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Raised by Wolves creator Aaron Guzikowski is perhaps best known for his script Prisoners, which became a Denis Villeneuve film that pushed Hugh Jackman's raging father and Jake Gyllenhaal's cop to their limits. Now the writer has a new show about a very different kind of extreme parenting. Raised by Wolves is driven by science fiction necessity, following one faction that left its surviving embryos in the care of a pair of Mother and Father androids after a religious war drove humanity from Earth. More notably, though, Guzikowski has a new genre master as a partner: Ridley Scott.
The HBO Max series looks to tackle plenty of the fallout from its juicy premise, including issues familiar to Scott fans (like the humanity/non-humanity of androids and the search for meaning) and a grand universe detailed in both its history and setting. The robots (played by Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim) aren't alone with their wards. Humans from the other faction of the war, including Sue and Marcus (Niamh Algar and Travis Fimmel), are looking to settle on the same planet. Conflict is inevitable. The aliens and other dangers they find along the way are just icing for sci-fi fans. But how did it come about and where did its big themes come from?
SYFY WIRE sat down with Guzikowski to find out and talk all things Raised by Wolves, including what it's like to find out that Ridley Scott liked your script so much he immediately started drawing it.
Your filmed scripts have previously been straight dramas, but you’ve worked on The Wolf Man, Friday the 13th, and Seventh Son — have you always been plugging away on pulpier genre projects?
I’ve always loved sci-fi, I just never found the right project to do the things I wanted to do. I’ve always been very character-oriented, and continue to be, and I love being scared, so I think that continues on from the stuff I’ve worked on previously.
Speaking of sci-fi characters and fear, you get the master of that — Ridley Scott — to open the first two episodes of your show. How did that come about?
I’d written the script and I’d brought it into his production company, Scott Free. I didn’t imagine he was going to direct it, just that they would produce it. But he read it and he responded to it — apparently he started drawing the storyboards immediately afterward, which was incredible.
When I heard that on the phone I was like, “Holy s***! That’s amazing, is he really going to do it?” I still didn't really believe it. But before you know it, we were in South Africa shooting. It was amazing, as soon as he got on board it started rolling along like a freight train. He was just having a great time, inspired to tell this story.
Amazing. Do you remember the first Ridley Scott storyboard that you got to see?
I’m trying to think back, I think it might’ve been a storyboard of the birthing, where Mother is hooked up to the various umbilicals. Yeah, it was a rendering of that and it was super cool.
It’s a show about parenting and different philosophical approaches to parenting — did it come out of raising your own kids?
Yeah, a part of it was definitely inspired by that idea and the challenges inherent. It’s also about creators and creations. Humanity and the things that we make. The things that we expect to reflect back on us in some way, shape, or form.
The same goes for human parents and their children: all the things they come with, the genetics that get passed down — all these built-in algorithms — and then all the things you then try to teach them. And then whether you do or you don’t, that’s all part of the fun, I guess. When you’re an android, these questions become even more interesting to contemplate.
And that’s not the only big idea you’re after. In your show, there’s a massive conflict that revolves around the soul. What drew you to that?
The soul is an interesting thing because — what it’s really trying to get at is the purpose. What gives us purpose? What drives us forward and how do you find it? Is it through religion? Is it through technology? What should we put our faith in? What is going to lead us out of the darkness, so to speak? And I certainly don’t know, but that’s why I love asking the questions because I’m so curious and anxious to find the answers.
Raised by Wolves starts looking for answers when its first three episodes hit HBO Max on Sept. 3.