Joe Anderson Talks The River Premiere

Courtesy: ABC/Mario Perez

The paranormal thriller The River premieres tonight and takes viewers on a dangerous journey down the Amazon in search of missing wildlife expert Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), host of the fictitious series The Undiscovered Country.

As the series begins, it is six months after Dr. Cole vanished without a trace when his emergency beacon suddenly goes off. It is enough to set his wife Tess Tess (Leslie Hope) and estranged son Lincoln (Joe Anderson) on a desperate journey to find him. To fund the rescue, they agree to let Dr. Cole’s ex-producer, Clark (Paul Blackthorne), who is more interested in money than the man, film the mission documentary-style.

While comparisons are being made to Lost in that both shows are shot in Hawaii, have some paranormal elements and mess with your head, The River takes us to a different place where nature is cruel, magic is real, and nothing is what it seems. OK. That last one may be like Lost.

For the premiere, we spoke to Anderson, who fills us in on shooting in Hawaii, the documentary style of the shooting and more.

Are you excited about the premiere tonight?

I am. The cast is all getting together and watching it tonight. I am sure we will all be buzzing together.

Not that this series is Lost, but it has the same mysterious elements and you have to keep watching to figure out what is going on.  So why do you think people should make the investment?

Purely for entertainment’s sake. Nothing is better than to purely be entertained. The comparison’s to Lost, yes, sure, it is a jungle show. It has jungle elements in it, but it is a very different animal and when people see the first two episodes, they’ll really get an  understanding of how the show is going to work, the format and how it is shot. I think it is going to come as a surprise to people rather than, “What is this? This isn’t like Lost. This isn’t what we were expecting.”

It is Lost with a revamp because we aren’t even shooting with a fourth-wall camera. The characters on the show know that they are being photographed. That in itself is a bizarre thing. We will just have to wait and see how people respond to it.

This is your first U.S. series, right?

Yes.  First, series ever.

What is it about your character that made you want to come over here and do it?

I was over here before I took this job. I grew up in England and my folks were in theater. They are actors, so I grew up surrounded by Shakespearean companies, Jacobean plays, the West End and all of that, so the thing that was appealing about getting over here was speaking a language and an accent that is not stiff, and doing something that was contemporary. I spent so much time as a kid doing the classical stuff at drama school and, especially with my folks, I wanted to run from that and something more contemporary. I think that is why I am where I am.

Courtesy: ABC/Francisco Roman

Talk about shooting in Hawaii. Do you like working outdoors? I understand you are in Oahu where there are no rivers. How is that working out?

It is a river, just not a very big one. It is like the famous Alien set or the Star Trek set, it is the same corridor and we shoot it 50 million different ways. We do that with the river, which actually is far more self-contained, which means we are not traveling miles on a boat at a time just to get a shot. We can just do 400 yards, cut and turn around and do 400 yards the other way. It makes it much more contained. And makes it easier to go to work every day.

As for how hard it is to shoot out in the elements, the heat can be a problem, but mainly, it is shooting on a boat on water where there are coils of rope and things you can trip over. So you are working on a boat. It is that dangerous.

Can you talk about any of the real legends and lore of from the Amazon that you have learned?

There is a bunch that we have been drawing upon, but there is none that I can repeat to you without giving away the show. They are myths that have been around for a long time and they seem to have some sort of realism to them, or the back stories to them have realism. I think that is the attitude the show takes. This isn’t just magic; this could actually happen. It works on that premise.

It seems that people will die on this show. Any concerns?

Honestly, we were saying this other day, but none of us know what is going to happen. It can shift at any minute and people can die. You never know. We might be able to find them later on because of some extraordinary event. I hope I don’t die.

The River premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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