Some of the main characters in the The Terror (from left to right): Jarred Harris as Captain Francis Crozier, Ciarán Hinds as Sir John Franklin and Tobias Menzies as Captain James Fitzjames. (Photo: AMC)
On fairly portraying Sir John Franklin and other figures in the series
As we spent weeks adapting this story, the thing that was most important to us was that it be character driven. Franklin (played by Ciarán Hinds) is a controversial figure in particular. How much responsibility for what happened do you lay at his feet? We tried to make sure that when we made inferences between historical facts about these characters, they were always in service to a kind of larger allegory we felt we were telling about the period. It’s fascinating work, and it’s work that has quite a lot of responsibility, because these people were alive. They have relatives still alive, they have people invested in making sure that their hard work and sacrifices are remembered. Our goal as writers and filmmakers was to make sure that even if you don’t agree with the decisions that were made, you understand that they weren’t made carelessly.
On the horror elements of the series
In the same way that everyone has a different sense of humour, I think people have different senses of horror too. We wanted to make sure that the show employed a lot of different kinds of horror, but one rule we had from the outset is that we didn’t want to have any jump scares in the show. Some people love it; I don’t happen to. We wanted the tension in the show to come from the audience getting to know these characters better every episode and having to be with them when they start to make increasingly upsetting decisions in order to survive. And when the characters make noble or moral choices, we wanted those to feel like victories in this context.
On the portrayal of Inuit in the series and their input into the production
The Terror is a story about a British Royal Naval expedition traveling through the high Arctic, which brings them into direct contact with Inuit characters who emerge from the landscape not as passive or ornamental features of it, but as representatives of an equally complex and relevant culture. We put enormous care into trying to be as authentic to the Netsilik culture we are portraying as possible. We kept a constant dialogue open with our Inuit collaborators and advisors to help us hone and revise anything in the show that needed attention, and our four lead Inuit roles are played by Inuit actors — three of them from Nunavut, where the show is set.