Solo Star Alden Ehrenreich's Latest Sci-Fi Adventure Hits Creepily Close to Home

Brave New World holds a mirror up to our own obsessions, the new streaming series' star says.

by | July 15, 2020 | Comments

Alden Ehrenreich in BRAVE NEW WORLD, Season:1
(Photo by Steve Schofield/Peacock)

Alden Ehrenreich often plays characters who don’t fit the molds that other characters try to jam them in. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, he stars as the younger version of the Star Wars universe antihero made famous by Harrison Ford: Han Solo, a brilliant and cunning non-conformist better suited to take on near-suicide missions with his Wookiee best friend than rising through the ranks of the Imperial Army. In Joel and Ethan Coens’ send-up of old Hollywood, Hail, Caesar!, he’s a singing cowboy forced into the role of a comedic leading man.

And he seems to have done it again for Brave New World, the flashy adaptation of author Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic for new streaming service Peacock. Set primarily in a prosperous region dubbed “New London,” this is a futuristic world where everyone is happy and living their best lives — that is, everyone who has been genetically ordained to be at the top of the new world order’s caste system (the so-called “Alphas” and “Betas” of the society), has no interest in privacy, and is enjoying both a daily allotment of mind-numbing drugs and intercourse with new and familiar faces without any interest in monogamy.

Making up the lowest class in New London are human worker bees known as “Epsilons,” who are genetically designed to be obedient, inferior peons with the sole purpose of cleaning up all of this excess.

Joseph Morgan and Alden Ehrenreich in BRAVE NEW WORLD, Season:1
(Photo by Steve Schofield/Peacock)

John identifies with their plight and stirs trouble with his radical thinking. He comes from a caste below the Epsilons of the city’s enlightened civilization: outcasts known as “Savages” who occupy the remnants of the land, which has the appearance of the seedier side of rural America. Their dusty outback doubles as a theme park where they put on skits for visiting New Londoners who want to gawk at the absurdity of concepts like wedding ceremonies, pregnancy, and Black Friday sales.

Ehrenreich’s John is a loner working behind the scenes on props and cleaning up the carnage after the theatrics. He lives with his depressed and neglectful mom (Demi Moore) and sees his life going nowhere. Through various circumstances gone awry, he ends up in the new world, where these humans with no boundaries nickname him “John the Savage.” They gawk and point at his most mundane activities as though he’s a celebrity — or, at the very least, someone who is the subject of a viral internet video.

Alden Ehrenreich and Lara Peake in BRAVE NEW WORLD, Season:1
(Photo by Steve Schofield/Peacock)

“It’s a dystopia that’s dressed up as a utopia and feels a lot more relevant to the world that I’ve experienced; when there’s not an overt, necessarily, way that we’re being dominated by and controlled in these ways that are apparent to us,” Ehrenreich told Rotten Tomatoes via Zoom about what drew him to the role.

That blissful ignorance is what sets his show apart from other dystopian TV dramas like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The CW’s The 100, he said. Brave New World is more about the subtle ways we let a Big Brother–like figure – cyber or human – into our lives, like the way that almost nobody actually reads the small-type Terms and Conditions before clicking “yes” to download an app or visit a website.

The story is also not a direct translation of Huxley’s 1932 novel. While this may dismay some AP English literature teachers, Ehrenreich is here for it.

“I’ve been a part of a few things now that are adapted from books and other source material, and I think the most important thing is to find a way to express the central essence of the thing,” he said. “A lot of times, just strictly, they’re different mediums. So just being overly faithful to it ends up being a pretty boring movie or series, because you can get across a feeling or an idea in a book in a way you can’t in a film necessarily.

“I think the best way to serve the original source material is to change it to make it vivid and alive for the medium it’s now it,” he said.

Working with the actor bring the material to life are costars Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones) as grasping Alpha counselor Bernard Marx, Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) as disillusioned Beta Lenina Crowne, Joseph Morgan as Epsilon CJack60, Kylie Bunbury (When They See Us) as Beta party girl Frannie, and Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp) as Alpha master of ceremonies Wilhelmina “Helm” Watson.

Alden Ehrenreich in BRAVE NEW WORLD, Season 1, episode 1
(Photo by Steve Schofield/Peacock)

The show also is one of several bullet points on Ehrenreich’s resume that highlight parts where he plays people who have fraught relationships with parents or authoritarian figures. See also: the movie Blue Jasmine or Matt Wolf’s documentary based on the Jon Savage (coincidentally) book, Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture.

Ehrenreich laughed when asked if this was intentional on his part and said he never thought about it much. But he also said it was almost inevitable because “if you’re playing a really deeply written and full character who’s under 35, their psychology, their worldview is very influenced” by parental figures and “it’s maybe more present in the story.”

Solo: A Star Wars Story
(Photo by © Lucasfilm/ © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Brave New World marks another major science fiction project for Ehrenreich. Does he have a particular passion for that genre?

“Not in and of itself,” he said. “I love the universe of Star Wars; I think that world is this incredible, mythological-rooted and incredibly imaginative world that George Lucas created,” he said, adding that Brave New World is very different.

“This is sci-fi being used to hold a mirror up to our world,” he explained. “This is not about an escape into another world. This is about exaggerating undercurrents of the world we live in so that we can see them and experience them more vividly.”

Brave New World premieres on Peacock on Wednesday, July 15. 

Tag Cloud

History HBO Max Winter TV TV Land laika documentaries free movies composers PaleyFest romance X-Men GLAAD Arrowverse Bravo halloween miniseries Teen YouTube Travel Channel game of thrones rt archives Rock Premiere Dates Mudbound cars Warner Bros. The Arrangement Cosplay critics rotten movies we love archives A&E Thanksgiving Brie Larson Disney Channel YouTube Red Disney Plus psychological thriller Comedy joker Vudu PBS child's play versus television New York Comic Con nfl deadpool south america 2018 Superheroe Netflix Christmas movies Countdown parents sequels The Witch Elton John robots Marvel Television Comics on TV comiccon Sci-Fi Rocketman Acorn TV Christmas nature Star Trek japanese GoT Mary Poppins Returns Comic Book YA comedies directors festivals TruTV cinemax best 72 Emmy Awards comics spider-man Britbox PlayStation LGBTQ BET Awards Music politics twilight kids thriller french Peacock cancelled TV shows teaser adventure Podcast screen actors guild Schedule Cartoon Network Country Awards Tour children's TV singing competition E3 mockumentary Musicals hispanic WGN Extras football Spike Captain marvel scorecard Cannes ratings NYCC aliens spy thriller First Look Chilling Adventures of Sabrina police drama streaming Funimation Holiday Hulu E! DC Comics richard e. Grant reviews Kids & Family Dark Horse Comics TBS The CW Year in Review diversity First Reviews RT21 Marathons Mary poppins technology universal monsters 20th Century Fox Family Emmy Nominations social media Fall TV Nominations Columbia Pictures NBC cancelled television biography werewolf superhero American Society of Cinematographers 2015 Amazon binge crime drama Adult Swim El Rey medical drama DirecTV Red Carpet foreign talk show The Walking Dead Tarantino emmy awards tv talk space Television Academy ABC Family witnail Drama Star Wars MTV Sneak Peek hollywood TNT Nickelodeon 45 spain BBC Disney streaming service stop motion Black Mirror Reality Competition movie video Pop TV Avengers Food Network cats Stephen King Tubi Awards Best and Worst worst movies franchise Animation what to watch psycho Masterpiece FX on Hulu See It Skip It obituary WarnerMedia Election cartoon venice Marvel doctor who true crime Box Office sequel DGA news blaxploitation Grammys MCU Amazon Prime Video Spring TV stand-up comedy Hear Us Out romantic comedy harry potter IFC Films transformers Film Festival TLC Lucasfilm The Purge scary movies Summer quibi elevated horror Pet Sematary Ellie Kemper Ovation SXSW Musical Sundance Now Opinion all-time 2017 italian FOX CW Seed GIFs SundanceTV serial killer 007 A24 reboot Mystery war ID Fox News 2019 Shudder anthology classics Trophy Talk Endgame AMC dark golden globes comic Shondaland IFC Fox Searchlight CMT Paramount Network TCA crime Mindy Kaling Heroines docudrama renewed TV shows Apple Marvel Studios TV renewals Disney+ Disney Plus Walt Disney Pictures spanish hist a nightmare on elm street Pride Month australia Hallmark 4/20 Trivia criterion stoner revenge TCA 2017 independent jamie lee curtis Character Guide batman National Geographic Trailer book HBO CNN Winners Hallmark Christmas movies Creative Arts Emmys Sundance TV USA Network OneApp zombies Certified Fresh chucky Interview Fantasy BAFTA dogs crime thriller Rom-Com Horror vampires disaster Super Bowl die hard historical drama science fiction animated YouTube Premium BET latino DC streaming service Binge Guide canceled TV shows Anna Paquin mutant Oscars Pirates dc adaptation Video Games Paramount DC Universe Ghostbusters Tumblr ITV San Diego Comic-Con Superheroes Holidays theme song natural history BBC America FXX Western Lifetime Christmas movies films dramedy james bond cops political drama VH1 Esquire Universal CBS All Access canceled asian-american TCA Awards VOD Reality crossover slashers Pixar Black History Month zombie Discovery Channel LGBT Women's History Month indie cancelled TV series Syfy spinoff Mary Tyler Moore sports Starz 2020 Classic Film Polls and Games Disney FX series TCA Winter 2020 period drama award winner Photos strong female leads Calendar Film Watching Series Tomatazos justice league Chernobyl Turner fast and furious anime Nat Geo The Academy 71st Emmy Awards Lionsgate Infographic boxoffice ghosts Sony Pictures Crackle game show Logo halloween tv discovery BBC One christmas movies indiana jones toronto Turner Classic Movies Emmys ABC TCM toy story ESPN Academy Awards TIFF HBO Go 24 frames Martial Arts VICE satire rotten black dceu concert screenings dragons sitcom cancelled finale mission: impossible name the review Baby Yoda casting Biopics Television Critics Association Epix Quiz remakes Writers Guild of America OWN SDCC based on movie Amazon Studios Lifetime Apple TV+ Spectrum Originals travel Sundance documentary TV Rocky video on demand cults Pop festival Freeform 2016 movies CBS Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Showtime Comedy Central Apple TV Plus Action Song of Ice and Fire facebook supernatural spanish language 21st Century Fox RT History Crunchyroll Valentine's Day Set visit nbcuniversal sag awards zero dark thirty MSNBC unscripted comic books blockbuster Netflix worst green book APB Amazon Prime breaking bad USA Toys cooking President