On the show, Cole (Stanford) — based on Willis’s character from the film — is surviving an apocalyptic world when he crosses paths with more survivors. Backed by a scientist and virologist, Cole travels to the past with hopes of assassinating the root of a deadly global virus: the leader of the Army of the 12 Monkeys.
Once the story has been set, co-creators Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett veer the story and introduce other characters. Emily Hampshire plays crazed animal rights activist Goines, originally portrayed by Pitt.
Stanford, who had previously worked with the show’s co-creators on The CW’s “Nikita,” compared the benefits of television over movies.
“My character is given a lot more time to develop. A film has two hours and a TV show potentially has five years to develop a character,” he said. “[Matalas and Fickett] approached me, and they had a different interpretation of the Cole character. They thought I would be really good for it.
Natalie Chaidez, a first-time showrunner, is aware of the backlash so-called “reboots” receive.
“The audience of the film had a fondness with the movie, but with the show you can find the pieces you couldn’t quite see peering around a dark corner,” she said. “You can elaborate on an idea.”
Chaidez also noted how else the storyline differs.
“It makes you look at things in a heightened way. It’s about terrorism, exploring fears, wonderment and big ideas,” she said. “And with a human touch.”
“12 Monkeys” premieres Friday, Jan. 16 at 9 p.m.