The Chatter Podcast: “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman

By David Priess
Thursday, May 19, 2022, 9:14 AM

This week, Shane Harris speaks to Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman, who co-created the new Showtime series “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” It’s about an alien, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who comes to earth in search of technology to help save his home planet, which has been ravaged by a changing climate. He seeks out a brilliant scientist, played by Naomie Harris, who has the knowledge to help build the planet-saving device. But she is struggling to care for a young daughter and an ill father on her own and can barely make ends meet.  

The show is based on the cult-classic film of the same name, which starred David Bowie, as well as a novel by Walter Tevis. The new telling is an allegory about climate change and how humans have the potential to destroy worlds and to save them. It’s also an exploration of the lives of refugees and immigrants. The alien is trying to assimilate and survive in a new world whose traditions he doesn’t understand but whose fate is tied up with his own. And the scientist has been forced by circumstance to leave her old life behind and is struggling to understand where she fits in a different and hostile world. 

Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman have been working together for years and have had long and distinguished careers of their own. Jenny wrote the screenplay for “Rachel Getting Married” and has executive produced several TV series. Alex has executive produced numerous science-fiction shows, including the Star Trek series “Discovery” and “Picard.” 

Shane talked to the filmmakers about their careers, the stories they are moved to tell, and their creative influences. Jenny also shared some great stories from her unusual childhood. She’s the daughter of Sidney Lumet, one of the 20th century’s most celebrated directors, and grew up in a house surrounded by talented and eccentric artists.  

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo with engineering assistance from Ian Enright.

Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

See for privacy and opt-out information. 

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” on Showtime:

The official trailer for the series: 

A New York Times interview with Ejiofor about how he developed his character’s unusual physical movements: 

Jenny Lumet’s filmography: 

Alex Kurtzman’s filmography: