Station Eleven Showrunner Breaks Down Key Scene – The Hollywood Reporter

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At the beginning of HBO Max’s Station Eleven, Jeevan Chaudhary (Himesh Patel) attends a performance of King Lear in which the lead actor suddenly drops dead during the show. In the chaos that ensues, he takes under his care child actor Kirsten Raymond (Matilda Lawler) with the intention of returning her home to her parents. However, when he gets a call from his doctor sister informing him that a deadly flu pandemic is rapidly spreading across the globe, Jeevan springs into action with Kirsten by his side — but must act calmly to avoid frightening the young girl. Showrunner Patrick Somerville reflects on an important scene from the pilot in which Jeevan and Kirsten’s connection is solidified.

Station Eleven
Courtesy of HBO Max

“It’s been verified for the audience that there’s an emergency,” Somerville says of this scene in the parking lot of a Chicago supermarket. “There’s going to be a huge thing coming, but these people don’t yet know each other well.” Somerville adds that both Patel and Lawler understood that the subtext to this scene was key. “How do we do this without making a big, maudlin, explosively emotional scene that we won’t buy because they just met?”

Station Eleven
Courtesy of HBO Max

“Kirsten is a little more emotionally mature than Jeevan,” says Somerville, adding that the character is an old soul whom Jeevan immediately comes to view as an equal. “This is the scene that really brings them together, and it’s a nice story about two strangers meeting and becoming friends in the background of an episode.”

Station Eleven
Courtesy of HBO Max

This moment is one that Somerville especially loves. “I think I scripted it in an abstract way,” he recalls. “When the door opens, the guy just trots off and glances over at Jeevan and Kirsten — it’s so chill. It’s one of my favorite cuts and beats in the whole series. When we shot it, I said that he’s going to do more work for us than someone running really fast.”

Station Eleven
Courtesy of HBO Max

Somerville remembers meeting with Lawler and her parents to discuss the script “line by line” in the production office. “There was a question in the air: Should this be bigger? Should she be crying? Should she be screaming?” he says. “My thought was that this needs to be quieter — she learns in episode two the fate of her parents, but here we couldn’t have the real truth surface.”

Station Eleven
Courtesy of HBO Max

Somerville describes this as a tricky scene to pull off considering the big age difference in the characters. “It’s a strange scenario — it’s the day the world is ending, so there’s a lot happening on Earth,” he says. It was vital that Jeevan’s pure intentions were clear from the beginning, that he was a reliable protector for Kirsten. “There could never be a moment where this seems like a dangerous situation for her. We couldn’t write a scene that toyed with the idea that he was not a good person.”

Station Eleven
Courtesy of HBO Max

Somerville praises director Hiro Murai for capturing this moment’s emotional honesty. “It’s Hiro’s gift,” he says. “A lot of storytellers, to [show that Kirsten] feels safe, would have her run back to him and hug him there. Instead, she walks back and looks up at him, and everything I need to know about how she’s feeling is right there on her face.”

This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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