In this interview comprised of questions from TURN: Washington’s Spies fans, Executive Producer and Showrunner Craig Silverstein talks about recreating Long Island, his favorite Season 2 scenes, and presenting the Revolutionary War from both sides.
Q: Why did you decide to film TURN: Washington’s Spies in Virginia rather than on Long Island? — Linda H.
A: There was an existing crew base there, and a lot of colonial era towns and houses, as well as some sets that were left over from other productions that had been through. We were confident that we could recreate Long Island there.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of putting together a show from this time period? Costumes? Sets? Research? — LveThePast
A: I think the biggest challenge is creating a world that doesn’t exist everywhere you point the camera. For example, if you’re outside, you have to make sure to digitally remove modern elements from background so it doesn’t conflict. You have to be mindful of that in every detail, big and small. There are some things that slip through the net, and some things you can’t afford to do. Sometimes, you have to stage a conversation inside on a set because you just can’t afford to have it near the harbor and then have to digitally create the water.
Q: Did you enjoy shooting in Williamsburg? I recognized it, even the garden where artichokes grow! — Sally T.
A: We did love shooting in Williamsburg. It’s a historical site, so it’s like shooting in a museum. They have staff that walked through with us beforehand and told us where we could shoot and what we could touch. You have to respect the site that you’re moving around in. They don’t allow a lot of crews to shoot there. For us, we even had to be on for a full season first so they knew we were sticking around.
Q: Is there a collaborative process by which the writers suggest and edit plot points and character arcs? Also, how is it decided which writers take on which episodes? — Sarah’s Toga
A: It’s definitely collaborative. All the writers, myself included, sit in a room, and we arc out the season together. It becomes apparent during that process which writers are gravitating towards which stories. It’s a very organic process that way.
Q: The writing and acting manages to get viewers to root for both sides. Did you purposely take the show in that direction? — Beth W.
A: Yes, we did. We always saw it that way, and I think people caught on to that in the second season. The interesting thing to me is that all these different people are caught up in this war, and not all of them have a sense of clairvoyance. They don’t know how important it’s going to be, and how much it’s going to change the world. They’re thinking about their day-to-day lives and careers. That’s something that makes them feel more human. Once you’re invested in both sides, it becomes more dramatic.
A: Well, we know that they were good friends in Philadelphia. He was friends with her entire group of girls, he did leave a lock of his hair with her, and he did sketch her. There are people who say he was more into one of her friends. Back then, nobody was going to record something like “they slept together” — people would never admit to it, and it led to a belief that nobody had sex before marriage back then, which is so incredibly naive and untrue. These were young, wealthy people. There’s no evidence to definitively say they didn’t have a relationship, and since the introduction from André to Benedict Arnold came through Peggy Shippen and her associates, it led us to think about the nature of the André-Peggy connection and if it was stronger than friendship.
Q: Congratulations on an excellent season finale! What were some of the scenes you enjoyed the most this season? — orodreth’s_michiru
A: Watching Caleb shave his beard. I enjoyed everything having to do with the Turtle, because we were so committed to pulling that off. There are a lot of great scenes with Hewlett, and I love his entire arc. Jamie Bell and I are both obsessed with the character of Yates, the warden who runs the prison that Abe is incarcerated in for a few episodes, and the actor who plays him [Stuart Greer] — Jamie and I would imitate his voice a lot. [Laughs]
Read an interview with JJ Feild, who plays Major John André.Read More