True crime is all the craze on the small screen. Now, “Black Bird” is looking to shake things up.
The series, starring Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser, aims to play mind games with its audience, pitting a high school football star against a suspected serial killer. For Egerton, the show is more than just an interesting story of a horrendous crime, it’s a portrait of masculinity and how decisions made by men “fuck up the world.”
“You can watch it and learn something about what it means to be a human being,” Egerton told Variety at the Apple TV+ show’s red carpet premiere on Wednesday. “I think this show examines the sort of darker aspects of humanity, but they still are humanity and valid nonetheless. If you want to get broad and wordy about it, then I suppose, you know, we live in a world where awful, awful, hideous decisions are made that fuck up the world. And they’re normally made by men who think they know the lot. And this show is full of them!”
“Black Bird” follows the true story of Jimmy Keene, a young man sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison. Keene is given a choice: enter a maximum security prison and befriend suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Hauser), or stay where he is and serve his full sentence. He chooses the former, kicking off a tense, creepy psychological thriller. Despite playing such a disturbed and dark character, Hauser said the role didn’t define him.
“I think I probably did [take it home] unconsciously,” Hauser explained on Wednesday night at the Regency Bruin Theatre in Westwood, Calif. “I actually get annoyed when actors are like, ‘I played this role and it was so taxing that I was messed up for 12 years.’ It’s like, dude, chill out. It’s acting. There are people who work teaching positions in underfunded schools who are, like, making 40 grand a year. You’re OK. Get a second therapist.”
The cast also paid tribute to co-star Ray Liotta, who died less than two months before the show launched. Greg Kinnear didn’t shoot any scenes with Liotta, but ran into him multiple times on set. He described the legendary actor as an absolute show-stopper.
“He’s a magnificent actor and a magnificent person,” Kinnear said. “He was a great guy. Listen, I would say he was great no matter what — I mean he could’ve read the phone book in this thing and I would say he’s great — but I genuinely think he’s extraordinary in this in a way that is going to knock people out.”
Hauser donned a T-shirt with Liotta’s “Field of Dreams” character, Shoeless Joe Jackson, in the actor’s honor.
Dennis Lehane, showrunner and writer of the series, adds: “He meant everything to us. I wrote the part for him, it was my dream to work with him. He was as good as advertised. He raised all boats, and he never gave the same take twice. He was a complete, consummate professional. He was there to work. And then when he died, it was tough because our last conversation three weeks earlier had been about what we were gonna do next. We just hope that at least the legacy lives on through this performance.”
“Black Bird” premieres July 8 on Apple TV+.