News

Stars Daniel Brühl and Dakota Fanning Share 7 Things to Love About The Alienist

The first fingerprints, nasty crime scenes, and Teddy Roosevelt are some of the subjects of TNT's new period drama based on Caleb Carr's famous novel.

by | January 19, 2018 | Comments

If the success of the lucrative CSI franchise has proven anything, it’s the popularity of the fields of forensics and criminal profiling. By the time CSI premiered in 2000, some of these techniques were already over 100 years old. TNT’s new drama The Alienist, based on the 1994 best-selling novel by Caleb Carr, will tell you one tale of how crime scene investigation got its start.

In 1896, people with mental illness were considered “alienated” from their true selves. Those who studied them, therefore, were called alienists. Today, they might be called profilers.

Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) is such an expert. Along with reporter John Moore (Luke Evans) and police secretary Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), Kreizler applies the first ever forensic techniques to crime scenes while tracking a serial killer in New York.

Brühl and Fanning spoke with Rotten Tomatoes before the premiere of The Alienist. Here are seven things they told us about the new world of crime solving.


1. KREIZLER NEEDS HIS OWN THERAPIST — LUCKILY, BRÜHL HAS ONE AT HOME

Daniel Brühl as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

Profiling serial killers has to weigh on anyone. Kreizler is the first, so there isn’t even anyone around with experience to help him.

“Every shrink needs his own shrink to cope with all the issues, the demons, and the pressure of their work,” Brühl said. “That didn’t exist, so he is pretty brilliant in analyzing everyone around him, but when he has to face his own demons, the dark chapters in his own life, he gets very nervous.”

In real life, Brühl is married Felicitas Rombold Brühl, a renowned psychotherapist. When he landed The Alienist, Brühl asked her for help.

“She gave me a lot of very important information and supported me all the way through, put me in touch with a criminal psychologist, gave me stuff to read,” Brühl said. “It was a learning process. I found out about the beginning of that science, but I also learned so much about New York at that time.”


2. SARA HOWARD TAKES NO GUFF FROM MEN

Dakota Fanning as Sara Howard in The Alienist (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

As the first female employee of the NYPD, Sara Howard already broke the glass ceiling her first day on the job. Today she might not accept the term “secretary,” and she’s certainly more than that when she teams up with Kreizler and Moore.

“She has a very strong voice and isn’t afraid to use it,” Fanning said. “When we first meet her in the first episode, she kind of shoots up out of her chair and lunges at Luke’s character. You immediately get that she’s not a wallflower and is not afraid to speak her mind. That only grows throughout the season of the show.”

Women are still fighting for parity in the workplace today. Just look at the pay disparity in Hollywood, most recently demonstrated by Mark Wahlberg’s pay for All the Money in the World reshoots. Fanning hopes her character can inspire the women who watch The Alienist.

“I think this character is really surprisingly very relatable to somebody now even though it’s set so long ago,” Fanning said. “I think that’s one of the things that’s interesting about the show is the sort of parallels to today. She’s the first female to work at the New York Police Department. She is very much a pioneer. It’s set in 1896 so she’s not the norm, and she’s challenging society and what their expectations of a woman are.”


3. TEDDY ROOSEVELT IS THEIR BOSS

Daniel Brühl as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler in The Alienist (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

These days, Theodore Roosevelt is best known as the 26th U.S. president — or Robin Williams’ character in Night At The Museum. Set four years before Roosevelt’s inauguration, The Alienist shows Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) as NYC Police Commissioner.

“I learned so much about Teddy Roosevelt because in Europe, we know him as the president of the United States,” Brühl said. “I didn’t know he was running the police department before and was so eager in fighting corruption.”


4. THE INVENTION OF FINGERPRINT ANALYSIS

Daniel Brühl as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler in The Alienist (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

On any cop show, you take it for granted they’re going to dust for fingerprints at a crime scene. That was revolutionary forensic technology in 1896. The Alienist gives a fictionalized take on the first time it was employed.

“I realized forensics was so behind, they were’t even totally aware that everyone had different fingerprints,” Fanning said. “That blew my mind. It’s just so crazy to see how new things and things that challenge the norm, people are immediately afraid of and people immediately dismiss because it scares them that they could’ve been so wrong about something for so long. That just is always the way.”

The Alienist will discover more new tools “for the first time,” Brühl said.

“Handwriting analysis, the analysis of bones and soft tissues, it was the beginning of psychology, which had born 20 years before that,” Brühl said. “It was the beginning of so many things in various fields. It was a technological revolution.”

Lucius (Matthew Shear) and Marcus Isaacson (Douglas Smith) introduce the trio to these new forensics.

“They’re detectives at the police department, and they’re also [investigators] who are kind of making these discoveries,” Fanning said. “They have a lot of the scenes of the discoveries or the explanations of forensics or autopsy or those kinds of things. My character is a very curious character, so she is always asking questions about it.”


5. EPISODE 3 HAS A NASTY CRIME SCENE

Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear in The Alienist (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

It takes a strong stomach to watch the crime scene moments on shows like the now-retired CSI or Bones week to week. The Alienist will deliver the goods with realistic cadavers.

“I love that sh–,” Brühl said. “It reminded me of Sherlock Holmes, of Jekyll and Hyde, of Jack the Ripper, of Edgar Allen Poe. That gloomy, dark atmosphere is something that I was always attracted to. I really enjoyed the gruesome moments.”

Episode 3 will feature the Castle Garden crime scene that fans remember vividly from the book.

“There was something about that location and we shot it at night,” Brühl said. “It really gave us shivers because the bodies were so well done, it was a shock to look at them. That’s I guess the first scene where the team comes together and looks at one of these mutilated corpses and is in a rush because we don’t have that much time. We know the police are approaching.”

Fanning wasn’t as much of a gorehound.

“It wasn’t like I was vomiting over the side, but there were definitely some that were like, Oh, God, I don’t want to look at that too much,” Fanning said. “They were very realistic, which is awesome, but on the day [it’s disturbing.] Then you become desensitized to it when you’re sort of ‘Let’s move the body.’ They’re pouring the fake blood down, and you become desensitized to it because it is so obviously make-believe when you’re there. Some stuff did look pretty real.”


6. EVEN IN THE 19TH CENTURY, FANNING IS A FASHIONISTA

Dakota Fanning (foreground) with Daniel Bruhl, Douglas Smith, and Matthew Shear in The Alienist (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

A historical period piece comes with lots of elaborate costumes. What women wore in 1896 was especially restrictive, but Fanning had one piece she loved.

“There’s one that’s a deep red with this velvet trim and I always felt like the chicest in that one,” Fanning said. “It was the 1896 version of when I’m having my best day, when I was wearing that costume. It’s in a few episodes, but I think it first comes in episode 5. It has red velvet buttons all down the front.”


7. IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT THERE, YOU CAN MAKE NEW YORK ANYWHERE (LIKE IN BUDAPEST)

New York street scene (Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Photo by Kata Vermes/TNT)

New York City no longer looks like it did in 1896. So The Alienist he had to film in Budapest, Romania instead. Once he got there, Brühl was just as excited as if he’d taken a time machine back to 1896 New York.

“It would’ve been impossible to recreate [in New York], and I’d never been in Budapest, so I was curious to see why they chose Budapest,” Brühl said. “When I arrived there, I could clearly tell why. Not only the backlot that they recreated was overwhelming, but all the locations that we could find in that very well-preserved city were perfect for our purposes, especially for telling upper-class New York.”

The restaurant where Kreizler holds meetings is actually not a restaurant at all.

“We found an incredible library where we could recreate Delmonico’s and so on,” Brühl said. “There are so many grand, incredible buildings. The opera house is the nicest one in the world.”

The Alienist premieres Monday, January 22 at 9/8C on TNT.


Tag Cloud

spain Horror revenge Superheroe Drama President AMC Amazon Prime Video Watching Series Amazon science fiction First Reviews TCM Super Bowl sports USA Network Turner Rock discovery hist Heroines TV renewals cancelled TV shows Epix Anna Paquin TBS Crackle Comedy Central war HBO Max Countdown A24 Grammys harry potter cancelled TV series E! Sci-Fi NYCC Superheroes 2020 TV Trailer Music ITV Premiere Dates Britbox FXX IFC CW Seed Extras Infographic Dark Horse Comics Musical BBC Fall TV VH1 Star Trek OWN History Christmas Lifetime Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TNT spanish language FX Western anime SundanceTV Esquire what to watch Comic Book Mary Poppins Returns Hallmark Christmas movies MCU The CW Spring TV adventure GoT breaking bad golden globes Holiday elevated horror comics SXSW cars Women's History Month book cancelled television Pop Marathons zombie PaleyFest screen actors guild versus BET diversity travel independent Apple TV+ Adult Swim Family based on movie 2017 kids canceled 007 space Paramount Network Certified Fresh name the review Netflix Christmas movies Acorn TV award winner finale romance Oscars X-Men 21st Century Fox technology Sneak Peek Emmys Trivia Character Guide spider-man toy story Pirates Bravo Interview Country Comedy Cannes quibi Stephen King Sundance ABC Family Schedule rotten movies we love Hallmark renewed TV shows Rocketman supernatural richard e. Grant Kids & Family RT History 2019 20th Century Fox Disney Plus Nominations festivals teaser ghosts Hulu IFC Films Martial Arts Nickelodeon slashers crime thriller biography streaming cats Peacock LGBT El Rey USA Marvel Studios zombies dceu Best and Worst Vudu MSNBC Pet Sematary sitcom ABC Disney Comics on TV Walt Disney Pictures disaster Ovation talk show Musicals Writers Guild of America cancelled political drama Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TLC The Walking Dead DirecTV CBS adaptation sag awards sequel Endgame Film Festival Television Academy justice league Holidays Calendar Captain marvel YouTube National Geographic canceled TV shows singing competition mutant 45 video unscripted HBO 71st Emmy Awards Turner Classic Movies game show RT21 cops children's TV Summer Fantasy jamie lee curtis Mary poppins Cosplay Logo GLAAD free movies Creative Arts Emmys comic cartoon Cartoon Network Tomatazos Action Lionsgate Starz werewolf screenings binge DGA Polls and Games Classic Film Lucasfilm movies The Arrangement Emmy Nominations Amazon Prime ratings dragons indie halloween E3 MTV serial killer Mindy Kaling 2015 WGN American Society of Cinematographers Song of Ice and Fire YouTube Premium Crunchyroll Tarantino casting Freeform The Witch 2018 Teen period drama anthology WarnerMedia Winter TV christmas movies spinoff green book batman Arrowverse psycho Disney streaming service psychological thriller stand-up comedy Black Mirror Biopics Sony Pictures romantic comedy true crime DC streaming service medical drama See It Skip It Star Wars TruTV 24 frames vampires docudrama crime boxoffice Chernobyl facebook transformers Pride Month Fox News Disney+ Disney Plus Spectrum Originals dc crime drama Shudder Rom-Com TCA 2017 The Purge blaxploitation Toys Apple TV Plus social media Marvel GIFs Awards Avengers Shondaland DC Comics TV Land Elton John Valentine's Day Opinion Photos Election Ghostbusters Marvel Television Tumblr Food Network ESPN Showtime Paramount blockbuster Binge Guide VICE spy thriller witnail cults Video Games Brie Larson Set visit Disney Channel Warner Bros. aliens Animation Pixar Quiz Reality Competition BBC America Spike Mudbound hispanic game of thrones miniseries Thanksgiving Masterpiece dramedy comiccon Film foreign Red Carpet doctor who latino 2016 DC Universe Mystery thriller TIFF mockumentary composers politics First Look animated Box Office Ellie Kemper YA A&E Reality strong female leads LGBTQ Awards Tour historical drama natural history Winners Netflix New York Comic Con PBS Syfy cinemax Universal television cooking joker CBS All Access APB Mary Tyler Moore Podcast Sundance Now Rocky Columbia Pictures YouTube Red Nat Geo theme song Apple nature police drama series crossover NBC Trophy Talk CMT Lifetime tv talk robots Year in Review zero dark thirty SDCC CNN FOX TCA south america