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‘The Passage’ Team Talks Father-Daughter Story as ‘Heart’ of Adaptation

Justin Cronin’s “The Passage Trilogy” spans 1000 years and 100 characters, but the first season of the Fox dramatic adaptation will be set solely in Project Noah.

“The reason the beginning of the show is different [than the book] is an effort to give everyone a credible point of view,” executive producer Liz Heldens said at the broadcaster’s Television Critics Assn. press your panel for the show Thursday. “That was an effort to make sure all of the characters had nuance and you could understand why everybody was doing what they were doing.”

The scientists in the show, including Henry Ian Cusick as Dr. Jonas Lear, know there is a pandemic coming and know they need a child for what they think will be the cure. “They’re doing the wrong thing for the right reasons,” Heldens pointed out.

Heldens also admitted she looks at the book and sees three seasons of television — Project Noah, the Colony and then the last segment of the book. She doesn’t plan to remove the time jumps in the book, but she does plan to “slow down the story a little bit” so the audience understands the “good intentions and bad decisions that lead to the end of the world.”

Cronin said that he doesn’t consider a book a fixed thing but rather an “occurrence” and therefore has been open to different ways of adapting his story. id,

“It happens in the mind of a reader and it happens differently every time someone reads it,” he said of adaptation.

Cronin also shared that he didn’t write these books as vampire novels or even genre tales, specifically. Instead, he wrote them as a “father-daughter novel,” centered on the characters of Brad Wolgast (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Amy Bellafonte (aged up in the series and played by Saniyya Sidney).

“The reason I did that was I constructed them over a period…with my eight-year-old daughter when she was riding her bicycle and I was running along side her playing, ‘Let’s write a novel,'” Cronin shared, crediting his daughter for coming up with the idea that a young girl saves the world.

“We came up with an outline that was 30 single-spaced pages of material that was vastly better than what I was supposed to be writing … so I jumped the tracks.”

That father-daughter story is what Heldens feels “makes the whole show accessible and special for people who are not genre people,” and what Gosselaar calls “the heart of the story.”

“I have a 12-year-old daughter, so I related,” Gosselaar said.

The jeopardy of the show, Heldens said, is what’s going to happen to Amy. But the fact that she has Wolgast “as a protector and an advocate” should put the audience somewhat at ease.

“They’re weirdly funny together, so it is a source of levity,” she said. “As much as it’s kind of scary and you don’t want anything to happen to Amy…at the same time, when you’re in those scenes they’re some of the most hopeful and buoyant scenes in the show, and that makes us feel really good writing it.”

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