"Torchwood" creator Russell T. Davies sure knows how to make a splash.
For "Miracle Day," the fourth season of the BBC sci-fi series - now co-produced by Starz, where it debuts Friday at 10 p.m. - he enlisted a top-notch crew of American actors, supplementing the cast with Mekhi Phifer, Lauren Ambrose and Bill Pullman.
For the uninitiated, "Torchwood," which spun off from Davies' revitalized "Dr. Who" series in 2006, follows Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and his associates at the covert Torchwood Institute, which handles alien threats that could endanger the world. And no, you don't need to be familiar with the series; everything is explained in the first episode of "Miracle Day."
So what is "Miracle Day" about? The premise is that, all of a sudden, nobody on Earth can die. That's not so bad for good, decent folks, but when convicted child murderer Oswald Danes (Pullman) survives his execution, it becomes clear how dangerous this new world order can be.
amNY chatted with Pullman, 57, about the series.
Were you a fan of "Torchwood"?
I had a professor in college that I was visiting with, and he said, "Have you been watching this amazing series called 'Torchwood'?" I hadn't because I haven't watched any television. Then when I read it and thought about it, I was really intrigued and got caught up.
What drew you to the character of Oswald?
It felt like it was going to be a good piece with a lot of good tone and a lot of good energy and philosophical thought. [He] was a character that allowed me to go someplace I hadn't gone before.
What are the keys to making the show for an American audience?
I think in some ways the show was a hybrid right from the beginning. Having John Barrowman as one of the leads, he's an actor [born in Scotland but raised in Illinois], and his whole modality is American. So it's always been a little of a hybrid.
With you, Mekhi and Lauren joining a veteran cast, has there been any hazing on set?
[Laughs] There wasn't anything like that. In fact, they are just the opposite. I think they are the most generous people that you could ever imagine. We had long hours, we had tough situations, we had a lot of things that you can see what people are made of, and [the cast is] real generous and always ultimate team members.
Davies is becoming a bit of an icon. What's your impression of him?
That's what you think, maybe because you're ... hip to the English scene. I don't think many people here [in L.A.] know of him. They're kind of under-informed about his accomplishments - they should really start talking. [With] the original "Queer as Folk" and what he did with "Dr. Who," I think people are intrigued to see what he's going to do [next].
What other projects do you have coming up?
Well we just did this "Too Big to Fail" HBO movie. I'm also involved with a documentary about rare fruit. We're going to be shooting that with a filmmaker named Yung Chang who also did the movie "Up the Yangtze." I have a fruit orchard here in L.A., and he contacted me a couple years ago. It's been a building thing and something I've never done before, and I like new challenges. So we're going to be traveling around.
What unusual fruits do you especially enjoy?
Well I do love right now I have a Brazilian fruit called jaboticaba that is really a very good fruit. The only jaboticaba I ever had was off of my bush and the guy who sold it to me had a bush. When I went to Brazil to do a movie, it's everywhere. It's kind of like a concord grape, but it's odd that it grows off the trunk of trees.
On TV: "Torchwood: Miracle Day" debuts on Starz Friday at 10 p.m.