After making “Gravity,” Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuaron says he wanted to do something in which actors weren't floating. That didn't prove to be entirely the case.
His new NBC series “Believe,” on which he teamed up with writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams, revolves around a girl named Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) with mental superpowers, including telekinesis; she can control nature, see the future, and, yes, levitate. So, if you have seen the clips, you know there is floating.
Of course, those abilities attract both good and evil — people trying to control her or protect her.
Cuaron says he came up with the idea for the series during the endless process of refining visual effects for “Gravity,” which won seven Oscars.
“I wanted to do something and didn't have the time to make a film,” he says. “But it was the perfect moment to try to put together a TV show. And I talked to J.J. and said, ‘Hey, I have this idea,' and he got excited immediately and says, ‘Wow.' ”
Abrams says he has wanted to work with Cuaron for more than 20 years, and when he got the call, he felt “Believe” was “something compelling, something that felt like I had to see on television. We were all desperate to be involved, of course, because it was Alfonso. So it was one of those things that was an opportunity that was too great, too exciting to pass up.”
In the first episode, directed and co-written by Cuaron, Bo's protectors — Winter (Delroy Lindo) and Channing (Jamie Chung) — inexplicably break a death-row inmate named Tate (Jake McLaughlin) out of prison to become her guardian. The two then go on the run from a high-powered industrialist (Kyle MacLachlan) who is intent on capturing the 10-year-old child.
“They are like an odd couple that starts turning into this father-daughter relationship that is not easy,” says Cuaron, adding that “Working with J.J., you throw him an idea, he throws it back and everything starts to flow.”
Abrams, who has produced a number of sci-fi series such as “Fringe” and the current “Almost Human,” likens the initial episode to “the first chapter of a Stephen King novel.” As for where it will go from there, Abrams says, “Each week there will be someone Bo meets out in the world that she helps. But there'll also be larger mythological elements that will be revealed.”
Those who watched “Fringe” or “Lost” know Abrams isn't afraid to go deep into strange mythologies.
“Believe,” however, can imply something else, too.
“Yes, I think that's part of the humor of when Alfonso picked the title,” Abrams acknowledges. “It had at its core a humanity, and that meant humor, and it meant a sense of self-awareness. I think that there's a spiritual side of the show that's very deep, but we are no ‘Touched by an Angel.' ”