The four-part series “All the Light We Cannot See”, based on the novel of the same name by author Anthony Doerr, starts on Netflix on November 2nd. The series was created and written by Steven Knight (“Spencer”) and directed by Shawn Levy (“Free Guy,” “Deadpool 3”).
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Shawn Levy and writer Steven Knight about their work on All the Light We Cannot See, the visual adaptation of the source material, the themes they wanted to explore, the show’s unusual structure, and the Cast of actress Arie Mia Loberti.
Moviefone: First of all, Shawn, can you talk about the challenges of visually adapting this source material to the screen, as well as the themes you were keen to explore with the series?
Shawn Levy: Well, the good news is that the hardest part of the adaptation was Steven’s job, so I was spared that. I’m trying to listen to what the script is telling me what it’s supposed to be, why “Free Guy” looks different than “Stranger Things” and “The Adam Project” and in this case the source material, both the book and Steven’s adaptation, was a combination of historical, epic images, but with an almost lyrical intimacy. I saw an opportunity to make something that looked different than anything I’d done before, but that also thematically said something I believe in, especially despite the many ways the world can break our hearts in times of war and the cruelty that people can do, that it is crucial to believe in the light that we cannot see at any given moment. History teaches us this again and again, and times are dark once again, and it is so hard, but also so important, to hold on to your humanity, your empathy, and your ability to connect with someone else, regardless of who they are Uniform they wear or the side of the world or conflict they are on.
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MF: The series follows two different stories and contains many flashbacks. Steven, can you talk about the structure of the series and the challenges of adapting the source material?
Steven Knight: The biggest challenge in adapting the novel is the time shifts, which are much easier to do on the page than on the screen. It required a certain level of ingenuity to ensure that the audience didn’t get lost in time and caught between the cracks. I mean, that’s a technical challenge, but I think the real challenge in adapting something so good and so brilliant is being able to say with certainty that you know the characters well enough to make them do things to do that they don’t do in the movie book. The release of the characters can only occur if you are sure that you know who they are and what they would do under the circumstances. For me, that was the biggest challenge and courage to adapt something so beloved and celebrated. But I think in the end you have to do this; otherwise only mediocre novels would ever be adapted.
MF: Finally, Shawn, can you talk about how you discovered actress Aria Mia Loberti and why she was perfect for the lead role of Marie-Laure LeBlanc?
SL: I felt that if I could find someone to play Marie who was visually impaired or blind, that would not only be the right approach, but the better approach, because that would be the authentic way to tell this story. So we launched an open casting call and received well over a thousand auditions. One of them was from this young woman, a graduate student, Fulbright Scholar, who had never acted or even auditioned before, but had a strong presence on screen. She had an intelligence and a fire within her that felt like a hero and felt like she could bring that hero to life.
What is the plot of “All the Light We Cannot See”?
“All the Light We Cannot See” follows the lives of two teenagers at the height of World War II: Marie-Laure (Aria Mia Loberti), a blind French girl, and Werner Pfennig (Louis Hofmann), a German boy forced into military service became a fight for the Nazi regime.