We are eagerly awaiting this week’s premiere of The Messengers, and in honor of the occasion, we’re sharing a new WonderCon interview with the cast and creators every day leading up to Friday’s pilot release. Now, The Messengers has a very mysterious premise dealing with a meteor-like object that crashes to earth, sending out a shockwave that briefly stops the heart of five strangers. They collapse, only to miraculously come back to life hours later. As they soon discover, they have each acquired a unique supernatural gift–along with the role of Angels of the Apocalypse. Dying to know more? We were too–and, luckily, the series’ Co-Executive Producer and Creator, Eoghan O’Donnell, and Executive Producer Trey Callaway were on-hand to tell us more about the Messengers, the impending apocalypse, hope, humanity, and so much more.
First things first–where did the original concept for The Messengers come from? “I was always interested in apocalyptic stories,” Eoghan said. “I wanted to do that by drawing a wide range of characters into these extraordinary events. And I grew up in Arkansas–I was always really interested in the religious underpinnings of that area, and then also, I was very into science.” These varied interests helped inspire the very different backgrounds of the Messengers. “I had to have characters who reflected multiple points of view coming into [the story], so I think that’s where that came from,” Eoghan said.
Speaking of the Messengers, it’s interesting to note that as we approach the premiere, we still don’t know too much about them–or how their gifts and Angels of the Apocalypse status will manifest. While we will get a taste of most of the Messengers’ gifts in the pilot, we were curious about just who these people are–and if they will even be human after their temporary deaths. “They are regular people. That’s something that’s really important to us,” Trey said. “It’s important for us to not only draw from mythology, but again to go back to what’s most significant, which is [that] all these people are in periods of great crises in their life, and those lives do not go away and those crises do not go away. In fact, in some ways, they get worse. So these personal problems and issues they face maintain along with them throughout the season.”
The Messengers come from very unique backgrounds, which will also play into the show’s approach to religion and other hot topics. “Since it is such an ensemble, you get to have people saying very different things, and it becomes a discussion,” Eoghan said. “It becomes a world where everyone comes together, uniting behind this central meaning. Great passions from different perspectives.” Trey added that the writer’s room has been like “the most amazing theology seminar [he’s] sat in.” “Incredible arguments, all coming from great places of passion, and the end result of that is reflected in the characters of the show and their debates and the discussions they have… In terms of belief systems, there is something for many different forms of belief on the show,” he said.
The Messengers won’t be the only characters influencing the oncoming apocalypse–but don’t expect them to solely do battle with other supernatural forces. “You’ll find that some of the villains are regular people, too. They have their own destinies. They may be darker in origin than our Messengers and also have choices to make like our Messengers,” Trey said. “I think the point of choices is very good,” Eoghan added. “[The Messengers] are people based upon choices, and they still have fallibility, and they’re not pure, untainted angels–they’re human, and they can make the wrong choice or the right choice.”
Now that we’ve learned more about the Angels, let’s talk about the apocalypse. In a world where every other movie, show, and book released seems to deal with dystopia, were the creators of The Messengers worried that the apocalyptic storyline is overdone? Not in the slightest. “It’s a part of all our lives whether we like it or not,” Trey said. “It’s hard to name any of the world’s religions that don’t have [their] own apocalyptic scenario. Science itself reflects that. Unfortunately, we as humans only have finite time on this earth. This show reflects that in that it is a search for meaning, and it’s an opportunity for five strangers to try and find greater meaning and a greater purpose in life.”
Trey and Eoghan tried to harness this universal relevance by asking the writers to bring in a picture showing what is most important to them, which they then pinned up in the writers’ room. Why? “As Eoghan and I said to the rest of the writing staff: the only reason these apocalyptic stories really matter is that they represent the loss of the people who mean the most to us,” Trey said. “So as important as our mythology may be–and we do draw from it […] and [stick] to our Season 1 mission as the Messengers–none of that matters if you’re exclusively focused on anybody’s mythology or anybody’s belief system without understanding what is most important to them and who is most important to them.”
This approach taps into the human relationships that are often a beacon of hope in dark dystopias. Trey revealed that this hope and humanity will come from several primary sources in The Messengers: “One, it comes from the people, in the way that complete strangers form bonds with each other. A second one is partially through an interpretation of the Book of Revelation–it’s the sense of a revengeful God and ‘I am unhappy with mankind,’ and ours will be a different interpretation of the end times. A unique story where a higher power–God or whatever you believe–is saying that this is going to go down differently and that the world isn’t an ugly place and you have a choice, and you can do that positively in your own life and in the outcome of humankind. As you can see, you can draw a lot of hope from that,” he said. “Essentially, you’re being tested,” Eoghan said. “You can see it. It is a large test, and your choices can go either way.”
The Messengers’ gifts will play a huge role in what these choices entail and how they can respond to them. “Each of the gifts represents a certain part of humanity for each of the individuals. It’s as if a higher power looked in each of us and said, ‘You’ve got some issues, but I’m going to give you a gift to help stop the apocalypse. But if you use it correctly, it could also be indispensable in terms of solving some of your core issues that you have.’ There’s a lot of self-reflection that goes on in the show,” Trey said.
Eoghan and Trey also shared one major teaser with us: in accordance with Biblical prophecies, there will ultimately be seven Messengers by the end of the season. Though they did not share when we can expect the final two to make an appearance, they did talk about the challenges of incorporating the final Messengers into the central group introduced in the pilot. “Since [Eoghan] did such an amazing job in the pilot establishing our core five, it was a challenging process and an interesting process how to select the other two personalities’ prototypes, different belief systems, different walks of life we could insert into this group,” Trey said. “It is also about getting them back into this group, changing the dynamics of a group that’s already established with the five,” Eoghan said. The potential tension between not only outside forces, but the clashing of strangers from very different worlds–especially the two coming into play further down the line–definitely sets up some intrigue for the upcoming season.
What else are Eoghan and Trey excited for fans to experience as they watch The Messengers? “I will tell you that there’s a moment in each of the thirteen episodes of the first season where it gets ya. Where you feel something. You see someone uplifted in some way, despite all the darkness in the mythology that threatens us,” Trey said. “It’s there, alive and well. It’s what we’re both most proud of.”
We’re looking forward to experiencing all that The Messengers has to offer–from supernatural drama to heart–when the series premieres this Friday, April 17. Check back every day this week for a new interview with the cast!
In case you missed our other WonderCon interviews with The Messengers team, here’s where to find them: