‘Snowpiercer’ – Going off the rails on a post-apocalyptic train
An attempt to stem climate change backfires, plunging Earth into a new ice age and some of its inhabitants into a struggle to survive aboard an enormous train circling the frozen globe in a sci-fi series debuting on TNT.
In “Snowpiercer,” premiering Sunday, May 17, those survivors wind up on an ark-like supertrain of the same name, created by a rich visionary named Mr. Wilford, who foresaw the impending apocalypse and wanted to ensure humanity’s survival. It is here on this 1,001-car juggernaut where the haves, the have-nots and the unlawful are segregated into separate sections.
While the commoners in the back of the train cope with overcrowding and dwindling food rations, the biggest problem the rich face in the elegant front is body-shaming in the sauna. But when a murder occurs that could upend life on board, former homicide detective Layton (Daveed Diggs, “black-ish”) is plucked from the back or “the tail” to investigate.
Among those aboard are the head of hospitality Melanie (Jennifer Connelly, “A Beautiful Mind”) and her right hand, Ruth (Alison Wright, “The Americans”); Bess (Mickey Sumner, “Frances Ha”), a member of the train’s police force; Jinju (Susan Park, “Ghostbusters”), the train’s head agricultural officer; Bennett (Iddo Goldberg, “Peaky Blinders”), an engineer who knows the train end to end; and LJ (Annalise Basso, “Oculus”), the nihilistic teen daughter of a powerful family.
The story, which is based on the graphic novel series and the 2013 film from director Bong Joon Ho (who is also an executive producer here), is heavy on class warfare and social injustice as the politics of survival play out and everyone tries to keep their secrets under wraps.
That is especially true of Connelly’s character Melanie, as the actress told a recent gathering of journalists in Pasadena, Calif.
“I felt like the person that you first meet in Episode 1 is very different from the person you come to know by the end of the first season,” she says. “And it’s a kind of gradual unfolding as you come to understand what she’s been hiding, what she’s been carrying, things that she’s been compartmentalizing. I think a lot of that is … brought about by her relationship with Layton. She’s forced to confront choices that she’s made and who she is, and who she’s become.
“And that’s sort of a gradual process and also is not entirely linear,” she continues. “And I found that a very rewarding process going through that and watching that character unfold … .”
Similarly, Diggs’ character of Layton also has some skeletons in his closet.
“I think you spend a lot of time as an actor thinking about your secrets, like what you’re character’s secrets are,” Diggs says. “And particularly I spent so much time in the tail, which is very, very confined because of the amount of people in there. You realize that like having a secret is kind of impossible in that situation. So that was an interesting. I think it informed a lot of my choices, this idea that like privacy didn’t exist.”