Solos creator gives first look at Amazon anthology series with Anne Hathaway, Uzo Aduba, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and more
Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens, Nicole Beharie, and Constance Wu also star.
For his new Amazon anthology series Solos, which explores the depths of human connection through the lens of eight remote characters, "a lot of the inspiration for [it] came from things I'm not allowed to do as a writer," creator David Weil tells EW. "In film and television, you're really not allowed to have a 30-minute monologue, though I would love to in every episode of something I write."
In fact, the writer/director/executive producer of the new show, who also created the series Hunters for Amazon, explains "I remember films by their monologues, I remember TV series by those great epic speeches, and so I've always been yearning to do a piece that was one person in one room." The question though becomes, "How do you engage an audience for that long of a time, and take them on a journey when you don't have explosions and act breaks?" Weil's answer is "It's really on you, the writer, to create a story that's compelling, that's narratively thrilling, and that's emotionally deep."
To achieve those goals, it's of immense help having Anne Hathaway, Nicole Beharie, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Anthony Mackie, Constance Wu, Dan Stevens, and Morgan Freeman anchoring these stories. "These are some of the most masterful actors [to] have been on screen ever," states the creator. "And I think that what's so exciting and consistent about each of them is that they always want to challenge themselves. They always want to do something different, and Solos, I think, presented an opportunity for them that was unlike anything they've done before."
With its seven episodes mixing in elements of science fiction and classical theater, Weil describes Solos as "something special for a world that really needs material that can feel cathartic, that can feel hopeful, that can feel joyous, and terrifying, and really take you through the gamut of emotions in this short 30-minute piece."
EW got the exclusive first look at Amazon's Solos below, along with input from Weil on things he loves about each episode.
Anne Hathaway as Leah
Hathaway plays a gifted scientist who discovers time travel, but soon reveals questionable motivations behind wanting to venture into the future. In reference to the episode's director Zach Braff, Weil shares how "watching him and Annie work together, it was like Mike Nichols and Elaine May. They just complimented each other in such a brilliant way, and I think it created something so soulful on screen."
Nicole Beharie as Nera
Pregnant and living alone in the woods, Beharie's character's home birth becomes marred by unforeseen difficulties—and abnormalities involving her child. "The piece was written by Stacy Osei-Kuffor, a Black woman, starring Nicole Beharie, a Black woman, and it was so important to me that it was realized on screen by a Black woman as well," notes the creator. Director Tiffany Johnson was that last piece to that puzzle, and delivered what he sees as "this great sort of modern Hitchcockian, futuristic tale."
Helen Mirren as Peg
Alone on a space shuttle headed toward the farthest reaches of the universe, Mirren's character has a lot of time—too much?—to think about how exactly she got to this moment. The piece is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, "who is not only a brilliant filmmaker but also really an observationalist, she's a photographer, she's an artist, she's someone who has such deep empathy," according to Weil. "What Helen did in her performance with the bat of an eye, or look off to the side, or emotion welling in her eyes, or picking at her fingernails—there are all these little, almost mosaic tiles that created this grand beautiful performance. And I think it requires a director like Sam, who is such an observationalist, to come in and be able to see those beautiful nuances and to help realize it."
Uzo Aduba as Sasha
Hitting a little close to home right now, Aduba plays a woman who's become accustomed to a hermitic lifestyle carved out in the aftermath of a global pandemic, and struggles to believe years later that the threat is now in the past for good. Weil flags one moment where the Emmy winner "delivers this eight-page oner [that] I think is just a showstopper." He also highlights the work of the show's production designer Ruth Ammon and costume designer Shiona Turini, who figured out "how to create an environment that is energetic and alive, and that you never feel tired of."
Anthony Mackie as Tom
With not much time left to live, Mackie's character buys a controversial new product that promises his family won't be left alone when he dies. The creator recalls the actor telling him how the production reminded him of his days studying theater at Julliard. "This was a return to his roots. This was an opportunity for him to do something, as he says, 'incredibly challenging,'" says Weil. "It's just him on camera for 30 minutes straight. It's a play. I think each of these are plays. They're filmed theater, so to speak. So Anthony was really excited about that."
Constance Wu as Jenny
In asking herself why she's been in a waiting room for ages, Wu's character begins to realize that it may be retribution for something she did in the past. Without really spoiling anything, Weil points to "the final 10 minutes of that episode, that uninterrupted oner, which Constance performed first shot of the day because she's so masterful, and just nailed it. That's a pretty incredible trajectory, to go from an almost absurdist bizarre funny, strange individual to an incredibly grounded, broken person."
Dan Stevens as Otto
In the only two-hander of the series, Stevens plays a man with shadowy motives behind wanting to help reverse the memory loss of...
Morgan Freeman as Stuart
Freeman's character who's supposedly battling Alzheimer's, and may have lived other forgotten lifetimes. Once the young man's true purpose is revealed, so is the old man's identity. The creator mentions that the element of memory loss is a very personal one for him. "We believe Morgan Freeman's character has Alzheimer's, and my grandmother had Alzheimer's, and so there was a wish-fulfillment in this piece because I always wished 'What if just one day she woke up and remembered everything?' How beautiful that would be." Though the episode still promises mystery and intrigue, "the core of it really is about someone who reclaims their memories, and reanimates in that way, and what that would be like. So that was really moving and exciting for me to see," adds Weil.
Solos will premiere on Amazon on May 21.