Film interview: Director Alfonso Cuaron talks Believe

Johnny Sequoyah as Bo in Believe.
Johnny Sequoyah as Bo in Believe.
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It’s not hard to persuade people to believe in the potential of a new TV show when it’s created by Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron.

Believe, a science fiction drama about a little girl with supernatural powers, is the brainchild of Mexican director Cuaron, who’s currently riding high on the success of winning a string of awards for his 3D space epic, Gravity.

The critically-acclaimed box office hit took four years to make, so it may come as a surprise that Cuaron found the time to make a TV series too.

The director, who also helmed 2006’s Children Of Men, explains: “I found myself in a moment on Gravity, in which I had a window waiting for the endless process of visual effects. And I wanted to do something, you know?

“I didn’t have the time to make another film, but thought it would be great to do a TV show.”

Believe stars 11-year-old Johnny Sequoyah as Bo, a girl constantly on the run from assassin Moore, played by English actress Sienna Guillory, who’s working to catch Bo for mysterious and powerful businessman Skouras (played by Desperate Housewives star Kyle MacLachlan).

In addition to the ongoing cat-and-mouse chase, each episode contains a stand-alone story, as Bo finds herself able to use her special gift to help the different people she meets along the way. And the mystery of who she is, and why these people are after her, gradually unfolds.

“I wanted to do something in which people were not floating, something really exciting, but at the same time, something that would be highly emotional,” Cuaron says. “I mentioned that to JJ [Abrams] and he got very excited.”

Abrams, the man behind hit shows Lost and Alias, and who is now at the helm of the new Star Wars movies, admits that being asked to join the project as executive producer was a call he’d been waiting for.

“I met Alfonso over 20 years ago, and I’ve wanted to work with him desperately ever since,” he confesses.

Abrams wasn’t the only one to get excited.

Jamie Chung, 30, who plays tough girl Channing, one of three misfits tasked with protecting Bo, was eager to get on board too.

Chung was required to do three screen tests before she was given the nod. “They really put me through the wringer for this one, and I was happy to book it,” she says, laughing.

Despite her powers, Bo is innocent and trusting, and her naivety also makes her brutally honest, bringing humour to the show.

* Believe begins on Watch on Thursday, March 27.