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Like so many other shows this year, CBS’ new drama. Eleventh Hour is foreign born. It’s based on a successful 4 hour British miniseries originally created by screenwriter Stephen Gallagher and starring Patrick Stewart. Recently, Dish had a chance to talk with showrunners Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (Sleeper Cell) in Los Angeles, as well as star Rufus Sewell.

In the American version, Rufus Sewell plays Dr. Jacob Hood, who is a special science advisor to the FBI. His mandate is to investigate crimes and crises of a scientific or technological nature. He works with Rachel Young, who is played by Marley Shelton, who is his FBI handler. Because Hood is, first and foremost a scientist, he's a civilian employee of the FBI, sort of a science cop. Rachel handles any of the law enforcement elements that he will encounter in his investig
RUFUS SEWELL STARS IN ELEVENTH HOURations each week.

Sewell explains their relationship, “Some ways she’s like a nurse, she’s a handler, she’s a mother because he’s a great brain, but the sort of person you could probably tell what he’d had for dinner because some of it would be on his shoulder. And might not be all that good at tying his shoelaces, and doesn’t have a great sense of personal danger. It’s not quite the same thing as being very, very brave, but it has the same effect. He doesn’t know when he’s about to get hit on the head, so he needs that kind of looking after. But they’ve got this kind of wry, screwball, slightly exasperated relationship, and there’s certainly room for anything in it.”


I was most interested in the show’s apparent science-fiction basis. Ethan Reiff
took exception to that description. “It's a science-fact show. It is not a science-fiction show. The show is filled with science, but it's science that surrounds us every day of our lives already. It's going to be on, you know, the subject of at least one front-page story in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal every day. Our lives have been directly touched in one form or another over the last decade by these endless cutting-edge breakthroughs in genetics, in biochemistry, and miniaturization and nanotechnology. So, where this show lives and breathes is the science that's really here. And we think that's really cool.”

As it turns out, there really are super-scientists hired by the FBI to help in solving sensitive cases. Reiff continues, “They're usually hired on for a particular specific case for a particular specific operation, to be a consultant and to give their very specific advice from their one discipline to help out the rest of the law enforcement people. The one thing we're positing for the show is that Jacob Hood is such an inter-disciplinarian—he's a guy who's worked in a lot of specific scientific fields. One thing about biophysicists is that they actually—many of them often actually do that, and it makes it worth it. After he actually proves himself on one particular case, then the FBI comes to him and says, ‘How about doing this full-time? We think it would work out for everybody involved,’ and he says ‘Yes.’”

We asked Rufus Sewell about whether he was influenced by Patrick Stewart in building his character. “I think I'd heard a little about the show,” he replied, “but when it was on in England, I was out of the country. When I realized that this show was based on that series, I studiously avoided looking at it. I mean, for me, the fact that they're casting me as opposed to Patrick Stewart means I don't need to worry about trying to be like Patrick Stewart, because obviously, you'd get Patrick Stewart if that's what you wanted. So I wasn't worried about trying to match that, so I’m just trying to do it the way I would do it, because presumably that's why they've come to me.”

“For me, the idea of playing a character in a long-running American series, hopefully, obviously use elements of your personality, but for me always I like to play characters, whatever hook I can get into them,” explains Sewell. “I love doing accents, for example, whatever, just things that make me someone else. And Jacob Hood, having an American—distinct American voice, takes me into a different register. It makes me feel like someone else.”

He continues, “I really like the character. I really like the fact that—to play someone really, really smart, who also had a little bit of mystery and was quirky and idiosyncratic and not without a sense of humor. And at the center of it—you don't pick it up so much from what you saw (the trailer for the show), but there's a slightly screwball element to the central double act. There's a bit of humor there, which makes it not only, for me, more pleasant to actually—to film it, because that's very much part of me, but also, for the flavor of the show in particular, it's got its own character. And it's very, very serious, bu
Patrick Stewart, eleventh Hour, CBSt also there's a screwball element.”

“People come to me with edgy parts to the point that I'm kind of over it,” he continues. “So to me, the idea of doing something that had many dimensions that was actually, to some extent, quite heroic, but not in a square-jawed sense, but someone who is ultimately a good guy, but with many layers and complex, with a gray character, not black or white, with a long arc to tell that story, with many different directions and a lot of potential depth, that really, really appealed to me. Edginess? Certainly, but that's not something that attracts me. To tell you the truth, I get enough of that.”

One of the things that makes the show attractive to actors is the executive producer and hit maker - Jerry Bruckheimer. I wondered if that was a reason for joining the Eleventh Hour Cast? “It was definitely strong,” Sewell relied. “I was doing a play on Broadway and, you know, the phrase ‘Jerry Bruckheimer wants to take you for lunch’ means more than another name you would recognize. But, you know, that gave me a certain amount of trepidation as well, because you are aware of this very enormous presence and a particular style, which made me immediately think CSI, which I'm a great admirer of.” He adds, laughing, “You know, the idea of me being in CSI: Heathrow, for example, is not really, you know, my next step.”

“So it was very exciting, but also there was the certain trepidation before I knew what it was. It [Bruckheimer] means that there's definitely a level of expertise, a level of quality. And like I said before, just because he's, you know, done so well in the past, people say, ‘He only ever makes hits,’ my instinct is, ‘Well, there's always a first time.’ So that isn't that convincing for me either. It's just the fact that having read the script and really liked it and you know that you're in good hands, you know that someone is going to give it a really good shot. Beyond that, no one can tell anyway, but I liked him personally and he had quite a reputation.”

As far as the actual topics that will be covered, they will include such topics as a cloning episode for the pilot, and Cryonic preservation. There's an episode that deals with a cancer cure that has sort of gone awry and is being used for nefarious purposes. Also, there’s an episode that deals with genetically engineered agriculture. “There's been this whole tomato scare the last several weeks, “ Reiff explains. “That's right out of our show. The difference is in the Eleventh Hour we've got a guy named Jacob Hood who is going to track down and find out what's happening, what's behind it, and save the day, you know. In the real world, we don't necessarily have that, unfortunately.”

The title of the show really informs the action, but I wondered what it meant, really.” Cyrus Voris explained, “We always take the title in two ways. I think there's some episodes where it's literally that he's brought in at the eleventh hour, but I think the bigger metaphor of the title sort of ties in with what Ethan was saying, that this is the world we live in now. Also, the Eleventh Hour in a sense is that science and technology has gotten so advanced, but the question is has it gotten so advanced and expansive in a way that human beings can't control it anymore? I think that's sort of the notion of the title to me in a metaphorical sense that we live in this world now where we have weapons that we could accidentally destroy ourselves with. And the fact that a guy like Jacob Hood, he's the guy that we need to sort of help us stave off the twelfth hour, basically.”Eleventh Hour Written by Stephen Gallagher and starring Patrick Stewart.


“Half of it is that the stuff can get out of hand, out of control,” adds Reiff. “The other half of it is it's controlled by who? By human beings. And any time human beings have control, there's the potential for a moral and ethical crisis because not every human being is an altruistic good guy. So you create these tools and you create these devices and you create these methodologies that have the potential and are out there in the world doing incredible good for mankind. There's also inherent in the creation of that stuff, there's the potential for it to be used by somebody to do something that's not so good, you know, to do something that's damaging.”

Rufus Sewell concludes, “One of the things, they really don’t want to give away too much of the story, but also the one thing that’s not quite possible to get into the flavor of that trailer is the humor at the center of it. Not to say it’s a comedy, but there’s a very important aspect of the dynamic of it is the central relationship is quite kooky. Well, not that kooky. But there’s a humor to it. And I think that combination is something that makes it stand out a little, makes it entertaining in a different way.”

Eleventh Hour premieres Thursday, October 9at 10pm et/pt  on CBS

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 87 - September 1926
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