Jakob Verbruggen (‘The Alienist’) on directing ‘timeless’ series that tackles crime, class, immigration [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Director Jakob Verbruggen describes “The Alienist” as “a roller-coaster ride that takes the audience by the hand and transports it onto the streets of New York. It’s a visual time machine.” Produced by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“True Detective”), this TNT limited series focuses on a newspaper illustrator (Luke Evans) who teams up with a criminal psychologist (Daniel Brühl) and a headstrong NYPD secretary (Dakota Fanning) to investigate a serial killer in 19th century New York City. Verbruggen directed the first three episodes and served as an executive producer on all 10 installments. Watch our exclusive video interview with Verbruggen above.

SEE Dakota Fanning (‘The Alienist’): ‘I tend to be drawn to darker subject matter’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Although it’s set in the late 19th century, Verbruggen was struck by “the timelessness” of Caleb Carr‘s original novel. “Apart from being about the hunt for a serial killer, it deals with class division,” he explains. “It deals with immigration. It talks about the elites who keep the status quo. It’s a story about either embracing new ideas or being afraid of them.”

Verbruggen and his production team felt that visual “authenticity was key.” In order to achieve this, “we became obsessed with detail. We became obsessed with research. All that was very important to make this series feel visceral, real, authentic, and therefore, hopefully believable.” So the director didn’t want to make the period feel radically different from the present because “human nature hasn’t changed,” and therefore “the world hasn’t changed that much.”

SEE Mara LePere-Schloop (‘The Alienist’ production designer) on evoking the ‘chaos’ of 1890s New York City [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Verbruggen received a BAFTA TV nomination for the BBC series “The Fall” (Best Miniseries in 2014). He has also directed episodes of such acclaimed shows as “Black Mirror,” “House of Cards,” “London Spy,” and “The Bridge.”

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