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Jordan Peele on Why 2019 Is the Perfect Time for a Twilight Zone Reboot

Plus new trailers for the CBS All Access series.


The cast and creators of The Twilight Zone reboot took the stage on at PaleyFest on Sunday to talk about the highly anticipated new series. On the panel were creators/writers/producers Jordan Peele (who had a spectacular weekend at the box office, with Us opening to $70 million), Simon Kinberg (Dark Phoenix), and producers Win Rosenfeld, Audrey Chon, and Glen Morgan.

The panel also included the diverse range of talented cast members of the anthology series, Steven Yeun, Sanaa Lathan, Taissa Farmiga, Ike Barinholtz, Adam Scott, Rhea Seehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin, and DeWanda Wise. And while most details of the series were kept under wraps, we did find out some of the motivations and inspirations behind the return of the iconic sci-fi/fantasy series.

Peele was initially reluctant to take on the legendary series, saying, “At first it wasn’t that appealing. Why would we do that to ourselves? This is not a show that you can reboot and take it lightly. For us, the producers and many of the actors and the crew, it’s the greatest show of all time … I sat down with Simon [Kinberg] a couple of years ago and did the whole ‘OK, this is too big a show to reboot, but if we were going to do it, how would we do it and why?'”

But a lot changes in a couple of years, namely the state of American politics and the unlikely election of Donald Trump. Peele said, “One of the things we kept coming back to was the timing felt right because one of the sentences you hear often for the past couple of years is, ‘It feels like we’re living in the f—ing Twilight Zone.‘”

Peele and Kinberg discussed not wanting to do what they called “the karaoke version” of a reboot. They wanted to make the series fresh and relevant, and be able to touch on allegories, issues and characters that simply weren’t possible 50 years ago. This means a more diverse cast, more relevant issues, and the ability to touch on themes like race, sexuality, and gender that Serling’s era couldn’t explore.

The creators said that the first season was split between original stories and homages to iconic episodes. One of the homages stars Adam Scott in a reimagining of the iconic William Shatner episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” As you can see in the new trailer above, the elements of flight and paranoia are still there, but with modern additions like the stress of security screenings, the specter of terrorism, and Islamaphobia.

And that’s not the only spiritual successor in the season. Ike Barinholtz described his episode, which stars Rhea Seehorn and Taissa Farmiga, as an indictment of “toxic masculinity” with allusions to “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”

Another trailer stars Kumail Nanjiani as a struggling comedian, who suddenly becomes successful after a chance encounter with a mysterious man played by Tracy Morgan. But in true Twilight Zone fashion, the success comes with a deadly price. Both trailers come with the spine-tingling spookiness of the original series, and we’re excited to see what Peel and company have in store for us.

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1st on CBS All Access.

(via CBR, image: Michael Bulbenko/The Paley Center for Media)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.