The Night Of is a limited series presented by HBO and it comes from writers Richard Price (Ransom), Steven Zaillian (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Peter Moffat (North Square), so the series already has the creative power to create a compelling and suspenseful murder mystery. The Night Of almost floundered however, nearly failing to come to fruition due to a series of setbacks, including the death of a prominent cast member. Ultimately, The Night Of was saved and sent into production as a limited series.
The Night Of Is Saved By John Turturro
Based on the 2008 miniseries, Criminal Justice, HBO had been planning to produce the series since 2012 with James Gandolfini set to play The Night Of’s street smart defense attorney, John Stone, but Gandolfini’s passing put the project on hold, reports USA Today. From there, The Night Of was passed around in a virtual limbo with HBO keeping plans alive to produce the series, if only to keep others from taking the project from them. Eventually, plans moved forward with Robert DeNiro cast in Gandolfini’s place, but even that failed, as DeNiro’s schedule kept him from fulfilling his obligations on The Night Of.
Finally, HBO found their leading man for The Night Of in John Turturro.
The Night Of follows the case of a murdered woman through the experiences of Nasir “Naz” Khan (Riz Ahmed), who picks up the woman for a night of drinking, drugs, and sex, only to wake up the morning after to find her stabbed in bed. The Night Of is part murder mystery with Turturro playing the part of John Stone and part prison drama, following Naz, as he’s processed through the criminal justice system.
John Turturro says he plays a very complex character in The Night Of and that he finds himself challenged by taking on this murder case in ways that he might never expected.
“It was so finely etched and well-observed,” Turturro says. “Here’s a guy who has all the capabilities of being a perfect lawyer, and yet he doesn’t have the stomach for it. Some people don’t want to have someone’s life in their hands.”
The Night Of Will Appeal To Mystery Lovers And Crime Drama Addicts Alike
HBO seems to have a winner on its hands with The Night Of, as People declares the eight episode series a powerful and compelling yarn that deftly melds complex characters, suspenseful storytelling, and tumultuous plot twists. The series is likely to keep even the most accomplished armchair detectives guessing throughout the entire season, though not for a lack of clues. The first episode gives viewers an in depth look at the crime as Naz sees it unfold, so it would seem that we have everything needed to solve the crime. There’s just one problem. As the story unfolds, viewers will come to see that things are not always as they first appear on The Night Of.
Both John Turturro and Riz Ahmed are to be applauded for the stellar performances they give in The Night Of, making their characters so compelling that viewers can’t help but to become emotionally invested in what will become of each of them. For Turturro, he comes to The Night Of as something of a labor of love, having been a close friend to Gandolfini and wanting to pick up the mantel as a way of honoring the late actor.
Ahmed, on the other hand, felt drawn to The Night Of, because it takes a good, hard look at how the American criminal justice system treats people of diverse backgrounds.
“Growing up as a Muslim-American, post-9/11, you kind of have a very (unpleasant) relationship toward the authorities; you are told you are automatically a suspect,” The Night Of‘s Ahmed says. “It certainly does play into what you can expect in the criminal justice system. People view you as a threat.”
Even if mystery isn’t your cup of tea, the harshness of prison life gives viewers a different experience, as Naz goes through the system in The Night Of and realizes that prison isn’t for the weak or the timid. Unlike spoofs of prison life, Orange is the New Black being the most recent and obvious example, The Night Of shows the brutality and the dark side of life behind bars. Naz can only hope that John Stone deserves the trust he has placed in him to prove his innocence, before prison life has an irreversible effect on him.
The Night Of airs Sundays on HBO.
[Image by HBO]