Amazon's "Hand of God" might focus on the role religion and God play in society and in people's lives, but Amazon was not taking a leap of faith when producing the new drama . The site released a group of pilots for prospective shows about a year ago and carefully decided which to take to series based on fan feedback. However, "Hand of God" did, in fact, make the cut and all 10 episode's of the show's first season premiered on Sept. 4.
"Hand of God" stars Ron Perlman ("Sons of Anarchy") as corrupt California judge Pernell Harris. When the series begins, Harris is struggling with the attempted suicide of his son, who shot himself and ended up in a coma. Harris soon starts seeing hallucinations and hearing voices that he believes are instructions from God to avenge the rape of his son's wife, the traumatic incident that led to his suicide attempt. The series stars Perlman, Andre Rojo, Dana Delany, and Garrett Dillahunt, as well as Julian Acosta, who plays Guy Guillet, the ruthless tech developer in charge of Brooks Innovations, a company whose real estate deal hinges on Harris' sanity.
Acosta spoke with International Business Times to discuss working with Amazon on "Hand of God" and how the series handles its depictions of faith and relgion. Read the full interview below:
International Business Times: What has the experience been like working with such a loaded cast?
Julian Acosta: F------ awesome! It’s fantastic, I mean Ron Perlman, Dana Delany, Andre Royo ... It’s a fantastic cast.
IBT: Were those guys already attached when you signed on?
Acosta: Yeah, along with [director] Marc Forster and the creator, Ben Watkins. It was one of those that you go in to read for and you are just shaking all over with excitement about the possibility of it actually happening.
IBT: Was the experience of working with Amazon different than experiences you’ve had with traditional TV series?
Acosta: It was definitely different. I feel like they kind of allowed the creator and creative team to make their show, which I think from my point of view leads to a better result. When you have more involvement in that process from the outside it can water down or otherwise limit the vision of the people creating the content. Amazon has done a good job from “Hand of God” to “Transparent.”
IBT: How has it been different working on a show that releases the whole season in one day in regards to getting feedback from the audience?
Acosta: Obviously, it is more immediate. It does have kind of a carnival-esque type feeling to it. And then you get the other end of it, which is ‘I don’t know yet’ or ‘I haven’t watched it all yet,’ because it needs a time commitment. These days people pick a show and spend three or four days watching the whole show and then they move on to the next one. People’s viewing habits are changing. So it’s a little bit of everything.
IBT: Amazon released the pilot for “Hand of God” a year ago, along with a slate of other pilots, relying on audience feedback to decide which to take to series. “Hand of God” was one of the more well received shows of that group. Why do you think it connected with fans?
Acosta: The writing and the fact that its taking on a subject matter that a lot of people shy away from – the idea of faith and the role that faith can play in someone’s life and how it drives or otherwise dictates their behavior or decision making. It’s not all black and white or good and bad. Like most things in life it exists in that area of grey. Then, there’s the execution of that idea, of course.
IBT: What drew you in to the project?
Acosta: The writing is fantastic and, on top of that, the opportunity to work with Marc Forster, that cast, and the subject matter too. The opening scene of that pilot where [Ron Perlman’s Pernell Haris] is hands raised, naked in a fountain, you land right in the middle of a literally life changing moment for this character who is being sent in a direction that is the last direction he expected to be sent. I think that grabs you right away.
IBT: Do you think being on Amazon, as opposed to on traditional TV, has given the show a buffer that allows it to explore more touchy subjects, like faith and religion, which fans can be sensitive about on television?
Acosta: I’ve always had the contention that people of faith have the same worries, concerns, and limitations as all of us do, humanity being what it is. I think when it’s honestly depicted that the struggle is always to do better. Even people in positions of leadership, whether in a church or politics, have to struggle with their own humanity and their own limitations, which, contrary to popular belief, I think is a beautiful thing because it humanizes them in a way that, because of our own polarizing views, we don’t usually allow for people who are imperfectly doing God’s will. I think that’s a better way to honor people of faith then to portray them as all good or all bad.
IBT: Have you heard anything about Season 2 and would there be a place for your character in a second season?
Acosta: We don’t know anything about what Amazon is thinking, but storywise, Brooks Innovations has a very direct involvement and responsibility for the event that caused Pernell Harris to go down the road he starts going down and they are complicit in that before Season 1 even begins. That’s all I can say about what’s coming right now.
Watch the trailer for "Hand of God" below: