In 1962, Philip K. Dick released The Man in the High Castle, a novel that imagined an alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II. It went on to win the Hugo Award, and now, more than 50 years later, has been adapted for a Amazon television drama with the help of Dick’s daughter, executive producer Isa Dick Hackett.
“It’s such an emotional thing for me, because I’ve grown up with this book,” Hackett tells EW of working on the series, which is also executive produced by Ridley Scott. “This is my dad’s crown jewel.”
This isn’t the first time Hackett has seen her dad’s work adapted for the screen; his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? became 1982’s Blade Runner. And Minority Report — a short story published in 1956 — was adapted for a 2002 film of the same name starring Tom Cruise. Unfortunately, Dick died in 1982 before getting to see any of the finished adaptations.
“He yearned for that mainstream attention and acceptance,” Hackett says. “And in some way, I feel like this show is that. It will reach an audience beyond hardcore sci-fi fans — and nothing wrong with hardcore sci-fi fans, but I just think it will touch a lot of people in different ways for different reasons.”
Although those hardcore sci-fi fans will likely appreciate the characters and dialogue taken straight from Dick’s novel, not everything is from the original text. Showrunner Frank Spotnitz says he tried to be “true to what the book is ultimately about” while also expanding the universe to include characters like Nazi John Smith (Rufus Sewell) and San Francisco-set antagonist Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente). “Frank has been really serious about wanting to honor the spirit of the novel,” Hackett says. “He’s never going to do anything that will betray [it].”
If anything, Hackett thinks this series will help point viewers back to her dad’s work. “My true hope, and I know this is a tall order, but my hope is that this show will be in television as Blade Runner was in film,” Hackett says. “And I mean that not only because of the quality — Blade Runner was groundbreaking, there wasn’t anything like it before, it was totally different, and I think in a lot of ways, this show is too. But in terms of what it did for my dad’s literary legacy and the way that it enhanced it.”
See a clip of the Man in the High Castle crew talking about the show with EW at New York Comic Con below, and watch the alt-history thriller’s first season when it begins streaming on Amazon Friday.