4 Things to Know Before the Premiere of 12 Monkeys

New SyFy Series is Based on the 1995 Film But Holds Its Own

by | January 16, 2015 | Comments

Just in time for the series premiere, Rotten Tomatoes got to ask the stars of the new SyFy series 12 Monkeys about their show, the original film(s), and their own theories on time travel. Amanda Schull plays Dr. Cassandra Railly, originally portrayed by Madelaine Stowe in the 1995 film, and Aaron Stanford plays James Cole, Bruce Willis’ time-traveling character, on a mission to prevent a future pandemic. So read on while there’s still time. And if you don’t have the time, you just may be able to travel back and give yourself more.


1. How does the new series differ from the 1995 film 12 Monkeys?

Having seen the first two episodes, we can attest that the tone of the series respects that of the film and, as Amanda Schull puts it, “It’s got the same sort of original kernel but it’s its own entity.” What fans may not be aware of, though, is that the 1995 film was based on another film, a 1962 foreign short called La Jetée by Chris Marker. Aaron Stanford said, “It was a small bite-sized chunk and then [the film] 12 Monkeys took that and they expanded it and made it their own and now what we’ve done is the same thing.”

While the world of the film did not permit significant changes during time travel, it needed to be modified to accommodate the series. In the film, time was essentially fixed so that events could not be altered. James Cole was enlisted only to observe and deliver information. “That holds with the current theory of time travel that comes from Einstein’s theory of relativity, that you can travel through time but you cannot change it,” explained Stanford. “So, for the series … in order to tell the kind of story they wanted to tell, they needed there to be the possibility of change. So they sort of went a different route and there are alternate theories of time travel that do allow things to be altered and changed and that’s quantum theory. So, the movie goes with relative theory and the TV show goes with the quantum theory.”

Stanford respected Bruce Willis’ performance in the original film version and wanted to borrow from that. He described James Cole’s experience of our world in the film version as being “very similar to that of a newborn; he’s experiencing everything for the very first time” and he chose to bring that sensibility to his own rendering of the character. But Schull wanted her performance to stand alone and chose to avoid re-watching the film prior to shooting: “I didn’t want Madeleine [Stowe’s] performance to affect my performance because we’re different characters and I don’t think I could ever do her performance. She’s brilliant you know?”


2. How do the actors approach the show’s time-traveling themes?


Both actors admit that the timelines can grow confusing as they unravel within a time-travel plot, particularly having to work with multiple versions of one’s self. But research and a production team on-hand devoted to keeping each timeline coherent help to keep them grounded.

While doing research for the series, Aaron Stanford discovered the real-world possibilities of time travel. “It’s mathematically possible,” he said “which was not something I was aware of. I thought it was entirely a flight of fancy and fiction … It’s just a matter of having the technology and the resources to do it.” Schull recounted how, during an early hair and makeup test, Stanford had brought a carry-on suitcase with about six books on the topic of time travel. “He thought he was going to somehow read [them] all in one evening and be able to totally understand time travel by the time we started,” she told us, to which Stanford laughed, “I didn’t really think that one through.” With his new-found theory of real time travel, though, maybe Stanford will still have a chance to go back and finish those books before production begins!

If given the chance to go anywhere in time and make changes, Stanford would not opt to travel into the past: “I mean do you really want to give up hot showers? Do you want to give up indoor plumbing?” He said he would consider going back to offer his younger self more experienced life advice, but Schull warned, “That would totally change what you would be like going forward.” When asked what she might want to change about the past, Schull quipped, “There are probably some people whose numbers I would delete a lot faster than I did.”


3. What was the casting process like?

Stanford said casting processes can be confusing because the producers are seeking the perfect chemistry between their stars. Schull recalled that she had received the script before Stanford had: “I did go into the hopper before Aaron did, but I think it wasn’t until Aaron and I had a chemistry read together that they finalized their casting.”

Stanford felt it was a challenge, “There was a lot of improv and [Amanda] came 100 percent prepared and ready and it was extraordinarily helpful.”


4. So how did the two create their onscreen chemistry?

“Well, Amanda couldn’t stand me at first,” Stanford joked. “Despised me in fact. And it was a long period of having to win her over. That’s what [has] bled over into our characters.” Since the actors don’t always know the whole storyline from the get-go, the chemistry revealed itself gradually on set. Schull thought a lot of what translates to onscreen chemistry is how the actors treat each other and the material, “[Aaron] shows at the set very prepared and he gives you 110 percent for every single scene, for every single page … It’s nice working with someone who gives you as much as you give them.”


Whether you’re a fan of the 1995 film or just a sci-fi enthusiast in general, there is much to look forward to in this time-changing 12 Monkeys universe. Amanda Schull and Aaron Stanford hope their characters’ journeys are long and exciting ones, and so do we!

12 Monkeys airs tonight, Friday, Jan. 16, on SyFy 9 p.m. Will you be watching?


Tag Cloud

joker PaleyFest stand-up comedy Sundance zombie SXSW Mary Poppins Returns crime Arrowverse Hallmark CMT Star Trek TCA Winter 2020 Quiz Avengers FX 007 screenings TV renewals Martial Arts TCA 2017 spinoff psychological thriller Logo rotten movies we love Discovery Channel TLC canceled TV shows Heroines unscripted docudrama cancelled TV series 21st Century Fox streaming Pet Sematary VH1 Ghostbusters Sneak Peek TV DC Comics finale CW Seed children's TV reviews universal monsters festivals space Holiday Superheroes Sony Pictures films TruTV Super Bowl TNT San Diego Comic-Con A24 Superheroe talk show OneApp Marathons BBC One zombies politics Pirates psycho IFC Films WarnerMedia Thanksgiving Best and Worst The Purge Polls and Games adaptation Walt Disney Pictures Esquire singing competition MTV Apple TV+ Vudu SDCC mutant Brie Larson screen actors guild PlayStation Cosplay historical drama Netflix Christmas movies crime thriller asian-american See It Skip It SundanceTV ABC Set visit NYCC Classic Film Family dc Columbia Pictures Amazon Prime Video New York Comic Con Tomatazos dogs witnail Opinion Trophy Talk Country Disney+ Disney Plus American Society of Cinematographers Trivia Spectrum Originals a nightmare on elm street directors book GoT Lifetime cars Paramount blaxploitation biography ABC Family criterion independent OWN 2015 anime Biopics Watching Series anthology Film Festival Pride Month Warner Bros. Cartoon Network BAFTA 2016 BBC America Certified Fresh Nickelodeon Paramount Network Ovation documentaries FX on Hulu breaking bad Lucasfilm political drama Amazon Endgame nature The Witch miniseries television Bravo strong female leads Apple Sundance TV 71st Emmy Awards toy story HBO Max tv talk BET Awards Cannes werewolf spy thriller USA El Rey Comic Book parents 4/20 documentary National Geographic animated robots DC Universe Star Wars spider-man AMC Shondaland YouTube Teen what to watch Universal Lionsgate Comedy ghosts FXX satire LGBTQ Hear Us Out series ratings Rom-Com Spike Musical latino Red Carpet theme song Acorn TV DC streaming service Captain marvel Emmy Nominations video on demand teaser Turner concert Disney Plus Winter TV Fall TV renewed TV shows police drama Hallmark Christmas movies reboot Disney Peacock The CW Syfy chucky mockumentary DirecTV video versus spanish language Tubi award winner Hulu Mudbound Rocketman Character Guide green book Black Mirror mission: impossible critics TCM Baby Yoda batman canceled movies GLAAD Pixar name the review WGN vampires romantic comedy sequel Adult Swim 20th Century Fox jamie lee curtis Apple TV Plus Music E! comic VICE free movies Dark Horse Comics Christmas Winners VOD BET twilight Film Mystery Creative Arts Emmys USA Network Mary Tyler Moore christmas movies boxoffice Reality Competition DGA adventure Shudder TV Land Lifetime Christmas movies romance zero dark thirty south america HBO Go Turner Classic Movies Horror facebook aliens crossover Holidays Starz Nominations Musicals indie A&E ESPN IFC blockbuster HBO NBC Marvel Television Year in Review Interview Masterpiece casting YouTube Red comedies Trailer all-time cults 2020 die hard Tarantino Ellie Kemper dragons cancelled Fox News E3 Stephen King CBS hispanic President RT History X-Men movie Marvel Studios Marvel binge Song of Ice and Fire Writers Guild of America social media franchise Showtime 45 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TBS comiccon Elton John Schedule harry potter Black History Month dceu Academy Awards Anna Paquin scary movies game of thrones Toys MSNBC Awards Tour science fiction disaster transformers Britbox Amazon Prime Countdown Comedy Central Crunchyroll war supernatural Calendar Tumblr Rocky Kids & Family cancelled television Emmys MCU Netflix serial killer Grammys Mindy Kaling Video Games ITV slashers Fantasy CNN hist Action Spring TV halloween comics crime drama diversity thriller cooking sitcom 2019 RT21 cats FOX Box Office Funimation Sundance Now Comics on TV based on movie stoner Disney Channel First Look Sci-Fi true crime news golden globes child's play PBS sag awards cartoon Premiere Dates quibi 2018 cinemax sports Valentine's Day Nat Geo Western LGBT justice league 24 frames Mary poppins Television Academy Binge Guide First Reviews dark Rock dramedy Election game show richard e. Grant Chernobyl Food Network The Walking Dead Disney streaming service doctor who spain Summer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Crackle BBC Freeform 2017 Reality cancelled TV shows YA Amazon Studios Infographic travel best CBS All Access Pop TV TIFF APB Photos composers TCA The Arrangement indiana jones technology Pop Awards foreign revenge period drama Animation Travel Channel elevated horror natural history cops History Epix kids medical drama YouTube Premium Oscars Drama Extras Women's History Month GIFs discovery Podcast