'Mosaic' Screenwriter on the Reaction to the "Branching Narrative" and Why There Won't Be a Sequel

Courtesy of HBO (Still); Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images (Solomon)
Sharon Stone plays author Olivia Lake in the innovative series, which also stars Garrett Hedlund, Fred Weller and Beau Bridges (Inset: Ed Solomon)

Ed Solomon talks about the innovation employed by the HBO limited series, how it changed his writing process and why he's avoiding doing another "regular" movie.

The HBO miniseries Mosaic began as a storytelling experiment. It was 2013 when Steven Soderbergh first brought the idea of a “branching narrative” platform to screenwriter Ed Solomon (whose film credits include Now You See Me, Men in Black and the Bill & Ted films, including the recently announced sequel, Bill & Ted Face the Music). Over the next three years, they developed a 500-page script and filmed eight hours of footage to tell a murder mystery in two forms: Through the Mosaic app, where users follow a customized branching narrative; and through HBO’s six-episode “linear” version, released two months after the app.

Solomon, 57, spoke to THR about creating the mystery centered on the disappearance of a famed author.

What do you think of the feedback to Mosaic?

I was really overwhelmed with the response to both the branching version as well as the “traditional” Mosaic versions. I’m really proud of it because we worked really, really hard on it and were trying to do something different, and the fact that it landed well made it that much better. I didn’t know how or if it would land. 

How has working on this new form changed your writing process?

It’s made every character I write more rich, nuanced and detailed. When you’re writing in this form, you must think of every character in your story as being worthy of carrying their own movie. Even if it doesn’t necessarily manifest in any kind of an overt way, it often comes through on a deeper level. And I’m so glad to not be beholden to the studio movie system on any kind of a creative level. Being able to forge new ground is so much more exciting. Even if it doesn’t succeed, it’s more exciting. It’s just a better way to live, being fascinated and challenged.

Has there been any discussion of a Mosaic sequel?

I don’t think we’re going to do a sequel. Mosaic was designed to be a oneoff, ultimately. Its style of storytelling was really rooted in the style of story that it was. We learned so much about how to evolve the form further that it felt more appropriate to work a new story from the beginning, and try to totally take advantage of the form rather than try to change the tone and style of Mosaic to have a second season. 

This story first appeared in a May stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.