Kiefer Sutherland Reveals to Rapt ‘Rabbit Hole’ SXSW Audience the Unlikely Movie He Always Watches After a Bad Day
Charles Dance was never a big Twitter or Facebook user. But now that he stars in Paramount+’s new Kiefer Sutherland thriller “Rabbit Hole”? “It’s made me more determined to have absolutely nothing to do with social media at all,” he said. “I mean, I never did anyway, but I’m certainly not going to do so now!”
Paramount+’s “Rabbit Hole” stars Sutherland as John Weir, described as “a master of deception in the world of corporate espionage, is framed for murder by powerful forces who have the ability to influence and control populations.”
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A packed Stateside Theatre audiences watched the first two episodes of “Rabbit Hole” at the South by Southwest festival on Sunday, and left with as many questions as they had answers. Who’s on what side? What’s going on? That’s by design, and creators/showrunners John Requa and Glenn Ficarra told the audience that even after two episodes, they shouldn’t be comfortable with thinking they know what’s happening.
“One thing that’s a constant of the show is who’s telling the truth,” Sutherland said. “There’s an assumption at the end of Episode 2 that you’re having an understanding of who you’re following, and what story is being told. And I can assure you that that dynamic is going to shift throughout the entire season, until we rest somewhere, and what I find exciting about that is that it requires a level of audience participation. We’re asking for your involvement in trying to figure out what the truth is and what is the play here and which characters are in fact being straight… And I think that’s, that’s exciting television.”
Requa said the idea for “Rabbit Hole” was born after their agent, whom they share with Sutherland, said the “24” star was looking for a new project. They came up with the idea for “Rabbit Hole” and pitched it to Sutherland — and within six weeks they had the script.
“Almost immediately we came up with this idea based on what was going on in the world, all this disinformation,” Requa said. “It kind of reminded us of in the ’70s, after after Watergate, there were all these paranoid thrillers. Because everybody was so disenchanted with the government and with institutions, and there was a lot of distrust. We often like to write things about trust. We wrote it with Kiefer in mind, and it was always intended to be an 8-episode run.”
Sutherland said he was drawn to that throwback, to films like “Three Days of the Condor,” “Marathon Men,” “All the President’s Men” and “The Parallax View.”
“These were films that I was hoping one day as an actor that I would be able to be a part of a version of something like that,” he said. “They were going to use this backdrop of technology as being the real nemesis in our society, and how it’s being potentially used for bad. And then they started to define what they wanted the character to be. He was very smart and he had all of these great facilities, but then they started to describe this character that was in the very beginning episode going to 180 degrees and go from the hunter to the hunted. Those are great opportunities for an actor to play.”
The theme also resonated: “Technology is making it easier and easier to access other people’s personal information. And with that comes it opens up a whole new world where we have to create a kind of level of security and it also creates a huge amount of opportunity for some things to go poorly.”
Sutherland said he was also a fan of films Requa and Ficarra had written, especially “Bad Santa” (“I still think it’s one of the most genius scripts ever”) and “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (“It’s a go-to movie for me if I’m having a bad day and want to feel better”).
Besides Sutherland and Dance, the cast also includes Meta Golding (“Empire”) as Hailey Winton, Enid Graham (“Mare of Easttown”) as Josephine “Jo” Madi, Jason Butler Harner (“Ozark”) as Valence, Rob Yang (“Succession”) as Edward Homm and Walt Klink (“The English”) as The Intern. All but Harner were also on stage during the panel.
Ficarra and Requa wrote and directed the first episode and are also the showrunners. Executive producers are Kiefer Sutherland, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, Charlie Gogolak, Susan Bymel and Hunt Baldwin.
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