Based on a real organization, Jerry Bruckheimer’s new drama The Forgotten, spotlights a team of dedicated amateurs, led by Alex Donovan (Christian Slater), a former detective, who work on murder cases involving unidentified victims.
After the police have given up, this group, who meet in coffee shops and living rooms to discuss leads and tips, must first solve the puzzle of the victim’s identity in order to then help catch the killer.
I spoke with Bruckheimer and Executive Producer/Creator Mark Friedman about the series.
All of your shows you’ve seemed to have mastered this procedural format, where its stand alone cases every week, and here’s another twist of that. Why are they stories that attract you?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It’s stuff I like to watch. I love mysteries. And I think the public love it too. People are enamored with crime and solving crimes. So I think we all want somebody out there that’s solving crimes for us, because I’m sure a lot of us have been touched by it in their lives and want somebody to come in and be the white knight to clean it up.
Christian Slater is a fairly recent addition to the cast. Can you talk about why he was brought in later and not the beginning?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I don’t think he was available at the beginning. We couldn’t find him. He was in Russia somewhere. It happens in all forms of entertainment, you make changes. Christian is a fantastic addition to the cast. We love him. He’s done an amazing job and brings such verisimilitude to the project, he’s a wonderful actor.
Does bringing in Christian Slater make this more of a Christian Slater show going forward, or is it still an ensemble show that it was originally?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It’s an ensemble, but when you have a strong actor like Christian, you’re certainly going to give him a lot of work and make him work hard for his money. But he’s great to have as part of the cast. We’re all thrilled, including the other cast members. It makes everybody else better when you have great actors.
How is this series different from Cold Case, where they solve old crimes?
Mark Friedman: First of all, the focus is on the amateur detectives. These are not cops at all. These are people who have regular jobs, and you’ll see them in those jobs, even in the opening moments of the pilot, because we really want to establish that these are things that anyone can do to help solve these John and Jane Doe cases.
And also it has the whodunit and who is it elements that are both parts of the show. They’re always going to try to find out the person’s name, and that’s really about letting the family know what happened to them. But once they’ve done that, it’s about getting justice and solving the mystery. It also has a police component with Alex Donovan, who bridges the two worlds, because he used to be a detective.
How much of their personal life will we see?
Mark Friedman: We will get to know them. For all these people, if you’re an amateur detective you have a full-time job and you’re doing this on your own time. There has to be something in your life that drives you, maybe something you lack that doing these cases gives you a little bit of meaning or satisfaction.
It’s important that we see who they really are. Some people call these people who do the Doe cases, ‘Doe nuts’ because there are people who just come home from work and right down into their basement and spend all night doing this, much to the chagrin of their family and friends.
There are a lot of groups around the country that do this, who get very passionate about trying to help solve these cases that really become discarded because the police don’t know who they are so they can’t investigate anything.
It’s quite a phenomena how many people are willing to give up their spare time to do this as opposed to going and playing a round of golf. But that’s what appeals to me about the show. There will be a puzzle that will be satisfying when we solve it, but it’s only because we care about these people.