Dustin Lance Black interview: ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ creator
“I was born into a Mormon home and raised in a devout Mormon home,” reveals Dustin Lance Black, the creator, co-writer and co-executive producer of the limited series “Under the Banner of Heaven” from FX on Hulu. “As a kid I started wondering why my mother was treated so differently in this faith that, I will be frank, I really cared for. It felt like home. It’s all I knew. Those questions about why my mother was treated differently, why the church did not intervene when violence entered our home, why they seemed to place the blame at her feet. Those questions ate away at me because I wasn’t allowed to ask them.” We talked to Black as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV showrunners panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
FX’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” is an original limited series inspired by the true crime bestseller by Jon Krakauer, and follows the events that led to the 1984 murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her baby daughter in a suburb in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah. As Detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) investigates events which transpired within the Lafferty family, he uncovers buried truths about the origins of the LDS religion and the violent consequences of unyielding faith. What Pyre, a devout Mormon, unearths leads him to question his own faith.
SEE ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ cinematographer Tobie Marier-Robitaille explains what it’s like to work with Andrew Garfield
When the original book came out, Black felt it answered many of the questions he had about the religion as a teenager. “It was like a lighting strike for me,” he admits. “It took a very long time before I was at a place in my career where I could get a Jon Krakauer to say yes to trusting me with that property. Then it would take a lot of failing over many years to turn it into a feature film. That’s what it began as. It was only a few years ago when the limited series became this form that would hold a drama like this and that people would tune into. I couldn’t do it as a feature. There wasn’t room to tell this story in a way that honored the book and went deep enough to help people understand what this faith was and its connection between its history and this crime. So I went for it. It went from something that was deeply personal to something that felt necessary.”
Black won an Oscar, Writers Guild Award and Independent Spirit Award for “Milk.” Other projects have included “Big Love,” “J. Edgar” and “When We Rise.”