The cast and creators of Amazon’s forthcoming series The Dangerous Book for Boys took the stage to kick of Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys today. Show co-creators Bryan Cranston and Greg Mottola were joined on stage by stars Erinn HayesGabriel Bateman, and Swoosie Kurtz to talk about what to expect from the series based on the book by Conn and Hal Iggulden.

One of the driving inspirations behind the adaptation is the fact that Cranston and Mottola are dads. “It’s a true family show that you want to watch with your kids,” he said. “We’re really excited about this.”

When Cranston was first offered the title, it was being developed as a drama, but it wasn’t clicking for him in that particular genre. He allowed himself to “let go” and said, “like a lightning bolt, it struck me.”

The Contenders Emmys 2018
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“It shouldn’t be under the dramatic division,” said Cranston. “I went back to the original [source material] — it was about how to be a boy, how to build a fort, how to talk to a girl…”

The series follows the McKenna family as they cope with the untimely passing of Patrick (Chris Diamantopoulos), their patriarch and a whimsical inventor who touched the lives of everyone who knew him. His death has left the family reeling, but hope appears in the form of The Dangerous Book for Boys, which Patrick created as a handbook to help his three sons.

The book is a how-to guide for childhood that inspires fantasies for his youngest son, Wyatt (Bateman). While in his fantasy world, Wyatt reconnects with his father and learns life skills that help him navigate the real world. The series also stars Hayes as Beth, the matriarch of the family who is trying to raise her boys as a single parent. Drew Logan Powell and Kyan Zielinski play the other sons, Dash and Liam, and Kurtz plays the grandmother, Tiffany. Diamantopoulos also plays the role of Terry, Patrick’s twin brother.

Amazon Studios

To achieve this, Cranston and Mottola had to create a fantasy world, which lends itself to great spectacle. “Amazon said spend as much money as you want to spend,” smirked Cranston.

Mottola chimed in later to correct Cranston’s claim, saying, “Unlike what Bryan said, we didn’t have a lot of money.” He said they created “lo-fi” sets in the style of Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson.

He went on to praise Bateman’s performance, saying that he has a “brightness in his eyes” and that he would nail his takes. Mottola added jokingly that Bateman would make it better than his “poorly worded direction.”

“I was like, ‘Cranston can’t do this’,” Mottola quipped. With that, Cranston got up and left the stage in mock shame.