In the pilot episode of AMC's "Rubicon," premiering Sunday, Aug. 1, James Badge Dale looks tired, and it might not be all just for show. He was hard at work as he spoke with us recently about the series, calling between rehearsal takes to share his insights. But we got the story on this cryptic new drama and its protagonist, Will Travers, played by Dale ("The Pacific").
Will is a talented analyst working for a branch of U.S. intelligence, the American Policy Institute. It's his job to sift through the ocean of information produced daily in newspapers, on television, via the Internet, etc. -- in search of meaningful patterns that could be coded signals issued by an opposition element. When he finds a series of incredibly synchronous clues in several major papers' crosswords, he reports the unlikely coincidence to his boss. And so begins a mysterious chain of events leading to death, suspicion and terror.
Sound paranoid? You bet. And it's only just beginning.
"Will Travers is a man who hasn't grieved properly," Dale says of his character, who still mourns the loss of his wife and child, killed at the World Trade Center in 2001 -- which would have claimed his life as well, had he not been late to meet them. "He's a man who's kind of stepped back from life and has involved himself in patterns and puzzles. So finding a code, for him, is very exciting because I think that the only time he feels alive is when he's working. And to find something like that, I think it's almost life-affirming for him in his very dark world."
In these days when there's more and more virtual contact in everyday life, an overabundance of information and misinformation, and heightened polarization of the nation's sympathies -- it's not surprising that a predicament like Will's and a series like this could germinate in the public imagination. But while Dale sees it as appropriate to our time, he also considers it essentially universal.
"We always have questions about if things like this are actually happening," he says. "The idea of a shadow government, the idea that there are groups of people that have had power for a long time and we don't know who they are ... ."
James Badge Dale ruminates on 'Rubicon' and AMC's success
James Badge Dale stars in "Rubicon," premiering Sunday on AMC.