The Terror: Infamy, is the second season of The Terror and takes place during World War II. This season centers on a series of bizarre deaths that haunt a Japanese American community.
Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio, SEAL Team), and his friends and family from Terminal Island, California, face persecution from the American government. On top of that, they are battling an evil spirit that is threatening them. Many of these people are placed in an internment camp. Derek is a fourth-generation Japanese-American. His grandfather lived on Terminal Island and was sent to an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
George Takei (Star Trek), portrays Nobuhiro Yamato, a fisherman. He also serves as a consulting producer. George was incarcerated in an internment camp during WWII when he was only five-years-old.
The Terror: Infamy showrunner, Alexander Woo, and stars Derek Mio and George Takei came to the TV Critics tour. They were there to discuss a series that is personally significant to them.
AMC’s anthology series The Terror returns today, August 12th, 2019.
The first season had a thousand-page book to work off of so that the structure, the DNA, everything was there. What DNA does The Terror: Infamy share with the last season?
Alexander Woo: The DNA we share with season one of The Terror is that it’s a historical story told with a genre of vocabulary. In both cases it’s about a group of people who are in a place where they are not welcome. [Also, it’s] where the human terror is as palpable as the supernatural terror.
So that’s, in one sense, where we share DNA. But from the beginning the strategy was to use the horror of Japanese ghost stories, and the Japanese horror movies that are descended from it, as an analog for the terror of the historical experience. So you really feel like what it’s like to be in the skin of these characters.
Derek Mio: I think what’s great about our season that expands upon the first season is the monster in our season has her own story, back-story, and motivations, and that just adds a whole other layer to it.
George, what impressed you about The Terror: Infamy production?
George Takei: As a five-year-old survivor of that horrific experience, I was five years old when I was imprisoned and eight-and-a-half when I came out, and the thing that impressed me most profoundly were the details.
When I saw the replica of the internment camp they built in Vancouver, British Columbia, I immediately recognized it. But I recognized it from the standpoint of a five-year-old kid.
We had adopted a black, stray dog we called Blackie, and the place where he loved to crawl into when he had been reprimanded was that crawl space underneath the barrack. It was there and I remembered it so well. The mess hall, the look, and feel of it, the cacophony, the noise and the crowding at the feeding trough. The look of everything was so authentic.
Alex, how has George contributed to the authenticity of the internment camp?
Alexander: Well, the first day we shot in that mess hall, he said these dishes aren’t chipped enough. So we went and chipped a bunch of dishes so that we could have it completely authentic; that’s the luxury of having George Takei.
I thought the director on this did an amazing job. Can you talk a little about him?
Alexander: His name is Josef Kubota Wladyka and he’s best known for having done many episodes of Narcos. But he had done an independent film called Dirty Hands, which he shot in Columbia with almost exclusively non-actors. He’d built an entire world out of this little Columbian village, and that film was what sold it for us.
George, you’ve spent a lot of your life and career bringing attention to the internment camps. Do you feel adding horror to that may help bring the attention to an audience that might not otherwise know about it?
George: I see this show and the depth of authenticity in the show intensified by the Kaidan ghost tales. It was a harrowing experience but the Kaidan adds to the intensifying of that story to tell an engaging story.
Derek, did your grandfather tell you anything, any stories?
Derek: This was such a special project for me, as you can imagine. It’s a once in a lifetime role for an actor to play Chester, to play a character that is pretty much a composite of my grandfathers.
In the research for this, I went straight to my family. My aunt is still alive, my grandfather’s sister. I’ve done research online just trying to dig up any kind of stories. And there are actually testimonials of Terminal Islanders.
Great Grandmother’s Interviews
I came across some interviews of my great grandmother and of my aunt as well. And one of these stories is about that very night (in the series) where the elders of Terminal Island are being rounded up. And so I found an interview that my aunt gave about my grandfather.
When the FBI came my great grandfather was a community leader. So they took him away in the middle of the night. My grandfather’s [was] pleading with them to take him instead.
All I know about my grandfather is how strong he (was). He was the rock of our family. But reading that, it takes you back to that time, it puts you in his shoes. And so, when we shot that scene, it was hands down the most emotional experience I’ve ever had acting.
So I drew from that, I drew from my family’s experiences.
The Terror: Infamy George Takei Soundbyte
In this illustated soundbyte George Takei, of Star Trek fame, tells how important it is that AMC’s The Terror: Infamy reflects his real experience of USA’s Japanese internment camps.