You will either be happy or sad to hear this might be the last translated interviews posting. It is a bit lighter in tone than the previous two, but only a bit . . .

There is one interview translated from French and two from German. As far as I can determine, all of these interviews took place at the premiere of the first two episodes of the series in Paris at the end of September.

Still no home for War of the Worlds in North and South America, but progress is being made. We must be patient. There are plenty of extraterrestrials to go around. We mustn’t be greedy. wink

In between the publication of the H. G. Wells sci-fi masterpiece and the first film,
there was the Orson Welles 1938 adaptation for radio.
Listeners thought the invasion was real!

Interview 1

Heute (Germany)
Liisa Mikkola, November 4, 2019

Elizabeth McGovern’s Tips for the Alien Apocalypse

The series adaptation of “War of the Worlds” will start on FOX on November 6th. We met the lead actors Elizabeth McGovern and Gabriel Byrne in Paris.

On November 6, the aliens attack Europe: BAFTA winner Howard Overman took the famous H. G. Wells sci-fi classic and adapted it as a French-American series.

Stars Elizabeth McGovern (“Downton Abbey”) and Gabriel Byrne (“The Usual Suspects”) and Co. fight for survival. But the aliens are far from the only challenge: It is the interpersonal problems that need to be solved here.

We talked to the two main actors, Elizabeth McGovern and Gabriel Byrne, in Paris.

This is the first science fiction series for both of you. What excited you about “War of the Worlds”?
McGovern: When I read the script, I thought to myself, “Oh, a story about aliens, I certainly will not like that.” It was not until I started reading the script that I became captivated by the story.

I think it has to do with the fact that this is more about the humans than about the aliens. The aliens were the reason for the story, but there is no hero or enemy here. We are all in the same boat. We need each other to survive. At the end of the day, there is no one to save us – not a scientist, a policeman, or a politician.

Do you actually think that there are aliens?
Byrne: I have to say, I doubt that aliens come in flying saucers with antennas on their heads. It is possible that extraterrestrials exist. But I think there are much worse things in the world than aliens. In this series, they are much more of a metaphor for things that scare us all.

Screencap by Verónica

What for example?
Byrne: Nuclear wars, destruction of the environment. These two things can wipe out our entire population. Maybe this series will teach us to look at things that really threaten us.

How would you react if you encountered an alien?
McGovern: I think the truth is, we do not know. We would like to believe that we are heroic or strong. But in reality, we are just like in everyday life. Sometimes we are strong and fit, sometimes not. There is no such thing as a hero, only a immense sense of humanity. You need all of that to survive, but above all, we must stick together.

What were the biggest challenges in shooting?
Byrne: We had a very tight schedule. Often we did not have much time for the scenes. The weather was tough too. The rooms in which we shot were often claustrophobic.

Elizabeth, you have a band. Are you still making music?
McGovern: Thank you for asking. Yes, I have released an album. It’s called “Truth.” You can find it on Spotify.

Byrne: It’s really interesting to watch the band’s videos and see Elizabeth in her skin-tight pants with her band in the background singing their songs. It takes a few seconds and I’m thinking: ‘Wait … Who is this doppelganger?’ The album is fantastic. It’s a great band. I’ll stand in line and hold up my lighter.

Are you going to play concerts soon?
McGovern: Not at the moment. The wonderful thing about music is that we do not expect to make money from it. But of course we all have to make some money. This takes away from the time to perform. But we want to try again sometime.

And Gabriel, would you like to stand on stage and sing?

Byrne: (laughs)
McGovern: He sings really well.

An Aside

It was previously reported that Ty Tennant, David Tennant’s son, would appear in this new series with Gabriel. David and Gabriel worked together recently on Mad to Be Normal. The production still below offers proof that Ty is indeed in the show! Question: Does he play Gabriel and Elizabeth’s son? We will soon find out!

Gabriel Byrne and Ty Tennant in a scene from War of the Worlds

An Italian Interlude

This trailer is not new, but it is the Italian version and how could I not share the Italian Gabriel Byrne with you!? heart

Interview 2 (France)
Frédérick Rapilly, November 4, 2019

War of the Worlds (Canal+) Gabriel Byrne: “The real threat does not come from space, but from ourselves”

Time has passed since “The Usual Suspects,” the cult movie that made him famous in 1995 … Today, it is in the role of an ordinary man confronted with the extraordinary that Gabriel Byrne impresses, in this adaptation of the novel by H. G. Wells.

What attracted you to the role of a British scientist looking for his son, with his ex-wife, after an attack from outer space?

When I read “The War of the Worlds,” I had to be 15 years old. I remember the feeling of terror and discomfort I experienced. I was a student in Dublin, Ireland, and too young to understand all the issues in H. G. Wells’s book, but the story has become thoroughly embedded in me. In this adaptation, the extraterrestrials are very peripheral. Conversely, humans, people like you and me, are going through a real existential crisis. And it’s this feeling that I was interested in exploring. I have the impression that we all experience it, one way or another, right now.

What do you mean?

Between the nuclear weapons that are increasing, the major climate crisis we face, the threats posed by multinational corporations to our freedoms, I think something needs to be done. For me, the series speaks about that, the impact that all this can have on our lives.

You play Bill Ward, a normal guy. How does one slip into the skin of this kind of character?

I am attached to small details. Bill Ward is a researcher, a guy who does not pay much attention to his appearance. Not the kind to wear an Armani suit and admire himself in the mirror before going to work. On screen, I wanted him to wear a coat that was too small, a little uncomfortable. From the third episode, he also changes shoes to travel long distances (Note from editor: cars and transport do not work anymore). He recovers the sneakers from a dead man, the new husband of his ex-wife. Working with the directors, Gilles Coulier and Richard Clark, we agreed on a blue pair, a little unexpected. What matters is not so much the color as the fact that he puts on the shoes of a man for whose death he is partly responsible. I wanted to feel his embarrassment on the screen.

Have you wondered what you would do, confronted, like him, with the threat of an extraterrestrial invasion?

The question is interesting but, honestly, I am much more worried about the plans of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, to colonize space and to consider the Earth as an extra planet that can be exhausted before finding another to settle, than by the hypothetical arrival of extraterrestrials. It terrifies me even more when I see that the United States has created a space military command in anticipation of a future “space army”.

For me, the real threat does not come from space, but from ourselves.

War of the Worlds: Mondays at 9:00 pm on Canal+

Oops scusa! This La Repubblica article from Italy is behind a pay wall. Sorry.

Interview 3 (Germany)

Spoiler Warning: Proceed carefully!

War of the Worlds is re-imagined and Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern turn philosophical in this interview about the new sci-fi series. But Byrne also tells us how he could not get tickets for the new Downton Abbey movie and that he has no memories of the Maniac set anymore.

At the end of September, the European premiere of War of the Worlds took place in Paris. The new co-production of Canal+ and the FOX Channel is not to be confused with the BBC mini-series “The War of the Worlds,” which is set at the end of the 19th century. This adaptation of the cult novel by H. G. Wells, soon to be seen on television, is written by Howard Overman (Future Man, Misfits).

We talked to Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment) and Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey), who portray a divorced couple in the series, and who now have to survive together after the aliens attack Earth.

How relevant is the H. G. Wells story “The War of the Worlds” in this day and age?

Gabriel Byrne: I think we live in a time when there are many existential threats of all kinds. When Wells wrote the book in 1898, he wrote a science fiction novel that still has relevance today. What he saw has not changed. It has even come true. The premise of aliens attacking the world is not really the core story, even if that does happen in the book, of course. That is a metaphor for the big problems that affect humanity. The aliens can be interpreted differently: as nuclear arms, environmental destruction, unregulated capitalism, corporate consolidations, or many other dangers in our society. Instead of looking for evil in the universe, the real point is to see the problems in ourselves. We are actually the destructive aliens.

Elizabeth McGovern: I would add that we are now more and more drifting apart. And as soon as danger threatens from the outside, our differences become more and more irrelevant. So the refugee, the average family, and the academic couple all have to work together to survive. They would never do that under normal circumstances. We’re just a little blob in the universe, and the things that make us different are just differences we’ve imposed on ourselves.

Elizabeth McGovern
Portrait by Rudy Waks, 2019

How would you describe the relationship of your two characters in the series, because it seems that a lot has happened to them?

Elizabeth McGovern: The marriage has failed and they both live their own new lives. My character Helen has a new relationship and suddenly, in this crazy situation, the walls that she has built up against her ex-husband Bill (played by Gabriel Byrne) are slowly being moved or completely dismantled. At some point she is not sure why she thought he was a bad husband. The question, of course, is how such intimate relationships work, especially when there is a lie between them. She does not know to what extent Bill is involved in the death of her new partner.

Gabriel Byrne: Truth and lies are always slightly nebulous in a relationship. Because how honest can you actually be with another person? How many little lies do we tell others, perhaps in order not to hurt them? We all lie at different levels in all our relationships. Here, in the series, not only does the moral questioning of the lie play a role, but it is of course a dramaturgical and stylistic device for the dynamics between the two characters. I think we are all contradictory beings: we can love someone and still be guilty or have a secret inside us. Bill and Helen love each other, but whether they will survive? We’ll find out in the series (laughs).

Elizabeth McGovern: What fascinates me about Gabriel’s performance is that you never know exactly where you are. Why Bill does not reveal anything. Does he do it because he loves her, or does he do it because he wants to protect her, or because he just wants to make it easier? The viewer wants to find out.

How did the cooperation on the set go?

Elizabeth McGovern: I probably would not have survived alone. It may not seem that way, but Gabriel is a very funny guy (laughs). Most of the time on the set we spent laughing. It’s really true. The subject is so dark and we had to bring some light to the set.

Gabriel Byrne: Yeah, we shot almost all the scenes together and pretty fast in a row. We took only a few breaks, had a cup of tea, and that was it. There is a kind of intimacy on a film set that is very unusual. One way to imagine it is that it’s like getting stuck in an elevator.

Elizabeth McGovern: (laughs) Yes, that’s right, you’re right.

Gabriel Byrne: No one knows when they will get out of there. Nobody knows if the buttons work. And so you begin to reveal things that you normally would not. But Elizabeth and I really got along very well. Something I did not expect at first. It is always very difficult to leave this bubble of production and then try to find each other again later. But I think I really know who she is as a person. For me personally, it was really a great privilege to be able to experience that on set.

I live privately in Maine in the States. The new film Downton Abbey had just opened. My wife and I were happy to go to the cinema together in the evening. When we arrived after a long drive, there was a huge queue around the whole movie theater. Everyone wanted to see the movie. Unfortunately we did not get in and Elizabeth looked down at us from the movie poster and I wanted to shout: ‘I know her! We were standing together in a tent in Wales!’ But that would have done no good.” (Laughs)

Elizabeth McGovern: “I saw her crawling through the mud.” (Laughs)

Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern

Both of you have already made some television series, like the already mentioned Downton Abbey, but also Maniac and the excellent In Treatment in the past. What were the biggest differences between these productions?

Gabriel Byrne: So In Treatment, of course, was more like a play or a chamber play because of the premise. I hardly remember Maniac, I must admit, because it was so frenzied on the set. The special and also the same thing about all productions, however, is that every production is completely different. People, countries, fabrics. The ironic and strange thing, however, is that I was often particularly happy on the movie sets where the movies were not really good afterwards.

Elizabeth McGovern: For me it was so nice and liberating after Downton Abbey to wallow in the mud. Of course it is a very dark story, but making the series was incredibly fun.

Thank you for the interesting interview.

Elizabeth McGovern and Gabriel Byrne: Thank you.

War of the Worlds is on the FOX Channel in German beginning 6th of November, every Wednesday at 9pm in double episodes.

Now we wait for the official reviews. I may not share them with you until those of us in other countries have also had a chance to see this series. In the meantime, patience is a virtue. Or so they say. heart


  1. Verónica

    Very interesting these interviews and it were a relief these last, because the first two, were dark.
    Again Stella’s work is fabulous, besides of what is going on in the interviews themselves.
    Through them we can get to know Gabriel more deeply.
    Thanks Stella <3

  2. Great interviews and translations. Love the Heute interview, especially Gabriel’s laugh at the end. Priceless.

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