Interview: Ransom’s Nazneen Contractor
“The show has definitely helped me to better understand other people and to form some kind of agreement with them. And when I’m on the show I try not to negotiate with the people around me, but it has definitely helped me to become a better communicator.” Continue reading.
When we last left the Ransom team, Eric Beaumont’s (Luke Roberts) life was in shambles. His arch nemesis, Damien Delaine (Carlo Rota) had taken his daughter Evie (Jenessa Grant) hostage, leaving Eric unsure of what to do next.
Season 2 of Ransom, returning Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global, picks up with 13 new episodes right after that stunning cliffhanger, with Oliver (Brandon Jay McLaren), Maxine (Sarah Greene) and Zara (Nazneen Contractor) scrambling to help Eric out. Inspired by the professional experiences of real-life crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert and his partner, Marwan Mery, Ransom‘s storylines travel the globe as the squad helps multinational corporations and governmental agencies with complex negotiations and conflict resolution.
Created by David Vainola and Frank Spotnitz, the Canadian-Hungarian co-production staffs homegrown writers in Alison Lea Bingeman, Sandra Chwialkowska, Lynne Kamm, Steve Cochrane, Kyle Hart, Avrum Jacobson, Tamara Moulin and Vince Shiao.
Here’s what we can tell you about Saturday’s return, “Three Wishes,” written by Frank Spotnitz and directed by James Genn.
“Three Wishes” begins by going back almost two decades to show Eric’s origin story and introduce a key character in his life. It’s nice to see Eric at an earlier time and the charm that will make him so successful.
A trio of tasks
As hinted at in the episode title, Delaine forces Eric to complete three challenges in order to win Evie back. Each task forces Eric to make tough choices and make ethically questionable decisions. After seeing Eric in control of situations most of the time, it is interesting to see him in distress and, sometimes, freaking the heck out. A kidnapped daughter will do that to a man. There are a few clunky moments of dialogue to establish the parameters for the main storyline so viewers get just how dire the situation is (no cops, Delaine is dangerous, everyone is scared, keeping to protocol), and I’m not sure they’re necessary. Still, it’s a minor quibble for a genre that does over-explanation all the time.
Carlo Rota is the king
I’ve been a fan of Carlo Rota way back when he hosted The Great Canadian Food Show, through Traders, Queer as Folk and Little Mosque on the Prairie. He’s pitch perfect as Delaine, a man on a mission of revenge and swaggering around telling Eric what to do. You want to punch him in the face but you also understand why he’s going what he is. That’s the mark of great acting. Also, a nod to James Genn who does a bang-up job directing some key scenes between Eric and Delaine.
Global raises the stakes this spring as Season 2 of original suspense drama Ransom returns Saturday, April 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT in simulcast with CBS. From Entertainment One (eOne), Korda Studios, Big Light Productions and producers Sienna Films, the 13-episode series returns to the life-and-death world of crisis and hostage negotiator Eric Beaumont (Luke Roberts, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and his elite team of experts. This season, as they negotiate with top-ranking criminals and delve deep into the world of high-stakes hostage situations, the team members struggle to balance their personal lives in a criminal world that knows no boundaries.
New this season, Karen LeBlanc (Mary Kills People), joins the series as new team member Cynthia Walker, a confident, charming, and clever, corporate lawyer in whom Eric (Roberts) quickly meets his match.
Along with Luke Roberts as hostage negotiator Eric Beaumont, Season 2 also welcomes back Tony Award nominated Sarah Greene (Penny Dreadful), as Maxine Carlson, the young newcomer eager to prove herself; Canadian Brandon Jay McLaren (Graceland), as Oliver Yates, the psychological profiler on the team; Canadian Nazneen Contractor, (Heroes Reborn) as ex-cop Zara Hallam; Emma de Caunes (Mr. Bean’s Holiday) as Nathalie Denard, a sometime client of Crisis Resolution; and Canadian Morgan Kohan (Star Trek: Discovery) joins the cast as Evie Beaumont, Eric’s 15-year-old daughter.
The Season 2 premiere entitled “Three Wishes,” picks up moments after Season 1’s cliffhanger, where Eric’s longtime adversary, Damien Delaine (guest star Carlo Rota, Jane the Virgin), has taken Eric and Nathalie’s (de Caunes) daughter, Evie (Kohan), hostage. Delaine appears at Crisis Resolution and demands that Eric fulfill his ‘3 wishes’ in order to release Evie, threatening to kill her within hours if he doesn’t comply. In a race against time, the team works to fulfill Delaine’s strange demands which include Eric answering a series of emotionally compromising questions and performing ethically questionable tasks. Tensions rise when Damien challenges Eric with a final wish that will force him into making an impossible decision.
Ransom is inspired by the professional experiences of distinguished crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert, who along with partner, Marwan Mery, are considered to be among the top negotiators in the world. Today, they travel around the globe to help multinational corporations and governmental agencies with complex negotiations and conflict resolution.
Ransom was created by David Vainola (Diamonds, Combat Hospital) and Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man in the High Castle). Ransom is a Canada-Hungary treaty co-production and is produced by eOne with executive producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny via their Sienna Films banner and Spotnitz, via his Big Light Productions banner. Wildcats Productions’ Valérie Pechels and Odile McDonald will executive produce with Daniel Kresmery and György Rajnai of Korda Studios co-producing. Ransom is developed in association with Corus Entertainment Inc., with the participation from the Canada Media Fund, and is produced with the financial assistance of the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. eOne controls worldwide rights to the series.
Global announced today that original suspense drama Ransom has been green lit for Season 2. From global studio Entertainment One (eOne), Korda Studios, Big Light Productions and producers Sienna Films, Ransom will shoot in Hungary in the coming months and premiere next year on Global in Canada and CBS in the U.S. Additional details to be revealed at a later date.
With a 13-episode order, Season 2 welcomes back Luke Roberts (Black Sails, Wolf Hall, Game of Thrones) as expert hostage negotiator Eric Beaumont in the new season. Beaumont’s team includes Maxine Carlson (Tony Award-nominated Sarah Greene, Penny Dreadful, Burnt) a young newcomer eager to prove herself; Oliver Yates (Brandon Jay McLaren, Graceland, The Killing), a psychological profiler; and ex-cop Zara Hallam (Nazneen Contractor, Heroes Reborn, Covert Affairs).
Season 2 of the series continues to follow crisis and hostage negotiator Eric Beaumont and his team as they save lives when no one else can. Eric understands criminals better than they do, and uses his insight into human behaviour to resolve the most difficult kidnap and ransom cases. Despite the stakes, Eric refuses to resort to violence, even when confronted by some of the most dangerous criminals in the world.
Ransom is inspired by the professional experiences of distinguished crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert, who, along with his partner, Marwan Mery, are among the top negotiators in the world. They travel the globe to help multinational corporations and governmental agencies with complex negotiations and conflict resolution.
Ransom was created by David Vainola (Diamonds, Combat Hospital) and Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man in the High Castle). Ransom is a Canada-Hungary treaty co-production and will be produced by eOne with executive producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny via their Sienna Films banner and Spotnitz, via his Big Light Productions banner. Wildcats Productions’ Valerie Pechels and Odile McDonald will executive produce with Daniel Kresmery and György Rajnai of Korda Studios will co-producing. Ransom is developed in association with Corus Entertainment Inc., with the participation from the Canada Media Fund, and will be produced with the financial assistance of the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.
Global’s Ransom—debuting Sunday, Jan. 1, on the network before moving to Saturdays on Jan. 8—is a fast-paced emotional roller coaster about a crisis negotiation team dropped into potentially deadly situations at a moment’s notice. For Canadian actor Brandon Jay McLaren (Slasher) and Ireland’s Sarah Greene (Vikings), joining the series was just as quick and last-minute: they were cast just days before production on Season 1 began.
“I found out, like, four days before we started shooting that I had gotten the part,” McLaren says with a laugh. “I had to get on a plane in Los Angeles in a day. There was not a lot of prep [for the role].” The same was true for Greene, who found out she’d scored her gig on a Wednesday and needed to be in Toronto for the following Sunday. But while neither had time to prepare for their roles in advance, they’ve gotten a crash course since filming began. McLaren portrays Oliver Yates, a psychologist and profiler who sizes up people and situations in an instant, a key member of Eric Beaumont’s (Luke Roberts, Wolf Hall) crisis negotiation team. Greene’s Maxine Carlson, meanwhile, is the newbie on the squad, introduced in the first moments of Episode 1 and able to quickly prove she’s valuable to have around … despite Oliver’s misgivings.
“Eric and I met years ago, during another hostage taking, and I am very protective of Eric because I know something about his past,” McLaren explains. “When Maxine shows up, I am not happy she’s involving herself with our program because she brings a lot of emotion and instability to Eric and we can’t afford that. I’m very standoffish with her in the beginning, only because I was to protect what we’ve got going.” What Oliver and Eric have got going is something rare within the crisis industry. Inspired by the real-life experiences of hostage negotiator Laurent Combalbert, Eric refuses to carry a gun, preferring to use words and turn of phrase to diffuse deadly scenarios.
“I was told about Laurent about two and a half years ago,” Ransom‘s executive producer Frank Spotnitz says. “It already makes a great TV show, because, in the case of Laurent, every case is 24 to 48 hours. They are naturally adrenaline and suspense-filled. And he doesn’t carry a gun. That’s crazy. I’ve done lots of shows, including The X-Files, where people solved their problems with guns. To have a guy who says, ‘No guns. I’ll solve this with my mind,’ is a challenge but I wanted to do a show like that.” Eric’s skills are shown moments into Sunday’s debut when he confronts a gun-wielding man holding parishioners hostage inside of a church. Everyone gets out safely, but things are dodgy there for a few seconds and even Eric’s longtime team member, and former cop, Zara Hallam (Nazneen Contractor, Covert Affairs) had doubts.
“I exposed an internal crime ring at the NYPD,” Contractor says of her character during a break in shooting in downtown Toronto. “I was fired and shortly thereafter Eric approached me to join his company. She’s a misfit with a very strong sense of honour and moral compass. Zara is the expert who knows every building entrance and exit, who is armed and not armed. I’m his eyes.” She also trusts Eric; like him (and the rest of the team), she no longers uses bullets to solve problems.
Ransom, a co-production between Global, CBS in the U.S. and TF1 in France (Toronto’s Sienna Films and eOne are among the production partners) truly is an international affair both in front of and behind the camera. Spotnitz’s Season 1 writing room consists of Canadians Sara Dodd, Annmarie Morais and David Vainola and homegrown directors Érik Canuel, James Genn and Eleanore Lindo. After filming in Toronto for several months—the city stood in for North American locations—the series decamped for the south of France, with the area representing European spots.
“It sucks,” Contractor teases. “We have to stay in the south of France for three months, live in Nice, shoot five episodes, live on the Riviera … it’s a really hard job and not for the faint of heart.”
Ransom debuts Sunday, Jan. 1, at 8:30 p.m ET on Global before moving to Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT beginning on Jan. 7.