Pasadena, Calif. — Det. Lt. Everett Backstrom, the main character on Fox’s Backstrom, is not a nice guy. But the series stars and creators want viewers to look past that.
“We’re kind of asking this of the audience to take a little ride with us,” said series star Rainn Wilson Saturday during the TCA winter press tour. “Yes, this guy’s an a*shole but get to know him a little bit and you’re going to start learning some really interesting things about him and his coping mechanisms.”
Wilson was joined on stage by costars Thomas Dekker, Page Kennedy, Kristoffer Polaha, Genevieve Angelson, Dennis Haysbert and executive producer and creator Hart Hanson and coexecutive producer Kevin Hooks.
“It’s asking a good deal of an audience,” said Wilson, who also serves as producer on the series. “But I think it’s a really interesting journey.”
Backstrom’s coworkers also have to look past his faults.
“He is so unlikeable that it’s such a great tangible obstacle,” said Angelson, who plays Det. Nicole Gravely, adding that Backstrom “makes my life so difficult as a character but makes my life so exciting as an actor.”
There's an underlying theme to Hanson's Backstrom, said Polaha, who is Sgt. Peter Niedermayer on the series.
“With Backstrom, what Hart did is you have this really philosophical kind of TV show that’s asking what it means to be a human being,” said Polaha.
Backstrom, which is based on a series of books by Swedish author Leif G.W. Persson, bows on Fox Jan. 22.
Other highlights from the panel included:
—Hanson said the primary change he made from the Swedish books was to make Backstrom good at his job. In the books, Hanson said Backstrom didn't have any redeeming qualities.
—Early on producers were in talks with CBS to air Backstrom. But after that fell through Fox picked up the series. “Rainn actually never, never lost hope and I had to pretend that I was optimistic, too,” said Hanson of learning CBS had passed.
—Wilson said that despite his character’s disagreeableness, he did identify with him. “I can relate to someone whose life is falling apart and their doing the best to get by using humor to survive,” he said. “And I think we all have experienced that in small doses.”