In Conversation with Adam Moore

The Pinkertons Creator is a Television Maverick

“Allan Pinkerton . . . saw the way the police went about their work, and he didn’t like it, so he came up with a new methodology for solving crime. My writing partner Kevin Abrams and I are the same way. We looked at the way television was created and developed, and wanted to do it differently.”
~Adam Moore
Adam Moore is the creative whirlwind behind the new television series The Pinkertons, for which he wrote the screenplay and also works as executive producer. He received an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute Conservatory, where he was awarded the Richard Levinson Award for artistic excellence. In addition to screenplays he writes video games and comic books. Recently he took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about the show and what life conditions brought him to this juncture in his life.

Did you read a lot of comic books as a child?
Not comic books. I was much more into video games and role-playing games, especially Star Wars role-playing games. I’ve always been attracted to big, expansive worlds that you can get lost in and tell an infinite number of stories in.

What kinds of movies and television shows did you prefer as a child?
I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I was always into genre. I remember watching old John Wayne westerns with my grandfather when I was very young. Science Fiction of any sort was big with Young Adam, especially anything with transforming robots. Robotech? a Japanese import with an epic storyline? had a very big impact on me.

What was your most beneficial educational experience?
When I was an undergrad at NYU I interned for Hollywood Producer Scott Rudin for over a year. It was the first time I got out of the academic headspace of filmmaking and into the nuts and bolts of it. I learned more about how the business works in my first few months there than in all my time in school.

The runner-up would be my time in grad school at the American Film Institute Conservatory. Such an amazing experience to be surrounded by the most talented young filmmakers in the world for two years.

What elements in your childhood and family history pointed you toward the kind of multimedia creativity you practice today?
I grew up playing video games. I was obsessed with Nintendo, and then Super Nintendo. Games are all about “story worlds” that characters can inhabit and explore, either in a directed experience or a “sandbox” experience (like Grand Theft Auto). I still create worlds today. The world of The Pinkertons lends itself to an infinite number of stories because it is so rich and detailed. Yes, it focuses on a small handful of central characters, but the world is big enough to bring in new characters, new crimes, and new plots.

Does everything you do connect, or do you do some things that have nothing to do with your writing?
I have a rich and full life outside of my writing. I think that’s incredibly important. If all you do is write, and you don’t spend any time living, then what do you have to write about?

Do you identify with any of the characters in The Pinkertons?
I have always identified with Allan Pinkerton because he’s a maverick. He was a barrel maker in Chicago. He saw the way the police went about their work, and he didn’t like it, so he came up with a new methodology for solving crime. My writing partner Kevin Abrams and I are the same way. We looked at the way television was created and developed, and we wanted to do it differently.

What peculiar casting challenges does this story present?
It’s important to find actors who look like they could exist in the 1860’s. You didn’t have many inter-racial families during this time, so we’re not looking for exotic. For Allan Pinkerton, we wanted to find a natural-born Scotsman who could be both tough and brilliant.

The great Angus MacFadyen was a dream casting for us. He is actually from Glasgow, just like Allan Pinkerton. For Will Pinkerton, we needed an actor who could also be tough and handsome, with a roguish wit. Had to make us laugh and cry. Jacob Blair came in and read for the role and blew everyone away. It was clear early on that he was the perfect choice.

And with Kate Warne, the world’s first female detective, the actress had to be beautiful, intelligent, and tough as nails (a woman thriving in a man’s profession) but also vulnerable. When Martha MacIssac said she was interested in the role, we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Her looks, her range, her toughness ? she’s like Kate Warne reincarnated. Maybe she is?

How do you feel about this historical period and the Pinkertons story?
For me, the 1860’s are the most interesting time in American history. After the Civil War, the country struggled to define itself while at the same time expanding deep into the western frontier. It was also becoming an industrialized nation, with the railroad, telegraph, and soon after that electricity, the light bulb, etc. It’s an exciting era of transition.

Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.