Hulu brought the cast and creator of their new psychic drama Shut Eye to New York Comic Con this year, and we had a chance to sit in on the panel and then hang out with the cast to talk about what viewers can expect. The show is set to premiere on December 7th, 2016, and we couldn’t be more excited.
The show follows Charlie Haverford (Jeffrey Donovan) and his wife Linda (KaDee Strickland), a couple deeply embedded in the Romani tradition of psychic readings. As we learned in the first twenty or so minutes shown at the panel, the psychic con goes much further than just them, and involves a Godfather-esque Romani family that supervises the couple and all of their dealings.
After an assault, when Charlie gets his head partially bashed in by an angry boyfriend of one of his clients, the con becomes a little more real when he begins to hear conversations before they happen. With the implication that he now has the ability to be an actual psychic, the story through the first season will no doubt explore the impact it will have not only on his business, but on his marriage, and on Charlie’s family as a whole. Creator Les Bohem described it as “a long, twisted journey to sainthood.”
Jeffrey Donovan and KaDee Strickland discussed their characters briefly, and we learned that Donovan is definitely departing from the long-ago character of Michael Westen. Though both had a propensity for manipulating people, viewers will not be seeing any of the physical prowess that Donovan brought to his role as a burned ex-spy.
Rather, we’re more likely to see Linda, KaDee Strickland’s character, jump into a fight with Charlie rooting her on. The pair also described the attitude on set, and complimented their own working relationship, which they say made the whole process of filming all ten episodes a breeze. The chemistry they share definitely comes through on the screen.
David Zayas (Eduardo Magana) and Emmanuelle Chriqui (Gina) discussed their roles in the new show as well, both appearing to be outside of what Zayas referred to as the “nucleus” of the show. Eduardo is one of Charlie’s psychic clients, and a man with a lot of means and expensive taste.
In the clip we were shown, Linda Haverford pegs him as a drug lord type, though Zayas did not appear inclined to confirm or deny that judgement. Chriqui, on the other hand, plays a hypnotist who wanders into town and offers to help the Haverfords with their business, showing off her skills as she pulls Charlie into a trance to try and convince him that she was worth the investment.
Both actors attributed their fascination with their roles to the fact the characters are all “a little left of center” and “a bit weird.” Chriqui pointed out that her character, Gina, is so far away from who she is as a person that it has been fun and challenging to get into her head. She also admitted to being intrigued by hypnosis, having gone through hypno-therapy for a number of years, and believed her previous experience as a client has led to a stronger portrayal of her character.
Interestingly, even though the world of psychics may seem like something out of a myth, all of the cast members pointed out that there are real, grounded techniques used that make the traditional work of psychics actually work. It is not all just fantasy.
Zayas admitted it was hard to “buy in” to the idea of psychics, and in preparation for his role he went to a couple true Romani psychics in the area in order to “find something he could believe” about it. He shared with us that as long as he could find some aspect of it he could buy into, then his character would be a little easier to play, since he is playing an individual wrapped up in Charlie Haverford’s con.
Finally, Isabella Rossellini (Rita) and creator Les Bohem sat down to discuss the series as a whole. Rossellini plays Rita, the Romani mother and ultimate over-seer of the whole psychic enterprise she and her family have established in the greater Los Angeles area.
In the clip, we had a chance to know her character, who at one point appeared to be the sweet submissive mother to a high strung con boss, and at another revealed herself to be the real drive behind the whole organization. At the heart of it, for Rossellini, is the idea of family, and she spoke to that concept both in the panel and in the interview.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Shut Eye is the commitment to telling the story of the Romani people and representing a culture that is often misrepresented in mass media. While there will be drama, and certainly the characters will not always be shown in the greatest light, it was clear from the first few minutes of the show that Les Bohem and his team want to approach the culture with care.
The show’s commitment to exploring the real world of psychics is wonderful, and Bohem shared some of the research they did, including bringing on consultants who were embedded in the culture.
With all of the information pouring in from New York Comic Con about Hulu’s new show Shut Eye, the excitement continues to grow as we head toward December 7th. The panel was particularly painful as they left audiences right at the point where Charlie realizes something has gone wrong, and his abilities may now extend well past his con-man skills.
Everyone groaned as the clip ended, indicating the audience was ready for more. Thankfully, December 7th should be here in a flash, and give everyone more than enough time to nab a Hulu account and settle in for the wild ride.
Thank you to Hulu and the cast and creator of Shut Eye for sitting down with us at New York Comic Con 2016.