Radha Mitchell in Red Widow.
Take a Dutch series (Penoza) about a housewife with ties to the underworld, transplant it to Marin and San Francisco, give creative control to über-screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (the Twilight films, Dexter), and you get Red Widow (debuting March 3 on ABC). How does the San Anselmo native turned Hollywood heavyweight translate Euro-grit into (she hopes) an American hit?
Let the heroine be flawed: “We see Marta [Walraven, played by Radha Mitchell] making morally questionable decisions and screwing things up. She gets drawn into a criminal operation, and for the first season, she’s doing all she can to break free. Then she discovers that she’s actually pretty damned good at it.”
Make the setting a character: “The Dutch series has a very liberal social progressive sensibility. Marin has the same feel, and it’s also a bit of a bubble, which works with the theme of two worlds. In one, a safe and sheltered enclave, Marta has her family life, and then the Golden Gate Bridge takes us to the city, the criminality. The bridge is a very symbolic image.”
Pick up the pace: “The original is much slower. What it does in three episodes, I’ve done in one.”
Originally published in the March 2013 issue of San Francisco.
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