Television is adding a brand new adrenaline rush called Traveler to their viewing line-up which stars Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling), Logan Marshall-Green (The O.C, 24) and Aaron Stanford (X-Men- Last Stand). The premise of Traveler centers on three New York based college grad roommates, Jay Burchell (Matthew Bomer), Tyler Fog (Logan Marshall-Green) and Will Traveler (Aaron Stanford) who decide to take a cross-country trip before settling into the various lives and careers. But what happens when the question arises about really being able to trust your friends? Tonight on ABC at 9PM EST the viewing audience takes a wild ride in the rebroadcasting of the action packed first episode of Traveler and the premiere broadcast of episode two, Retreat. While audiences are waiting, Eclipse Magazine brings an exclusive interview with writer/creator David DiGilio (Eight Below).
Taking on Issues of Trust
David DiGilio tells Eclipse Magazine in our exclusive interview with him that he grew up inside the Washington D.C. beltway and as a kid he knew he’d either end up in film or politics.
DiGilio us that however as he became an adult his passion for storytelling took over and he became a screenwriter.
“But I’ve always held a soft spot for the great paranoid political thrillers of the 70s, especially Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you can’t help but draw comparisons between the political climate of the 70s and today. There’s once again a great distrust of our government. We’ve seen this play out in shows like 24 and Prison Break. But I wanted Traveler to be different.” DiGilio explains of how the series premise came about.
“Those other shows are filled with characters that have specific plans to save the world, or at least save themselves. I wanted to tell a story about ordinary people thrown into a conspiracy.” David DiGilio says he became fascinated with creating a story and characters around the issues of how would someone react if their faces were suddenly splashed across TV as suspects in the latest terror investigation?
Ultimately though DiGilio says that he really wanted to tell was a story about friendship. “If we can’t count on our government to look out for our interests, that puts the emphasis on the relationships we hold most dear. What happens when even those are placed in doubt? What will win out? Trust or Suspicion? Or in the context of the show, did Will Traveler really betray his friends?”
Eclipse Magazine asked David DiGilio what kind of research he did to find the right feel for Traveler and to bring the story he wanted to tell to life.
“I spent a lot of time watching espionage thrillers. Enemy Of State, The Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy, No Way Out, Manchurian Candidate, Munich, and the classics I mentioned above. We wanted the show to feel like a modern take on the realism of 70s cinema.”
In keeping with that feel for realism of the 70’s cinema, DiGilio tells us that the audience won’t see much CGI in this show. “Those are our actors jumping off buildings, fighting in hallways. Aside from that, we hired an FBI consultant for help on the procedural aspect of the show. People might not realize that Agents Chambers, Marlow, and Borjes will play a key role in the show and have their own issues to deal with.”
David DiGilio is also very pleased with another aspect of research he was able to conduct for Traveler to keep the realism aspect going in the series. “The great thing I did for the pilot, something I’d never had the privilege (or financial means) to do before, is fly myself to New York during the writing process. I actually walked the route Jay and Tyler take on the Drexler bombing. I took photos of places I wanted to see in the script. When our director the great David Nutter (X-Files, Supernatural) came on board, I went to New York again. David and I scouted the final locations and did production polishes. This all helped add a level of authenticity to the creative process.”
From Script to Screen
David DiGilio spoke with Eclipse Magazine about the process of taking Traveler from the scripting process to the screen and how things changed in some respects along the way, especially the main characters.
“I think the characters really evolved during Traveler’s development process. I owe a lot of that to my exec producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (American Beauty). There’s a reason these guys have an Oscar on their desk. They really know how to look at a character you’ve maybe seen before and add a level of complexity that is unexpected. Jay, Tyler, and Will benefited from an in depth character study that gives each of them a fatal flaw. Jay’s idealism. Tyler’s dependence on wealth. Will’s… well, you’ll have to watch to get Will’s. These complex characters came screaming out once we found the actors, and I’m convinced that people will end up watching more for these characters and the actors playing them than they will for the conspiracy.”
While not giving away too many spoilers for Traveler, DiGilio shared a look behind the scenes at the process of creating these characters he feels the audience is going to want to bond with in Traveler.
”We talked a lot about this in our writers room. I wanted characters that each in some way represented the American Dream. Jay is who we are: an ordinary person using the American system to better his station in life. Tyler is who we wish we could be: wealth and privilege without consequence. And Will is what we most fear: someone who we let in on our deepest secrets, who then uses those secrets against us. Agent Chambers represents American Bureaucracy: a political animal who knows how to manage a case and cover his ass. Agent Marlow is the great American Woman: strong and steady in her beliefs even though the system she works for tells her she’s not good enough. And Agent Borjes represents all that is right with America, a man from an immigrant background who has sworn to protect the new home country that he loves.”
Of the three main characters in Traveler, David DiGilio tells Eclipse Magazine that Jay was the easiest to create because he and the character share the most in common personally. “We both came from a public school background and ended up at private Ivy League Universities. We’re both idealists — as is Matt Bomer, who so wonderfully brings Jay to life. And we both firmly believe that we can fix things, even when they’re irreparably damaged. It’s that idealism that will truly be put to the test on this show.”
Conversely, DiGilio says that the toughest role to write was probably Tyler. “We’ve all seen rich kids on screen before. How could we make him different? The answer came when Logan came in for his audition. He played Tyler as a man who was both damaged by and dependent on his wealth at the same time.” David DiGilio says that this take on the role really opened up the character. “We started talking a lot about Henry V and Hamlet. Classic characters from wealth and privilege whom the audience always underestimates. It’s a great character arc, and I’m very proud of my writing staff for crafting it.”
Having mentioned Jay and Tyler, David DiGilio says that he can’t leave Will Traveler out.
“He was the most fun to write. A dark character study in the duality of man—keep your eyes on Aaron Stanford in this role. He will surprise you.” DiGilio hints with a smile.
Doing What Where?
The pilot episode for Traveler is a very action packed adventure from start to finish and Eclipse Magazine wanted to know what was the most difficult aspect of the script to bring to life on the screen for the pilot.
David DiGilio tells us that from his perspective the trickiest transition from page to screen came with the roller-blading sequence. “I’d originally written this to take place in the Guggenheim, with our guys skating down the famous circular ramp, which made perfect sense. But the Guggenheim was not thrilled about being blown up on national TV.”
David DiGilio says that not wanting to lose such an integral part of the set up for the story, they ended up improvising elsewhere.
“The talented New York production crew secured the New York Public Library and our Production Designer Scott Murphy transformed it into something that looks like the Met. We went from roller-blading down a ramp to skating down steps, and we weren’t sure what to expect.”
“In the end, it actually added a kinetic, crazy vibe to the sequence and the historic feel of the Drexler Museum fit the themes of our show much better than the modern feel of the Guggenheim. Everything happens for a reason, right?”
It certainly does and there are plenty of reasons to fathom out Jay and Tyler as their lives go twisting and turning down the path that Will Traveler has set them on.
David DiGilio along with Director David Nutter and The Jinks/Cohen Company and in association with Warner Bros. Television has created an interesting and intense new series with Traveler. Look for it on ABC at 9PM EST Wednesday May 30th. Read David DiGilio’s Traveler’s Blog at TVGuide.com to learn more about this exciting new ABC Television series.
Article by M R Reed