“We knew the show was bigger than a plague, it is very much a love story,” confided Terry Matalas, Executive Producer of 12 Monkeys. There was much to celebrate on Wednesday night, the 29th, at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The 12 Monkeys cast was not only relishing in the announcement of season 3 but also waiting anxiously to watch the shocking end of season 2 among their fans on the big screen.
Photo (from left to right): Todd Stashwick, Amanda Schull, Aaron Stanford, Emily Hampshire, Terry Matalas, Kirk Acevedo. Photo Credit: Imeh Bryant Photography
12 Monkeys, based on a movie that shares the same name as the show, is a constant battle between the ideas of predestination versus free will. The show is outlined with the year 2043, a time where a contagion outbreak almost entirely kills the human race and one man, James Cole, must be sent back in time to stop the person who started the virus. Of course, that is an over-simplified version of the show, but Matalas told Los Angeles Entertainment News that the plot has started to break away from the movie, “The initial set-up was relatively close to what they did in the film, but now it’s pretty much all its own thing.”
Photo: Terry Matalas. Photo credit: Olivia Waldorf
With so much creative and cinematic competition in today’s entertainment industry, it is difficult to put together a show with a unique plot line that will keep audiences and fan-bases watching, yet 12 Monkeys pulls it off seamlessly.
While commenting on what makes the show stand out in the plethora of TV shows today, Amanda Schull, or “Dr. Cassandra Railly”, added, “I think the characters first and foremost make it so much more interesting than other shows out there because they’re multifaceted and flawed and strong. The women on this show have strength that is unparalleled with anywhere else on television.”
Photo: Amanda Schull. Photo credit: Olivia Waldorf
The show also does a good job of making the cast, and the audiences think that the characters in 12 Monkeys have moments of free will, but the writers twist the plot so that the characters always find themselves following a defined plan that had been predetermined, much to their dismay.
“I’m a free will guy,” boasted Todd Stashwick, also known as “Deacon”, when asked what he believes about predestination and how the show molds the concept of free will. “Destiny is only in hindsight, when you connect the dots of all your choices and where they led. I don’t think anybody is destined not to be their true selves, but a lot of people fear what they’ll choose not to be,” said Stashwick.
Photo: Todd Stashwick. Photo credit: Olivia Waldorf
Not only is 12 Monkeys a love story between characters, but also submerged in the violence and time travel are lesson unfolding on how to love yourself as you are right now. “Jennifer Goines,” played by Emily Hampshire, had a face to face with her older self, who is on the verge of death. “Hello egg, I am chicken…look how pretty I was,” greeted old Jennifer to young Jennifer.
In response to this emotional scene, Hampshire said that we often see ourselves in such a negative light, but playing both Jennifer’s in this scene allowed her to see herself from another point of view. This scene gave her a new sense of perspective about where she is right now in life. Emily also clarified, “It’s not just in terms of looks, but so much more profound than that. It’s your older self being able to tell you how good you are right now.” The undercurrents of these different themes are what make the show relatable and impactful on so many levels.
Photo: Emily Hampshire. Photo credit: Olivia Waldorf
Sitting on stage after the “first-look” screening of the dramatic season 2 finale, the cast of the show divulged secrets, opened up about their characters and spilled some spoilers for season 3.
I found that a lot of the actors were more alike their characters than not and that a good portion of the acting happens off-script, in the moment. “I’m very fortunate that I get to work with people that make those scenes easy to submerge yourself into and easy to believe the moment and easy to plummet the depths of the character,” said Stashwick.
Photo (from left to right): Todd Stashwick, Emily Hampshire, Kirk Acevedo, Amanda Schull, Aaron Stanford, Terry Matalas. Photo credit: Imeh Bryant Photography
But if you strip away almost everything from the show and leave it with its bare bones material, you see that it truly is just a love story. Almost everything is done out of love and protection for oneself or another character; so yes, it is about the concept of time (among a hefty amount of other motifs) but as Matalas said, “There’s many love stories, whether it’s Cole and Railly, Jennifer and Jennifer, or Jones and her daughter. That’s always what the core of the show is in some way.”