Apple TV+’s “Defending Jacob” premiered Friday, and the family crime drama series stars Chris Evans as Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney who finds himself embroiled in his own case when his 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of murdering a classmate.
TheWrap spoke with creator, executive producer and showrunner Mark Bomback about working with Evans in the actor’s own hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, and of digging deeper into the character first written by William Landay in his 2012 novel on which the show is based.
“This is definitely his world,” Bomback said of Evans. “It’s funny, I live in Westchester County, New York, and I grew up in this area. It’s probably the closest vibe-wise to that part of the world, so in a sense, I was writing a version of that part of the world that was really a hybrid of Westchester and suburban Boston. Chris was a great resource in making it feel even more local.”
Evans, the son of a dentist and an artistic director at a youth theater company, was born in Boston and grew up in the suburb of Sudbury. “Defending Jacob” is set in nearby Newton.
“I could always tell he got a kick out of working in [Boston],” Bomback added. “It’s one thing to write a story in this part of the world that is supernatural, or a comedy, or something that feels less than 100% realistic. But to do something that really captures the reality of what it means to live there, I think it was really special.”
Bomback also said he was able to write a TV-version of Andy Barber specifically for Evans for nine out of 10 episodes, having gotten a commitment from the “Captain America” actor after writing only the pilot.
“He captured the archetype I was going for. I love the fact that he was from Boston, I loved his built-in persona,” Bomback said. “We’re trying to paint a picture of someone who’s worked really, really hard to create this life for himself.”
Bomback also remarked that Evans exudes an innate sense of trustworthiness that lends an interesting layer to his character, who enters morally ambiguous waters when he chooses to interfere with an ongoing murder case to protect his son.
“I think he just comes with a lot of credibility as a person,” he continued. “It’s hopefully very vertigo-inducing because you’re amazed that someone who on the surface seems so morally credible is potentially going to be behaving in a way that isn’t. I would envision Chris in certain moments of the story, and I knew it would play very powerfully, to see someone like him cross certain lines.”
The first three episodes of “Defending Jacob” are now streaming Apple TV+. New episodes are being added every Friday.