll just wait and see how the audience reacts. We’ll figure out by then if we’re getting a season two. So we’re setting our sights on that!

The Crossing premieres on ABC April 2nd, 2018 at 10pm.

By Jorge Solis

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