• Interviews

“The Terminal List” – Monte Carlo TV Festival

Based on the best-selling novel by Jack Carr, the Amazon series The Terminal List – released in 240 countries on July 1 – follows James Reece (Chris Pratt), a Navy SEAL who was the sole survivor of an ambush on his regiment during an important covert mission. When he returns home, he begins to question his own memories of the event and finds new evidence that suggests a mystery organization is working against him.

Since Chris (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic Park) Pratt was being Covid careful home in L.A. with his newly born second daughter with wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, the publicity duties for the show that marks his return to TV were instead taken on by showrunner David DiGilio and Pratt’s co-star, Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, Lone Survivor, True Detective), who both attended the red-carpet premiere of the first two episodes at the recent Monte Carlo TV Festival.

Taylor, who is your character and what’s his relationship to Reece (Pratt)?

Taylor Kirsch (TK): I play Ben Edwards and his relationship with Reece goes back to the very first step of Navy SEAL training, so they’re best friends, brothers and that trust is everything to both of them. Ben is a beach bum from the West Coast, so you’d never pick him as military and I had a lot of fun playing that, even with his wardrobe and the tattoos, he has a very different aesthetic to Pratt’s character.

What was it like working with Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) (who was executive producer on the series and director of the first episode)?

David DiGilio (DD): Nobody does that kind of military action better than Antoine Fuqua but also the work with the actors too. He approaches all the action and violence in the show as character, so there’s nothing gratuitous. Everything you see on screen is related to what Chris’s character is going to do for the rest of the season, so the audience understands why he does what he does.

Is it true you used real Navy SEALs for the opening action scene?

DD: When we were prepping the episode, our co-producer Jared Shaw (also playing Boozer in the series) is a former Navy SEAL and called me from Australia where he was filming Thor. He said, “Dave, we’re going to pull a lot of the dialogue out of the opening because we want to cast real Navy SEALs as Alpha Platoon. We want the movement to be authentic and the only way for that to happen is if we take former special operators and actually put them on screen.” I think at least three quarters of Alpha Platoon, the men you see moving through those tunnels in the opening action sequence, are former Navy SEALs.


Taylor, you already had a strong bond with Navy SEALs after making Lone Survivor. How did that affect your work?

TK: I’m very flattered when I get an opportunity to serve these military guys by telling their stories. That film and the experience of telling that story gave back so much more than I ever thought when I signed on. With The Terminal List, I was in talks about coming on and the guy who trained me for Lone Survivor had texted me and he was the military advisor on The Terminal List. He said, ‘bring your ass to California, let’s go play,’ so it was great having him in these fight sequences and gunfights even just as friend sometimes.

Antoine has referred to the show as Cinemavision, referring to a TV show also becoming cinema. How did that work creating this show?

DD: Early on, we made a commitment that we weren’t making a TV show. This was really going to be a film in eight chapters. And I think the way that we kind of went about doing that is actually not even thinking about it, because that’s what Antoine does. He makes movies so then it became our challenge to take the scope that Antoine brings and make sure we can achieve it on what is ultimately a TV schedule. As we built the massive scale of the pilot, Antoine spoke to every episodic director after him and conveyed to them the lensing, the framing and the composition that makes the thing feel big. This is a location-based action show. He really set the tone.

Taylor, did it feel different to you while you were making it?

TK: I grew up on film and there’s a little bit of stigma there for me personally. I love going to the theaters, but storytelling wise, I do like the long form because you just have more time and character development in the story. If you have eight hours to explain a story, you also have more time to explore and create complex characters, so I enjoyed it.

How easy was it to convince Chris Pratt to sign on?

DD: TV is a character driven medium and Chris is a guy who is coming off his big Marvel franchises and the Jurassic franchise, but his friend Jared Shaw read the book and told him to check it out and he said immediately, ‘that is somebody I have to play!’ I think actually Cinemavision can apply not just to the lensing and the framing, but also the cast. You also get to hire these incredible movie stars, and that’s where the blend is really happening. For Chris, it was a chance to see him like you’ve never seen him before. We all know Chris can crush it on the action front and we also know he’s this hilarious guy who makes everyone happy every day on set. But this was a chance for him to do something darker and that really excited him.