William Fichtner Talks NBC’s New Summer Crime Thriller “Crossing Lines”
Crossing Lines should make for entertaining summer TV. It’s got a young and attractive cast of international talent supported by heavyweights such as Donald Sutherland, William Fichtner and Marc Lavoine. Coupled with exotic (read European) locations including London and Paris, and a storyline involving a crack team of experts on the hunt for a wily and dangerous international serial killer who crosses borders with impunity, leaving a trail of victims in his wake, this really should be a no brainer. The show mixes the gritty appeal of The Killing coupled with the easy accessibility of an episode of CSI.
We sat down last week to chat to Crossing Lines star William Fichtner and executive producers Ed Bernero and Rola Bauer. In a TV landscape replete with crime thrillers, Bauer was quick to point out how Crossing Lines is different to what’s on offer. Discussing the show’s ‘DNA’ Bauer said, “As the title says it crosses lines. We’re living in a global world. We’re connected by the Internet. When we started developing the idea and we pitched it to Ed, he loved it because he said for him it reminded him of how America had been when there wasn’t an FBI, when criminals could cross form one state to the other and where essentially there was no sovereign structured entity that could look after people. And from that Edgar Hoover had set up the FBI.
“And over here in Europe it doesn’t exist. So criminals can travel the borders, can cross over without being really monitored or checked anymore. And I think what attracts people is that ultimately these crimes can be seen anywhere in the world. And this is a team that is proactive. You’ve seen it in different features where there have been teams from different parts of the world who come together and crack the case. And I think that’s an international subject that allows an audience to really connect from a fear factor of how do I protect my family in a normal situation?”
The first season, comprising ten episodes, was filmed on location in Paris, Nice, and Prague, with filming wrapping in February 2013, according to Fichtner. Locations in Prague were used for parts of Paris, Italy, the Netherlands, Berlin and Vienna, with Bernero promising an Irish-themed episode in the works for next season. “You know, I’ve shot films where we’ve gone on location but nothing quite like this,” remarked Fichtner on the show’s global scope.
“The opening episodes took us into a park in Paris and also different places in Paris, France. So we shot there for a couple of weeks. And some of the episodes took us into the South of France and we shot there. So I think you can get the idea that as we went on this tour it was remarkable because the places changed and the people changed and the locations changed. And it was fascinating and unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced.”
“And if I may add to what Bill is saying,” added Bauer, “We also wanted to protect the look and the credibility of the story. We didn’t want to put any of our talent in front of a green screen, which is why we made sure that we had the ability to go to these places. We shot Prague for Prague. We doubled it also for other European cities but we also made sure that Paris and Nice and the South of France were very much a part of what the story location was and not pretending to be something else.”
Where Crossing Lines shines is in its interactions between the cast, with racial tensions, political wrangling and a hint of sexual attraction all adding to the international mix. The team consists of Donald Sutherland as Dorn, Richard Flood as Tommy McConnel (Irish), Genevieve O’Reilly as Sienna Pride (British) William Fichtner as Carl Hickman (American), Gabriella Pession as Eva Vittoria (Italian), Tom Wlaschiha as Sebastian Berger (German), Moon Dailly as Anne-Marie San and Marc Lavoine as Louis Bernard (French).
“There are many things that I love about Hickman,” said Fichtner, speaking of his character Carl Hickman, a wounded (in more ways than one) New York cop who finds himself as a fish out of water when drawn into this circle of international profilers. “I think he is a character that has more than one plate spinning. And one of those elements of his life is the bigger picture of why he’s in Europe in the first place, which by the end of Season 1 you will get a very – you will know exactly what that is,” he teased.
“For as much as Hickman gives to the group, there are things that the group can give to him. And all of that begins to reveal itself throughout the first season. And that single thing alone is one of the big through lines for the character and one of things that I really love about that journey because it’s always more than just one thing.”
“And there’s also quite a large element of the characters all in some way, shape or form using each other too,” added Bernero. “You know, that it’s not just all for the same goal. I think you find out through the whole season that almost everyone has a little bit of an ulterior motive for being where they are and joining this team in the first place.”
Addressing the question as to how American audiences will respond to such an international production, and what essentially the differences are between a ‘European’ show and a ‘US’ show, Bernero reflected, “You know, the other show that I’ve done is Criminal Minds. “We tired very hard to imply more violence than we show. But we don’t really get a lot of notes about violence, you know. In America you get notes about sex. You don’t get notes about violence. It’s actually quite the opposite in this European theater that we’re in now. There’s more concern about violence and there’s almost no concern about sex. So it just, you know, culturally kind of a different thing. What I’m interested in seeing is how the people react to the fact that they’re seeing people with French accents and German accents and Italian accents. It’s just something kind of really different for American television. And I’m just interested in seeing how it plays around the world.”
“I think one of the things that we’ve seen in this is Ed’s created fabulous character arc. You’re going to be in for surprises on the subject of what brought Hickman over,” adds Bauer. “I think you’re going to be intrigued to connect the dots. We still have the crime of the week and we still have the team resolving cases. But there is a number of layers of mystery that come in. And when you start getting towards the eight, the ninth and the tenth episode, there is a real second layer of a story that makes each one of those characters stronger and quite exciting. Ed finished it off by having us have a cliffhanger on the tenth episode. And he’s probably going to get a lot of hate mail because of it.
“Not from me,” laughed Fichtner.
Crossing Lines premiers on Sunday, June 23 from 9:00 to 11:00 pm with a special two-hour premiere. It will then move to its regular time slot on June 30 from 10:00 to 11:00 pm.