This post contains spoilers for The Twilight Zone Episode 4, “A Traveler.”
Steven Yeuns Twilight Zone journey began with a D.M. It came from Jordan Peele, asking the actor if hed like to appear in an episode of Peeles reimagined Twilight Zone, now airing on CBS All Access. Yeuns response? “I just said, Oh, hell yeah.”
Like Kumail Nanjiani, who came aboard before a script for his Twilight Zone episode was even finished, Yeun said in an interview that he agreed to the gig without knowing basically anything else about it. He wound up playing the title character in “A Traveler,” which premiered Thursday—an enigmatic, fedora-wearing character who randomly appears in an Alaskan jail cell on Christmas Eve, asking to be pardoned.
The Twilight Zone executive producer and Monkeypaw Productions president Win Rosenfeld said that theyd had Yeun in mind for this episode from the beginning—and that once Yeun took on the character of A. Traveler, “he actually had a real hand in how that script evolved.” Executive producer Simon Kinberg agreed, saying, “We really looked to the actors to bring as much dimensionality and detail and thought to the characters as we and the writers had. And weve gotten great work out of actors. Kumail [Nanjiani] is another perfect example . . . He brought a lot to that character. He wrote a lot of the jokes. He was really precise about the transitions the character was going through in the episode . . . Its that kind of work [that], because its one and done, we need from our actors.”
“We just kind of openly talked about it, which was really cool,” Yeun agreed. “They were so great about letting me have a little input.” Yeun also worked to beef up his characters mysterious side, in an attempt to make the episode as unpredictable as possible. “It became pretty interesting—just a lot of layers,” Yeun said. “I feel like a lot of things are said without being said.” Glen Morgan, who wrote the episode, gave Yeun a book that also helped him develop his character and performance: The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene. “It really breaks down the different types of people—different types of players that are experts at seducing in that way,” Yeun explained. “That was a really fun read, cause that would just kind of change it up, based on who I was talking to or who I was trying to seduce.” The most crucial detail, though—his characters striking, old-fashioned fedora—was episode director Ana Lily Amirpours idea.
Throughout the episode, Yeun toys with everyone in the police station—including Yuka, the deputy played by Marika Sila, and her obnoxious boss, played by Greg Kinnear. Somehow, he knows droves of personal and confidential information about all of them; at the same time, he dances through their office Christmas party with unnerving levity—especially when singing “The Man with the Bag” in a round of Christmas karaoke. Although Yukas drunk brother, who is stuck hanging out with Yeuns character in a nearby jail cell, freaks out relatively early in the episode—claiming he just watched “A. Traveler” transform into some kind of slug—it isnt until the very end of the episode that we see his true form. Indeed, when viewers finally get a good glimpse at Yeuns character in non-human form, it appears hes “traveled” from somewhere . . . very far away.
Yeuns alien isn't a computer-generated image, but a full-out physical being created by WCT Productions, which dreamed up mid-transformation and fully transformed designs for Yeun. (Keith Arbuthnot performed as the head of the alien, while Sandy Dacosta played the arm feeding the head a slice of pie.) “I think that was what was really fun about it,” Yeun said. “It was a lot of practical effects; it was pretty gnarly.” Co-executive producer Grace Gilroy was even able to track down a life cast of Yeun—originally created for The Walking Dead—from KNB FX in Los Angeles.
When asked if he had any concerns that the episode might not have its intended effect—the on-screen alien reveal, in particular, could come off as goofy if not executed properly—Rosenfeld said he did not. “I think the truth is, we want people to know that we will go there—and I think one of the most famous Twilight Zone episodes of our time is To Serve Man,” he explained. For the uninitiated: “To Serve Man” is the 89th episode of the original Rod Serling series. It centers on the arrival of nine-foot-tall, telepathic aliens on an alleged humanitarian mission; they have come, they say, to serve mankind. In the end, however, a twist ending reveals that title to be a pun: the aliens true mission is to harvest humans as food. Its most memorable line—the aghast exclamation “Its a cookbook!”—has become a cultural touchstone. “Theres something about that,” Rosenfeld said, “the chutzpah there that we wanted to make sure that we werent leaving behind” in the new Twilight Zone.
“We definitely looked to the most realistic alien depictions in movies [including District 9], and monsterly depictions of movies and television,” Kinberg added. “Stranger Things did a really good job of it, too.” And while putting a big, slimy alien on-screen is a risk, so are a lot of choices one makes when producing a sci-fi show. When these outré story lines are done right, though, the audience gets to enjoy sometRead More – Source