'The Man In The High Castle' Cast Speaks To The Show's Relevant & Frightening Parallels To 2016
Watching an alternate reality of the WWII outcome in Amazon's The Man in the High Castle is chilling. Viewers revisiting the show when Season 2 premieres December 16th may experience it through an intensified lens, given some of the events that unfolded in 2016. Witnessing characters suit up in swastika-ridden uniform, hailing the Nazi flag is hard to watch at times. But as difficult as it is to fathom, it's just as important that it's explored. America is one of three countries to recently vote against an anti-Nazi UN movement. Needless to say, the show's second season premiere has spot-on timing. The Man in the High Castle's cast and producers speak to the show's obvious parallel to current threats to human rights and why they hope fans feel "comfort" from watching.
The cast makes it clear that the show, based on Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel, is in no way intentionally speaking to current society. Brennan Brown, who plays antique store owner Robert Childan, points out that the book was written in 1962. "[The author] was setting up an alternate reality, taking something that’s such a well-known fact of our lives and turning it on its head." Alexa Davalos, who stars as Juliana Craine, reflects on timing given the 2016 election and says exploring fascism has "always been a drumbeat throughout all of this."
"Man’s nature is to colonize, to subject," says DJ Qualls (Ed McCarthy). Luke Kleintank, who stars as conflicted SS agent Joe Blake, agrees. "It’s been a long time coming, this situation we’re living in…. We’ve been writing this history for a long time," he says. And it's frightening that humans allow the same pattern occur. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (who plays the Trade Minister of the Pacific States of America) says Dick's story is still relevant simply because people aren't correcting the course of history.
"There’s a simple solution: Tell the truth," says Tagawa. "German society today marks places where Jews were taken away. The whole exposure to things in a truth campaign — not to just put it away and call it Thanksgiving when in fact that isn’t what happened." The world has made strides with liberation, technology, and resistance since WWII, but that's not to say births of new fascism isn't impossible.
"I’m worried about the people," says Kleintank. "Letting fear overcome you as a society. If the people don’t unite and we start segregating ourselves consistently — race, religion — that’s the problem. That breeds hatred," the actor adds. Qualls applies this to the current American climate, saying, "This is not the first time we’ve had fear of human rights violations. The way fascism can continue to take hold is when people do nothing — out of fear or ignorance," he says.
But could something like Hitler's rule happen again in current times? "Without question," argues producer David W. Zucker. "Why was it so hard for this country to reconcile the slavery question?… We’re still fighting a lot of those some perceptions and battles," he says. Adding to Kleintank and Qualls's point, people succumb to rule and authority in unimaginable ways, regardless of time period. "Even back to the first season, certain characters putting on these Nazi suits and emblems and you acclimate to it," he explains. "There’s something extraordinarily unsettling about that."
Although MITHC doesn't speak to present day, actor Joel de la Fuente (Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido) sees that it could in the future. "To play devil’s advocate, if there were a season three, four, or five, beyond the book, we’re all being influenced by the world we live in today... Art does meet real life at some point," he says. Overall, there's no denying the show should spark serious thought and conversation about the current state of the world and moving forward. Brown reflects on the big picture and hopes the show gives fans a sense of hope. "We hope it’s a comfort to people in this really frightening and terrifying time," he explains. "It’s also about the strength of the human spirit — struggle and fight in trying times… to hold on to their humanity in a world that seems like it’s trying to take it away."
Looking through the fascinating prism of MITHC will hopefully make fans, specifically Americans, think about what's next. "We’re definitely on a track, we have no choice but to go for unity," says Tagawa. He calls the election a "wake-up-call," pointing out the similarity of a current, divided America to that in MITHC, ruled by the Nazi state and Japanese state. "The truth is there are two countries here. What are we gonna do about it?" the actor says. "That’s when Americans are good, when the going gets tough."
As scary as history's patterns may be, it's important to face them and fight to change them, as proven by The Man in the High Castle.
Images: Amazon (4)