Resident Evil showrunner teases greater mystery behind swapping Wesker's race for Netflix series
Netflix announced some major news for the Resident Evil franchise during June 2021: Lance Reddick, a beloved video game voice actor from titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, Destiny, and Quantum Break, would be portraying a well-known Resident Evil figure, Albert Wesker, in Netflix's live-action TV series.
While the character has historically been depicted as a white male in the games, Reddick became the first person of color to play Wesker. Also because it's Lance Reddick and he's amazing, not too many people seemed to be asking questions about the change. Showrunner Andrew Dabb now teases there might be a bigger reason for swapping Wesker's race that links up with the mystery of the series.
Dabb spoke with press during a media event at Netflix's New York headquarters in April to screen the first two episodes of Resident Evil and talk more about this particular adaptation. When asked by an attending journalist about the Wesker character change, Dabb began to explain, "If you know the games, Wesker is dead. He got blown up by a rocket launcher in a volcano." That was during the events of 2009's Resident Evil 5.
"The games are our backstory," Dabb says. "So, everything in the games exists in this world. So, how is Wesker alive now? I will say stay tuned and the answer is not like, 'He's immune to lava.'"
Netflix released the first Resident Evil trailer on Thursday with more pieces of the puzzle. The show cuts between two timelines. One is the year 2022 when Wesker moves with his two daughters, Jade (Tamara Smart) and Billie (Siena Agudong), to New Raccoon City.
Already we know something isn't right. Wesker is keeping vials of Jade and Billie's blood in his lab, and he appears to be conducting experiments on them. Dabb confirms, "He had these kids for a reason and it wasn't necessarily to take them to basketball games."
The other timeline sees Charlie's Angels star Ella Balinska as an older version of Jade fighting for survival in 2036 London and having flashbacks to what happen to her sister leading up to the start of the global zombie apocalypse.
"I don't want to give too much away, but I will say the explanation for why Wesker is the way that he is and how he is still alive go hand in hand," the producer adds.
As far as the casting decision to have Reddick take over the Wesker role, Dabb just wanted to find the right person.
"I think when you are casting in the modern day and age, if you are limiting yourself based on, 'Well, this character is blonde, so we gotta look at blonde actors,' you're gonna find yourself in a bad position," he says. "When Lance was interested in doing the part, you're not gonna find anybody better than him to play this character — both the dad part of the character and also the more corporate killer part. At that point, you're making the show weaker by going with someone that may be more aesthetically a match to the game. So, why would you weaken a show like that? It makes no sense to me, and luckily Netflix and Constantine as well were very much on board with that. The goal here is to do the strongest show."
Resident Evil premieres on Netflix July 14.