Hiro Murai interview: ‘Station Eleven’ director
“It was definitely a surreal experience and a lot of our own experience with the real pandemic went into making the show,” admits newly-minted DGA Award nominee Hiro Murai about the eerie parallels with the fictional catastrophic pandemic in “Station Eleven” and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has afflicted the real world. We talked with Murai as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A roundtable event with 2022 Directors Guild Awards nominees. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
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“Our pilot was filmed at end of 2019, so a lot of the things we were playing with was all just speculative,” he reveals. “We were trying to imagine a world where this had happened. And then somewhere in our edit process, a real pandemic hit and we were shut down for production. Two out of 10 episodes were shot before this actually happened to us,” Murai says. “So in a lot of ways the bulk of the show is us negotiating with the fact that this hypothetical situation became a reality for us, and working out our own feelings about being in the real life pandemic.”
“Station Eleven” was created by Patrick Somerville, based on the 2014 sci-fi/fantasy novel of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel. Twenty years after a flu pandemic wipes out almost all of civilization, a group of survivors who make their living as traveling performers encounter a violent cult led by a man whose past is unknowingly linked to a member of the troupe.
The series has been met with rave reviews from critics, buoyed by strong word of mouth as audiences inevitably draws parallels to their shared experiences of living under the weight of the (albeit less extreme) COVID-19 pandemic in real life. The HBO Max hit has been lauded for its strong ensemble cast led by Mackenzie Davis, Matilda Lawler, Himesh Patel, Lori Petty, Nabhaan Rizwan, David Wilmot and Daniel Zovatto against a haunting backdrop of a post-apocalyptic dystopia where humanity has been whittled down to a few survivors scattered across the Earth.
Murai, a Grammy winner for directing the music video for Childish Gambino‘s Record and Song of the Year-winning “This is America,” is nominated by the DGA this year for directing the series pilot, entitled “Wheel of Fire,” which sets up the show’s narrative and establishes some of its main players, scrambling to make sense of an emerging global pandemic that is brutally and almost immediately killing people infected with a mysterious flu-like illness.