Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
The cast of Nazi-hunting series 'Hunters' tells us where we find the Hebraic hit squad in S2
Our favorite group of Chabad-Asses are back and this time, they're on the hunt for the biggest prize of all: Adolf Hitler.
"This is not murder...this is mitzvah."
About three years ago, writer David Weil tapped into a rich vein of Jewish wish fulfillment with a little Amazon television series called Hunters. Set in 1977 New York, the show — executive produced by Jordan Peele — followed a Hebraic hit squad (one inspired by real-world figures like Simon Wiesenthal, Tuviah Friedman, and the Klarsfelds) tasked with tracking down Nazi war criminals who had escaped justice at the end of World War II and terminating them with extreme prejudice.
The end result was Spielberg's Munich by way of Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds: a violent, stylized, and thrilling piece of onscreen catharsis for the post-war generations that grew up learning about the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, which brought about the industrialized murder of 11 million human beings (6 million of them Jews).
While Season 1 focused on the evil allowed to spread and fester in the wake of Operation Paperclip, the now-declassified effort by the U.S. government to recruit hundreds of culpable Nazi scientists for the coming conflict against the Soviet Union, the second and final season of Hunters (arriving on Prime video next week) turns its sights to the greatest target of them all: Adolf Hitler.
In this alternate reality, the former dictator of the Third Reich did not take his own life as the Allies marched on Berlin, but escaped to the remote jungles of South America like his own terrified sycophants — Eichmann, Mengele, Barbie, and the rest. Hitler is played in Season 2 by German actor Udo Kier, who previously played the evil figure in 1989's 100 Years of Adolf Hitler - The Last Hour in the Bunker.
"Casting this role was tantamount to lending a sense of authenticity and fear and terror," Weil states over a Zoom conversation. "I think that what we didn't want was Hitler to become a caricature. I think that diminishes the threat that he posed in the ‘30s and ‘40s. We really wanted this character to be as terrifying as can be — and then to combat him in that way. So I think finding an actor like Udo, [someone who has] great gravitas and incredible chops, was really important."
Picking up in 1979, the final batch of episodes find the titular crew of seasoned Nazi slayers reuniting for one last mission in Argentina; a mission to find the heavily-fortified compound occupied by the former Führer and his wife, Eva Braun (Lena Olin). SYFY WIRE recently caught up with a good chunk of the principal cast, who gave us the lowdown on where we find their characters in this farewell tour of revenge and justice.
JONAH HEIDELBAUM (Logan Lerman)
"Jonah’s got a whole other life," Lerman teases. "He’s got a love and he's in school and he's almost moving on from his life as a Nazi hunter. Almost, maybe moving on — or just wrapping things up. And then he gets sucked back into it; sucked back into the responsibility of carrying out one last mission. Because he desperately wants to move on and become a person again."
The character also has a shaggier, almost Serpico-inspired, look this season, which may have been a little tip of the hat to Al Pacino, who returns to play Hunters' founder, Meyer Offerman, in a parallel storyline set during 1975. Lerman, however, insists that Jonah's long hair and beard were merely a narrative byproduct of the COVID-19 health crisis.
"I was just letting things grow. I had some time off at the beginning of the pandemic and I was talking with David. He would see me and be like, ‘Oh, s***! I'm using this. Don't cut anything. Don't shave, don't do anything. Just keep it because it's working for what I'm thinking. I’m gonna go home and write, just stay like that!’"
LONNY FLASH (Josh Radnor)
"There was a kind of ill-fated Hunters mission to Europe that we reference and talk about, [but] you don't really see it," Radnor reveals. "Everyone's gone their own way [and] the gang is really split up. Lonny is kind of spiraling down the drain in terms of his addictions and he's heartsick over this romance with one of the Hunters that didn't work out. He's not doing well and the gang is really fractured and part of the first couple episodes is getting the posse back together and reuniting for an even bigger mission."
In addition, Lonny has a new film to promote, Eight Ways to Shabbat, which focuses on a Jewish hitman experiencing a crisis of faith, who needs to kill eight men before the sun goes down on Friday night. Amazon even went so far as to produce an actual trailer (directed by Kelsey Bollig) for the fictional project. "It's hilarious," Radnor says with a grin. "To me, it's kind of like a Charles Bronson, hardboiled Clint Eastwood ‘70s Jewsploitation movie."
"One day, I’d love to make that movie with Josh. I think it would be incredible," Weil adds. "So hopefully, there is the possibility for spinoffs and other ways to further and continue the Hunters universe."
"I'd like us to actually shoot a whole Lonny Flash movie where Lonny Flash is playing another character, so we can actually see what he's like in the movies. I think that'd be really fun," echoes Radnor, later pointing out that the character's cinematic success has allowed Mr. Flash to up his fashion game. "There's a little more peacock to his outfits. He’s wearing a couple more suits. First season, it was a lot of flashy prints and tight pants and leather jackets. This season, it’s a little less rugged and a little more upscale."
SISTER HARRIET (Kate Mulvany)
"We find Harriet sort of alone," Mulvany says of her ass-kicking nun. "Between Season 1 and Season 2, there's been a bit of trouble in the Hunters group, and she's kind of wandering the world alone, still doing her best to hunt the Nazis … But she’s really by herself and I'm not sure if she makes the best decisions when she's just by herself."
She also promises that we'll receive a definite answer for that mysterious phone call in the Season 1 finale, which hinted at the existence of dual loyalties. "I didn't know who was on the end of the phone in Season 1," Mulvany admits when asked if Weil let her in on the secret. "And Season 2, without going into too much detail, all of that will get explained. But yeah, I was [just] as intrigued as the viewers out there every time I got a script, kind of putting together the jigsaw of what Harriet's dalliances are."
ROXY JONES (Tiffany Boone)
"She's living a life of luxury in Europe, and she's a rich woman now," Boone explains. "She's still using her forgery skills. But she’s been able to just get away from the hunt and have kind of a peaceful life with her daughter and [is] able to raise her daughter in Europe, which is not devoid of racism, however. Taking her out of poverty and the racism of America and putting her in a new space. You just find Roxy in a good space and then she has to join the hunt again. And she's like, ‘These fools. Fine, I guess, for the betterment of the world.’"
Boone also sounds off on the notable downtime between production on the two seasons: "It was like a family reunion because we’re a tight-knit bunch — it’s a great group people. But yeah, it's a little hard to get your footing again and the characters are in such different places. So you're trying to remember what it was and then create something new and bring the band back together. We were shooting in New York first season and LA second season. So all of our lives have changed. It was a little chaotic."
JOE MIZUSHIMA (Louis Ozawa)
Run down in broad daylight at the end of Season 1, Joe (a haunted and Vietnam War vet) was forcibly kidnapped by the Nazi cabal and taken to Hitler's South American hideaway. What exactly did they want with him? The potential of his inner darkness.
"You can see truly the monster that they were able to bring out of him," Ozawa teases. "You see a little bit of that in Season 1. Meyer definitely indoctrinates Joe into a certain kind of mode and then the Nazis are just so much better at bringing out the inner monster in people. As a metaphor for our world, it's true. We all have these monsters within us and it just takes the right kind of cue and then people snap."
TRAVIS LEICH (Greg Austin)
You may recall that this Nazi stooge was incarcerated at the end of Season 1 for his involvement in trying to bring about a Fourth Reich in America. Thanks to a prequel short (also directed by Bollig) released on social media, we know that Travis kills a guard and escapes his cell at Sing Sing just before the second season kicks off in earnest. "You can't hold Travis in," Austin declares. "We get to see him mature throughout the season and find his way back to the heart of evil."
He continues: "I wanted to mature Travis this season and David was really on board with that. I'd been working hard over the pandemic and didn't have much else to do apart from work out. You see a lot more of Travis this season and I mean a lot more. In that vein, I wanted Travis to be darker and sexier in a way. I wanted the face of evil to be attractive. There's got to be an appeal to evil, right? There’s got to be some reasoning behind it and for someone like Travis — a pure psychopath in my mind — becoming more enticing in way, sexually, was a real interesting flavor that I prompted to David and he loved it."
To get back into Travis's deplorable shoes, the actor listened to a lot of heavy metal. "Music is my go-to as an actor if I need to inhabit a particular emotion. Especially over the pandemic, I got into some pretty heavy metal music and that's what inspired a lot of Travis this season. Before going on set, I normally put some headphones on and listen to something pretty heavy and dark and aggressive."
All eight episodes of the second and final season of Hunters drop onto Prime Video next Friday — Jan. 13.
Jonesing for another thriller inspired by true events? A Friend of the Family is now streaming on Peacock.