CB Visits The Set Of NBC's Kings
Author: Katey Rich
published: 2009-03-12 15:29:25
When NBC invited me and several other onliners to screen the pilot episode of Kings and visit the Long Island set, it seemed like a fun grown-up field trip, or at least a chance to be outside rather than strapped to my computer all day. But I wasn't really expecting how quickly I'd get wrapped into the show's world during the two-hour pilot, and how strange it would be to be face-to-face with the actors just minutes after. Between a Q&A session with key cast members and the on-set chat with the two stars, I had been quickly reduced to a twittering fangirl over a show I didn't know a thing about when I woke up that day.
But the whole goal of Kings, really, seems to be to suck us in and never let us go. Between chats with the PR people representing the online component of the show, and the graphic designer who told us about the fake newspapers she designed for this fake country, Kings is already a viewing experience as dense and layered as Lost or Heroes, an entire alternate universe right there for you to explore.
And of course, I was lucky enough to get to explore it, literally. We started with a screening of the two-hour pilot, which introduces the fictional country of Gilboa, a kingdom that looks not that unlike modern New York City. After years of war the country was united under King Silas (Ian McShane), who has continued the war with neighboring Gath. During a dark moment in the war, when the King's son Jack (Sebastian Stan) had been kidnapped across enemy lines, the country was inspired by a defining image: David (Christopher Egan), a young soldier, standing up against an enemy tank and defeating it.
Have I mentioned the tanks are called Goliaths? The story should be sounding awfully familiar by now if you're up on your Bible School knowledge. David becomes a hero to the country, and Silas immediately recognizes the threat to his sovereignty. In the meantime Jack becomes jealous of the new golden boy, David develops eyes for the King's daughter Michelle (Allison Miller), and all the backroom wheelings and dealings make this kingdom look like any other complicated modern government.
The wonderful gimmick behind Kings, and what makes it so unique, is its concept of an old-fashioned monarchy existing in these modern times. That conflict is on full display on the Kings set at Hempstead House on Long Island, a giant manor set on the Long Island Sound and surrounded by hiking trails, expansive green lawns and outer buildings. The building, owned by the city parks and recreation department, has been completely taken over by the Kings crew. Interiors of the house are used as the King's city home, while the exteriors act as the country house. Trust me, it all makes sense when you see it.
They were in the middle of filming a scene that I can't tell you anything about, though I'll be honest, I couldn't really tell what was happening either. And while we weren't allowed to take photos, we were given a full tour of the set, including the King's bedroom, the expansive family room, and the formal hallway that's featured prominently in the pilot. The production designer pointed out actual childhood photos of the King's children on his mantle (provided by the actors themselves), as well as the snazzy collection of shoes and ties that line the King's closet.
Stars Ian McShane and Christopher Egan, who were filming that top-secret scene, were gracious enough to chat with us during their break, though it's strange to be asking someone about a show you haven't really seen yet. Egan, an Australian actor who's done very little American work thus far, is obviously looking down the barrel of what might be his big break. He seems friendly but almost shy in person, but having already seen him stand up to the imposing McShane in the two-hour pilot, it's clear both he and his character David are up to the challenge.
Between the pilot and the set visit we were also treated to a Q&A with the show's creator, Michael Green, along with more key cast members, including Allison Miller, Susanna Thompson (who plays Queen Rose), Eamonn Walker (the key religious figure Reverend Samuels), and Dylan Baker, who describes his conniving businessman character as the show's equivalent of Dick Cheney. The video of that full Q&A session is below, thanks to NBC.com.
Tomorrow I'll have my full review of the first three episodes of Kings, and a more complete explanation of this intricate world and what I look forward to seeing in it from here. But really, it didn't take a trip out to the snowy Hempstead House for me to realize what a detailed treat Kings will be, and how excited the entire crew is about bringing this Biblical tale to new life. It's really all right there in the show.
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