Gale Anne Hurd became famous for producing movies like The Terminator, Aliens, and Armageddon. But these days, she’s better known as the producer of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. Now, she’s producing Hunters for Syfy, and she told us why it’s her most political show yet.
Hunters is adapted from Whitley Strieber’s Alien Hunters book series. It’s about a secret government agency that monitors and battles a specific kind of terrorism—the kind that’s committed by extraterrestrials masquerading as humans. We’ve seen the first two episodes; so far, Hunters is intriguing and dark, not to mention awesomely gruesome (you want an alien autopsy? You got it!)
“It deals with a group of aliens who—well, we’re not sure what their intention is. We’re not sure why they’re doing what they’re doing. But it is part of the mystery of the first season,” Hurd told io9. “Very often, we see aliens that are either not scary or they have such dominant abilities that it’s impossible to imagine that we could resist them. We wanted to see what would happen if their capabilities weren’t so significant—and how they would achieve, or not achieve, their ends, given they didn’t arrive on a huge ship that can destroy major cities on Earth. We also did want to look at the issue of terrorism, which is obviously one that we’re facing, and isn’t going away.”
It’s not the first time Hurd has used science fiction as a way to explore current events and offer social commentary. “I made a film that that was turned into a television series years ago, Alien Nation. And that was a lens to examine immigration in this country—attitudes toward it, and lack of tolerance,” she says. “Obviously when you’re dealing with people from another planet, you can set aside any kind of preconceived notions about a particular religion or ethnicity.”
As with Alien Nation, Hunters has a character who’s an alien working alongside humans. In this case, Regan (Britne Oldford) is part of the elite force that’s tracking the alien terrorists.
“The contemporary situation would be someone who is mixed-race. Who do you identify with? Often, you’re rejected by both sides,” Hurd says. “Because Regan is a hunter, because she’s an alien, she isn’t embraced very easily by the rest of the unit. She struggles to figure out if she’s doing the right thing, because she’s going against her kind. I think that’s the basis of great drama, that kind of internal conflict that a character has to deal with. It’s very much a part of Regan’s character.”
Hurd also produces The Walking Dead, which wraps up its current season next week, and Fear the Walking Dead, which returns April 10, a day before Hunters kicks off. The shows are different in some obvious ways, as she points out. “On The Walking Dead, you can tell a zombie or a walker from a normal person very easily; [on Hunters], you can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are.” But they also share some similarities. “[Hunters] is very much about the characters and their journey, which is why people like The Walking Dead. They’re up against a world that’s changed, and they’re trying to survive long enough to save the world.”
When we asked which end-of-the-world scenario Hurd found scarier—zombies or aliens?—she was diplomatic. “The reason I love science fiction so much is that you don’t have to choose. You can enjoy both. What I love is the opportunity that science fiction gives you to examine issues that are allegories for what we’re experiencing today. With The Walking Dead, it’s about how we feel as if there’s an apocalypse right around the corner, whether it’s financial or global climate change, you name it. With aliens, it’s always the fear of the other. That’s something that we’re also dealing with in the world today. I think they both tap into our fears.”
Hunters begins April 11 on Syfy.