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10 Things We Learned at the ‘Hijack’ Press Conference

10 Things We Learned at the ‘Hijack’ Press Conference

Starring and executive produced by SAG-Award winner and Emmy nominee Idris Elba is the new Apple TV+ series Hijack. The 7-episode series about a plane hijacking during a 7-hour flight taking place in real time makes its debut on June 28, 2023. This week in London, the cast and crew came together to discuss the impending series.

Here are 10 takeaways from the press conference as you prepare to take flight with Hijack this week.

This is the first series from Idris Elba’s first-look deal with Apple TV.

In 2020, it was announced that Elba struck a deal with Apple TV and his production company Green Door Pictures — a company he founded in 2013. The agreement is to produce both film and TV shows for the streaming service.  Hijack is the first release on this deal.

The series is almost exclusively shot from inside an airplane.

According to director Jim Field Smith, there were some challenges shooting the series this way. He says, “One [challenge] is to make it engaging dramatically and not feel flat. And the other thing is to make it feel like you are actually moving through the sky. We had a very talented team that figured out how to solve both of those issues. We wanted to move around the plane and never break through the skin of it.”

A real plane was used to film the scenes of the show.

In the press conference, Idris Elba states that it was a real plane used in a studio to film the scenes. The shots were confined to add to the drama and intensity. The actor describes the environment as “claustrophobic” and states, “It was almost like watching a documentary being made while being in the documentary.”

Writer George Kay came up with the idea for the script while on a train ride that came to an abrupt stop.

Kay describes his thoughts as he went through his encounter. “I looked around me and people would say, ‘How would we cope as a group?’ Who are these people when you look past them and can get past the prejudice of those people and how they look? How does the British or an international community cope when suddenly thrust into extremes? And the thought of the plane was much more efficient. We could really open it up.”

Actor Archie Panjabi was sent 3 scripts and says she couldn’t put them down.

She admits that she selfishly wanted to know what happens to the passengers before signing on to do the show. Panjabi says after reading the script she thought it was “brilliant.” “It’s really thrilling. It’s going to have audiences at the edge of their seat,” she adds. 

Idris Elba suggested Max Beesley for the role of DI Daniel O’ Farrel.

After Beesley was approached for the role, he wanted to make sure the writing was strong for this show. He says,  “When I got the script, the first thing I always look at is who has written it because I write myself and I love good writing.”

The shooting schedule took 6 months.

Beesley states that although he was suggested for his part by Idris Elba himself and he was very excited to work with him, he never actually engaged with him directly in any scenes since his character DI Daniel O’ Farrel works exclusively on the ground to land this plane while Idris’ character Sam Nelson is in the sky on that plane. They never acted in any scenes together during the entire 6-month shoot.

The plane people vs. the ground people; they never worked together

The actors working exclusively in scenes on the plane never worked in scenes with actors working in scenes on the ground, according to director Jim Field Smith. The director jokes that the actors would sneak over to each of the sets to see what was going on out of curiosity.  

George Kay listened to testimony from real-life survivors of hijackings for this series.

According to George Kay, while he and his team were doing research for the show he listened to testimony from a real-life survivor of a hijacking.  When asked about the concept of time (specifically making this into a 7-episode series about a 7-hour flight), Kay answers with what he heard from a victim’s testimony: “During a hijack, time ceases to exist and what you’re left with is decisions. I had that in my head the whole time because it is real time. It’s potentially more real time for the people on the ground than it is for the people on the plane.”

The show is linear. No flashbacks. 

Kay also adds here that he didn’t want to do any flashbacks or give the audience any irony or knowledge that Sam or the other characters didn’t have everything they needed on the plane. He says, “TV’s full of shows mixing timelines of some of the characters in the show, so it felt fresh to try something just linear, with everyone learning at the same time.”

Hijack premieres June 28, 2023, with the first two episodes releasing on Apple TV+ platform and one new episode dropping every week thereafter.

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