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Beau Willimon was the showrunner for the first four seasons of House of Cards which is a TV show I really like. Now, he has teamed up with Jordan Tappis to executive produce a new television series that he also created called The First which has Sean Penn in the leading role. In an interview with Collider, Beau Willimon discussed many things about The First.
One of the topics that Beau Willimon discussed was on deciding to have this first season of The First be eight episodes:
“It’s what we proposed, and our partners were on board with that. They agreed that was the right length. I’ve worked in the format of longer seasons, and that has its advantages, in terms of the number of tangents you can head down and still come back to the core story.”
“We knew we were really gonna hold off the launch of the second crew until the end of the first season, so there was a sweet spot, in terms of being able to tell their stories fully so that we’re invested in them when they launch, but not overstaying our welcome, and making sure that every frame counted.”
“Plus, we knew it would be technically challenging, so we wanted to do the best with less, as opposed to stretching ourselves too thin. For both practical and narrative reasons, eight felt right to us.”
Beau Willimon also spoke about casting Sean Penn and when the actor got involved with The First:
“In the very earliest iterations of the drafts and outlines for the show, I wasn’t necessarily trying to place certain actors in my mind because I wanted to just focus on the world building and the characters, outside of all of that.”
“But as soon as we really knew what we wanted to do and it was time to think about who was going to play this very important role, we both leapt at the idea of Sean. We weren’t particularly hopeful, at the beginning, that he’d say yes because he had never done television before, but we had just enough hope to have the guts to ask.”
“That’s really the only way to find out. At first, we were actually told that he was unavailable, and we said, “Okay, well, let’s push and see if maybe something will change. Who knows, but let’s try. He’d be perfect for this.” Luckily, he read the scripts and really responded to them, and that lead to a lot of conversations and meetings, talking about the story and the character and where we were going.”
“There was nothing particularly juicy or dramatic about that process, other than he responded well to the material and we talked at length about it. Eventually, he placed his trust in us and got on board, and then it was a really in-depth and fruitful collaboration, moving forward, and not just with Sean, but with all the actors.”
Thank you for reading this article! You can find my other articles here on Soapbox as well as my reviews which you can also find at my blog theturnertalks.com.