Interview: Executive Producer David Farr and Star Esme Creed-Mills on Hanna

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Hanna premieres on Amazon Prime today.

It's a high-octane coming of age story written and executive produced by David Farr in which Esme Creed-Mills plays the lead.

Additionally, Hanna reunites Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos from The Killing as key characters in Hanna's life.

Read on for insight from Farr and Creed-Mills on the compelling new series, and don't miss our interview with Kinnaman and Enos.

David, Mireille, Esme, and Joel - Hanna

David, can you talk about the challenges of adapting a film you wrote to long-form television, and how you made the series compelling in its own right?

David: Sure. It dates back to the film itself. I wrote a screenplay, which Joe [Wright] adapted, obviously, directly into a movie, and as is always the case with a film, that process changed the story.

It changed the movie. Joe has a very big, colorful palette, a very charismatic way of directing, but he was very keen, quite heightened, almost comic strip approach, I think you could say, with the Wicked Witch of the West that I would always just laugh about with the green shoes, chasing after the girl and it's fantastically exciting.

Related: Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman on Hanna, Reconnecting, Esme Creed-Miles & More!

But there was lots of my original story around Hannah's original backstory. Where did she come from, and why her father has brought her up in the forest? What's the mystery behind it that we never really got to the bottom of in the film in the end. And it always stuck with me.

There's a big story there that I had an idea ... Can't really talk about it, because it spoils the story even in the television show, but I had this idea that was really quite scary and quite brilliant. Kind of like dark, background thing.

Hanna Poster

We just never got there. So I thought, "Okay." When the television idea came up, I thought, why don't we really go for that, because it's the kind of thing that's perfect for the TV. You can unveil it more slowly over a long period of time.

And then, as often is the case, the thing sort of took on a life of its own a bit in the writing and became as much about, or more I'd say, about the coming of age of this young woman who comes out of the forest.

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And she has an expectation. She's never seen anything in the world before, but her father has depicted it as this dark and dangerous and evil place for the people who want to kill her. And there is truth to that, but there are other truths as well, and he has not told her everything.

And so it's about her having to unlearn what her father has created as truth and to find her own way in the world, and that's, of course, kind of metaphorically true of any teenager.

Help Is Needed - Hanna

I think we've unveiled a much more gorgeous existential journey for the lead character, so it's really touching at times, and funny and times, and sad at times.

And I think it's the marriage of those two things, the kind of exciting, gripping, action, mystery, conspiracy, and the more tender coming-of-age story. I think that's, I hope, what makes the series unusual and unique.

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How do you manage to straddle those two? Because in moments of the series it literally goes from thriller/conspiracy to Hannah's coming-of-age story. Right in a single scene. It can have dark moments of both. How do you manage that?

David: I don't know. I'm really glad you say that because I think that's what we're trying to do. I think storytelling is a strange art that I don't think anyone fully understands, but it seems to me that it's about kind of where you begin.

It's a little bit like if you start a movie in a small terrace in Bradford, and about an hour into it, aliens arrived, it would be very confusing for everyone. If you start the series saying there were aliens, and they're hovering above Bradford, you'd be fine.

Sunglasses Fun - Hanna

You have to allow your viewer into the world of your imagination, and you start that early on, and you say that this is a dangerous world. This is a dangerous world, but people are ... where the stakes are very high, where people die.

And that happens very early on in our series. It's a very exciting beginning, which is deliberately there to let everyone know that this is very high stakes, and people die in this story, and there is something very, very dark at its center.

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Then, you go into a forest, and there are a father and a daughter in there, living together in a very odd world together. And so you allow in the normality in character. And somehow, I think, as a team, directors, writers, actors, we just negotiated that all together, and you need really skillful people to help you do that.

I mean, certainly in terms of performances because if the performances are not truthful, then it won't work because those moments won't really land. The more tender moments just won't feel real.

Knock Out - Hanna

Luckily, I've got amazing lead three actors, and I also include Rhianne Barreto, as well, playing Sophie. I think we just get to the truthfulness, which I'm very proud of.

And Esme, what was it like filming your first television series?

Esme: Lots of tears. And lots of sleepless nights, and at the end of it, this huge feeling of achievement and it's like, "Well, I've done that. Movie's are going to be a piece of cake."

So, someone put me in a cool movie, because I'm auditioning!

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You haven't had your breakout role yet, but I think this is going to be it. What do you like about using the longer form versus a movie?

Esme: Well, I mean it really gives you the opportunity to develop story arcs and exploit those arcs to your character's advantage. For me, it was this idea of going on a moral journey and discovering the modern world and either taking bits of it that Hannah likes or that Hannah decides to reject.

Esme Creed Miles as Hanna

I think that part of the stuff that she ends up rejecting is this inherent violence that has been ingrained in her. And some of the stuff that she accepts I think is the freedom of nice and love and friendship and all of those beautiful things that humans provide each other with.

We're social beings. And I don't think she's destined to just be alone forever in the forest, despite her love of nature.

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Okay, and I was wondering if I could have both of them use the three words to describe ... David, describe the series, and Esme, describe Hanna.

David: I have four … Growing up is murder.


Esme: Three words.

David: She's taking the piss out of me. Now she's going to do it.

Esme: Mother nature kicks ass.

BTW Esme Running - Hanna


As a reminder, Hanna dropped today on Amazon Prime.

You know what to do!

Head over to Amazon and start rolling this exciting series and report back when you see our episodic reviews. 

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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