Interview - Zemeckis

DARK ANGEL

Max (Jessica Alba) at full speed

The hottest new SF hit on television is about to hit British screens. We talk to the co-creator of James Cameron's series, Charles Eglee

by Ian Spelling

Selected from Starburst #269  

The angels must be looking down on Charles Eglee. "I'm extremely pleased with the reaction to Dark Angel," says the executive producer and 'show runner' of Fox's new SF hit, which he also co-created with James Cameron.

"I was a little surprised, actually. I knew that younger viewers would take to it because it's about them and it's got that urban sensibility, that hip-hop aspect. I knew that writing about an urban ensemble, if you will, was going to attract a built-in audience. I felt strongly about that. I was surprised that older people took to Dark Angel. My parents watch the show and I just never in a million years thought that people in their 60s and 70s would take to it."

What people are taking to, of course, are the adventures of that genetically revved-up cool chick, Max, played with style and irony by Jessica Alba. Max is the girl of many parts, who's trying her damnedest to find both her siblings and herself in Seattle, circa 2020.

Along for the ride is Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), alias Eyes Only, the wheelchair-bound cyberjournalist who's putting his idealism into play and bringing down bad guys... with Max's help. And circling them are several other important characters, among them Lydecker (John Savage), the government baddie; and Max's pals Normal (JC MacKenzie) and Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller). Nearly two months into the show's run - over such episodes as Flushed, C.R.E.A.M., Prodigy, Cold Comfort, Blah Blah, Woof Woof and Out - the characters have settled into a groove and the future looks bright.

Character driven

And, to hear Eglee tell it, Dark Angel has evolved from its initial concept but remains true to that concept. "I am a guy who really focuses on letting characters drive a show," says Eglee, whose producing credits include Murder One and Moonlighting. "Whenever we've sat down to noodle around with the stories and come up with situations, that always ends up being a heartbreak after the first draft because you realize that you've got someone in an interesting setting or with an interesting piece of gear, but at the end of the day it has to come back to Max and her Grail quest to become a whole person."

Finding good writers is another matter entirely. Eglee acknowledges, “It is always a blind date with writers. It was particularly difficult on Dark Angel because it was a new show, a new company, a new everything.

"From the minute we got ordered back in May I was locked in a New York hotel room inundated with buckets and buckets of scripts from every agent in Hollywood. You’re supposed to sit and read through these scripts and see who grabs you... In this case, there were several writers whose work I really liked. Then you do your homework. You call the people they worked for in the past. You see what the word is on them. And then you meet them. After that you just have to hope it all works when you get in a room with them to do whatever show you’re doing. It’s a very inexact process.

“Once we all got in a room in June we just started talking about ‘Who is Max? What would happen in her world?’ I had this notion that Max would go into heat and that became Heat. We had this idea about Max not getting her medicine and ending up in jail, and that became Flushed. C.R.E.A.M. came about because we thought, ‘If we really are positing this relationship between Max and Logan, who is Logan? What makes him tick? Wouldn’t it be cool for Max to get a look at his world?’ That’s really how things unfold...”

Starburst #269This is just an excerpt from our Dark Angel
cover feature.

For the full six-page interview, read on by getting Starburst #269

Images © 20th Century Fox

Feature © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction