A Conversation with Larry Seaquist
Q: How did you get involved in THE GRID?
A: At the time of the 9/11 tragedy, Tracey Alexander and I were talking about ways in which we could show the real world of terrorism. We were getting very hyped about terrorists but not really seeing this deeper, more threatening background. So we started talking about how we could show audiences the real view of the world, the world of terrorists and the world of the counter-terrorists. The people in Washington have to struggle just like the terrorists have to struggle.
Q: How do you walk the line of entertaining people while still being accurate?
A: As the technical advisor, I've tried to give Tracey and the creative team a view of what the terrorists and the counter-terrorism world are really like. They created characters and fictional incidents to portray that, and then we would see if we could write a real world back-story that fit the fictional characters.
Q: As technical advisor, how did you assist the actors?
A: With Julianna, I talked about what her life would be like in the White House and the sense of importance and the power of being a staff member on the National Security Council. For Dylan, the FBI was kind enough to introduce us to both their active-duty office in Los Angeles and to some retired FBI agents who have a lot of counter-terrorism experience. Dylan spent some time with those agents talking about their lives, and he went to their shooting range and got a sense of the daily life.
Q: How is this story realistic?
A: We're trying to make it real and show that this is not a piece of history. This is not looking in the rearview mirror. We're looking through the windshield. It has been amazing to see, from developing the screenplay to actually shooting this project, how much the original scenarios keep happening. The viewer should be able to see, as best as we can portray, the world of terrorism and counter-terrorism as they are right now. We are also trying to go beyond what you read about in the newspaper or see on the six o'clock news. We want to open it up so that the viewer can really see this whole thing and see what kind of people are living in it.
Q: Who are terrorists, and how do you portray them on screen?
A: Terrorists come from all over the world. In THE GRID you will see a lot of people who don't fit any particular racial profile. They are regular Americans whose English is very good, and they blend into their local societies. The Islamic fundamentalist, extremist terrorists come from almost any place in the Muslim world, including Southeast Asia, South Asia or Africa and they live in Europe or North America. Al-Qaeda had offices in maybe 70 countries at the time of 9/11. They look like us and their leaders definitely look like us. They wear three-piece suits, have big bank accounts, and we don't know who those people are.
Q: What is the significance of the title, THE GRID?
A: Both worlds of terrorism live in this global grid. In the story, we're in Syria one minute, then we're in the Saudi desert, we're in Nigeria, we're in Detroit, we're in London. The world of terrorism is very mobile and so is the world of counter-terrorism. We feature particularly the Brits and the Americans working together in intelligence services. But you also see that there is a Syrian police officer who is helpful at one point, and all of these local agencies are quietly interacting with each other.