At one end of her career, Gale Anne Hurd was making now-classic movies, led by "Terminator" and "Aliens." At the other, she's fuelling cable with "Walking Dead" and now "Hunters," which debuts on Monday, April 11, and reruns daily. She's a sci-fi master ... erasing all those early doubts. Here's the story I sent to papers:
(Very interesting TV
story on Gale Anne Hurd and her new “Hunters” series. The show
debuts tonight, but reruns every day this week, with new episodes on
Mondays; story works any time, print or Web.)
By Mike Hughes
For decades, Gale
Anne Hurd has filled our screens and minds with everything form
aliens to zombies.
“She's a legend in
the business,” said Julian McMahon, a villain in her new “Hunters”
That status didn't
come easily. When did Hurd first realize she had made it in
“I think it was
when I did the production deal with Fox,” she said. That was the
studio, she said, where executives had once asked: “How can a
little girl like you do a big movie like this?”
Those doubts came
three decades ago, when sci-fi seemed like a male toyland. Now Hurd
has mastered it with “Terminator,” “Aliens,” “Tremors,”
“Alien Nation” and more.“She is someone who is responsible for
my favorite films of all time,” Natalie Chaidez said.
Chaidez (the “Twelve
Monkeys” producer) had been contacted by Hurd to adapt “Alien
Hunter,” a Whitley Strieber novel in which the aliens hide inside
“It's a conspiracy
that's just around the corner,” Chaidez said. “It's a conspiracy
that touches you physically, and I think that's something that's very
much in our culture right now.”
Sci-fi is good at
that, Hurd said. “It examines an issue that is very prevalent, but
does it through aliens.”
Perplexed by this is
Flynn, an FBI agent who is moved to the Exo Terrorism Unit after his
wife is kidnapped. Until then, he didn't know there was an ETU ... or
that there were all-powerful aliens; he also didn't know that his ETU
colleague Regan is actually an alien, working to stop her fellow
Regan doesn't fit
into either side, something actress Britne Oldford understands. “It's
about being different,” she said. “As a mixed woman in the
entertainment business,” she knows the feeling.
Being mixed-race was
just part of it when Oldford was growing up. “I was definitely a
big, old nerd,” she said. “I'm kind of an outsider and I observe
She grew up in
Toronto, studied dance and theater, then had regular roles in four
cable series – comedy (“Skins”), drama (“The Divide”) and
scares (“American Horror Story” and “Ravenswood”).
And if you still
haven't heard of her, that's OK. Hurd cast “Walking Dead” without
familiar stars and saw it zoom to the top of the ratings; she's
pretty much done “Hunters” the same way.
“We like to cast
on the basis of auditions,” she said. “A lot of name people don't
like to audition.”
So she chose Nathan
Phillips as Flynn and Oldford as Regan. “She's very tall and
elegant,” Hurd said. Also, “her dance background helps a lot”
with a character who has cheetah-like quickness.
The exception to the
no-name trend is McMahon, already a star from the “Charmed” and
“Nip/Tuck” series. “It's amazing, his commitment and
dedication” to the fierce role, Hurd said.
Chaidez points to
the wild changes in McMahon's hair (“the subject of great
controversy during the shoot”) and to his nearly nude scene. “When
he took off his shirt, the cast swooned.”
For Phillips and
McMahon, this is a return to their homeland. Both grew up in
Australia – where McMahon's father William was prime minister in
1971-2; both have lived in the U.S. for years.
And for Hurd? “It's
a lot of frequent-flyer miles,” she said.
She prefers to be on
the set, which isn't easy with four series -- “Evil Dead,” its
prequel, “Hunters” and the upcoming “Falling Waters” -- being
filmed this year. Then again,she's seen tougher situations.
Hurd had grown up in
Palm Springs prosperity, daughter of an investor. She didn't learn
about Stanford's film program until her junior year, but took some of
the classses while getting a degree in economics and communication.
A former faculty member asked her to work for Roger Corman's
low-budget film studio. “I thought I would be a secretary or an
Soon, she was also
the marketing director and a production manager and more –
sometimes working 20-hour days, she said, for $180 a week. Corman
“believed in equal opportunity,” she said, with bright women and
men getting big responsibility and little money.
One of those was
James Cameron. Their relationship may have crept into his scripts for
“Titanic” (rich woman, penniless guy) and “The Abyss” (couple
working toghether after their marriage crumbles).
She became a
co-writer on his “Terminator” script, a producer on his “Aliens”
and, soon, a producer on her own, now filling our heads with zombies,
aliens and humans in crisis.
-- “Hunters,” 10
p.m. Mondays, Syfy, rerunning at 1 a.m.
-- The opener (10:06
p.m. April 11, rerunning at 1:13 a.m.), airs often. That includes 11
p.m. on Wednesday and Friday (April 13 and 15) and 11:30 p.m. Sunday
(April 17). Also, 6 a.m. Thursday and Monday (April 14 and 18), 8
a.m. Saturday (April 16).