Approached by Stephen King with the galleys for King’s latest effort Mr. Mercedes, director Jack Bender was thrilled. “He had never written a detective novel, and I found it fascinating that Stephen was writing this time about the monsters inside the people, as opposed to the monsters outside the people,” Bender told Deadline’s Joe Utichi during the show’s The Contenders Emmys panel last month. “No one writes better [about] those phantom fears we all share, but this was about the people.”
Created by David E. Kelly, the Audience Network adaptation of King’s novel centers on Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson), a retired detective still haunted by the unsolved case of “Mr. Mercedes,” a killer who claimed 16 lives when he drove a stolen Mercedes through a local job fair. While Hodges sits in his disillusion, the real Mr. Mercedes, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), comes out to play, resulting in deadly consequences.
Appearing on the Deadline panel alongside Bender, Treadaway, Kelly Lynch and Holland Taylor, Gleeson gave his take on the series, which is about nothing if not consequences. “With somebody like Bill, we can see the consequences of his obsession with his own job; we can see how he can drive people away from him,” the actor said. “It was all about that kind of little inner conflict that’s going on with everybody, where we can be monsters, and kind of angels, all in the one package.”
Like Hodges, Treadaway’s Brady is deeply troubled, existing in his own shades of gray. “He’s not just a cut-out monster. He is a troubled victim in many ways, of his life, of his upbringing,” Treadaway explained. “I think you get that with the book, and hopefully we went some way to expanding upon that, as well.”
An executive producer on the series who was behind the camera for the majority of Season 1, Bender explained why he believes Kelley has been so successful with Mr. Mercedes to date. “I think one of the things that David Kelley brilliantly brought to the pilot, and then to the rest of the first season, was empathy for all these complicated, screwed up people, that we all are in our own ways,” he said. “Hopefully, we don’t live the obstacle course that these people are going through in our show. Hopefully, that’s not our story. But certainly, you can understand that all these people are trapped and struggling to be the best people they can be.”
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