The Night Of debuted on HBO earlier this month to solid ratings and critical acclaim — an important victory for the pay cabler’s drama slate after the cancellation of Vinyl and behind-the-scenes problems on the upcoming sci-fi epic Westworld.
So when the creative team behind the limited series appeared Saturday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, questions were quickly posed about a possible second installment.
“We’re thinking about it and if we come up with something we all feel is worthy of doing, we’ll do it,” executive producer, writer and director Steven Zaillian told reporters. “This was designed as a stand-alone piece. … That being said, there are ways of certainly kind of taking what it feels like and what it’s about and doing another season on another subject.”
The eight-part drama focuses on a complex murder case in New York City through the examination of the police investigation, the legal proceedings, the criminal justice system and Rikers Island. Riz Ahmed and John Turturro star as a man accused of murder and his defense attorney, respectively. The Night Of is based on the first season of the BBC series Criminal Justice, which also ran for two seasons and focused on a different crime in its second iteration.
“It’s the antithesis of Law and Order,” executive producer Richard Price said of the series. “It’s not like, put it in the microwave, hit 60 seconds and serve.”
Turturro replaced James Gandolfini, who was first attached to star in and executive produce the project when it was picked up to pilot in 2012, but his sudden death the following year put the project in flux. First, Robert De Niro was to take over the role, but then Turturro stepped in. Gandolfini is still listed as an exec producer, along with Zaillian, Price, Jane Tranter and Garrett Basch.
“It was toughest for me on a personal level because I was friends with James,” Zaillian said of Gandolfini’s death.
However, there was never a question about whether the series would move forward. “He was indeed a great champion of it,” Zaillian said of Gandolfini’s involvement. “The character is the character. We didn’t rewrite anything for John. This character is the character and so we just went forward with it.”
The Night Of airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.