‘Defending Jacob’ Team On The Mystery Series’ Cinematic Roots — Contenders TV

Defending Jacob creator, executive producer and showrunner Mark Bomback appeared as part of Apple TV+’s session at Deadline’s Contenders Television livestream panel and revealed that his eight-hour limited-series adaptation of William Landay’s novel was originally meant to be a two-hour movie instead of a longform TV show.

He said that since studios weren’t looking for this kind of material much anymore, he decided instead to tackle the book for TV — a first for this prolific screenwriter behind such blockbusters as the recent Planet of the Apes franchise.

Bomback was joined in the show, and on this panel, by Oscar-nominated director Morten Tyldum and actor Jaeden Martell. Martell plays Jacob, the son of an assistant DA (played by Chris Evans) who is accused of murdering a classmate.

“We wanted Jacob to be a mystery, an enigma,” Tyldum said, “so that no one, his parents or the audience, could be quite sure if he did it or not.”

For his part, Martell prepared by trying to read the book but stopped because he wanted to build the character his own way, not necessarily the book’s. All three, along with Evans, are primarily known for big screen movie work, and Tyldum said they wanted to bring a cinematic quality to the series, citing inspirations like Mystic River, Michael Clayton and The Ice Storm.

“It is like an eight-hour movie in some ways,” Tyldum said, “a cinematic novel.”

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