The new ABC drama series MISSING follows a mother who finds out her son has been kidnapped while studying abroad. Fortunately, for her son, Becca Winstone is ex-CIA and nothing is going to stop her from finding her son and making the people responsible for his abduction pay. With two episodes having aired so far and eight more to go, MISSING is building into a fascinating mystery story as there seems to be more going on than a simple kidnapping. Somehow Becca’s past with the agency may have provoked the events that are happening today. In a special exclusive interview, producer and writer Gregory Poirier shared a few key insights on what is upcoming on this intriguing series.
MISSING seems to be doing quite well right now, as the audience seems to be picking up on it for the 8 p.m. timeslot on Thursdays.
GREGORY: That’s amazing because it’s such a difficult time. Obviously, it is probably the toughest timeslot on television. But we’ve been very lucky that everyone found it.
It’s a story that resonates, particularly as parents are concerned about their children traveling abroad these days. So it is very timely. Could you share how you got involved with this project?
GREGORY: I was lucky. I was approached by my co-executive producers, Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo. Gina had this idea and she actually had thought it through quite a bit by the time she contacted me. She basically had the idea of this woman whose son disappears and she goes looking for him. She essentially had the entire first act of the pilot figured out by the time I came to meet her about it. That was great. As to what drew me to it? It really was the emotional story that’s being told. It was not so much the opportunity to blow things up and run around Europe — although that’s all great! But, for me, it was the family story, the emotional story that she had laid the groundwork for and that’s what sucked me in.
For you, what was the best part about working on this series for the first season?
GREGORY: That’s really hard to say. I mean, from a perspective of a writer, the greatest thing about it was the freedom. You have to spend more time with these characters. Because I’ve only done features in the past in which you have to take your characters throughout an entire arc or journey in an hour and a half, the idea of having all this extra time to deal with these characters was really appealing to me. It turned out to be one of the great joys from a writer’s perspective. As a producer, just being able to travel around Europe and going to all these beautiful places and working with all these great people. I mean, our cast is amazing. We got people you just don’t get for TV shows. So that was a real pleasure. There was no downside to this, I have to say. It was fun all the way through.
You did get a remarkable cast put together for this show. How did that happen? It was cool to see Ashley Judd’s name associated with it, but then as you start watching the series, you think, “oh my gosh, I recognize a lot of film actors.”
GREGORY: A lot of that is because of Ashley. Ashley was sort of the linchpin to this whole thing. She was honestly the piece we never thought we’d get. We always dreamed of getting Ashley for this. But she sort of has a reputation for turning everything down in television and we never really thought it would happen. Then when it did, it just opened up for the rest of it. Then you can talk to people like Sean Bean, Adriano Giannini, and Cliff Curtis and say, ” Ashley’s in it.” That sort of changes the landscape ’cause all of a sudden everyone wants to be in it. But even our guest stars — like Joaquim de Almeida in Episode 2 — and with all kinds of amazing guest stars like Keith Carradine. It just really worked out well.
Since you brought up Keith Carradine, I am dying to know: Is Keith going to have an expanded storyline? He’s had such minimal screentime so far. Is he going to play a larger part?
GREGORY: Yeah, it’s so funny because we have a couple of great actors in the pilot that are in it for about 3 seconds. I was joking with Keith and he said, “Oh my god, people are going to look at that and think ‘poor Keith Carradine, what’s happened to his career to take a walk on part?'” and I said, “No, no, no. We’re going tell people, ‘That’s all we can afford of Keith Carradine.'” The truth is we have a lot of Keith Carradine coming up. He just happened to just be layered in there in the pilot. He’s an integral part of the show.
Another thing I’m curious about is we’ve only seen 2 episodes, and the third episode might be change point for this, but there seems to be a lack of strategy and a lot of reactionary stance as far as the story. Is there going to be a strategy developed to derail or trap these kidnappers?
GREGORY: Yes. It actually becomes much more [strategized]. It’s reactionary all the way through in a sense that there’s a mystery that she’s trying to solve. It never becomes “Death Wish” where she’s going around trying to kill everybody that took her kid. It remains a mystery, but it becomes much more active in the sense of her sort of taking the reins. In fact at the end of Episode 3 Becca gets a piece of information that really leads her somewhere in the mystery and she becomes much more active in chasing down the kidnappers.
It seems like that would be something vital for her — to stop just chasing the kidnappers and find a way to trap them.
GREGORY: Exactly. But I think there’s an emotional shift she has to make. She has to sort of realize that. Giancarlo sort of said it to her in the second episode, “You have to stop thinking like a mom, and you have to start thinking like you’re looking for another missing asset. That’s the only way you’re going to find him.” I think it takes Becca awhile for her to really get to that point. But once she does, her search becomes more practical.
Is there something you can share about going to all these different European cities? Is it just a chase kind of thing, or is there actual meaning behind each city?
GREGORY: There is. Through the flashbacks you start to see that all these cities tie in with Becca’s past. There are things that might have happened with her that led to this kidnapping in the present. So the cities become a part of that. We tried to make it so that while we are going around to all these different places, it’s not just a travel log. We really wanted it to have a feel as to why we were in all these different places. That each stop we made had a story reason for being there as opposed to just being there.
Thus are the cities a clue in and of themselves?
GREGORY: Yeah, in some ways. Especially further down in the show. Obviously Becca went to Rome because that’s where her son was and the trail led to Paris. But as the show starts to go on, Becca has more concrete reasons for each place that she goes.
Will the 10-year gap be explained if all these are things that are arising out of her past?
GREGORY: Definitely. We’ll explain all that. I’d love to say. Obviously I can’t answer all these questions, but by the end of this season, all your questions will be answered. It’s not one of those shows where you’ll get to the end and go, “Oh god, I don’t know anymore now than I did before.”
That’s hopeful! Maybe you could tease a little bit about what’s coming up for the next couple of episodes, “Ice Queen” and “Tell Me No Lies.”
GREGORY: I can tell you that in “Ice Queen” — one of the cool things about “Ice Queen” is that it’s an episode where we start to follow Michael’s story, rather than just following Becca’s. So we actually find out in Episode 3 — well, we don’t know exactly where he is — but you see where he is, we see whose got him, and we see what he’s going through on a daily basis as he tries to figure out all this too. So that’s one of the coolest things about it. And I can tell you that in Episode 4 there is a major, major twist, which will sort of turning everything on its head that you think you might have figured out already.
We love those actually!
GREGORY: But I can’t tell you what that is. [Laughter]
So what would you say are like little clues or visual things that people should pay attention to as they watch these episodes?
GREGORY: I would say pay attention to everything. Because we hide things in there that you may not even realize until you see it the second time or after the fact and you’ll realize that’s why that was in there. But there’s little clues as to who has him and why in every single episode — and they’re not even always things that Becca sees until later. But they are always there. I think it’s one of those shows where you need to pay attention. I hate to say that about a TV show, but it’s true.
With the tantalizing prospect of finding out what is really going on and what big twist lies ahead, be sure to tune in for MISSING on Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.
Where to find this article: