Storytelling school

‘Black Bird’ Showrunner Dennis Lehane Explains How Greek Mythology Inspired Storytelling in Apple TV+ Series

As Jimmy Keene, Oscar-nominated Taron Egerton goes from regular inmate to maximum security in an effort to extract a confession to murdering another inmate in “Black Bird.”

The drama, based on true events, tells the gripping story of a high school star athlete turned underage drug kingpin, who is sent to prison after accepting a plea deal including his father, a retired police officer. (Ray Liotta) assures that he will only keep him inside for two years (the judge gives him 10, without the possibility of parole).

But, when Jimmy learns that his father had a stroke following his fall from grace and continues to face serious medical issues, Egerton’s character makes a deal with detectives and the district attorney’s office to be transferred. in the worst prison in the state on a mission. At the supermax, known for housing the insane and most violent criminals, Jimmy’s role is to befriend and coax a confession from suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) before the man is released for a technical detail.

Spanning just six episodes, “Black Bird” is a fast-paced thriller, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats as Jimmy goes to hell trying to get out early to see his dad.

“Right off the bat, I saw the story in very mythological terms,” executive producer and showrunner Dennis Lehane told TheWrap. “I was just like, ‘This is the story we’ve been telling – humans have been telling – since the dawn of time, which is like the inexperienced young man who leaves the village to fight the ogre, walks into a cave and comes to draw back a changed man. That’s really the story.

Partnered with Lehane both on-screen and off, Egerton, who not only stars in the series but also serves as an executive producer. And the actor was very involved in the process of building the right team.

“He and I had a very firm aesthetic about where this material was going. … So one of them was, you know, I wanted the show to be very Greek, ancient Greek in the sense that most of the violence happens off-screen, except for the prison stuff. And at the same time, I wanted it to be extremely disturbing. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. Nothing graphic, you know, but I wanted it to be as scary as possible. And so we had a vision for that,” Lehane said. “And we chose the staff based on that.”

In fact, Egerton and executive producer Bradley Thomas were championing Hauser for the role of the sweet-but-creepy suspected serial killer Larry.

“And then I asked Paul to read. I can’t say enough about his lack of ego that he would do this after starring in a movie. And he read, and I gave him the hardest Larry scene to do and he blew us away [away]”, Lehane said. “I was just worried that Paul wouldn’t scare me. And then he did. And I was like, ‘Engaged.’

'Black Bird' trailer: Taron Egerton must befriend a suspected serial killer in the Apple TV+ series (video)

“So Taron was every step of the way. I must say he set the tone for the theatrical side of things. He was professional; he was completely committed; and he had no vanity. And I just thought, I mean, if you just spent six months transforming your body into this, I guess, what could make you doubt?” Lehane added, referring to the muscular physique of ‘ Egerton for the show. “But he was just there. We’re all editing. We’re just like, watching him in the edit, and you’re like, ‘Man, we have to go to the gym.’

For his part, Hauser also dug deep, even finding audio recordings of the real person his character is inspired by.

“He heard a recording of Larry Hall and he said, ‘His voice is super high.’ And so I listened to his first impression of that voice. And I was like, ‘That’s too high. We’re taking that down at least six notches,'” Lehane said. that Larry’s voice would become thinner and higher as he felt less confident. So we [built that] When we first meet him, his voice is in a lower register, and after the middle of the fourth episode, when he starts to gain confidence, we started lowering his voice.

The first two episodes of “Black Bird” are now available to stream on Apple TV+. New episodes drop on Fridays.