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ZeroZeroZero has been a long time coming. Taking 148 days to shoot across three continents and five countries, with more than 1,000 crew and 10,000 extras in more than 300 locations, the series premiered at Venice Film Festival in 2019.
Finally landing in the UK this year, with the whole box set available on Sky Atlantic with NOW, it’s a must-watch for fans of Gomorrah and Narcos. It’s created by Stefano Sollima and based on the book by Roberto Saviano – both of Gomorrah fame – and retains the same high-quality Italian production values to a global audience.
Spider-Man 2's Dane DeHaan is one of the show’s stars, portraying Chris Lynwood. The youngest member of the Lynwood family, he’s been largely kept out of the family’s shipping business because he has Huntington’s Disease – until his life gets turned upside down.
We spoke to Dane about his role, what it was like being part of such a huge global project, and whether there’s a second season in the pipeline…
1. What attracted you to ZeroZeroZero?
I think most of all the ambition of it. It’s certainly a show that right now in the world would be impossible to make, just travelling around the world to all these different locations. Making a show on such a global scale seemed incredibly ambitious and something I had never really done before.
Within that world I was being given the opportunity to play an incredibly complex character that had a lot going on, even outside of the circumstances of the main plot of the show. It just seemed like a really cool opportunity.
2. You met people who have Huntingdon’s Disease to ensure your portrayal was accurate – what was that experience like?
It was pretty incredible to meet with them. When we were in New Orleans I met with several people that have the disease. It was incredibly helpful and at times profound to hear about their journey and hear about their day-to-day and everything they’ve been through because of the disease - not just physically, and not just even personally mentally, but even from relationships standpoints within their life.
I don’t think I would have had as good of a sense of what it means to have the disease if I hadn’t met with them. It was really important for me to portray it as accurately as possible, so I’m very thankful to them.
3. What is it about ZeroZeroZero that sets it apart from other drug trafficking dramas?
I think it’s the global nature of the show that makes it stand out; it's a show that basically has three different narratives.
I think there’s something like seven different languages and we filmed in many different countries. It takes a global stance on the issue in a way I don’t think a show has ever done before. You have the Mexican cartel aspect of it, you have the Italian mafioso aspect of it and the Americans which I’m a part of – we are basically the brokers and we broker the shipments for the drugs.
You start to get a global understanding of what it takes to get 60 million dollars’ worth of cocaine in from one country to the next. In a way the show is about everything that could possibly go wrong in trying to do that.
The series is based off of a book in which the author really did delve into that world so I felt like he did all of that work for us, so I didn’t have to seek out incredibly dangerous criminals and risk my life to do the research for this show, thankfully.
4. What was it like working with the three directors?
I know a lot of episodic television where every episode’s directed by a different director, so I’m glad we had three.
I think one of the things that makes the show so strong is that it really is a filmmaker-driven show. The directors were given the freedom to make the show they wanted to make and as the show progresses – and it jumps from all these different locations – a lot happens in the different locations with the different directors.
As long as there’s a basic through-line as the story progresses, to have a bit of a different take in terms of direction - I think it ultimately helps tell the story.
5. How did the filming experience compare to your previous roles which had more CGI?
Almost everything in the show is practical. We made an effort to make everything as real as possible – that was our goal in trying to tell an incredibly truthful, real, visceral and raw story.
When I read "Oh you’re on a giant shipping boat in the middle of the ocean", I didn’t expect to find myself for days on end on a giant shipping boat in the middle of the ocean!
It’s just different. From an acting standpoint, to try and make it as real as possible I guess that part of my job is easier – I’m actually on a boat and there’s actually a helicopter 10 feet from my face. But there’s also something nice about the safety of it not actually being real.
Every movie is different and every TV show is different, but I think for what we were going for on this show, for everything to be as real as possible only helped the scenario.
I don’t know if I have a preference – I real like doing all sorts of different things and I had been coming off of some pretty CGI-heavy stuff when I signed up to do this so that is one of the reasons I wanted to be a part of it.
6. Were there any locations that really stand out in your memory?
Every location stands out. One of the things I love about watching the show was I feel like they really took advantage of the locations. I think when you watch the show you can tell you’re in the real places.
Being in the Sahara desert was an experience I’ll never forget. That’s certainly a place I would never have gone to on my own if it wasn’t for the show, and seen the sand dunes and the culture. Spending a night riding a camel to look at the sunset and camping in the desert was amazing.
Dakar, Senegal, was amazing and I think the people of Dakar were really inspiring in just how much they loved life although they didn’t really have much at all, they were still such an incredibly kind and happy people. I think that was an incredible lesson to learn.
But I had never been to New Orleans! So New Orleans was fun within its own right too. Between New Orleans and Veracruz, Mexico, and just being on that shipping boat and being all over Morocco and Dakar, Senegal - all of the locations still haunt me to this day because I got to see so much of the world.
7. Is there anything you can tell us about a potential season 2?
I just know that our intention was always to create a one-season thing. That was the intention going into it. We’ll see.
I think there’s something really beautiful about making something that’s only one season these days, because so much stuff isn’t. We’ll see what they do. At this point in the world I’m sure they’re scratching their heads as to how they would pull that off – it’d be a long way off from production. But our intention was always to make a one-season thing.
The ZeroZeroZero season 1 box set is available to watch on Sky Atlantic with the NOW Entertainment Membership.