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In today’s episode of Bingeworthy, our TV and streaming podcast, Editor-In-Chief Rodrigo Perez steps inside “Echo 3,” Apple TV+’s new ten-part drama mini-series from Academy Award-winner Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Detroit”).
An action-packed thriller set in South America, “Echo 3” is essentially a family drama, a military espionage actioner, and a kidnapping drama with political intrigue. The series follows Amber Chesborough (Jessica Ann Collins), a brilliant young scientist who is the emotional heart of a small American family. She’s also married into a more prominent, connected, and well-to-do military family with some dark undertones. When Amber goes missing along the Colombia-Venezuela border, her brother, Bambi (Luke Evans), and her husband, Prince (Michiel Huisman)—two men with deep military experience and complicated pasts— struggle to find her in a layered personal drama set against the explosive backdrop of a secret war.
READ MORE: ‘Echo 3’ Review: ‘The Hurt Locker’s Mark Boal Brings His Visceral Style To A Military Family Kidnapping Thriller
“Echo 3” also stars Martina Gusman as Violetta, a prominent Latin American political columnist who knows the world of kidnapping all too well. The series features James Udom, Maria Del Rosario, Alejandro Furth, Juan Pablo Raba, and special guest star Bradley Whitford. “Echo 3” is also based on the award-winning TV series “When Heroes Fly,” created by Omri Givon and inspired by the eponymous novel by Amir Gutfreund.
“Echo 3” has a lot of great filmmaking talent involved too. Argentinian filmmaker Pablo Trapero (“White Elephant,” “The Clan”) directs some episodes, as does Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa (the Academy-Award-nominated film “The Milk of Sorrow,” “Aloft”), who does some thrilling and heavy action lifts in episodes three and four. Boal directs for the first time too.
Boal is obviously known for his career with Kathryn Bigelow, and I was curious as to why they chose to split creatively on this project. To hear it from Boal, he needed authentic Latin American filmmakers on the project.
“Yeah, we had a good thing, but the idea was to bring in Latin American directors,” he said. “So the collaboration was with Pablo Trapero and Claudia Llosa, and there was no way I could see going down to Colombia without some regional representation in the core of the creative group.”
Boal even mildly suggested that collaboration between Bigelow, and he has run its course as he’s hoping to pivot to a full-on writer/director career after this series. “I’m putting together a feature that’s kind of a relationship drama, and then we’ll see what happens after that,” he explained.
Boal’s fascination with Latin America is evident. He wrote the original version of “Triple Frontier” (which Bigelow was supposed to direct), which was eventually made by Netflix and director J.C Chandor. While he basically disavowed that version, saying he had nothing to do with it, he conceded it helped jumpstart his cultural and political fixation on the region.
“It definitely changed. The movie came out nine years after [I wrote it],” Boal said of “Triple Frontier.” “So I didn’t have anything to do with the project for the last seven or eight years of its life. And I had not seen the script or any of it until it was all over. So, it’s J.C. Chandor’s piece, for good or bad. But you’re right, the impetus for that I was on a trip in Argentina, at a film festival, and I was having coffee with a local filmmaker who was telling me about this tri-border area, and then I went up to take a look at it.”
“I’ve always been fascinated with Latin America, and I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the region prior to this,” he continued. “But one of the great perks of my line of work is that I do get to go to places that I am interested in as long as I make something there; that’s kind of the devil’s bargain.”
While the series is based on the Israeli series “When Heroes Fly,” series which was inspired by the novel of the same name, Boal says he sees it as its own thing. “I don’t really see it as an adaptation; it’s not an adaptation; it’s its own piece,” he said, suggesting he took the skeletal kidnapping story and went from there. “I like to try and imagine on what would really happen or research and call people who would know the answer to that question and then go from there in terms of writing.”
Boal also revealed a few small what’s in-store tidbits. For one, the Game Stop project he was working on for Netflix is dead, at least for him. And you’ll remember that he was once going to do a Bowe Bergdahl film with Kathryn Bigelow, but that eventually morphed into a podcast with the Serial team. But he still holds out hope for “Intelligence,” a Showtimes series he wrote about the 2016 election, and he even admitted he met with Christopher Steele— the former British former intelligence officer with the Secret Intelligence Service who wrote the infamous Trump dossier that leaked in 2015 in the run-up to the election.
“Who knows, I might have been the first person to meet with him,” he said, alluding to the group of many screenwriters that was chasing down Steele at the time (we know Academy Award-winning producer/writer Scott Z. Burns was one of them too). “I was developing a series for Showtime about the 2016 election and then Russian interference in that, and I met with a lot of people in the intelligence world and in the United States, but also in Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and some other places. Hopefully, that piece will see the light of day one day because it was a pretty cool script, and I think the story is still relevant.”
Listen to my entire conversation with Mark Boal below. “Echo 3” is streaming now on Apple TV+.
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