With its blend of archaeology and intrigue, and the ominous tagline “The deeper you dig, the further you get from the truth,” USA Network’s upcoming miniseries Dig holds an undeniable appeal.
The thriller stars Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter, Awake) as Peter Connelly, an FBI agent stationed in Israel who, while investigating the murder of an American citizen, uncovers an ancient global conspiracy involving a secret religious sect.
“I had found a world of drama that hasn’t been tapped,” co-creator Gideon Raff (Homeland) recalled of Dig’s origins during a presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
He was joined for the panel by fellow co-creator Tim Kring (Heroes), stars David Costabile and Alison Sudol, write Carol Barbee and SJ Clarkson. Isaacs appeared via Skype from Israel.
Clarkson emphasized the importance of the show’s setting, explaining, “The character of Jerusalem is paramount,” and “has so much to offer as a character and a story.”
With the production granted extensive access to the ancient series, Raff said he’s delighted to be able to bring American audiences a word they haven’t seen before.
Isaacs said he was drawn to the project because, “I get to run around pretending to be cooler, smarter, more athletic than I really am.”
After reading the first script he was excited to learn more. As his character investigates the murder that sets events in motion, he quickly uncovers more and more of the mystery. “Only I, and the audience, see that there is something much more sinister going on,” Isaacs said, adding, “In between taking my shirt off.”
Sudol, better as singer-songwriter A Fine Frenzy, has few acting roles to her credit, but Isaacs said he admires her ability. “It’s irritating when I’ve been acting for so long, and someone so new is just so talented,” the veteran said.
Sudol said the major differences between her character Emma and herself is that, in real life, she’s clumsy. However, as Emma, “I’m like a little mountain goat,” running through the streets of Jerusalem. Her character meets Isaac’s early in the pilot episode, and their relationship is important to the overall plot.
Costabile (Breaking Bad) plays the mysterious Ted Billingham, an American pastor who’s somehow deeply connected to the religious sect at the center of the ancient mystery.
“Ted is bad, in my book,” Isaacs revealed.
Costabile admitted that he and the rest of the cast don’t want to know the answer to Dig’s mystery until they shoot the big reveal.
“We’re challenging ourselves not to know,” he said, “and are making sure the audience doesn’t know.”
A six-minute compilation of scenes from the pilot was previewed, revealing that Isaac’s Peter Connelly has a bit of a death wish linked to the loss of someone close to him. The audience also received glimpses of romantic subplots involving both Sudol’s Emma and Connelly’s FBI supervisor Lynn Monahan, played by Anne Heche.
Asked whether the Israel-Gaza conflict would affect filming in Jerusalem, the panelists revealed they were able to shoot everything they needed for the pilot, but future episodes will have to rely on footage they’ve already obtained or use extensions, green screen and CGI. (It was announced just last week that Dig will relocate to Croatia beginning Sept. 1 for about two weeks of shooting before moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico.)
Lastly, when asked one word or phrase that means nothing now, but will hold significance when the audience is watching Dig, the cast and crew simultaneously said, “Moooooooooo!”
Dig premieres this fall on USA.