The ATX Television Festival closed with a screening of City on a Hill ahead of its June 16 premiere on Showtime (you can also watch it here). Series creator Chuck MacLean, showrunner Tom Fontana, executive producer Jennifer Todd as well as stars Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge and Jill Hennessy were on hand to talk about the new series.
“To me, it was a way of talking about my childhood — warts and all,” MacLean said. “It’s all about my family.” MacLean lived in Boston during the ’90s in which the show takes place.
Executive produced by Ben Affleck, the 10-episode series focuses on this era when Boston was rife with violent criminals emboldened by local law enforcement agencies in which corruption and racism was the norm. It centers on Assistant District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Hodge), who arrives from Brooklyn and forms an unlikely alliance with a corrupt yet venerated FBI veteran Jackie Rohr (Bacon). Together, they take on a family of armored car robbers from Charlestown in a case that grows to involve and ultimately subvert, the entire criminal justice system of Boston.
Fontana was attracted to the show because it was a “very human drama” that dealt with racism, misogyny and corruption. “That’s something I could be a part of,” he adds.
Bacon’s character does a lot of corrupt things. When asked how he dealt with that, Bacon said: “I don’t really stand back and judge the man that I play. Jackie does things and most of the time he thinks he’s doing the right thing…except for the moments he doesn’t. When I am walking in his shoes that’s what I am focusing on. I just have to stay true to who is.”
In addition, Jackie does a lot of racist things and Bacon is more than aware of this. “I don’t do things that I am worried about that are going to reflect on me as a person. That’s the difference between an actor and a celebrity,” he said. “It does make me squeamish sometimes. I feel like it’s up to people to judge him.”
From the moment we meet him, Hodge’s Decourcy is constantly trying to do what’s right — but when around so much corruption, Hodge reveals how his character is about to start a very interesting journey.
“It’s an exposition of the duality of people,” said Hodge of his character and how corruption is seducing him. “My primary thing is that he isn’t boring. Once you get into an arena, in order to survive, you have to speak the language. He started the process. Jackie might take him down a darker path.”
“He is trying to hold on to who he is during the process,” Hodge admits. “Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing to accomplish the right thing.”