When it comes to films and TV shows in the action and thriller genre, some make the grim mistake of merely filling the story with turmoil and fight sequences, but forgetting to make the audience care for the characters.
The Night Agent—Netflix's new action series—understood the assignment and earned itself a renewal for a second season just within a week after its premiere.
Based on the novel by Matthew Quirk, the series takes viewers into the shoes of Peter Sutherland, an FBI agent who works at the White House as a Night Action telephone operator. His life is then turned upside down when the phone he operates suddenly rings with a distress call from a terrified cybersecurity entrepreneur named Rose whose aunt and uncle have been assassinated.
Faced with a fast-moving and dangerous conspiracy, the pair waste no time in going on a desperate hunt for the traitor all while trying to uncover some dark truths about Rose's family.
In a roundtable interview with PhilSTAR L!fe andother members of the press, showrunner Shawn Ryan highlighted that they made it a point to elevate the characters just as much as they try to intensify the action to build a connection with the audience.
"Action can be spectacular and it can be eye-candy, but it only gets you emotionally if you care about the characters and if you care about what happens to those characters," he said.
"There's a good twisty story, there's some good action, but ultimately, I think our show goes really deep on character. I think we go really deep on Peter, on [the relationship between] Peter and Rose, and even our bad guys. We try to understand them as people and try to understand their motivations," he added.
Peter's actor, Gabriel Basso, is a force to be reckoned with both on-screen and in real life. For starters, his physical appearance makes him a perfect fit for the character, having been trained in martial arts and regularly making an effort to keep his body in shape.
However, he shared that there was a difference between stunt fighting and real martial arts, and he needed to know how to navigate between the two during the show's production.
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"Stunt fighting is almost a fight in and of itself. You have to cross lenses, telegraph punches, and move wider where in real martial arts, it's all about the economy of motion and you're not actually making big movements and if you are, you're not doing it right. I'd actually say stunt fighting is more dancing than fighting," he said.
He continued, "I'd say that's the biggest difference was just switching gears mentally from real-life fighting, so it's sort of a balance."
On the inside, it seems that Basso also has a few similarities with Peter in more ways than one.
"On a personal level, I think the biggest trait that I have in common with Peter is sort of not caring what the consequences are for pursuing something. I think that's why all these other characters are so important in the show. He needs Rose around and he needs these people around to remind him that what he's pursuing is good and worthwhile," he said.
But even the viewers themselves can find a connection with the courageous FBI agent, as Basso puts it, "There's a bit of Peter in everyone. There's always adversity and there's always going to be an unknown and a reason to not pursue something that you think is right. And I think a lot of people can relate to that."
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With all of these driving the story, The Night Agent immediately reached Netflix’s Top 10, debuting in the top spot on the English TV list with 168.71 million hours viewed. It was to the delight of the entire cast and crew that the show has been renewed for a second season, and Basso could not help but feel a mixture of gratitude and pressure to step up his game for what's more to come.
"The biggest thing I felt seeing the results and the numbers was [the responsibility] to fulfill my role as the actor in it for season two. I felt really humbled by the fact that a lot of people now are going to be expecting season two to be something [more]. There's a lot more responsibility now," Basso said.
But with The Night Agent only having one book, where does the TV adaptation go from here?
While they're still in the early stages of planning, Ryan underscored that they will give everything fans want careof its "really talented writers." Basso meanwhile floated the idea of wanting his character to die, explaining, "I just think Peter is not the main character in that world. To make enemies that have unlimited resources, [I] think his values would put him in a precarious position."