Director: 'Wilderness' one woman's journey from wedded bliss to seeking revenge

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Jenna Coleman star in "Wilderness." Photo courtesy of Prime Video
1 of 4 | Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Jenna Coleman star in "Wilderness." Photo courtesy of Prime Video

NEW YORK, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Wilderness director and executive producer So Yong Kim says the women storytellers behind the new Prime Video series bring fresh perspectives and a sense of humor to the revenge thriller genre, which frequently is dominated by men in front of the camera and behind it.

"It really made a world of difference for me and for the show, as well as the overall end result of it," Kim told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.


"The starting point of that is Marnie Dickins' writing, but we all added our personal touch to it, so it's been an incredible journey for all of us."

Set to premiere Friday, the thriller is based on B.E. Jones' novel of the same name.

It stars Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Liv and Will, British newlyweds who have the perfect life in their adopted home of New York City until Liv discovers Will has been cheating on her.


When Will proposes they go on a cross-country dream vacation in an effort to salvage their marriage, Liv agrees, but then plots ways to set up Will for a tragic mishap along the way.

"Liv's character is rarely seen. She's a woman protagonist who goes through this incredible emotional journey of love and seeking revenge," Kim said.

"When I first read the pilot and the second episode, I remembered this moment in my marriage when I also wanted to kill off my husband," the director said with a laugh. "It's a very human story. I think that's what l loved about it."

With a beautiful couple and breathtaking rural locations, the series keeps viewers guessing whether it is about the restorative nature of travel and healing of a marriage or a woman determined to make her partner pay for wronging her.

This makes the show bingeable and relatable, Kim said.

"These days, you have to have that cliffhanger of what's going to happen. What is her choice?" she added.

"In our everyday lives that we all kind of experience -- big or small -- we make choices. In this case, with Liv, it's life or death. But that's the juicy part, right? That's the one we want to live through her experience."


Best known for her roles in Doctor Who and Victoria, Coleman has a girl-next-door demeanor as Liv that crumbles as her anger at her husband's betrayal consumes her.

"In the beginning, when you see her in these outfits, she seems like this perfect country English rose, but then she metamorphoses into this powerful, woman sorcerer, almost. I think that's magical," Kim said.

"This has so much to do with the ability of Jenna to bring this character to life and breathe soul into her."

The Haunting of Hill House and The Invisible Man alum Jackson-Cohen offers a nuanced performance that makes it difficult for viewers to outright hate Will, despite his philandering ways.

"You really have empathy for both of them on equal levels," Kim said. "That's the tension that really carries the story forward."

In an effort to create a feeling of authenticity, the tone moves from stressful to poignant to wickedly funny over the course of its six episodes.

"Isn't that how life is sometimes?" Kim asked.

"You can't just dwell on the sadness. You have to be able to laugh at the moment and laugh at yourself," she added. "It's necessary in the show, as well as in life, perhaps. Maybe that is why we are drawn to these stories."


Filming in the Grand Canyon and other national parks was a mixed blessing for the cast and crew where weather, lighting and terrain could be unpredictable.

"it was magnificent, on one hand, but, also, each of those locations kicked our asses a little bit, as they should," Kim said.

"On first look, 'You're like: 'Oh, it's amazing! It's gorgeous!' And I think it's our human nature that comes in where we think we can control the wilderness," she added. "The fact is the wilderness will always win out. Mother Nature will always win out."

The filmmaker said the crew did everything it could to ensure everyone's safety on the set.

"But, of course, we can't predict that the bear is going to come down and go through our coffee tent," she said. "That's unpredictable, but it happens, because we are in the wilderness."

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