If someone or something tampered with the world’s oil supply, the planet would go into disarray, resulting in chaos. This nightmare scenario plays out in Peacock’s new series, Last Light. Directed by Dennie Gordon, Matthew Fox stars as Andy Yeats, a petrochemist who uncovers a problem with the oil supply in the Middle East, bringing the world into darkness and setting off a series of catastrophic events. With Yeats in the Middle East accompanied by the mysterious Mika Bakhash (Amber Rose Revah), Yeats’ wife, Elena (Joanne Froggatt), and young son, Sam (Taylor Fay), are in Paris while his daughter, Laura (Alyth Ross), is in London. It’s a race to reunite as a family before the population collapses.
Based on Alex Scarrow’s 2009 novel of the same name, Last Light marks Fox’s return to television as the veteran actor’s last television role came on the critically-acclaimed Lost, which ended in 2010. In an interview with Digital Trends, the cast and director discuss Fox’s return to acting, the enormous scope of the series, and the underlying message behind Last Light.
Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: Matthew, this series marks your return to acting. Why return for Last Light?
Matthew Fox: I have no idea. [Jokes] Yeah, it just felt like I wanted to executive produce. That was something that I hadn’t done and when this project came along, I was attracted to the notion of doing that with my managerial company and my manager, Bill Choi. We got an opportunity to executive produce together.
It’s something that we talked about for a long time. He’s the only manager that I’ve ever worked with in the business. We wanted to have an experience where we were dealing with creative questions and kind of vibing in that part of storytelling, not just the more logistical business part of it. So that was something that was still on the list of things that I wanted to give a try.
Then, Last Light came along, and it was a really interesting story, I think very timely considering what we’re dealing with. I’m always attracted to stories where it’s about a family. I think the story ultimately is about a family that’s torn apart in this crisis, and them trying to come back together again so I was attracted to the root of the story as well.
Joanne, you’ve been in a few apocalyptic thrillers with underlying messages about the planet – The Commons and Last Light. Why do these messages in shows appeal to you as an actor?
Joanne Froggatt: Well, The Commons and Last Light are, first and foremost, great dramas and incredible stories and incredibly entertaining. But, they also highlight issues that we are facing as a world community. Both highlight climate change and in Last Light, it’s a world crisis, but it’s all based around climate change. Also, immigration and people fleeing for safety and looking for safe places to be. The refugee crisis will only get worse with different situations, not only because of situations like war but as we’re seeing at the moment, the climate situation. I’m very drawn to things that are rooted in truth.
Amber, what attracted you to the role of Mika?
Amber Rose Revah: I love playing characters where it’s a lot of fun in the stunt room. I learned different kinds of martial arts skills so that was quite fun. But she’s a really independent, interesting character. She kind of holds her own against Andy (Fox), and I love that. It’s such an interesting dynamic when you have that, and the fact that’s her journey through the show[I] was like, “Yes, this is what I want to do and play.” I hope we manage through the five episodes to get that, and it was great to be able to work it out with Matthew because he’s such a committed actor and obviously terrific at what he does. To be able to play against that was really fun.
Dennie, you have such great taste in terms of the projects you choose to direct. Waco, Jack Ryan, For All Mankind, etc. What is the secret to picking projects?
Dennie Gordon: Any director will tell you we are no good if we don’t connect from the heart and soul to the story and the message. It has to really hit us between the eyes for us to do our best work. This one really checked all the boxes for me, and really for the first time, so many boxes – an important environmental message and an important conversation for us to have about getting off our dependency on oil and finding renewable energy.
I love the characters. I love it all against the backdrop of the family. I love the idea of this young boy with this degenerative disease that for him, the lights are literally going out as the lights are going out all around the globe. There were just so many things that spoke to me as a filmmaker, too. The idea that light is fading, [and] the lights are going out. There were so many aspects to it that when MGM and Diego Piasek, my executive producer, first brought it to me, I just had to say yes right away. It was just such a compelling project.
Matthew, did seeing Dennie, someone who you’ve worked with before, attached to Last Light play a role in signing on?
Fox: Yeah. Big fan of Dennie Gordon, and we worked together so many years ago on Party of Five. Neither one of us can really remember that experience other than it was a good experience. I remember really loving Dennie so yes, that was absolutely a big part of it. As soon as I got on a Zoom call with her and reconnected and talked about the material, it was definitely a big part of the reason why I wanted to jump in.
Joanne, was the family aspect a driving force for taking on this project?
Froggatt: Yeah. To have all the ingredients of something that I think is going to be great to watch. As I said, it has to be entertaining to me. It has to have something meaningful about it, and the most meaningful thing is love, isn’t it? The love of the family. This family, in our story, is separated and fighting their way back to each other so there’s nothing more important than that. The stakes never get higher than that so that’s what gives any story its heart. Our family is definitely the heart of the story.
Dennie, aside from shooting in multiple locations, what was the biggest challenge of shooting a show with this huge scope?
Gordon: As always, time and money. I’m very comfortable working overseas and I was able to put together a tremendous international team. I was able to bring my DP from Jack Ryan, Patrick Murguia. Great, great people help me roll that boulder. The challenge was always we don’t have enough time and we don’t have enough money. Working in so many foreign cities, the UAE was tough because we had to go to the Middle East. It’s an oil story so we were in Abu Dhabi. We were on the outskirts of Dubai. We were deep in the desert.
Every day, there was some crazy thing. There was a Houthis attack in Abu Dhabi, and it was a drone attack so suddenly no drones could fly. Everything was grounded. I think anytime you shoot anything against the backdrop of COVID, that’s super challenging. We had challenges there but I tell you we all felt the importance of the message so much that nothing could stop us.
Amber, did you have a favorite location to film in particular?
Revah: Well, I love Prague and I filmed there before. The people in Prague are amazing. All our crew, oh my god, I love them. Abu Dhabi was quite an experience [Laughs], and I’ve worked in the desert before. I spent quite a while in the desert, but I must say this was a special time. I think when you’re walking through sand dunes and it’s Take 20 and the sand dunes are just going and going, you start to become a little bit loopy. So it was quite a special experience.
Dennie, what’s one thing about Matthew as an actor that stands out?
Gordon: Oh, God. There are so many things. First of all, he’s so incredibly smart, and he’s an avid reader. We always had so much to talk about that didn’t even relate to the project. He’s a brilliant actor. I mean that’s the thing that stands out. He’s a brilliant actor and he can convey turmoil and tension. This is a guy who’s just about ready to implode. He’s questioning everything about the choices he’s made in life. He has secrets, and he’s fighting for his family, and there’s so much going on with him. Matthew is the kind of actor who doesn’t need even dialogue to convey that. He’s such a brilliant actor.
It was funny. He hadn’t been on screen for quite some time, but I didn’t find him remotely rusty. He stepped onto the set, and the magic happened. When you work with an actor of that caliber, and I’ve worked with some wonderful actors, as a director, you just thank God every day. It’s like, “Thank God I got this guy. Thank God this guy said yes.” He’s so perfect for the role. He’s such a gentleman and such an incredible presence on set that he’s drawn everybody together. It was quite joyous for us to be reunited that way.
Last Light premieres Thursday, September 8, 2022, on Peacock with all five episodes dropping at once.