Coming to HBO Max on September 3, 2020, is the sci-fi drama Raised by Wolves. The series was created and written by Aaron Guzikowski. Taking on the duty of Executive Producer is sci fi icon Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner), who also directed the first two episodes.
Set on a mysterious virgin planet, two androids, only known as Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), are given the task to raise a group of human children. But they both discover as the kids grow that controlling humans and their beliefs is a problematic and precarious task.
Aaron Guzikowski and stars Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim spoke with the TV Critics Association about the series and working with Ridley Scott.
Ridley Scott obsession
How did Ridley Scott become involved with the project, because for this material it seems like a dream?
Aaron Guzikowski: Yes, it was a dream. Before I was even interested in making movies or TV, I was obsessed with the stories that Ridley was telling.
I wrote the pilot on spec. I’ve been working on this story for quite some time and I had hooked up with the Scott Free folks, which was hugely exciting to me.
Then Ridley himself read the script and he responded to it. Apparently soon after he had read it, he started drawing pictures, storyboarding. (When) I heard that, it was beyond exciting. And he hasn’t disappointed in terms of his generosity and just being a great mentor.
Alien Ash connection
What is the connection between the androids in this and in Alien?
Aaron: Ridley has been working with these sorts of themes for a good long time now, starting with Alien and then Blade Runner. I think there’s a thematic connection, perhaps not a direct connection in terms of the mythology.
He directed the first two episodes. He was intimately involved in the entire production. So there was an exchange of DNA between a lot of the mythologies that Ridley has established in the past and this new story.
A lot of the rules that apply to these androids, and the questions that they bring up, are similar to going as far back to Ash from Alien in 1977. But I wouldn’t say this is part of a direct mythology-type connection.
Amanda and Abubakar, how did you develop the physicality of these androids?
Abubakar Salim: I think to begin with a lot of it was work-shopping the voice and the cadence with Ridley. We had at least a good two or three weeks of rehearsing and working the actual characters and making sure that we felt grounded with them.
Amanda Collin: Yeah. There was also so much given in the suit and the way we look, I think that helped us a lot with posture and the way we walked and ran, just lean into (that) and be as little android as possible; because we looked so android.
How do their maternal and paternal instincts evolve?
Abubakar: I guess for me the way of seeing it as no one really knows how to be a parent the first time. So that was what was quite exciting. It’s like how does an android, even though they have all this information, know (how) to be a parent?
The Android walk
How hard was it to turn into these androids?
Amanda: I think the incredible thing about being an android is that you can justify a lot of things. You can have so much fun with the character while building it. Also we had the luxury of shooting (chronologically,) and so there were many gifts along the way.
The first day Abu and I looked at each other and we’re like, ‘How do we walk as androids?’
Abubakar: Yeah, Amanda and I really enjoyed the fact that we had so much room to play on set. It felt like a space where, of course, there was a lot riding on it. But there was space to make mistakes, or to discover and learn, because these two androids are learning also. That was what was really fun to dive into.
You rarely get the chance to play in a world like that on set. And I think Ridley and the whole team, including Amanda, creates such a safe space as well for me to screw up, because we both were like ‘We don’t know what we’re doing.’ Because of that safety, we were able to be bold about it.
Can you talk about the newborns in the series?
Abubakar: They were beautifully made and really easy to form a connection to. A lot of the time, you find props sometimes can be quite hard to connect to. You can see the flaws. But I think the teams in South Africa and London were incredible. So it was easy to react with the actual baby props.
What was it like working with Ridley?
Amanda: Working with Ridley is just such a gift in this sense, because you trust him 100 percent. Like Abu said, you’re bold, and then when you’re not bold, you’re like, ‘Do you want my hand like this, or like this?’ And he has the answer, he takes responsibility completely for you and your character and everything that’s going on, and it has been so wonderful.