Based on the Dutch series Penoza, Red Widow tells the story of Marta Walraven, a mother and wife who appears to live an idyllic life but whose world is turned upside down when her husband is brutally murdered in their family’s driveway. Marta then has to find a way to protect her children and navigate the world she tried to avoid: The world of organized crime, where her husband sold marijuana to support his family.
Red Widow: The Complete First Season comes to DVD next Tuesday (5/28)!
Red Widow: Melissa Rosenberg
Based on the Dutch series Penoza, Red Widow tells the story of Marta Walraven, a mother and wife who appears to live an idyllic life but whose world is turned upside down when her husband is brutally murdered in their family’s driveway. Marta then has to find a way to protect her children and navigate the world she tried to avoid: The world of organized crime, where her husband sold marijuana to support his family. Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter, The O.C.) is an executive producer and writer for the ABC show.
How did you find the Dutch series?
Endemol, who is our producing partner, found the series. ABC came to them, and Endemol said, "No, this is a cable series." And Paul Lee said, "No, no, we want it for us." It landed in my lap, and it was too fantastic to pass up. I had wanted to spend the rest of my career in cable having been there for four years with Dexter, and I just loved that experience, but ABC now two years in a row had the projects that are fascinating, so it's been a good experience, so much so that I signed a deal with them with my production company.
Why were you interested in working on this show?
What drew me to the project in is this is female character, [Marta], who’s flawed, as all human beings are. She's a very human character. And I think that's something that has been really exciting to bring to network television. We've had on cable for a while now male characters that are very flawed and complex like Tony Soprano and Dexter. And then we've just begun to have that on cable for women in the form of Nurse Jackie and Weeds. And now I think this show is bringing that kind of character to network. It's a very tricky character to sell to an audience because women are held to a high standard. But as she's played by Radha [Mitchell], you have the passion for her, you are with her.
Did writing for Dexter help prepare you for Red Widow?
Oh, absolutely. The issue you're dealing with in the character of Dexter, who's a serial character, is how do you get the audience rooting for someone like that? And how do you get someone rooting for a mother who is making some really questionable decisions? So having gone through Dexter has really helped me to find in those dark places what is universal, what can we all relate to?
Were you worried you wouldn’t have as much freedom on a non-cable show?
When I first met with ABC about this, I'd seen the Dutch series, and I saw it and said, "This is network?" It's very cable-esque in its tone and its edge. So when I went to meet with Paul [Lee] and everybody, I was wary because I said, "I don’t want to pull back on the edge with this or the storytelling for the network." I also feel this is a very character-driven show that's not something that lends itself as well to 22 episodes. The one advantage that cable has over network – and it’s nothing to do with sex or violence – it is time. You have time to write a good show, and you have time to develop it. So we got mid-season eight episodes – that's exactly what I wanted. So I had as much time to write and develop this show as I did on Dexter, which is three months going in, whereas a lot of network shows have maybe seven weeks. I don't know how you create a show and find a show in seven weeks. So I'm more proud of this than anything else I've done in my career, and so much of that has to do with ABC having given me the time to really craft stories and bring these actors together.
What is the biggest difference between Red Widow and the Dutch series?
The Dutch series was a really extraordinary series. It moves at a much more languid pace. I think it's more European pacing. For this, I ended up condensing a great deal.
Why set the series in San Francisco?
The original series was set in a suburb outside Amsterdam. There was a sort of sense of two worlds. I'm from Marin County, and Marin County and San Francisco really provided that same kind of dynamic with the bridge connecting them. The bridge is very thematic in the piece – the two worlds, what connects them, what divides them, the two characters of the character Marta. And it needed to be near water.
Why did you decide to not delve into flashbacks of Marta’s life before her husband dies throughout the series?
I made a very conscious choice to move on from Marta's husband, which was devastating when we cast Anson Mount, who we all love. It was like, "Oh God, maybe he really should come back!" I think we all really wanted to follow Marta moving forward. I didn't want to dwell in what was. It is the catalyst. It's everything that's motivating her forward. The story's about what's happening now and the shift into her relationship with Schiller and with her family coming back together. That's really where I wanted to focus.
Tell us about casting Luke Goss as Luther.
Luke's character is extremely difficult to write for because the more words you give the character, the more you take away some ways from his strength and his mystery. So much has to play on his face. When you see Luke onscreen, the camera has to love him, and you can see everything playing there.
How did you decide how violent you could go with this show?
For me it's about the reality of it. There are consequences. It's ugly. It's brutal. It's real. For me, it starts becoming a problem when you start glorifying it, and there's no violence in this show that was glorified. It was played very real. Someone gets hit, they feel it. The violence in the pilot is what sets the entire series going. There's consequences that will last for years and years, hopefully.
Red Widow: Radha Mitchell
Based on the Dutch series Penoza, Red Widow tells the story of Marta Walraven, a mother and wife who appears to live an idyllic life but whose world is turned upside down when her husband is brutally murdered in their family’s driveway. Marta then has to find a way to protect her children and navigate the world she tried to avoid: The world of organized crime, where her husband sold marijuana to support his family. Australian actress Radha Mitchell plays Marta on the ABC show.
Tell us about your character, Marta Walraven.
Marta Walraven is pretty much my dream character to play. Melissa wrote a woman who has a duality which is very complex. Basically she's a woman who is a housewife who has been sort of avoiding her criminal upbringing by living the life of a soccer mom, and she's dragged into a world that she's been trying to avoid her whole life when her husband is assassinated in relation to a drug incident. In the process, she discovers things about herself and talents that she didn’t know she had and becomes more compelled by the likes of Christian Schiller, who's this evil,only not so evil, drug lord in San Francisco.
What attracted you to the role?
Melissa has written a character that’s very human and at the same time discovers aspects of herself that are more than she would expect primarily because she finds the strength within herself as a mother. It’s a woman who's living in two realities. One of them is this crime reality and the other is she's a mom and she's dealing with all these mundane, maternal issues. For me, I was always drawn to the fact that she really is a mom. I think there's something kind of beautiful about that maternal energy. It’s quite interesting. You don't often see mothers in leading roles. I love the fact that she's got balls, but she also has these beautiful moments of maternal-ness.
How did you create the tone for Red Widow?
We met with Mark Pellington, who's a really talented director who directed the pilot and helped create the tone for the piece, and he was really comfortable to have it sort of rest in this naturalistic kind of sphere. The situations are really extreme, and what the character goes through is huge, and she goes on this huge epic journey. There's a huge arc for her in the series. It sits in a very real place, and I think that's why it works. It's very visceral and gets you in an emotional place.
What has it been like to do action scenes for Red Widow?
I love them. We keep it real on the show, and Marta’s transformation is a slow one, but she does evolve, and she does know how to handle a gun, which is really fun, and she gets some coaching from Luke's character on how to do that. There is a lot of action in the show, and she's part of some of it.
What has it been like working with fellow Australian actor Wil Traval, who plays your character’s brother?
It's a pretty interesting chemistry between our two characters. It's a lot of love/hate. There's a lot of love but there's a lot of frustration. It's a lot of fun actually. The casting is really spot-on. It was sort of made for him. Having us both be Australian does immediately create this sibling affinity. We get each other in a way that you wouldn't if you weren't from the same place.
Protecting Family Has Never Been This Dangerous
Red Widow: The Complete First Season
The Emotional Family Drama Arriving On DVD May 28, 2013
One woman's dangerous journey into the world of organized crime as she stops at nothing to protect her family.
Red Widow: The Complete First Season
two-disc DVD set brings fans closer to the mayhem as the search continues to uncover the truth about season one's most explosive murder. The exciting release is packed with extras including never-before-seen moments, exclusive content and more.
stars Radha Mitchell as Marta Walraven, Sterling Beaumon as Gabriel Walraven, Clifton Collins Jr. as FBI Agent James Ramos, Luke Goss as Luther, Suleka Mathew as Dina Tomlin, Erin Moriarty as Natalie Walraven, Jaime Ray Newman as Kat Castillo, Jakob Salvati as Boris Walraven, Lee Tergesen as Mike Tomlin, Wil Traval as Irwin Petrov, with Rade Serbedzija as Andrei Petrov and Goran Visnjic as Nicholae Schiller.
Red Widow The Journey
- An exciting chance for fans to join show creator Melissa Rosenberg to learn about the creative process behind the development of making the exciting series!
- The chance for fans to check out additional pulse-racing experiences through material that didn't make into the aired episodes.
- A look at some of the hilarious behind-the-scenes moments from the set of Red Widow
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Release Format & SRP: 2-Disc DVD = $29.99
Bonus features not rated.
Run Time :Approximately 344 minutes (8 episodes)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Languages/Subtitles: English/English, Spanish, French
May 28, 2013, 7:46 am - PR