Cast member Constance Wu attends the premiere of "The Terminal List" at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles on June 22. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, July 1 (UPI) -- Fresh Off the Boat alum Constance Wu and Mayans M.C. star J.D. Pardo say the journalist and FBI agent they play in new Prime Video thriller The Terminal List seek truth and justice in the face of political and corporate corruption.
To do that, they use their respective skills and resources.
Premiering Friday, the eight-episode series is based on Jack Carr's contemporary, military-themed mystery novel of the same name.
The story focuses on Chris Pratt's character, Lt. Cmdr. James Reece, whose entire platoon of Navy SEALs is ambushed and killed in a high-stakes covert mission in Syria.
Shortly after Reece returns home with blinding headaches and muddled memories, his wife and young daughter are murdered.
With seemingly nothing more to lose, Reece tries to figure out what powerful people in the U.S. government and influential private industries want him and those closest to him dead -- and why. He then exacts revenge against them one by one.
Wu plays Katie Buranek, a reporter who trades information with Reece in exchange for a story, while Pardo plays Tony Layun, the agent trying to bring Reece in.
"With Katie's family history and her father and everything he sacrificed for journalistic integrity to uncover the truth, her motivation is deeply rooted in her own past," Wu told UPI in a recent Zoom interview, referring to how Katie hadn't seen her father since she was gout years old because he spoke out against the Chinese Communist Party.
"That's why she is determined to uncover the truth by any means necessary. That's why she befriends Reece, even though she's not always sure what side he's on [or knows] what to think. She gets herself in a lot of sticky situations in pursuit of this truth, and I think it's because it matters so much in terms of her family history."
Wu said she thinks her character's story line is relevant today because people are overwhelmed by information from media that don't always focus on accuracy as much as they do popularity.
"Sometimes, journalistic integrity is lacking because it is all about what is most clickable and causes the most engagement, rather than what is the true, complex, nuanced story," Wu said.
"That is so reductive to the human experience, and if journalism is about storytelling, then we are not supposed to be reductive. We are supposed to be expansive in how we tell our stories.
"I mean that as an actor and as a journalist. So, I think it is important to remind ourselves why journalistic integrity is important and that there are people -- at least on TV -- who still care about it."
Pardo said he was drawn to Tony's dedication to his job, too.
"I loved Tony's sense of justice in that he has to block the emotion out and make things black and white because it gets too complicated. He just wants to catch the bad guy and let everybody else sort out the mess," the actor said.
"He's an FBI agent working in a smaller market, and he really believes that he can catch Superman, in a way," he added. "Everyone is saying how dangerous James Reece is. He is this legendary SEAL and everyone has all this experience, while Tony doesn't. He just has this power of belief that he can do it."
Pardo thought The Terminal List was the perfect project for him to take on during his hiatus from Mayans.
"It was an all-star cast and crew and production team. I am always trying to grow, always trying to learn more and knowing that I was going to have to challenge myself [was appealing]," he said.
"I'm always doing physical things, but now I'm doing it with ex-SEALs and Special Forces and Green Berets. There is no lying there. It's almost like a challenge that you want to see where you're at."
Stranger Things actress Tyner Rushing plays Liz Riley, a private pilot, veteran and one of the last friends Reece has left.
Rushing called Liz a "badass" with a tremendous heart who has been bonded to Reece since he saved her life in battle years earlier.
"She's such a good friend and she is the godmother of Lucy Reece, so she is super-close with the family," the actress said.
"Liz is that type of friend who goes above and beyond," she added. "Liz will help you move and reorganize the new place and unpack and decorate your new house. She is super-loyal, super-giving and cares so much about James."
Allowing one's book to be adapted for the screen can be a leap of faith, but former SEAL Carr told UPI in a separate Zoom chat that he felt his story -- which he describes as a political thriller fiction with "whispers of truth" -- was in good hands with actor-producer Pratt, director Antoine Fuqua and showrunner Dave DiGilio.
"It was this team that I envisioned from the outset," Carr said. "I knew exactly who I wanted to direct, and that was Antoine and I knew exactly who I wanted to star, and that was Chris. That was years ago as I first started putting these words down in my Word document to create The Terminal List.
"So, to have that team actually come together to do this and then to bring in Dave, who had this vision to add a psychological element to what I'd written, I could not be more thrilled with how it turned out. I am extremely grateful."
Fuqua agreed to helm the project because he was a fan of the book.
"What intrigued me about it is a character's under a great deal of pressure," the filmmaker said, noting that DiGilio's concept of having Reece unable to trust himself and his own perceptions and recollections brings depth to the action drama.
"That really got me excited because it felt like it allowed you to tap into the psychological and emotional side of the story. That was my way into it to bring it to life," Fuqua said.
DiGilio said he most appreciated the book's authenticity and portrayal of military tradecraft.
"You are blown away by this main character James Reece and the way that he tackles some really incredible forces that are going against him," the writer-producer said.
"But there is also this interesting element in there about what is happening in his mind. I was a psych major in college, and I love stories that get into the psychological space.
"So, I really pitched an idea to the guys in which we took that and we amped it up to 11. The result is you get something that is, hopefully, the most authentic action you've ever seen on screen, but with real heart, psychology and emotion that adds a layer that is unexpected."
The Terminal List co-stars Taylor Kitsch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Riley Keough, Arlo Metz, Patrick Schwarzenegger, LaMonica Garrett and Jai Courtney.
Cast member Chris Pratt attends the premiere of "The Terminal List" at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo