Way back in October, I joined a group of reporters on a long week of set visits in Vancouver and over several months I've posted stories and interviews from “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “iZombie,” “Once Upon a Time,” “The 100,” “Bates Motel,” “Backstrom” and the 200th episode red carpet for “Supernatural.”
The last of the shows to premiere, but the second of the sets that we actually visited, was ABC's midseason drama “The Whispers,” which found us sitting in a chilly tent in a park near a school not seeing anything by way of production and not necessarily able to talk about anything by way of the show. We arrived in Vancouver to warnings that the original “Whispers” pilot had been changed to something more ambiguous to draw out the mystery, making it hard to talk about what the former pilot was about.
“Usually you get a lot of pilots that everything's just thrown on the table right away and then you have to decipher what you like and what you don't like,” said Barry Sloane. “What this did was hold back a little bit and give little tastes of what it could be and that's something has been fun finding out.”
Sloane, Milo Ventimiglia and Lily Rabe joined us in the tent after we'd been visited by a couple of the pilot's young stars, who play children whose interactions with a mysterious entity named Drill begins to wreak havoc.
The veteran actors were quick to joke about the professionalism of their juvenile co-stars, specifically how it exceeded their own. Apparently, for example, the child actors arrived at the first table-read already off-book.
“They like to make us look bad,” Rabe joked.
Of the show's plot, she more seriously noted, “I think that that's a wonderful thing about this story is that what is real to a child is something that you always kinda want to believe in and lean into, but of course it can become dangerous…”
The interview was characterized by the difficulties of describing a show whose very nature is mystery and surprise, which also made it tough for the actors to compare “Whispers” to anything else.
“I kinda go back to movies when I was a kid. I can't name one, but 10,000, but it was that idea where you have human struggle, where you have events, where you have events, where you have the unknown, where you have something to learn. And what you're seeing is the true mettle of a person,” Milo Ventimiglia said. “You're seeing passion, you're seeing decision, you're seeing wrong decision. You're just seeing human experience through extraordinary happenings, unexplainable happenings.”
Rabe noted, “I think about shows like '24'… It's a totally different situation, but I just think about the viewing experience that I had watching that show where the stakes were so high and pace was so quick and yet there was still such beautiful breadth in that show, I think, to invest in the people and their relationships, which I think this show has. So I don't mean it's like that, but when I think about a show I have watched and loved and what that experience might feel like, that's the one that comes to mind for me.”
Check out more from the interview in video form above.
And “The Whispers” premieres on Monday, June 1 on ABC.