“Snowpiercer” began as a graphic novel in 1982. Then it was adapted into a 2013 feature film by Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite“). But as we approach the premiere of the “Snowpiercer” TV series on TNT in the spring of 2020, its premise about a train carrying the survivors of an apocalyptic climate catastrophe is as relevant as ever. Showrunner Graeme Manson previewed the show at New York Comic Con along with his stars Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs, among other members of the cast. Watch the animated preview above, and scroll down to see Manson, Connelly and Diggs discuss the show with the press after their October 5 panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
“The angst of the original graphic novels [was] about nuclear power. We should be still anxious about that of course, but it’s been overtaken by this climate catastrophe,” Manson explained about the Cold War-era graphic novels and how they reflected a different cultural anxiety from the current era. These days we’re less afraid of nukes than we are about whether climate change will make the Earth uninhabitable as we know it, so this show “doesn’t feel futuristic” to Manson. “It feels like it’s people from our society … It’s visceral and immediate.” Real-life scientists have even suggested “launching things into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight to alter our climate,” Manson added. “I believe we should alter our fucking selves.”
That’s exactly what happens to precipitate the climate disaster in the series. In an effort to reverse global warming, humans inadvertently turn the planet into a frozen wasteland, leaving the last remnants of the human race to survive aboard a 1,001-car train that circles the globe and never stops. Connelly and Diggs play passengers on that train living in much different circumstances. Connelly plays Melanie Cavill, the train’s head of hospitality and thus one of its most powerful leaders. Diggs is Andre Layton, a revolutionary trapped at the tail of the train with the rest of the underclass.
But despite the differences in their social statuses, Connelly points out that “for these characters, everyone has lost someone. Everyone has left the life that they knew behind.” And for Diggs’s underprivileged character especially, that tragedy is “magnified because of the lack of comfort or respect or the modes of living that you’re probably used to just by virtue of living in the relative comfort that most Americans live in.”
Diggs also gets to be an action hero, playing not just a leader advocating for the have-nots at the back of the train, but also a homicide detective brought in to solve a case. Diggs was eager for his action sequences, but these “hyper-violent and really bloody” scenes aren’t glamorized, so he admitted that “by the end of the thing I don’t really ever [want] to do anything bloody ever again.” He hopes next season Layton gets to sit behind a desk and fill out some paperwork for a while.
And there will indeed be another season. Though the show doesn’t premiere until 2020, the first season has already been shot in its entirety, and production on season two gets underway this fall. After years in development with changes behind the scenes that delayed the show’s departure, “Snowpiercer” is picking up considerable speed now that it has left the station.
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