With its attention to detail, ‘The Alienist’ puts its actors in a different time and place, says star Daniel Brühl

Quentin Tarantino’s dialogue is an actor’s holy grail. “It felt so precious and so incredible to hold this script in my hands.”

TNT’s “The Alienist” was able to lure an impressive stable of big-screen talent to its small-screen production. The result doesn’t feel like most television.

Star Daniel Brühl called the creative team “geniuses with so much expertise … It made it so easy to dive into that world because everything was so convincingly recreated. There was no fake feeling about it. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.

“[Sometimes] in other movies … what you read on the script is completely different than what you see on the set. I did one movie where on the page it said, ‘200 horses, 500 extras, a castle,’ whatever. And you arrive on set and there’s, you know, a donkey, a carriage, two extras and half a cottage. And then you’re supposed to recreate the magic of the time, of that era, and it just doesn’t work. Of course not.

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“To work with a genius like [costume designer] Michael Kaplan … who hand-picked every single extra in that show and had to make costumes for probably, I don’t know, over 1,000 characters, including the extras … that was quite an experience, I have to say.”

“The Alienist,” a period serial-killer drama stemming from the Caleb Carr novel, boasts three film stars in its cast: Brühl as the titular early psychologist investigating a series of child murders, Dakota Fanning as the first woman to work for the NYPD and Luke Evans as a New York Times illustrator. Among its writers and directors are Cary Joji Fukunaga, Hossein Amini, E. Max Frye and dean of American indie cinema John Sayles. During a visit to the L.A. Times video studio, Brühl, a veteran of many award-nominated and award-winning films in Europe, said the result was an unusually rich cinematic experience for television.

“Even the writers came from cinema — Hossein and Max had written wonderful things like ‘Foxcatcher’ or ‘Drive’ ... Also [directors of photography], the directors, had a very movielike approach to that whole project. And it was very important to them to be as international as it could be, as New York was at the time. So Jakob [Verbruggen, director of shows such as ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘House of Cards’] loved the idea to see me in Berlin and cast me for that show, see Luke in London and Dakota in New York. And that’s how it felt on the set as well. And the whole thing being shot in Hungary.”

To see the whole conversation, including an amusing story about his multilingual audition for Quentin Tarantino, watch the video below.


As criminal psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler he is a reserved Victorian who’s a bit “scared” of revealing himself. Uncovering those nuggets is an actor’s prize - and it helps feed “the addiction and the attachment” that viewers feel to a character.

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