Exclusive first look at Netflix's mysterious cyberpunk thriller starring Joel Kinnaman shot by an acclaimed 'Game of Thrones' director

It’s the biggest, most lavish-looking Netflix series ever, one based on an acclaimed sci-fi novel, and yet chances are you’ve never heard of Altered Carbon.

So allow us to make introductions as we roll out nine exclusive first-look images — and the NSFW teaser trailer above — of the upcoming drama series from writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis (Alita: Battle Angel, Shutter Island) with a pilot shot by Emmy-winning director Miguel Sapochnik (who helmed the “Battle of the Bastards” episode of Game of Thrones).

Based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 cyberpunk novel, Carbon is set 300 years in the future…

Credit: Netflix

… When human consciousness can be stored on digital implants (called “stacks”) which allow the mega-rich to continually upgrade their bodies (dubbed “sleeves”) and essentially live forever. The story follows an elite soldier named Takeshi Kovacs. This is him below during a flashback scene (where he’s initially played by Will Yun Lee) along with his sister Reileen Kawahara (Dichen Lachman). They were killers for hire who became revolutionaries…

Credit: Netflix

Kovacs is imprisoned, his conscious stored away, and then awoken centuries later in a different body. He’s now played by Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) …

Credit: Katie Yu

Kovacs’ freedom was arranged by a wealthy mogul, Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), who offers Kovacs a pardon for his crimes if he can solve a “murder” — Bancroft’s own, as somebody killed his previous sleeve…

Credit: Netflix

Kovacs was trained by Quell (Hamilton star Renee Elise Goldsberry), the leader of the Envoys — elite interstellar warriors, trained in the ways of intuition, combat, and survival…

Credit: Netflix

The release of Kovacs catches the interest of Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda), a detective with a complicated past …

Credit: Netflix

Here’s shot of Kovacs and Ortega together. The protesters are members of a religious group against people using sleeves to cheat death and achieve immortality …

Credit: Katie Yu

Here’s Kovacs in a zero-gravity fight scene …

Credit: Netflix

There’s also a veteran (Ato Essandoh) trying to free his imprisoned wife and a shady AI hotel owner who models himself after Edgar Allen Poe (Chris Conner)…

Credit: Katie Yu

Altered Carbon, produced by Skydance Television, is a longtime passion project for Kalogridis, who first optioned the rights to the novel about 15 years ago and long sought to get the title made as a feature film. The title was a tough sell to movie studios as the material wasn’t tied to some well-known franchise, told a highly complex story, required building an entirely new futuristic world, and contains some adult material. “The complexity of the story requires — as noir often does — to make something that’s an extremely twisty murder mystery, but it also had to be hard-R tonally,” she says. “And a hard-R sci-fi movie usually is something like Logan, for example, where you’re building out a piece of a franchise.”

Then Netflix stepped up. Kalogridis praises the company for both taking a chance on her vision and for really understanding the material (she noted the network’s entire development team went out and read the Morgan’s novel). The result looks a bit like a mashup of Blade Runner, Black Mirror, The Matrix and other titles, yet also feels like its own universe.

“It’s very different than what else is out in this space,” Kalogridis says. “There’s some Philip K. Dick in there, William Gibson, obviously Ridley Scott, and actually some Orson Welles and John Huston. We tried to imagine what a potential globalized future on Earth would look like, with a certain amount of technological change, a certain amount of technological familiarity and a very large degree of human familiarity.”

Altered Carbon‘s first season consists of 10 episodes. While the show’s production cost is not known (and Netflix won’t confirm rumors), we’ve heard the drama is a contender for the biggest first-year show yet.

Perhaps one of the most exciting elements for genre fans is that Netflix snagged Sapochnik to direct the pilot between his commitments on Game of Thrones (he’s currently shooting multiple episodes in the show’s final season). “Miguel is a visionary director,” Kalogridis says. “You look at ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ he’s able to combine massive scope and scale with intensely emotional human moments — that’s so incredibly rare and Miguel does it like breathing.”

And while the network has been pretty quiet about Carbon up until now, that’s about to change. In addition to these first official images, Netflix just announced the drama’s premiere date, which actually isn’t that far away: Feb. 2, 2018.

Altered Carbon
  • TV Show