Utopia is a new show coming to Amazon Prime this fall. It is adapted by writer and executive producer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) from a British TV series. Flynn has been trying to get this adaptation to be a reality for seven years, and she has finally got it. The series is described as: “A twisted, eight-episode thriller about a group of young comic fans who discover the conspiracy in a graphic novel is real, and embark on a high-stakes adventure to save humanity from the end of the world.”
The series stars John Cusack, Rainn Wilson, Sasha Lane, Ashleigh Lathrop, Dany Byrd, Desmin Borges, Javon “Wanna” Walton, and Jessica Rothe, who all joined Flynn in a virtual Comic-Con panel moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Christian Holub. Some of the highlights:
Flynn discussed why she was so invested in the series and the changes she wanted to make to it. She said that working on (the fantastic) Widows with director Steve McQueen, itself a remake of a British series, they were focussed not just on honoring the source material, but changing it and making it their own, because if you don’t have anything new to say, what is even the point of the remake? She said the tone and look of the original were very “poopy” and graphic novel influenced, and she wanted to “make it American but also gritty and dirty and nasty.” She was very heavily influenced by the 1970s paranoia thrillers, which I am all about. She also said Cusack’s character, some kind of scientist billionaire, was not present in the original series but felt necessary to the American version.
Cusack said he was given six or seven episode scripts and he read them all in one go and signed on instantly because the writing was so good.
Apart from the very spare description of the show, it seems like a group of people possessed with a mysterious comic book called Utopia who have interacted widely online meet for the first time in person at a Comic-Con and go on a journey together to find copies of the comics, thinking they are the key to changing the world. There is also a real-life conspiracy, somehow related to the comics, that involves Cusack’s company and, maybe indirectly, Wilson’s character, Michael Stearns, who is a much less successful scientist at a little university. Somehow key to all of this is a woman named Jessica Hyde, played by Lane, who describes her as “like a feral cat,” who is looking for her own answers.
Utopia premieres September 7 on Amazon Prime Video.