When the first trailer for Luke Cage debuted at San Diego Comic-Con last week, it became apparent how different of a tone this series would have in comparison to other Netflix/Marvel series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. One of the reasons that it has such a different feel is the way showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker decided to use music and the Harlem setting as a basis for what the series would be. He has said many times before how big of an impact music will have throughout the first season, but the setting of Harlem was a big factor as well.
Coker appeared at the TCA’s yesterday and answered more questions about what we can expect from the series. One of the things that was really important to him was making sure he experienced the true style of Harlem before trying to infuse the series with it’s unique flavor. Deadline posted his responses to these questions and more, and you can see how Harlem looks to have a big presence in the series.
I didn’t want to speak Harlem and say Harlem without seeing Harlem.
Harlem, particularly Lenox, that’s the only place in the city where you see those wide boulevards. We really wanted to capture the color, the rhythm of the streets, it’s so beautiful and unique up there. That’s why it’s gentrifying, people are beginning to see the value of it. You see that kind of changeover from old to new.
As they tried to capture the uniqueness of Harlem, it is not feasible to shoot the entire series in that city alone. Instead, Coker gave some new details on where they shot, saying that they were in various parts of New York, which makes me wonder how far Luke’s territory is.
We shoot in New York, we use New York for New York. We had stuff in Harlem, stuff in Brooklyn, all over.
Once they were able to pinpoint the Harlem feel, the task then became translating that onto the screen. Coker points to Paul McGuigan , the director of the first two episodes, for helping establish the correct tone. He credits his long and multiple takes as giving the actors more time to give the best performances possible.
He not only talked cinematically, before he was a director he was a professional photographer. And the way he directs his episodes, whether you realize it or not, we would do every scene [as] long takes, from multiple takes over and over again. We would run an entire eight page scene almost like a play, so when it comes together it’s seamless.
It’s just old school camera stuff. He brought a very analogue perspective, analogue feel to the show. What happens when you do multiple takes… they stop thinking about lines and it becomes about the emotions… [viewers are] going to expect the brawn and the fun, but I think we can compete with any show out there in terms of the drama.
Luke Cage will debut exclusively on Netflix at 12:01 a.m. PST on September 30th.