Human resilience at its best in “War of the Worlds”

Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern, who viewers will remember as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham in the British drama series and movie, "Downton Abbey", are at the heart of "War of the Worlds", along with French actress Léa Drucker. 

Set in present-day Europe, "War of the Worlds" is written and created by the BAFTA award-winner Howard Overman ("Misfits", "Crazyhead", "Merlin") and is based on the H.G. Wells novel. 

The sci-fi drama revolves around a war between mankind and extraterrestrial beings from another galaxy, who invade Earth set on destroying its population. Drucker plays Catherine Durand, a scientist working in an observatory in the mountains, studying what’s happening in other planets. She’s a smart woman, a little self-protective and mysterious. And she is passionate about discovering something extraordinary. 

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French actress Léa Drucker plays Catherine Durand in the sci-fi, "War of the Worlds". Picture: Supplied

On her character, Drucker says: “The journey to this character is what is happening to all the other character of the series. They are living in an extreme emergency, like war. “We travel through war, and suddenly, life gets extremely tense and extremely passionate in a very negative and very positive way. Catherine is self-protective, maybe a loner, someone who is not very opened up to emotions, and suddenly, she is totally overwhelmed by the situation. She must find a way through relationships she has had difficulties with before.” 

Does she have a favourite location from the ones used during the shoot? 

She reveals: “I like the crash site. There was something very dreamy about it. The site, the location was perfect. You didn’t have to use a lot of imagination, it was there. Although we have been working in the rain and the mud, so it has not been comfortable, but anything that is uncomfortable in the series is good.” Human resilience was an integral part of this doomsday narrative. 

Drucker adds: “The series deals a lot with difficulty in relationships. These are very ‘human’ things that we all go through; difficulty in a sister relationship, problems with a mother and son or a mother and daughter. These are very universal. All these characters have grounded stories, and those particular relationships are described in the series, and they are going to be shaken up by what is happening.” 

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Elizabeth McGovern and Gabriel Byrne in a scene from "War of the Worlds". Picture: Supplied

As for how "War of the Worlds" fares with other sci-fi offerings, she shares: “I haven’t seen every sci-fi series, but there is a psychological element here in War of the Worlds. 

“There is very intense violence that you don’t see too often, but it is there, and it is very deep, and it is very grounded. It is about how you get attacked by something, by something so unimaginable, it is also the difficulty of being human. All these characters are totally blown away by what is happening, and so they have to reconsider a lot of things. I would say that there’s something very universal in this story, something that I feel very concerned about. It’s not just sci-fi. 

“For example, the character of Karim (played by Bayo Gbadamosi), who is a migrant in London. He is in a very dark situation with no food, no family and nowhere to go. Suddenly, everyone in a modern country is in the same situation as a man who is coming from Africa and having difficulty to survive. 

“I would also say there is a lot of humanity. It is very humane, but very rough because the world is rough, and it is not just the aliens who are making it so. “The aliens are making us ask ourselves, ‘What are we as human beings?’ This is very shaky and very interesting.” 

"War of the Worlds" airs on FOX (DStv channel 125) on Wednesday at 8.45pm.

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