[caption id="attachment_4369" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Jamie Campbell Bower as Number 11-12 in The Prisoner. Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
Imagine having a life where pretty much everything you want is within easy reach and all you have to do is ask for it. In AMC's re-imagined version of The Prisoner, Number 11-12 wakes up to that every day as a resident of The Village. The son of Number Two, the overseer of this residential "paradise," and M2, his idealistic mother, this 17-year-old is among the privileged and is being groomed to one day take over his father's duties within The Village. It sounds like the perfect situation, maybe not for 11-12, but it was one that actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays 11-12, could not wait to jump into.
"There had been rumors of The Prisoner floating about, and then I got a phone call from my agent telling me, 'I think you should go out for this.' He's rarely wrong, so I did," recalls Bower. "I received four pages of audition sides from one of the episodes, and as I read them something really struck home with me. There was just something quite moving about the material and this idea of family and the connection between 11-12 and his father, Two, played by Ian McKellen.
"So I was very excited about the project to begin with, and it was, I think, a rainy Tuesday afternoon when I went down to London's South Bank next to the Thames for my audition. Whatever I did must have worked because I received another call telling me that I got the role, which was brilliant."
[caption id="attachment_4371" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="11-12 with his father, Number Two (Ian McKellen). Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
While a life of privilege may sound enticing to some, especially a young person, it is rarely all that is cracked up to be. And as typically happens, no one seems to have asked 11-12 what he wants.
"With my character, it's that classic case of, 'I don't want to be the prince any more. I want to be an ordinary person," says Bower. "But then he also thinks that one day he might inherit The Village, so like most people his age, 11-12 is definitely feeling some angst towards his father. As for his relationship with his mother, M2 [Rachael Blake], it's very distant. He loves her dearly, but he never sees her. His mother is just this entity in the house they live in, and 11-12 strives to have a much closer bond with her.
"So as you might imagine, 11-12 is quite highly strung and emotionally charged. He also has this feeling that he's missing something in his life, but he doesn't know what it is. Acting-wise, maintaining that high level of intensity and emotion wasn't easy. In fact,there was one particular scene that I did with Vincent Regan [Number 909] that screws up my character in a major way. We shot it over an entire day and I had to be incredibly emotional most of that time. Again, it was tough, but it was also a challenge and one I enjoyed because it really helped me to grow as a person as well as an actor."
[caption id="attachment_4372" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Not a good day in The Village for 11-12. Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
Much to his surprise, a frustrated 11-12's eyes are opened to an entirely new set of possibilities for his future, thanks to The Village's newest resident and The Prisoner's lead character, Number Six (Jim Caviezel). "Six's arrival throws a bit of a spanner into the works of The Village," notes Bower. "He comes along and forthrightly and outwardly says, 'This isn't all there is' and 11-12's reaction to that is, 'Well, maybe he's right.' So his interaction with Six is one of curiosity as well as questioning and trying to understand why it is that this man is saying what he's saying. And I think 11-12 ends up believing in and trusting Six."
While their onscreen personas are caught up in the turmoil of what is happening to them, The Prisoner's cast as well as crew could not have enjoyed their time together more, Bower included. "Everyone involved in this project is incredibly talented and fun," enthuses the actor. "Working with Ian McKellen is an absolute joy and a pleasure. The same is true of working with young British stars like Hayley Atwell [Lucy/4-15] and Ruth Wilson [Number 313]. We all became good mates and helped each other out, patted one another on the back when we needed it, and laughed at each other when we didn't need it," he jokes. "We spent four-and-a-half months together in South Africa. Not many people can say that, apart from those who live there, and we had a really nice time."
Bower was 14 when he decided that he wanted to become an actor, and four years later made his feature film debut in director Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. "I had just turned 18 and was at boarding school in the English countryside," he says. "I was sneaking out at five o'clock in the morning through my house master's backdoor and getting into a car that was waiting for me outside the school gates to take me to set. I'd then return to school around seven at night and go back to bed.
[caption id="attachment_4373" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="11-12 shares a rare moment with his mother, M2 (Rachael Blake). Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
"I did that for about two weeks and then I made the decision that I should probably just leave school and not bum a free bed off them every night. So that's what I did, and it was an incredibly terrifying experience for me, being just 18 and working alongside people like Tim Burton as well as Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall. It was also a phenomenal opportunity and it gave me such an amazing starting point that I could never have dreamt of, so I was very, very lucky."
Besides The Prisoner, Bower can also currently be seen as Caius in the latest installment of the hugely successful teenage vampire tale The Twilight Saga: New Moon. "I was in Los Angeles not too long ago and they were casting for New Moon," says the actor. "My American agent asked me if I would like to audition for it, and I said that I'd kill to audition for it. So I met with [director] Chris Weitz and then I got a call offering me the role of Caius, which I was really excited about.
"Caius, along with Michael Sheen's character of Ar0, and Marcus,who is played by Chris Heyerdahl, are the leaders of an ancient Italian vampire coven known as the Volturi. We shot in Vancouver and I was there for about three weeks working with actors like Michael, Chris, Dakota Fanning [Jane], Rob Pattinson [Edward Cullen] and Kris Stewart [Bella Swan]. It was a real treasure of a role for me and another great set of actors to work with and learn from."
[caption id="attachment_4374" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Change is in the air when 11-12 crosses paths with Number Six (Jim Caviezel). Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
The actor has a lead role alongside Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell in the upcoming film London Boulevard and has guest-starred in an episode of the new British Fantasy TV series Game of Thrones. Harry Potter fans can also look forward to enjoying Bower's performance in the two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
"I play Gellert Grindelwald, who's an old friend of Dumbledore's [Michael Gambon]," he says. "They have this idea that they can create a utopian wizardry world, and then there's a big fight and something awful happens," teases the actor.
"So it was another fun project, and 'fun' is one of the things about this job that's important to me. I hope I can continue doing this up until the point that it isn't fun any more. That's when people become jaded and become the person that they never wanted to be. I think growing as an actor and a performer is a wonderful thing to behold, and feeling like you're learning as well. That's especially important for young actors like myself who have chosen a different path. We haven't gone to university, but, instead, have decided that acting is what we want to do, and as long as you're learning while doing it, then I think that's the main thing that will keep you happy."
Steve EramoThe Prisoner concludes tonight, Tuesday, November 17th @ 8 p.m. EST/PST.As noted above, all photos copyright of Granada TV and AMC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!
[caption id="attachment_4182" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two in The Prisoner. Photo copyright of Granada TV/AMC"][/caption]
IN the 1960s British TV series The Prisoner, a character named simply Number Two was the overseer of The Village, a remote seaside community that welcomed new "residents" but rarely allowed anyone to leave - at least alive. When an ex-British Secret Service agent, Number Six (played by actor and series co-creator Patrick McGoohan), was brought to The Village against his will, Number Two was assigned the task of finding out the truth behind why Six resigned from his job.
Over the course of the show's 17-episode run, no less than 17 actors and actresses portrayed Number Two, with Leo McKern appearing three times and Colin Gordon appearing twice. Some stories featured more than one Number Two, including It's Your Funeral, in which two incarnations of the character played major roles in the episode, while images of two others were seen as well.
This Sunday, November 15th, AMC will air the first two episodes of its six-part miniseries remake of The Prisoner. Award-winning British stage, feature film and TV actor Sir Ian McKellen assumes the role of Number Two and, like his predecessors, is equally dogged when it comes to finding out Number Six's (Jim Caviezel) true agenda. In the following AMC press Q & A, Sir Ian McKellen talks about the 2009 miniseries and his role in it.
Why did The Prisoner interest you?Ian McKellen - This is the sort of thing I would enjoy watching myself and that is always the test. It also arrived at the right time - I wanted to work and, to top it all, it brought me to Cape Town. Now, it's more intriguing than when I first read it. It's a thriller and unlike the original series, this is much more about what Six wants to escape from and why he can't escape. There are clues from the very first scene in the opening episode.
Who is Two?IM - In the original series, Two was running The Village. More than that, he was played by a different actor for each episode, but this time there's just me playing the part. Two appears to be in charge of The Village and he has the qualities of someone who might well be that. If you like The Village, you'd accept him as your leader and revere him, but if you don't like The Village, you'd think he is a monster. I personally don't think he's creepy at all.
[caption id="attachment_4183" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="A pensive moment for Number Two. Photo copyright of Granada TV/AMC"][/caption]
What about Two's family?IM - It is no secret that Two has a family. He has a son in his late teens and he has a wife who's comatose and with whom he is madly in love. So he has a wife who he can't really talk to, and a son who doesn't want to talk to him. He loves them both and it is his love for them both that sets the whole story rollicking along. Does he bring Six to The Village to take over from him or does it become his motive as the story goes on? You never know with The Village.
Why is The Prisoner so compelling?IM - Once you get involved with something as good as this you find out things you didn't know before. I read online about people who indulge in mutual dreaming. Sometimes the dreams are identical. I suppose Bill Gallagher [who wrote this re-imagined version of The Prisoner] knew that, and if he didn't, is very perceptive to these things. What I like about The Prisoner are all the oddities, the strangeness and the peculiarities. Portmerion [the setting in which the original 60s Prisoner was shot] doesn't look real. It's a fantasy. Bill Gallagher's Prisoner is set in a more believable place and one that clearly has a style to it. Swakopmund has the feel of a prison, with the mighty Atlantic Ocean on one side of the town and desert on the other side.
Are there similarities to the original?IM - There are references back to the original and there are characters that appear in the original that appear in this. I don't think it is any secret that Rover is back. In this, as opposed to the original, we discover where Rover comes from. Questions are answered. People who enjoyed the original might ask why have you cast an American and not an Englishman in the central role? It all will be answered. The Prisoner is being re-imagined by a group of people who are fans of the original.
[caption id="attachment_4185" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Two shares a family moment with his son, 11-12 (Jamie Campbell Bower) and wife, M2 (Rachael Blake). Photo copyright of Granada TV/AMC"][/caption]
What do you think The Prisoner is about?IM - It is about relationships in the context of things which preoccupy us. It is about the nature of government today, about the state of mental health, about conspiracy theories. It is a thriller because exciting things happen, and if you are interested to know why they happen you would want to watch the next episode. The story plays with current observations just like the original did.
The Prisoner debuts with two episodes on Sunday, November 15th @ 8 p.m. EST/PST and continues at the same time on Monday, the 16th and Tuesday, the 17th. Watch for more Q & As as well as cast interviews as the week goes on.As noted above, all photos copyright of Granada TV and AMC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!
[caption id="attachment_3983" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Two totally opposite numbers - Six (Jim Caviezel) and Two (Ian McKellen) in AMC's The Prisoner. Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
A man wakes up in a mysterious place where people have numbers instead of names, and all traces of his former life are renounced as delusions. Welcome to The Village, the setting of AMC's second original miniseries television event, The Prisoner, premiering Sunday, November 15th from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. EST/PST. The six-part miniseries airs over three consecutive nights, with two episodes each evening beginning at 8 p.m. EST/PST. AMC's reinterpretation of the 1960s cult classic by Patrick McGoohan tells the story of one man's desperate quest to find his way back to his former life and reclaim his freedom. A co-production of AMC, ITV Productions and Granada, The Prisoner combines a wide range of genres, from Espionage to Sci-Fi, into an adrenaline pumping, edge-of-your-seat thriller that will ultimately make you question what you think is real.
Forty years ago, McGoohan's original 1967 series - a riff on Cold War politics - changed the scope of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Now, AMC's re-imagining explores and questions contemporary issues of power and control; family and love; privacy and security. What is the value and the price of freedom? Who is watching and controlling whom? What is love? Reflecting the same verve, complexity and uniquely disturbing commentary of the original, The Prisoner is an investigation into modern alienation, the corruption of power, rights of the individual, and the mysteries of the human condition.
[caption id="attachment_3986" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Village's iconic penny-farthing bicycle logo - an homage to the original Prisoner TV series. Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
The Prisoner follows a man (Jim Caviezel) who resigns from his job and wakes up to find himself inexplicably trapped in a strange and surreal place, The Village, with no memory of how he arrived. As he frantically explores his new environment, he discovers that Village residents are identified by number, have no memory of any prior existence, and are under constant surveillance. Called by the number Six, the man is driven by the desperate need and desire to know what The Village is, why he is there, and who controls it. Is he being brainwashed or debriefed? Most importantly, Six needs to find a way to escape and return to his previous life.
The Village is controlled by one man - the sinister and charismatic Two (Ian McKellen), who goes to extreme measures to convince Six that there is no other place but The Village. In order to hold onto his identity, Six engages Two in a battle of wits and challenges the oppressive nature of The Village. When he befriends a doctor, 313 (Ruth Wilson), and a taxicab driver, 147 (Lennie James), Six must fight the temptation to assimilate the hidden truth behind The Village, and in doing so, Six must also confront some dark truths about himself.
[caption id="attachment_3990" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Number Two takes a little stroll through The Village. Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
"With great affection and respect for the original The Prisoner, AMC set out to re-imagine McGoohan's brilliantly captivating story with the goal of creating a landmark television event," said Charlie Collier, president of GM and AMC. "Just like our other originals which explore, among other themes, the mystery of human behavior, The Prisoner not only entertains, but also addresses larger life questions and asked whether we, as humans, can ever be truly free."
Shot on location in Swakopmund, Nambia and South Africa, The Prisoner stars Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, The Thin Red Line) in the title role of Six, a part that was originally made famous when played by McGoohan; two-time Oscar nominee Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code) as Two; Hayley Atwell (Brideshead Revisited, Mansfield Park) as 4-15; Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre, Capturing Mary) in the role of 313; Lennie James (Jericho) as 147; Rachael Blake (Lantana, Tom White) as M2, the wife of Two, and Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd, The Twilight Saga: New Moon) as 11-12, the son of Two.
[caption id="attachment_3991" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Six finds himself in a sticky situation. Photo copyright of Granada/AMC"][/caption]
The Prisoner debut will be complemented by a variety of exclusive material available on AMC's extensive Prisoner blog, www.amctv.com/originals/the-prisoner. Fans can watch the original 1960s series, which aired from 1967-1968, in full-screen, and check out episode re-caps, a photo gallery, trivia quiz, talk forum, and behind-the-scenes, making-of-video diaries.
AMC co-produced The Prisoner with UK producer Granada and ITV Productions. Granada International will distribute the series worldwide. Trevor Hopkins (Dracula, Poirot) is producer, and Michele Buck (Sex Traffic), Damien Timmer (Housewife 49) and Rebecca Keane (Lost in Austen) are executive producers for ITV. The miniseries is written by Bill Gallagher (Conviction, Clocking Off, Lark Rise To Candleford) and directed by Nick Hurran (It's A Boy Girl Thing, Little Black Book).
As noted above, all photos copyright of Granada and AMC TV, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!