Chase Sui Wonders and Wyatt Oleff star in burning city, the eight-episode thriller inspired by the novel of the same name by Garth Risk Hallberg. Released in 2016, the best-seller earned the latter a dizzying amount as an advance on the rights: almost 2 million dollars were disbursed by the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf in what, at the time, went down in history as the most paid for an emerging author.
At the helm of the Apple-branded adaptation are Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who – from the reboot of Dynasty a Gossip Girl – have been two institutions of television training story for more than twenty years. Their ability to tell youth has conquered entire generations of viewers, and it is no coincidence that the experience with The O.C. – which Schwartz created at the age of 26 – echoes in City on Fire. Compared to the starting novel, in fact, the TV series places the story no longer in 1976 but in 2003, the year in which the TV series with Adam Brody and Mischa Barton made its debut, to tell the era of the “short decade” in which New Yorkers – veterans of 9/11 – felt lost.
The ethnicity of the protagonist also changes – Samantha Cicciaro becomes Samantha Yeung – but the story is the same. On July 4, 2003, a New York University student is attacked in Central Park. Samantha was alone, there are no witnesses and there is very little evidence available. Her friends’ band was playing at her favorite club when she goes out to meet someone, promising to come back. She never will. As the crime committed against Samantha is investigated, it is revealed that she is the crucial link between a string of mysterious fires throughout the city, the downtown musical limelight, and a wealthy uptown real estate family worn down by the many secrets they keep.
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“Samantha conquered me the fact that she is a free spirit that has many facets,” says his interpreter Chase Sui Wonders. The actress – seen in the TV series Generation and in the cult Bodies Bodies Bodies – adds: “In 2003 I was seven years old, but it was nice to discover some of the trends of the early 2000s. We have kept the beauty of that period, without dwelling on the more questionable fashions”.
Wyatt Oleff – seen in the duology of IT directed by Andy Muschietti and in the TV series I Am Not Okay With This Netflix – plays Charlie, a friend of Samantha who is struggling to cope with the death of his father on 9/11 two years earlier. After Samantha is hurt, he will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery of what happened to her. “Come Charlie – explains Oleff – I too experienced a similar evolution during the filming of the series. I felt very close to him and this allowed me to better immerse myself in the character. The history of the series is very close to our times because today we are grappling with the post-pandemic chaos, while our characters are dealing with the trauma of the attack on the Twin Towers”, says the actor.
At the opening of the post you will find the complete video interview with Chase Sui Wonders and Wyatt Oleff, the protagonists of the TV series. Burning city is available with the first three episodes from May 12 – and to follow with an unreleased episode every Friday – on Apple TV+ in streaming.