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How Amazon lured Al Pacino to the small screen

TVBEurope tracks down the producers of Hunters

Tensions are high in America where hundreds of Nazis are in hiding, conspiring to create the Fourth Reich. That’s also the premise of Amazon’s new series Hunters, which follows a ragtag band of Nazi hunters as they track down the hidden officers in 1970s New York. Landing on Amazon Prime Video this week, why make a US-based Nazi-hunting drama now?

Aside from the obvious political reasons, the show’s origins are personal for David Weil, creator and executive producer, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust and told him stories of their experiences when he was younger. “They really did feel like the stuff of comic books and superheroes at the time,” he says, noting the lack of Jewish superheroes he had growing up. “It was Judah Maccabee and Jeff Goldblum and there was no one in between! I just wanted to represent a Jewish superhero who wasn’t nebbishy or just intellectual or just kind of this punch line, but instead had might and power and strength. And so Hunters was born from that urge.”

Weil believes that streaming companies like Amazon encourage this level of specificity. “They have The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and now Hunters – you can be Jewish, you can be other in a way where you used to have to whitewash those things on broadcast TV or on cable in the past. But they’ve really given such a beautiful welcome to these stories about others, which is so nice.”

Does he think a traditional broadcaster would have taken on a project of such high-risk subject matter and violent content? “I don’t think so,” says Weil. “Or if they did, I think we would have to censor a lot of it and cut a lot of it. Jennifer Salke and the whole Amazon team was so vehement in their support of wanting this vision to really come to life as it was written on the page, which just felt like a really lucky thing.”

Hunters’ greatest coup is bringing a certain Al Pacino to the small screen for the first time, as elder Jewish Nazi hunter Meyer Offerman. How did the producers land this promising up-and-comer? “Many, many meetings!” executive producer Nikki Toscano recalls. “We had heard from his agents that he might be interested in doing a project like that. That’s how the idea was born. And what else were we going to think? I mean, it’s Al Pacino!”

Hunters launches on Amazon Prime Video on 21st February. Look out for the full interview with Weil and Toscano in the March issue of TVBEurope.