A family’s dream of moving to a tropical paradise becomes a nightmare in Paul Theroux’s best-selling 1981 novel (opens in new tab) The Mosquito Coast, which was turned into an acclaimed 1986 film starring Harrison Ford and Dame Helen Mirren.
Now, 40 years on, Apple TV+’s new seven-part adaptation is bringing the action-packed story to life once more from Friday April 30.
Paul Theroux’s nephew, Hollywood star Justin Theroux, takes the lead role of idealistic inventor Allie Fox who is living off-grid in California with wife Margot (Melissa George) and their teenage children Dina (Logan Polish) and Charlie (Gabriel Bateman), and is eager to evade the attention of the US government, after a mysterious incident many years before. But when Allie realises that officials have tracked them down, the Foxes begin a perilous journey across the border into Mexico on a mission to reach the Mosquito Coast in Central America.
We caught up with Justin Theroux to tell us more about The Mosquito Coast…
How do you see Allie?
“As a father, Allie’s complicated. There will be times when people will like him and other times, they will dislike him because of situations he puts his family in. He's an antihero. It's arguable whether what he's doing improves the lives of his family or harms them. At what point does his optimism become zealotry?
"Or at what point does this freedom that he keeps promising his family make them captive to him. He's a difficult man. He has instilled in them this pioneering spirit and believes they’re going to be the Swiss Family Robinson and free of all their troubles and pulling coconuts off the palm trees. But the promise is greater than the reality.”
Do you think a lot of people still dream of getting away from it all and starting a new life?
“Yes, it's a very common fantasy of just wanting to live off the grid with your family and create your own sort of Shangri-La. But the reality obviously, is very different for most people when they try to do that…”
Had you always wanted to play Allie?
“It wasn’t predetermined. Paul was working with Apple and I came along and expressed an interest. It was one of those happy accidents where, after loving the scripts, I was able to call Paul and say, ‘I'm going to play Allie’. He was chuffed. The luxury I had when shooting is that I had a pre-established relationship with the author!
"Having him reachable by phone to ask questions was a huge bonus. He definitely drew on family members for Allie and I think drew on himself quite a bit, because he's someone who has a fair amount of wanderlust in him.”
What were the toughest scenes to shoot?
“There was a lot of running, which is tiresome when you're doing it all night long! And we shot on the border with Mexico and when you're in those brutal deserts you realise what a horrific journey it’d be if you were attempting to cross. The temperature drops at night, making it exceedingly cold, and rises in the day making it incredibly hot. And you can't appreciate how vast those expanses are. It's miles of nothing.”
Was there another side of Mexico you enjoyed though?
“Oh, it was fabulous. I’d been before but I’d never seen the breadth of varying landscapes. Everything from the deserts to congested cities to volcanoes and an incredible shoreline. I was stunned by how beautiful it was. I’m eager, if we get a season two, to go back!”
The Mosquito Coast airs on Apple TV+ from Friday April 30. It will begin with a double-bill before airing weekly.
Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.
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