After a few years in development limbo, Cinemax will finally premiere the gritty, 70’s era drama, Quarry, tonight. The show tells the story of a Marine home from the Vietnam War who, upon finding an ungrateful public and few employment opportunities, is recruited against his will into a criminal organization operating along the Mississippi. The show features the talents of the Rectify writing team of Michael D. Fuller and Graham Gordy, who recently spoke about how the series developed and what viewers can expect.
Quarry is adapted from the series of hard-boiled novels by Max Allan Collins, who also penned one of the episodes, and with the books having been written in the 1970s, Fuller and Gordy decided to keep the show in that era.“If you modernize the story,” explains Fuller, “then trying to speak to the things that are going on now… you’re hanging a lantern on it too much, and you don’t want that immediate commentary.”
But the story does have certain elements in common with today’s post-war, recession mentalities. “The first thing we talked about was, ‘Do we need to update this? Do we need to bring this into 2016? Does this guy need to be returning from Afghanistan or Iraq?’” Gordy admits, “but when we started doing the research about the era, we realized that the parallels between that time and the time we’re living in… would probably resonate all the more.”
Quarry stars Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) as Mac, the reluctant assassin dubbed “Quarry” by his employers. The reason for his nickname ultimately becomes clear in the premiere, but with only 8 episodes in its premiere season, the show wastes no time bringing Mac from disillusioned vet to demoralized killer.
“The thing that Logan brings is just he’s phenomenally gifted,” Fuller says. “He’s a really intelligent actor who really tries to dig in and not just understand his character but the story as a whole, and he brings an intensity that you need for someone who’s been through what he’s been through.”
The criminal element is not without its appeal, however, and like Breaking Bad and Fargo before it, Quarry introduces some quirky personalities under the leadership of a man simply referred to as The Broker, played by Peter Mullan (Trainspotting), who’s a bit like Gus of Los Pollos Hermanos. “The Broker is someone who we’ve always talked about is kind of bringing a big box sensibility of criminality to a small-time endeavor,” Fuller elaborates.
“Because we’re dealing with such dark subject matter,” explains Gordy, “we were trying to make a lot of these supporting characters — and hopefully, gradually Mac more and more — show their light side as well as their dark.” That’s apparently how you get characters like a dealer distributing heroin from a Fun Park and other colorful Dixie Mafia and Memphis soul characters.
Damon Herriman (Justified) plays another such character named Buddy, who is part of The Broker’s network but who seems fairly comfortable in his violent role. “He thinks he has a grasp on what it is he does and who he is,” says Fuller, “and I think that really gives him an endearing quality. So if you see him doing terrible things or talking about people in such a way, you’re still engaged with him, which I think is crucial.”
“We may find somebody offensive or we may find them annoying, and then we hear their personal story, and all of a sudden — we may not love them, but we get them,” Gordy agrees. “That’s what were trying to do as much as possible with this group of misfit toys that are part of The Broker’s team.”
Quarry premieres on Cinemax on September 9 at 10pm with an hour-plus opener followed by seven more one-hour installments. The series takes place in Memphis and was filmed on location both in Tennessee and in New Orleans.