The cast and crew of the psychological thriller, including new star Janelle Monáe, talked up the differences between season one of the show, which starred Julia Roberts, and the forthcoming season, which airs later this spring, at the Winter TCA press tour.
In the second season, Monáe’s character wakes in a rowboat adrift a lake, with no memory of how she got there — or even who she is. Her ensuing search for identity will lead her into the heart of the Geist Group, the unconventional wellness company behind the Homecoming Initiative.
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Co-creator and exec producer Eli Horowitz admitted that the team, which also includes co-creator Michael Bloomberg, Kyle Patrick Alvarez and exec producer Sam Esmail learned a number of lessons between the two seasons. “It was important that each season has its own shape and sense of completeness,” he added.
Bloomberg added that the first season was much more contained because it was based entirely on the eponymous podcast. “Season one came out of the podcast, this season is much more expansive in terms of locations. We’re not as contained in the facility,” he said, adding that the second season deals with the fallout of the first.
Stephan James reprises his role as Walter Cruz, trying to build a new life following the traumas of war and the Homecoming Initiative, when he begins to realize that there’s an even more insidious version of the program underway – if only he can remember.
“Season one was so interesting to me, we didn’t get to see the full scope of Walter Cruz and now he’s introduced to you as who he really is. It brings an identity and humanity to Walter that was missing in the first season. We’re not in the confines of this facility, it’s Walter on a new journey and mission to figure out what happened to him,” he said.
Monáe said she was drawn to the project as a “storyteller”. He revealed she was a big fan of The Twilight Zone and director Fritz Lang. Asked whether she preferred acting or singing, she joked, “I’m actually a magician; I’m playing a trick on the whole world.”
Elsewhere, Hong Chau returns as Audrey Temple, an anonymous underling at Geist who finds herself thrust into unexpected positions at the top of the corporate ladder. Joining the cast for season Two are Oscar-winner Chris Cooper as Leonard Geist, the company’s eccentric founder; and Emmy-winner Joan Cusack as Francine Bunda, an equally eccentric military woman.
Created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, Homecoming is co-produced by Amazon Studios and UCP. The season is directed and executive produced by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, executive produced by Sam Esmail through his production company Esmail Corp; as well as Mr. Robot executive producer Chad Hamilton of Anonymous Content; Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg; Kyle Alvarez; and Chris Giliberti, Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber of Gimlet Media. Julia Roberts will also serve as executive producer through her production company Red Om Films.
Bloomberg added that they don’t know where the show is going after season two. “We don’t have a bible that stretches out to season five,” he said.
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