You knew this was going to be the last episode, the last time you’d be able to put these characters together. What were your goals going in?
GRANT HILL: The aim of this finale episode was promoted by a couple of things. We and Netflix felt that leaving the series’ followers with an ending that didn’t finish out the show left a vacuum. We had, obviously, a lot of support from very vocal fans, and they felt it. So we just decided that, all right, if we’re going to do it, we have to do it really well, and the feeling of it has to mirror the feeling that the series had had. And we had to shine a light back in some ways to some of the characters that we haven’t seen for a while, and basically end up with something that was really positive, that was high energy, and that would feel fitting for the end of the series.
Noi della produzione e Netflix sentivamo che lasciare gli spettatori con un finale che non concludesse realmente lo show avrebbe lasciato un vuoto. I fan ci hanno semrpe sostenuto, perciò abbiamo deciso di farlo per bene e che potesse trasmettere le stesse emozioni delle prime due stagioni. Abbiamo dovuto puntare i riflettori su alcuni personaggi che erano ancora avvolti nel mistero e ne è uscito qualcosa di molto buono, con una forte energia, perfetto per un finale di serie.
Since this hadn’t been contemplated [before the series finale order], by the time we got around to talking with Netflix about it, we were really only eight or nine weeks from the date that we had to start it. We had a locked finish date, and we didn’t have a script. Therefore we couldn’t do a schedule and a budget, so it was all very sort of chaotic, but very high energy, you know? Lana had very quickly sketched out what she felt would need to be in there, and [the finale] was just described that it would reflect the series, give it an ending, a high spirited ending, and answer some of the overall dramatic questions, and go out with a big punch.
Poiché questo ultimo episodio non era contemplato (la serie era stata cancellata dopo la seconda stagione, salvo poi essere riesumata grazie al supporto dei fan), ci siamo ritrovati a dover mettere tutto in piedi a sole otto settimane dalle riprese. Avevamo una deadline ma non un copione. Perciò eravamo ancora privi di un programma dettagliato e di un budget; è stato molto caotico, ma ci ha dato molta carica. In poco tempo, Lana ha abbozzato ciò che pensava andasse messo in questo ultimo episodio, il quale doveva riflettere l’intera serie, dare un finale degno, per calore e per risposte alle principali domande sollevate nelle precedenti due stagioni, per terminare con un bel gancio assestato.
The finale special is about two hours and 30 minutes long. Did you approach it like a feature film, or did you think of it as a series of episodes packed into one? How did you break down something so massive?
It was was a 10- or ultimately a 12-hour movie [before editing]. It’s sort of the only way you can do it because that’s really what it is, they continuously interlock stories. You’re traveling, your production values are high; it’s a big long film. And once you realize that then it becomes easier. Because these big complex expensive series, unless they’re set in sort of a singular location or a lot of work on stage, you have to really approach them as a movie.
Prima del montaggio, si trattava di un film di 10-12 ore. È stato un continuo intrecciarsi di storie, di viaggi, quindi non poteva essere altrimenti.
Speaking of locations, how did you decide that Paris would be the final location of this global story? It is the City of Love.
Given the time restraints and the schedule restraints [of making the finale], it had to be done wholly in Europe. Berlin has always been our base and this time, our schedule was the same. We went to Berlin first, we shot for six days and we ended up back in Berlin at the end. But Paris was a city that we always wanted to do, and there are various story lines where Paris was mentioned, but we never quite got there in the series. So it was a natural progression to say, “All right, well let’s go.”
Considerati i tempi stretti, andava girato interamente in Europa. Berlino è sempre stato il nostro quartiergenerale, quindi abbiamo iniziato da lì, girando per sei giorni, prima di ritornarci alla fine delle riprese, come tappa finale. Ma Parigi è sempre stata una città in cui volevamo girare, e c’erano più linee narrative che menzionavano questa città, quindi è stato naturale finirci per quest’ultimo episodio.
So as we set out to do it we were hesitant because it, like any big European city, takes time to get things done. It particularly takes time to get permission for certain places such as the Eiffel Tower which had never been shut down before for anything other than state events. But we had a fantastic French crew and they pulled some strings. We were helped in all of these cities — everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve been helped along the way in that regard. They gave us provisional permission to use the city, and we just went with it.
Inizialmente ci siamo andati cauti, perché, come tutte le grandi città europee, ci vuole tempo per mettere a punto tutto. Vale per i permessi per girare in alcune location come la Torre Eiffel, che non era mai stata chiusa prima se non per questioni politiche. Abbiamo avuto però una fantastica crew locale in Francia e hanno fatto un gran lavoro. In ogni città in cui abbiamo girato siamo stati aiutati dalle crew locali per ottenere i permessi per le riprese.
It really was a real pleasure to just watch the entire cast have fun in that last half hour on the Eiffel Tower. What was it like pulling that together?
We only had it for six hours. On the day [we shot], it was raining when we got there, and that [shooting time] was reduced down to about two hours, so that whole sequence was shot on the Eiffel Tower in two hours. The weather just broke for two hours and then it started to rain again. As we were shooting it, there was so much energy in that that it felt like the last thing [we worked together on].
Avevamo i permessi per la Torre solo per sei ore. Quel giorno pioveva, quindi i tempi si sono accorciati ulteriormente e abbiamo potuto girare solo nelle due ore in cui il tempo ci ha dato una tregua. Malgrado la pioggia, è stata una giornata talmente piena di energia positiva che sembrava davvero l’ultima scena che dovessimo girare [sebbene dovessimo ancora andare in Italia e poi tornare a Berlino].
We went back to Berlin [for the end] because one of the things we learned was that no matter how well everything goes and how much material we get, there’s always little bits and pieces that, when you’re moving from city to city, either needs an added shot or a piece of this and a piece of that. So that last five days in Berlin was really probably some of the nuts and bolts [of reshooting] five or six little pieces every day.
Abbiamo chiuso le riprese tornando a Berlino, perché se abbiamo imparato qualcosa è che, a prescindere da quanto le cose vadano bene e quanto materiale si sia riuscito a raccogliere, ci saranno sempre parti che, quando sei costretto a spostarti di città in città, necessiteranno di una sequenza o inquadratura aggiuntiva. Pertanto le ultime cinque giornate in Germania siamo stati costretti a girare nuovamente cinque o sei sequenze al giorno.
Having said that, you could feel on the last day of filming a high, emotional feeling and energy that just kind of crept into the studio. It was a lot of tears at the end. It was a finale, and that’s in itself emotional. We knew where we were going, we knew how long we had. When you put it together, it was just sort of one long celebration.
Detto ciò, l’ultimo giorno di riprese è stato ricco di forti emozioni. Pianti su pianti, insomma, ma d’altronde si trattava del finale, quindi potevamo immaginarcelo. Le riprese di questo finale sono state una lunga festa.
That said, the plot did tie up some loose ends. For example, the Kala-Wolfgang-Rajan love triangle gets solved in a very Sense8 plan, with the men accepting each other as partners as well. Was that always the plan?
So, Lana locked herself basically away for a couple of days to just get a skeleton [after the finale was announced]. We needed a skeleton to start putting the tracks down, and yeah, we talked a lot about it… Some of the elements of the ending that we wanted to have were easy, some were quite difficult to do. And one of the things that came out of it was that ending. It worked out spectacularly well. It’s a really nice, uplifting sequence I think.
Dopo che il finale venne annunciato, Lana si chiuse per qualche giorno a mettere giù uno scheletro di quello che sarebbe successo nell’ultimo atto. Questo scheletro ci sarebbe servito per mettere i primi paletti e quindi ne parlammo bene. Alcuni elementi che volevamo inserire nel finale erano facili, altri più difficili. Tra questi ultimi, appunto, la sequenza finale. Ha funzionato alla grande. Penso sia una sequenza davvero bella ed edificante.
What would you say was the most satisfying scene for you to work on, to capture? There are so many moments in the finale that I’m sure satisfied fans, from Wolfgang making it back to his cluster, to him shooting the bazooka, to the Trojan horse tourist gag, and more. What types of scenes out of themes were your favorite to play?
I would have to choose the Eiffel Tower sequence, the wedding sequence, because it is the essence of [the show having] a heightened, emotional content. You’re seeing characters that you’ve seen before — or you mightn’t have seen for a while — and they’re just so beautifully tied into this episode that it was always going to be high emotion.
Direi la sequenza della Torre Eiffel, quella del matrimonio, perché rispecchia l’essenza dello show, con fortissime componenti emotive. Ritroviamo praticamente tutti i personaggi, dai più importanti a quelli che non vedevamo da un po’, e vengono inseriti in modo talmente perfetto in questo episodio da creare un forte impatto emotivo.
That very final montage is a montage of sex scenes that’s all about love. What do you hope people take away from the very final scene, and what do you hope the legacy of the show will be?
We’ve always put great value on including people, including other people. We try and make it positive, we try and make and have people understand that acceptance is powerful and much more uplifting than anything else. We want it to feel hopeful. You don’t know where it’s all going but you know it’s too bleak out there at the moment, so we wanted to push it in a hopeful joyous way. There’s nothing more complicated than that.
Ci è sempre importanto parecchio includere le persone, nuove persone. Abbiamo cercato di farlo in modo tale che venisse percepito positivamente, per far capire al pubblico che l’accettazione e la tolleranza sono atti che hanno grande forza e grande significato, più edificanti di ogni altra cosa. Volevamo che dessero speranza. Oggi il mondo là fuori è così tagliente, volevamo dare un messaggio di speranza avvolto in un clima festoso. E non c’è nulla di più difficile.
I do love that it all ends with a non-sensate, Rajan, in awe of what’s going on in front of him.
It does symbolize everything. It’s really been hanging over them for a while, this sort of love triangle thing, and how it’s going to be resolved. Often those things don’t work out very well for some or all of the participants, but I thought Lana did a very eloquent job of presenting just a specific approach to a specific part of the story. And I think you know, again, it has a very positive message.
È l’emblema di tutto. Quella sorta di triangolo era rimasto in sospeso ormai da un po’ e andava risolto. Spesso sono cose che non funzionano molto bene per chi vi partecipa, ma penso che Lana abbia fatto un magnifico lavoro nel dare un approccio preciso a una parte specifica della storia. E credo abbia un messaggio estremamente positivo da dare.
“we got good reviews, the end of season two was very strong for us,” he says — which is why when Netflix decided to cancel the show less than one moth after its debut, the news came as a shock to the creators, who had initially mapped out five seasons.
“Because we had told everybody that season two was the end, not unreasonably everyone went out and got jobs,” says Hill of the ensemble, which also includes Brian J. Smith, Tuppence Middleton, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Bae Doona, Tina Desai, Toby Onwumere, Terrence Man, Naveen Andrews and Darryl Hannah. “When we were doing season one and two, we had all of the principal cast there all of the time; you have the ability to move scenes and the cast around. On this, everybody had other commitments. But once we had a schedule, we kept it. We got everybody there who was supposed to be there — sometimes just a little too close for comfort — but it all worked out.”
The nuptials and post-wedding orgy made up the final chapter of the episode — an extra 30 minutes Wachowski asked Netflix for so she could properly send off her sensates. The ending is being referred to as a queer utopia for reflecting an inclusive, open-minded world that can be saved by love. “This wedding is proof that for all the differences between us and all the forces that try to divide us, they will never exceed the power of love to unite us,” says the officiant during the ceremony.
“We have to be more tolerant. There’s always going to be differences, but at least people are aiming for wider goals of inclusion and just listening. Being prepared to listen to somebody else’s point of view, argue with someone, get somewhere. There’s not a lot of that out there at the moment, it seems.”
“It had been in Lana’s mind for a long time and we all felt it was fitting,” Hill says of the ending, which did involve some stunt doubles but was largely the main cast. “You want to in a sense be happy for what you’ve seen and round out that finish. We wanted to leave it on a joyous note. An important factor all the way has been to broaden the spectrum — not just to broaden peoples’ minds, but to invite them into something that they may not have found without the show.”That sequence was also filmed quickly, in about 45 minutes. “There’s no amount of choreography that could deliver something like that based on rehearsal, it was a very in-the-moment thing and a very joyous moment. That was the idea of the ending: That you see the joy of the way they met, you see the reunion, you have that sequence that is hopefully joyful for people.”
That accomplished the goal of the series, says Hill: “We always hoped and tried, without being in your face, to aim for an inclusive story that didn’t draw on any particular sort of people, but that was something full of energy and love, and people helping each other who have a common cause, and to have a little fun with it.”
And though the definitively happy ending rules out the option for any sort of third revival, Hill says that was intentional.
“It’s tough coming back to doing a finale like this when you’ve been canceled and gone through all of that,” he explains. “We understood and Netflix was very straight-forward and gracious about it, but it’s a hard thing to go through. It always takes a long time, particularly when fans are going crazy and everyone has a different view on whether it’s really gone, but then it got to the point that everyone acknowledged it was finished. So to come back was also hard, because you just finished trying to push it out of your mind.”
He adds, “Netflix had understandably said from the outset that they wanted something that was a finale. We knew that; they asked us to do that, and so we did it with a good conscience. It was a rush to get it together and get it done, but I think we couldn’t have expected it to have turned out any better.”