“We’re watching the planting of the seed and watching the plant grow.”
That’s Taken co-star Jennifer Beals’ take on the TV series origin story of Bryan Mills, the CIA agent with a particular set of skills made famous by Liam Neeson on the big screen but played in the upcoming Europa/NBC show by Clive Standen.
“It’s not about his set of skills,” EP Matt Gross said about the differences between the film and TV versions of the franchise, “It’s about understanding him as a character. It’s about how he becomes a hero.”
Added EP Alex Cary: “It was never about making a Taken prequel but a modern origin story set in modern-day times. Creating this character from the ground up is what attracted me to the project.”
The show follows how Mills morphs into the killing machine that he is. You could say his sister’s death is the straw that breaks the camel’s back (and she’s not the only thing that is ‘taken’ from him this season). He’s mentored by Beals’ assassin Christina Hart.
“If you were to interview Bryan Mills and the people who defined him, this woman would be at the top of the list,” said Cary. “He welcomes her guidance and leadership, but he doesn’t have an easy relationship with authority.”
Taken was produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. The filmmaker, who is busy in post on his sci-fi opus Valerian, never was involved in the TV versions of La Femme Nikita nor Transporter; he licensed the latter property out to other producers. “With Taken he wanted to be creatively involved with the content and genre,” said Gross.
During the NBC TCA session this afternoon, Standen defined Mills against some of the great big-screen action heroes: James Bond “has the perfect suit and the cool line to the villain and the girl,” said the leading man. Jason Bourne “is cold, calculated, doesn’t know his past, not an everyman,” while Mission: Impossible‘s Ethan Hunt is “tech savvy” and “larger than life.”
But for Standen, “Bryan Mills is just a man.”
Taken premieres at 10 PM Monday, February 27, on NBC.