It's been about five months since Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) and HBO gave us our last round of casting news for the upcoming epic sci-fi drama The Nevers – and since that time? Things have been a little quiet – in fact, a little too quiet for a series that we will whole-heartedly admit we are looking forward to from the moment it was announced. In fact, check out The Bleeding Cool Top 30 TV Series Influencers 2020 list, where we go into more detail why the series could have a major impact – even if it gets kicked to next year.
Thankfully, Matt Looker and UK pop culture website The Shiznet were able to get a Nevers-releated update directly from Whedon himself. Following up on Looker's praise for Commentary! The Musical (a musical commentary for Whedon's award-winning internet series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog), Whedon spoke to the writer about Commentary! as well as a wide range of other issues.
After revealing that he had gone through a personal "confluence of awfulness" and was in the process of getting back into the creative game, Whedon revealed what role his work on The Nevers has played in getting him back to where he wants to be:
"It's been hard, but yes, it's been restorative. I'm extraordinarily excited that we start shooting again tomorrow, but also doing a show for HBO means working to a different structure to what I've done before, so I was like 'Yeah, I'll get back on the horse. Oh wait I'm riding the thing from Avatar, I don't know how to ride this!' So it's been really challenging but really worth it and great. It's a little bit like 'Oh yeah, this is what it feels like when I write and direct. I remember now'. So that's great."
Whedon co-writes the series with Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie, directs, executive produces (along with Espenson, Petrie, and Bernie Caulfield), and serves as showrunner on the series – focusing on a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world. Oscar-nominated production designer Gemma Jackson (Finding Neverland, John Adams, Game of Thrones) has also joined the project.
HBO and Whedon's The Nevers stars Olivia Williams (Miss Austen Regrets), James Norton (Grantchester), Tom Riley (Dark Heart), Ann Skelly (Death and Nightingales), Ben Chaplin (The Children Act), Pip Torrens (Preacher), Zackary Momoh (Seven Seconds), Amy Manson (Torchwood), Nick Frost (Fighting With My Family), Rochelle Neil (Death in Paradise), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark), Denis O'Hare (American Horror Story), Laura Donnelly (Outlander), Kiran Sonia Siwar (Brexit), Elizabeth Berrington (Good Omens), Ella Smith (Hoff the Record), Viola Prettejohn (The Witcher), Anna Devlin (12 Monkeys), and Martyn Ford (Kingsman: The Golden Circle).
"The Nevers": Cast of Characters
● Williams' Lavinia Bidlow is a wealthy spinster and champion of the "Touched" who funds the Orphanage (where Amalia and many of the Touched live) through her vast family fortune. She is stern and old-fashioned, but as strong-willed and clever as anyone she confronts.
● Norton's Hugo Swan is a pansexual posh boy whose charm has about five years left on its lease. He runs a secret club and a side trade in blackmail. He's devoted to fulfilling everyone's worst impression of him – and fascinated by the Touched.
● Riley's Augustus "Augie" Bidlow is a sweet, disarming nerd and Lavinia's younger brother. A keen ornithologist, Augie is happy to let his older sister take the reins of the family fortune. He finds the Touched unnerving, but is drawn to them by his increasing infatuation with Miss Adair, and by the schemes of his nefarious best friend, Hugo.
● Skelly's Penance Adair is Amalia's (Donnelly) dearest friend, and one of the first women to join her cause. A devout – yet heretically progressive – Irish girl, Penance has genius for invention. She is delighted by her power, and her default is love and acceptance. But she's firm in her moral sense, and will be guided by what's right over what's expedient every time.
● Chaplin's Detective Frank Mundi is big, gruff, and deeply moral. He trusts no one, least of all himself: his reputation for sudden violence (and excessive drink) is not unwarranted. Frank finds himself caught between the powerful, who ignore the the laws of the land, and newly empowered, who ignore the laws of physics.
● Torrens' Lord Massen is staunch, unflappable, and merciless in his defense of the British Empire A former General and now Peer, Massen may be the only man who sees clearly what havoc these few strange people can wreak upon the established order. Which he will protect – one way or another.
● Momoh's Doctor Horatio Cousens is one of the few successful West Indian physicians in London. Married with a young son, Horatio's fortunes took a dark turn when he met Amalia and discovered his own ability. Now he works with her, and with the Beggar King, those who don't care who is or isn't "different."
● Manson's Maladie was committed by her husband (and is genuinely unstable), warped by a power she can't understand and tortured by doctors intent on finding its source. She now lives underground, runs a gang and is on an infamous murder spree. She affects a theatrical parody of a bedlam waif, but mad as she is, she's a woman with a purpose.
● Frost's Declan Orrun aka The Beggar King is charismatic and brutal. Declan runs – or has a piece of – most of the low-level criminal activity in the city. He's perfectly happy to help Amalia and her cause – and equally happy to sell them out. He backs winners, and the Touched are long odds.
● Neil's Annie Carbey aka Bonfire is a career criminal who landed the ability to control fire and is happy to hire it out. Came up rough, stayed that way, but she's neither impulsive nor cruel – just looking out for herself. No matter who she works with or for, Annie trusts only Annie, and the fire.
● Tomlinson's Mary Brighton is gentle but surprisingly resilient, pursuing her dream of singing on stage. A disappointing career and a broken engagement haven't diminished her spirit. She's going to be great. She's going to be very surprised how.
● O'Hare's Dr. Edmund Hague is a gifted American surgeon who uses his skills in the coldest, most brutal way possible. But it's all in the name of "progress"…
● Siwar's Harriet Kaur is a young Scottish Sikh who lives with the Orphans but is accepted by both her family and her betrothed. She's determined to live her life as she planned, despite its increasing weirdness.
● Berrington's Lucy Best is a dirt-poor and streetwise woman who has given up thieving to live with the Orphans. Her wit and high spirits mask a tragic past.
● Smith's Desiree Blodgett is a prostitute whose power makes men tell her everything on their minds. What she's heard may get her killed, even though she doesn't listen to most of it. She's devoted to her 6-year-old son, who never speaks.
● Prettejohn's Myrtle Haplisch is a middle-class girl rescued from a family who can't understand her — literally, as she no longer can speak — and is thrilled to be at the Orphanage.
● Devlin's Primrose Chattaway wants to be an ordinary, proper 16-year-old girl — which is difficult, as she stands 10 feet tall.
● Ford recurs as Nicolas Perbal, aka Odium, the quintessential henchman who will do anything for anybody's money.
Here's a look at Whedon's tweet from July 4, letting fans know that work on The Nevers was underway:
There's a lot of self-important, childish BULLSHIT in this industry. But today we started principal photography on "THE NEVERS", despite all of mine.
— Joss Whedon (@joss) July 4, 2019
"I honestly couldn't be more excited. The Nevers is maybe the most ambitious narrative I've created, and I can't imagine a better home for it than HBO. Not only are they the masters of cinematic long-form, but their instant understanding of my odd, intimate epic was as emotional as it was incisive. It's been too long since I created an entirely new fictional world, and the HBO team offer not just scope and experience, not just 'prestige,' but a passionate collaboration. I could go on, but – I'm impatiently grateful to say – I have work to do."
– Joss Whedon