'Minority Report' EP: The Show Is About the Precogs, Not the Crimes They See

Showrunner Kevin Falls says the story of the movie's three psychics drew him to the series.
Courtesy of Fox

Minority Report was a popular, well-reviewed movie with a great conceptual hook, so on one hand it makes sense that a TV adaptation would eventually make its way into the world.

On the other hand, the film, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg, didn't exactly leave a lot of things open-ended: The film closes with the "Precrime" program Cruise's character once headed (before becoming a target of it himself) being dismantled and the three psychics, or Precogs, at the heart of it being sent to an island to live their lives off the grid.

Also, the movie was released in June 2002, more than 13 years before Fox's take on Minority Report premieres Monday.

"I love that movie so much, and I think a lot of people did. But the presumption was, 'Oh, everybody watched the movie, so they'll get the TV show,' " showrunner Kevin Falls says. "That's not necessarily the case." He talked with The Hollywood Reporter about the challenges of adapting the movie, which itself was based on a Philip K. Dick short story, and how he and fellow EP Max Borenstein (Godzilla) are handling the show.

What are some of the other challenges of adapting a movie that's now 13 years old?

Even people who liked the movie don't always remember the origins, don't remember that there were three Precogs. They think of Samantha Morton, but there were [also] two twins in the milk bath. We had to remember, especially as we went forward with other episodes, that people had to understand the concept of what the Precogs went through.

What Max did with the pilot which was great...[was] he got very intrigued with the three Precogs in the cabin, and he said what happens if one of them wants to go back? What we found as we started to do the show is you have to balance the procedural stuff — it started out as mostly a procedural, but then we found that the Precogs' lives were very interesting. So we started to mix in some flashbacks about what their lives were like before they went into the drink and then after they became acclimated, and you juxtapose those against the case they're up against in the present....

That's the part of the show that gets us the most excited. It's fun to start out with the [procedural aspects], because you don't want to make the show impenetrable. You want to have people who come in each week be able to watch the show, so you have that, but also marbled through it is this other thread where they may actually be recruited to stop a bigger threat.

You had some experience balancing cases of the week with character beats and larger mysteries on Journeyman a few years back. How is that balance playing out here?

Like with any new show, you're always trying to find the alchemy. The great shows aren't easy, and this one is proving to be a challenge in a good way. We just get more and more excited about the Precogs and their history and the threat against them.

In Journeyman, for instance, [viewers] were OK with the procedural in the past, but they really liked what was going on in the present. This one, I think people will be like, 'What happened with the Precogs, and why are they the way they are?' And then how will they handle the present? What's good about this show is you have a compelling past and still crimes to solve, but also a bigger bad out there that's looming that's also on your mind.

The show is set a decade after the Precrime program was dismantled. Characters seem almost nostalgic for it — are we to take it that they're unaware why it was shut down?

In the movie the Precogs had statues in front of Judiciary Plaza and were oddly iconic even though no one knew who they were. They were treated as heroes even though they were drug babies who were being exploited and their visions outsourced and farmed out. It was a cruel thing they had to go through.

Meagan Good's character, her father was a cop. She heard so much about these Precogs that she wanted to get into Precrime; that's why she became a cop.... What the government did was sort of airbrush what had happened.... Like many things in our history, it's kind of swept under the rug and let's forget about it and move on. So there is a nostalgic outlook toward Precrime, like those were the good old days when the streets were safer.

You have kind of a classic detective-show setup here with Good and Stark Sands in the two leads. How can you freshen up that dynamic within this future world?

It was a concern going in.... We wanted to get away from the classic banter, sexual chemistry, we'll finish these other's sentences — not that those shows aren't great. I'm a big fan of those. But we had to separate ourselves. So we really wanted to resist them being attracted to each other.

What we didn't want to do is make Stark pop out of the proverbial womb as a Precog, and even though he's otherworldly and he's cute and they like each other, it's got to be kind of an uneasy alliance going forward. They're both very attractive people, but we wanted to just get away from that. If it happens over time, that's great, but we're not going to tease it out. When you watch the show, you'll see that we don't fall into that.

In the film, Agatha seemed barely able to stand, let alone function, after being pulled out of the milk bath. Is the idea that the 10 years that have passed has allowed the  Precogs to become more or less normal people?

The three of them went to the island at the end of the movie, but Arthur, played by Nick Zano, left first. He's been in the city for a while, and he's become more street smart and has used his precognitive ability for his own personal gain. He's not an evil twin.... Arthur has been out there more, he's a little more street smart. Stark's character came [to Washington] a little bit later. He's the one who was probably most impacted by his time in the photon milk bath, so he's a little more [tender?] But he'll get his sea legs quickly, or he'll be too weak of a character.

We want to walk that line of someone who's still learning, because that's interesting as the character's growing, with the streetwise cop played by Meagan Good.... Then Agatha, played by Laura Regan, is probably the most worldly and wisest of them all, even though she's still back on the island. She's a little more polished and has a stronger precognitive ability than the others. So she's the one who can see a little farther down the line of what may be coming. She hates that those two guys have left the island, because that's a threat against people finding out where they are and exploiting them.

Minority Report premieres Monday at 9 p.m. on Fox.