Former reporter Mark Boal wrote a journalist into one of his screenplays for the first time. He tells EW about how Martina Gusmán's character faces bigger dangers than American investigators.

Before he was an Oscar-winning screenwriter, Mark Boal was a journalist. He drew on his reporting experiences in the Middle East for his screenplays for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. But only now, with his new Apple TV+ series Echo 3, is Boal finally featuring a journalist character in one of his cinematic stories.

Martina Gusmán plays Violetta, the journalist in question — a reporter in Latin America who becomes embroiled in the story of Amber Chesborough (Jessica Ann Collins), an American scientist who gets kidnapped by a new militant group. In her pursuit of the truth, Violetta soon finds herself embedded in that group, and in almost as much danger as Amber.

Echo 3
Michiel Huisman, Martina Gusmán, Juan Pablo Raba, and Luke Evans in 'Echo 3.'
| Credit: Apple TV +

"I've always wanted to write a journalist character, but never had the opportunity. So there was the opportunity here," Boal tells EW. "The thing that inspired me is that journalism in Latin America is a lot different, with a lot higher stakes, than it is in the U.S. If you're dealing with certain subjects, like terrorism or revolutions or drugs, it can be a life-or-death profession in a way that it's just not in the U.S."

Boal continues, "there are a handful of journalists in Latin America that do that work that I've always been inspired by, so I wanted to introduce audiences to that type of person. She's a journalist, but not in the way that Woodward and Bernstein were in All the President's Men, where they're attacking the very core of power in that movie, but the only threat to them is career ruin. They're never actually under any under any physical threat. It's comparatively a very white glove experience. Journalists in Latin America deal with life and death dangers to do their job. And then Martina Gusmán is such an awesome actor that then once she was cast, it was about trying to figure out how to make the part perfect for her."

Echo 3
Martina Gusmán in 'Echo 3.'
| Credit: Pablo Arellano Spataro/Apple TV+.

The journalist character isn't the only element that differentiates Echo 3 from Boal's past screen work. It's also his first TV series, and the long-form storytelling allowed Boal to stretch what at first seems like an open-and-shut story — Amber's brother (Luke Evans) and husband (Michael Huisman) are both military, so should be able to rescue her — into a Sisyphean saga of cascading failures and setbacks.

"With long-form storytelling, you can have more twists and turns, and also have a more populated world," Boal says. "Because you have time, you can delve into characters that you wouldn't otherwise get to meet in a feature. There's an escalating series of misses and failures. As time goes on, they get bigger and bigger and bigger, until finally the whole thing just goes off."

The first three episodes of Echo 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+.

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