‘The Man in the High Castle’ Team on What to Expect in the Final Season
When The Man in the High Castle premiered on Amazon in 2015, Nazis were largely considered a thing of the past.
Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name, the dystopian drama is set in an alternate universe where the Allies lost World War II—leaving Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan to divvy the United States.
After the global rise of nationalism, the sci-fi premise suddenly seemed all too real.
At the recent SCAD Savannah Film Festival, where the fourth and final season of the series had its world premiere, Fortune spoke with executive producers Isa Dick Hackett and David Scarpa, along with cast members Jason O’Mara, Brennan Brown, and Frances Turner about how the show relates to the current political climate and what’s in store this season.
“There are very few things in this world worth fighting for,” says Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos), in the fourth season trailer. “When there’s something really worth fighting for, you’re going to know it.”
This season, Juliana finds something worth fighting for as the Resistance escalates into a full-blown rebellion. Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido (Joel De La Fuente) and Reichsmarschall John Smith (Rufus Sewell) will be torn between their duty to country and family as the stakes are raised.
“I think in a sense it’s like a Greek drama, there’s a sense of destiny,” says Scarpa. “The whole fourth season is about building up to that conclusion, not just on a plot level, but on a character level, on a moral level.”
The series will introduce a plot line involving a new black insurgent movement which emerges to battle the forces of Nazism and imperialism.
“I think the central question of this season will be: which side of history will our characters be on and how will they be remembered?” says Hackett.
For its final season, Man in the High Castle expanded the cast, adding new characters including Bell Mallory, a leader of the black insurgent movement, played by Turner.
Scarpa says that he and the show’s creative team “wanted to represent more of the African-American experience. When you talk about Nazis taking over the United States, that’s a natural, organic question that goes with elements in our own history. It made sense to get into that in a much deeper way than we had been able to previously.”
When Turner first read the scripts for this season, she was thrilled to find that Bell is “so three-dimensional. That’s not something that you see often with women’s characters. You see it a little more now, but it’s rare—or far and few between—especially for a black woman.”
Joining the show “was almost therapeutic in a way because it gave me a place to put how I felt about what was happening in our country,” says Turner. “They say your art will heal you and so it was a blessing for this part to come at this time.”
Hackett, the daughter of Philip K. Dick, says the final season is “much faster-paced because there’s a lot to do in 10 hours. There are new dimensions to our characters—no pun intended—that are really moving in interesting ways.” She says viewers can expect “a lot of action and big set pieces—in caves in the snow, in the forest, and in the mountains—I think people are going to be amazed. I think it’s our strongest season yet.”
Preparing for the end
When The Man in the High Castle premiered, Amazon boasted it was the most watched original series in its first four weeks streaming on the service. Earlier this year, Amazon let Hackett and the rest of the production team know that this season would be the show’s last. Given the cost of creating The Man in the High Castle, it’s not surprising. Amazon Studios reportedly spent $107 million in production and marketing costs for season two alone, according to Reuters.
“I feel grateful we had the opportunity to culminate the show. I do think there are a lot of stories still to tell, but this is where this story ends. I’m really grateful we were given the resources to do it,” says Hackett, who signed a deal with Amazon to develop and produce new projects, including adaptations based on her father’s work.
Brown, who plays opportunistic antiques dealer Robert Childan, has been with the series since the pilot episode and feels “bittersweet” about ending the show. “The main feeling we all have is a sense of pride of having done four seasons of a show like this, which is really difficult and extremely challenging in all sorts of logistical ways, the vast scope of it,” he says. “Each episode is like a feature film.”
O’Mara, who joined the series last season as Irish black marketeer Wyatt Price, agrees that it’s hard to say goodbye. “We’re just following the golden rule of show business, which is always leave them wanting more.”
The Man in the High Castle’s final season premieres on Amazon Prime on Nov. 15.
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