Creator David Farr and stars on second series of hit TV thriller Hanna
Series two of coming-of-age thriller Hanna is emotional and action-packed. Georgia Humphreys chats to creator David Farr and the cast about making the hit Amazon Prime Video show
WHEN David Farr wrote action thriller Hanna, he had his two daughters in mind. "It was with this feeling that my daughters were not being given a broad enough canvas of female characters they could really enjoy," reflects the Guildford-born playwright, screenwriter and stage director.
Released in 2011, and starring Saoirse Ronan as the title character, the film is the story of a fierce 16-year-old who, while being raised in the wilderness of northern Finland by her father, an ex-CIA operative (Eric Bana), is trained as an assassin.
Farr's daughters may now be 18 and 20, but he is still very much involved with the world of Hanna, thanks to the Amazon Prime Video series of the same name, which is about to return for series two.
"To take the character into new terrain was the reason to do the TV show," he says.
"I didn't do the TV show to just tell the same story."
Here, Farr, along with stars Creed-Miles, Yasmin Monet Prince and Dermot Mulroney, tell us more about the new episodes.
At the end of season one, we saw Hanna, played by 20-year old Esme Creed-Miles, discover that she is not the only young woman with unparalleled skill and elite training. In fact, the Utrax programme has produced a whole contingent of highly trained teenagers, whose next phase of development sees them relocate to an elusive facility called The Meadows.
In series two, we see Hanna risk her freedom in order to rescue her friend Clara (Yasmin Monet Price), with the help of a former nemesis, CIA agent Marissa. As she does so, she finds out more about the Utrax's assassin programme, leading her to question who she really is – and what she really wants her life to be.
On what to expect from series two, Creed-Miles hints we see Hanna dealing with grief, and also "building incredibly complex bonds and relationships".
"I think the show is fantastic entertainment; it combines drama and thriller brilliantly and to have the opportunity to explore both of those themes, in one show, I think is very unique and I feel very lucky to be doing that," notes the Londoner, who began her acting career as little Shirley Temple in the 2007 film Mister Lonely.
Fellow English star Monet Prince, who's also starred in TV show Dark Heart, says what's really different from series one to series two with Clara is that we "now see more of a personality from her".
"And even though we saw Hanna's character, we just see her take more ownership of that, which is really exciting," she adds.
On a personal level, they were also excited by getting to film in places such as Paris and Barcelona.
"I think it's one of the most wonderful things about doing what we do, and it definitely feeds into the performances," enthuses Creed-Miles.
"Being an actress, being able to travel the world is such a great opportunity, and I loved going to Barcelona – it was sometimes like a mini holiday," recalls Monet Prince.
"You've got the sun and the sea, and you can really enjoy the culture."
Joining the cast this series is US actor Dermot Mulroney, best known for appearing in films such as My Best Friend's Wedding alongside Julia Roberts. The 56-year-old takes on the role of John Carmichael, who we learn took over Utrax from Marissa after Hanna's escape. He's tasked with making the trainees ready to head out into the world on missions and is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the Utrax operation.
Virginia-born Mulroney explains he had help from Farr in shaping the character.
"My first impulses were to darken it up and be 'that bad guy at the computer', but he was like 'look, this is a guy who does this for a living, he really cares about the programme'," he recalls.
"He helped me understand how important it was that you just lay it on like a comfortable blanket, and then let the actual horror of his program reveal itself.
"It takes the entire season to really get why John Carmichael operates the way he does. You learn that he wants so badly to keep the status quo, keep the government hand on the state of the world, that he's willing to eliminate future threats."
Discussing how the landscape of the TV and film industry has evolved, Farr suggests there has been "a complete change in the notion of ownership, both in terms of literally, who tells the stories, but also authorship of characters".
"People now don't just want a female character who's a lead character with a machine gun, but she still looks really hot in a Lycra suit – that's not what we need now," he continues.
"It (Hanna) is about a young woman, she really is engaging with choices and how choices are restricted by organisations and structures and society and power."
While the film was directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina), when it comes to the TV series Farr made a point of engaging with female directors.
"Both the lead directors of seasons one and two are women; more episodes directed by women than men," he says.
"We really tried to accentuate female authorship. Obviously, I wrote the thing – we're very aware of that, so a slight irony – but also, there was a very strong female writing team on this one as well.
"Three wonderful female playwrights who also write television, they wrote those central, really key, middle episodes this season – the stuff in The Meadows – which, for me, is the heart of the season."
:: Hanna Season 2 is available on Prime Video now