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SYFY WIRE Alex Garland

Devs creator Alex Garland talks 'cultish' tech companies, shows off sneak peeks at C2E2 2020

By Jacob Oller
Devs_Nick Offerman and Sonoya Mizuno

Alex Garland, the idiosyncratic writer/director behind cerebral sci-fi films like Ex Machina and Annihilation, has a new mind-bending project on the horizon: the FX on Hulu miniseries Devs. Not to be content with twisty, trippy forays into technology and oddball philosophy on the big screen, Garland pushed his beloved themes onto TV -- to great result, if early reviews are to be believed. Garland, who wrote and directed the series' eight episodes, spoke at C2E2 after showing off a sneak preview of the show that positions Nick Offerman as a mysterious, long-haired tech CEO.

The early reviews weren't lying: This show looks trippy and gorgeous ... not to mention confusing."I wouldn't even say the Devs team knows what the Devs team does," Offerman's character, Forest, chuckles in the sneak-preview clip that showed off different footage from any of its previous trailers.

Guess after guess follows, with the secretive, possibly self-determining purpose of the Devs team left up to the imagination as Forest and Sergei walk through the woods on their way to the gold-tinged, electromagnetically supported operations center. There they find "the machine" or, at least, "the central unit," as Forest ominously teases. A second clip shows off Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) asking her friend for help ... because, surprise, Sergei has disappeared. The only information that could help is locked down on Sergei's phone. Spooky.

Then Garland came out, with about as many answers as would be expected. He explained that casting Offerman wasn't due to his comic background, since he was unfamiliar with his work, but he did know that "comedians can move from comedy to drama more easily than dramatic actors can move to comedy." There's something "soulful" about the actor, the writer/director said.

Garland explained that his show was interested in the "cultish" aspect of current Silicon Valley tech companies. "Something like a product launch can feel like a church meeting," he said about these corporations where "a lot of Kool-Aid" is consumed. "It's like opium," Garland said of increasingly powerful tech. "It's fun to take, but it's problematic."

Garland said he'd been interested and studying quantum mechanics -- a pivotal part of the show, related to free will -- for a long time before he even started developing Devs. It was only after he felt increasingly comfortable with the difficult subjects that he started to write about it -- and even then he was constantly checking the science to make sure he hadn't strayed too far from reality. He was also candid about his love of television, especially its "breadth." Where movies have an intense economical aspect, TV gives the story and characters a chance to breathe. So far, however, Devs is the only TV project Garland has yet to be associated with -- but that could change. "I've written the first two episodes of another eight-episode project," the creator divulged, saying that the series "isn't sci-fi."

Devs stars Offerman and Mizuno alongside Jin Ha, Zach Grenier, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, and Alison Pill. Devs hits Hulu on March 5.