The team behind the new NBC drama “Taken” have a very particular set of skills. Skills they have acquired over very long careers. Skills they hope will make “Taken” a nightmare for other networks. They want their show to find viewers and kill in the ratings.
“Taken,” a prequel to the Liam Neeson movies of the same name, comes from executive producers Luc Besson, Alexander Cary and Matt Gross. Besson wrote the scripts for all three of the “Taken” movies.
They have created a genesis story for Bryan Mills to show how he was able to refine the special skills that made him such a terror when his daughter was kidnapped. The series starts with Mills (Clive Standen) facing a family tragedy and then being recruited into a government agency under the control of Christina Hart (Jennifer Beals).
Gross says, “Later on in his life, we know he’s a broken man, and we know he has a particular set of skills, and the whole concept was his journey on how he got there. So this is how a hero becomes a hero.”
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The task of playing the man who would eventually become a killing machine falls to Standen, a British actor whose credits include the TV series “Camelot,” “Vikings” and “Robin Hood.” He’s accustomed to playing heroes but this one lets him do it in the 21st century.
Standen likes the character because he’s not like other action figures. He’s far from being the perfect type of hero like a James Bond, nor is he dealing with the coldness that comes with no knowledge of the past as in Jason Bourne. The “Taken” character couldn’t be any further from an Ethan Hunt from “Mission Impossible” because he doesn’t use special-effects makeup or high-tech gear.
“Bryan Mills is just a man. And in the film, we see a man who is a father who is chasing after his daughter. I’m a father. You don’t have to be a father to relate to this man. You want him to succeed, and when he trips and fails and falls down, you want him to get back up,” Standen says. “And as an audience member, you’re pretty much pulling him up and forcing him through that door going, ‘He’s gotta find his daughter.’ Otherwise, there is no sense of humanity in the world.
“He’s a guy that spills food down himself. He’s a guy that hasn’t got the witty line, but he’s a gentleman. He’s a well-brought-up man. He loves women, but he’s just as scared of them. I love that we can watch a character every week and build with him and watch him learn from his mistakes, because I’ve got no interest in playing Liam Neeson’s character in the film.”
That means when the series opens, Mills has yet to refine his particular set of skills. If the TV series runs long enough Mills will get those skills under the guidance of his boss.
Beals is excited about being part of the show because one of her favorite films is “La Femme Nikita.” Besson wrote the script for that film and many of the episodes of the TV series based on the movie. She sees the same kind of strong character in her “Taken” role.
“I think Christina has a remarkable ability to see the big picture. I think she is incredibly observant and recognizes talent,” Beals says. “This is someone she has been looking for for a very, very long time and recognizes that this instinct to protect at all costs is invaluable. He’s certainly more than a diamond in the rough, but she knows that he could be a very important part of her team.”
- 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, KSEE (Channel 24.1)