Snowpiercer takes place entirely on a train. That’s a risky move for a television show. As we’ve seen with Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica, if a series doesn’t get off the ship every once in a while, the world can start to feel claustrophobic, or even boring. Star Jennifer Connelly said that’s one of the reasons she had “reservations” before taking the role of Melanie. However, as she and her co-stars explained, this isn’t Murder on the Orient Express. This train’s got layers.
During a red carpet event at San Diego Comic-Con, Gizmodo asked Connelly and some of her co-stars about how Snowpiercer can sustain itself for more than its two seasons if the whole thing takes place on a train that passengers cannot escape.
We previously reported on a special “device” passengers use to experience life off the train, but Connelly explained that the train itself is a massive undertaking with nearly limitless potential for a multi-season show. When she saw what it would look like, she was sold.
“I had similar reservations about it initially, and then I saw some of the drawings for the sets and they allayed any fears. And then when I saw them realised, it’s really extraordinary,” Connelly said. “It is a contained system but there’s such diversity. I mean, all of life is on this train, and it’s pretty magical.”
Snowpiercer is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, rather than the 2013 film — although Alison Wright did say during the SDCC panel that her character Ruth was loosely inspired by Tilda Swinton’s performance, most notably her accent.
The train itself has 1001 cars and thousands of passengers. Unlike the movie, the show plans on spending time on the entire train, not just the first class and tail end section. Co-star Daveed Diggs (Andre) tried to explain just how much possibility that means for the series.
“What season of a show have you ever watched that had 1001 sets? That took place in 1001 different locations? How many seasons deep do you have to go in any given show before you have over a thousand locations?” Diggs said. “There are moments where our characters are looking at maps of the train, and for me, as an actor, it was a reminder of, like: ‘Oh shit, we’re not even like — look there’s no way we get to the front! Look how many cars this is!’”
Steven Ogg, who plays Pike, elaborated:
We were discussing this last night: “Is it going to get — does it get tired that you’re just on this space?” But no, because there’s 1001 trains, and literally the first class — or you know these different cars—look so different that you feel like you’re in a different environment. It’d be different, I think, if it was like Murder On The Orient Express, where there’s your train and here’s what’s happening and the environment doesn’t really change. Within each car, within each section, the environment is different.
Snowpiercer has already been renewed for a second season, which promises even more exploration of the never-ending train. From the sound of things, the next season’s cars are already in the works, and it seems like it’s just the beginning.
“The art and environment on the show is unbelievable, and I do not envy them with all of the things they are going to have to build in the future,” Diggs said.
The series debuts on TBS in 2020 in the U.S. with no word on an Australian release.