Have you ever wondered just what goes in to creating your favorite shows? The scripts, the sets, and the countless individuals that come together to bring you the stories that captivate you each week? Well Fangirlish had the incredible opportunity to check out behind the scenes of one of NBCs biggest hit shows, Taken, and we cant wait to give you all the details!
Taken, inspired by the blockbuster film trilogy starring Liam Neeson, is a modern day action series that follows former military specialist Bryan Mills, set thirty years before the films take place. Reeling after the tragic death of his sister, Bryan is brought into an underground world of prevention, using his unique skill set to stop national events before they occur. Starring Clive Standen, Jennifer Beals, and introducing Adam Goldberg and Jessica Camacho in season two, the series is ready to bring viewers deeper into the world of covert operations.
Season two, which hits screens in January on Fridays on NBC, Mills finds himself struggling to survive injury and incarcerated in Mexican prison, as following the shocking end of season one. But it isn’t just about his own escape, as a girl is abducted right before his eyes and he is forced to choose between his own freedom and finding the girl.
Going behind the scenes of this action packed show, Fangirlish sits down with its stars, producers, and sees the sets that bring it to life on screen each week. With a complete revamp in cast and crew, there is going to be some big changes translating within the show come January, and we are excited to bring you the inside scoop.
We had the opportunity to tour the hidden workplace of this 007 meets underground crew. Modelled after a bank in Europe, the old world charm and elaborate architecture is evident in the set down to the last detail. That detail? The vault, as in any bank, but instead of money, this one holds the necessities of this unique group of individuals. Guns.
But it doesn’t end there. On the opposite side of the expansive space, is every tech geeks dream set up. Three computer screens, connected to smooth perfection, builds the workstation of one of the newest members of the team, hacker specialist Kilroy, played by Goldberg. Now, you may be thinking, every show like this has a hacker, how is Kilroy different? Besides the quirky originality that Goldberg brings to his occasionally pantless character (yes, Kilroy is a pants optional kind of guy), he has his own past to hide from just like Bryan. No one in this group is immune from personal tragedy, and each focuses that pain in different ways.
Sitting down, we have the chance to meet with producer and show runner Greg Plageman, who is also new to the Taken crew in Season 2. With clear vision and focus, he knows exactly where he wants Taken to go in the future. With a sixteen episode season, we will be privy to exciting new events and action each week.
Moving forward, Plageman wants to focus the show more on Mills as a character. The personal focus that we saw in the films is difficult to maintain long term in a show, and this challenge will be providing a personal touch within a realistic element each week.
Season one, in Plageman’s mind, was too diluted with skilled individuals much like Mills. There was no concrete focus on our main character and his ‘very special set of skills’ that we came to admire and adore from Neesons portrayal. In season 2, this will change. While Bryan will have a team of specialized individuals, each is very different from himself in their ability. Through this, Plageman hopes that the focus is on the character as intended, rather than in the influx of operations and ability.
Through the season, there will be a ‘monster of the week’ story within a greater overall arch. There will be a villain, one who challenges and torments Mills, while he weekly faces individualistic settings and matters that only he and his team can face with a preventative focus.
“This show is about prevention. If we can anticipate the thing that is about to happen, then we can stop it before people get hurt,” Plageman told us.
It is clear that Plageman has a respect for the characters and an understanding for where he sees this series going. He understands that this character is internationally loved, and not just from a stance of wish fulfillment, but for the appreciation for these types of people, watching them enterprise, do with that they have, and pull themselves out of situations in interesting ways. It is about the type of people we all hope exist, the 007, the Jason Bournes, who do the things most of us couldn’t imagine, but couldn’t survive without.
“You can understand and appreciate the resourcefulness and ability of Mills. He’s not just some guy randomly shooting people.” Plageman continued.
When it comes to Season 2, we are introduced to a smaller, but more intricate casting of specialists to join Mills team. Kilroy, played by Goldberg, is recruited to the team by Hart, but it isn’t so cut and dried. As a black hat hacker, he was previously incarcerated by her for hacking into the FBI, giving his position within the team a special twist beyond his abilities. He is brilliant, always thinking ahead of others, and just as dangerous in his own right as those he is helping the team stop. And while Hart is reluctant to trust him, she knows that he is the best at what he does.
Adam Goldberg gives the sense of dry comedic humor and quiet intensity that he portrays in all his characters. From the moment he sits down, his stoic expression and quick wit leaves you laughing, but also wondering if you were being teased. A new dad, he admits that he spends more time watching kids shows than those like his own.
“I don’t get to watch a lot of TV shows. I have a three year old, I watch a lot of shows with choo choos,” Goldberg said of his TV watching.
He admits that he doesn’t have much of a comparison to his character with other hackers seen on other shows. He is using this experience to form his own experience, his own character as its own without playing off what has been created elsewhere. And where many shows have young, inexperienced hackers at the keyboard, Kilroy is an expert in his field, and it shows.
Jessica Camaco, another newcomer to the Taken set in the role of Santana, is the newage version of the 007 beloved character Q. Her past as a Quatermaster Captain with the army, she has a knack for knowing exactly what you need before you need it. Her bag of tricks is varied and wide, and just like the rest of her team, she has her own past to escape. Discharged from the army for misconduct, she finds a new place within this unique group.
Of course, for Camacho, working in the Canadians winters has been a struggle. She admits that many of the crew worry about her, asking her frequently if she is alright, as she shivers her way through scenes.
“I’m out in the woods, freezing, it is not as glamorous as people think. I am not acclimated to the cold.” Camacho said of filming in Canada.
For those of you who may not realize, Flashdance alum and iconic star Jennifer Beals plays ring leader Christina Hart in this series. She is a woman of poise, composure, and an aura of confidence that few can emulate. There is an elegance about her that leaves you in awe of her, from her stature to her talent, as she is clearly a star. But even beyond her star power is her ingenuity. Much like her character, she has a knack for thinking of things that some don’t even realize they need. One of which, being a tiny heating device for your face that will help you remain able to deliver lines and speak in weather like the Canadian winters she faces on set. She is new to the gadget heavy world of her character, and is learning the weaponry and devices that characters within her realm need.
For Beals, when her character starts to question her ability and judgment, is when the role becomes interesting. As someone who feels she knows her place, being unsure is not something she is familiar with. She is in control, and answers to no one now that she is the lead of her own team. It is this high functioning version of street smarts that helps her choose the cases and quickly earns her Mills trust.
“She’s the kind of person who walks into a room and assumes that she is one of the smartest people there, which is a pleasure to play.” Beals said of her character.
Finally, we sat down with lead star Clive Standen, who has been tasked with bringing this new version of a beloved action star to the small screen. Penned as the action hero we all need, he anticipates the next move before it happens and can react. The ‘special set of skills’ he is famous for is on display each week, and will undoubtedly satisfy fans of the film franchise.
Standen, however, is quite different from the character he plays. Gentle manner, soft spoken, and exuding a calm over everyone around him. He loves his current role, learning what makes Mills tick, while also not delivering a finished product through his portrayal. It is a long term focus, building an understanding and putting it forward. Season one was to learn his place within this new role, the turmoil of his sisters death, and moving to a place where he can break the rules he once coveted.
“Whether it is a person or a thing taken, you cannot stop this man unless it is a bullet in his head,” Standen said.
His desire is to bring his character into homes each week, and make you care. To make you cheer him on, and understand his motivations beyond just the personal understand from the films of his daughter and the desire to save her. Mills isn’t used to working with a team, let alone a dysfunctional one such as his team, and balancing not only the events of the job but learning from each other within a team setting brings a special relatability.
Admittedly, moving in to a role that is already loved and understood in many ways, it can be a challenge. But for Standen, he sees it as building towards a goal. The Mills of the films is the finished product, whereas the Mills of the TV series is a clean slate to build towards the end. He isn’t a man who has all the answers, and if he did it would be quite boring, according to Standen. So for him it is about measuring and building the intensity of the character we all know.
To ensure realistic elements within the show, they have enlisted the expertise of a man who has lived it. Jason Amery is their specialist, and at times when some may question the reality in which finds its way on screen, he can assure them he was there, and it is put forth correctly. But balancing the tactical perfection with the realism of going around a corner and having it all go wrong is the thrill of television.
Coming to an end of our visit on the Taken sets, we all have a new appreciation for the work and dedication that goes behind making a show such as this. The sets, the character development, but also the realism in knowing that there are people like Mills who put themselves on the line to keep the rest of us safe.
Be sure to check out season 2 of Taken on NBC Friday nights starting January 12.