Have you ever dreamed of having your own private portal to a distant planet where you could relax and watch shooting stars dance across an alien sunset?
Amazon Prime Video’s new sci-fi thriller “Night Sky” delivers such a fantastic destination in their latest puzzle-box offering that enters our orbit starting today (May 20) to join our picks for the best sci-fi TV shows on Amazon Prime this month.
In this eight-episode series created by Holden Miller (the son of comedian Dennis Miller), Oscar winners Sissy Spacek (“Carrie,” “Homecoming”) and JK Simmons (“Spider-Man,” “Whiplash”) play Irene and Franklin York, two normal old people from rural Illinois who years ago discovered an ancient gateway to a desert planet in their humble garden shed. This eerie bedroom teleports them to an abandoned alien base on a distant world where the married couple have set up a cozy viewing area in the living room to relax.
As Irene and Franklin continue to explore the mysteries of this eerie outpost with its striking galactic views, their relatives and curious neighbors are disturbed by rumors of their strange nocturnal activities and begin to ask questions.
When a wanderer named Jude, played by Chai Hansen (“The 100”, “The New Legends of Monkey”), appears in their private bunker, the elderly partners continue to delve into the strange portal’s purpose and attempt to rebuild a larger connection. in the face of imminent danger.
Space.com spoke with acclaimed actor JK Simmons about this intriguing new sci-fi project, growing up with “The Twilight Zone” and sharing scenes with the talented cast. In addition to his dozens of film and television roles, many of us also know Simmons as Professor Burke in those humorous Farmers Insurance commercials, and Peter Parker’s Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson, in director Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man Trilogy.” the 2000s with Tobey Maguire.
Space.com: What drew you to the role of Franklin York and creator Holden Miller’s vision for “Night Sky”?
JK Simmons: Well, Holden Miller really is most of the answer. Sissy Spacek was already attached to play Irene, so that was part of the draw. I have a bad habit of never reading things like synopses and character descriptions. I just start on the first page of the script and read it all the way through and if it’s something that speaks to me then I want to be involved.
That Holden, a young writer, taking so long and giving audiences credit for having the patience to let a story develop and get to know the characters, was a big part of my appeal. And then there were explosive, jaw-dropping moments where we see that there’s more going on in this story as well.
Space.com: How would you describe your working relationship with co-stars Sissy Spacek and Chai Hansen?
JKS: It was great, and finally over the course of four and a half months on something like that, kind of a hybrid between a feature film and an old network-style TV series, you have time to develop some camaraderie and that spirit of family. We had some very inexperienced actors and obviously two very experienced actors, and eventually a diverse cast of Argentinians and it organically grew into an ensemble.
Chai was an awesome guy. I’ve never met an Aussie I didn’t enjoy working with and Chai Hansen is the latest example. He kept insisting that I was going to take on the role of mentor, whether I liked it or not. So that was part of the fun, because we got along well too.
Space.com: What was your entry into the science fiction genre growing up?
JKS: Well, it was good old Rod Serling and “The Twilight Zone” when I was a kid. I still have vivid memories of classic episodes of this and how they affected me back then. I wasn’t a big comic book guy. I had a cousin who was, but he was more into superheroes and the Spider-Man kind of world. Then, as I got a little older, I read Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I really loved reading classic sci-fi titles when I was young. After the stage of dinosaur books for small children, this is one of the things that made me want to read.
Space.com: Is humanity on the threshold of a new era of space exploration and space tourism? If you ever had the opportunity to take a rocket ride, would you strap yourself in?
JKS: Oh, I would go. Absolutely. When I was a kid, I remember Neil Armstrong and “One Giant Leap For Mankind”. I was in the basement with a good friend of mine, Randy Bostler, watching this happen on our shitty little black and white TV live and in person. An amazing sci-fi moment in real life.
I think my generation, and certainly younger generations, take a lot of that for granted. We’re gonna put a woman on the moon. Soon! Many people don’t even know this is happening right now, because there are so many other things going on in the world and other things that rightly catch our attention. But we live in an age of exploration on our planet and out there it’s just amazing to be able to witness it.
Space.com: “Night sky“ captures that innocent sense of wonder in its story of Irene and Franklin York reminiscent of Ron Howard’s 1985 sci-fi film, “Cocoon.“ If the series scores a second season, what else do you hope to explore as the story unfolds?
JKS: I hadn’t thought of “Cocoon” and I’m really glad you mention it. I saw “Cocoon” in my late twenties and loved it. I think sometimes when young people see this new show starring these two old jerks, there can be a reluctance to get involved. I’ll tell you, our cast is getting a lot more diverse and a lot younger as we lay out the storyline.
As for what I hope we could get into, I’m just waiting to see what the minds of Holden Miller and the writing team come up with. We leave the end of our first season with such a variety of cliffhanger moods. There’s a kind of climax and satisfaction, but it’s also like, let’s keep going where no man has gone before.
“Night Sky” hits Amazon Prime Video on May 20.
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