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‘Utopia': Rainn Wilson, John Cusack on Stearns and Christie’s Plans for This Crowded World

”How much evil do you have to do to do good?“

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of “Utopia.”)

Gillian Flynn’s “Utopia” launched Friday, introducing us to Dr. Michael Stearns (Rainn Wilson) and Dr. Kevin Christie (John Cusack), two men who could not have more different approaches to living their lives in this crowded world, as Christie believes “how much evil do you have to do to do good?” is a valid question to ask and Stearns’ answer is a hard “none evil.”

By the end of the first season of the Amazon Prime Video thriller series, we learn that Christie, a.k.a. Mr. Rabbit, has been pulling the strings of Stearns’ life for years, using him and the flu he discovered (the Stearns Flu) as an excuse to create a “vaccine” that is embedded with a “world-changing” omnivirus that will sterilize all of the humans who are given it. This is Christie’s “cure” for overpopulation.

“He’s a character that will do almost anything in the service of trying to do good, in his view,” Cusack told TheWrap. “And he will make all the toughest choices he has to make and do literally whatever it takes, because in his view, he thinks that with the dystopian realities of modernity that we have to change the way we’re behaving and living or will face even more calamity. There’s something frightening and messianic about the people that feel that way, but in some ways he’s looking reality straight in the face.”

Meanwhile, Stearns is a man willing to whatever it takes to stop this plan of Christie’s, going with Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop), Ian (Dan Byrd), Grant (Javon Walton) and Alice (Farrah Mackenzie) to destroy all of the vials of the Stearns Flu vaccine that Christie has in his lap. The team is successful, but Michael gets separated from the others after going to blow up the “mother egg” containing the sterilization virus that was put in the vaccine, and rides off with it rather than destroy it.

“The trajectory of Michael is pretty spectacular,” Stearns says. “He starts as this basement-dwelling, un-respected, under-appreciated scientist, nobody and he’s thrust into the world stage. And then like, incredibly, his solace, his anchor, his inspiration, the one thing he has going for him is a terrific marriage with a lovely woman and then all of a sudden, the whole thing was a lie.”

“She was a lie, the marriage was a lie, the mental hospital was a lie,” “The Office” alum said, counting the ways that Christie controlled Stearns’ life. “So everything emotionally is completely upended… All of a sudden you find Michael being part of the team, and that’s also really interesting. Michael is there with the comic-book nerds, all together, on a mission. They’re all working together and I think it’s really satisfying for him to not kind of be on his own. He’s found people that are on the same page as him and they’re on the same journey, and I think that’s really gratifying for him.”

Wilson says “the fun, juicy thing about Michael Stearns is that people always underestimate him. And they always underestimate his integrity and his fortitude.”

“Time and time again, he breaks the boundaries and the limitations that have been put on him and stands up for himself and surprises people. And it’s really fun, because I think everyone can relate to that. Everyone wants to be a hero in some way and everyone has limitations and is like, ‘Oh, I can’t be the hero.’ So when you see someone make choice after choice based on integrity and they become an unlikely hero, that’s relatable. There’s something really exciting about watching that.”

“Utopia” has yet to be renewed for Season 2, but both Cusack and Wilson say they are “excited” for an additional episode order.

“Everything you thought you knew for the first seven episodes gets put into a blender and you get put down another rabbit hole and then you meet another Cheshire cat and it’s almost like the entire thing was prologue… There are definitely more questions,” Cusack says.

“Utopia” is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.