NEW YORK – The highly anticipated series Altered Carbon is now available on Netflix. The series’ creator and showrunner is Greek-American Laeta Kalogridis who is perhaps best known for her screenwriting for feature films including Alexander, Avatar, and Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Born in Winter Haven, FL, Kalogridis, whose grandparents immigrated to the United States from Kalymnos, graduated from Davidson College in Davidson, NC and the University of Texas at Austin. She studied screenwriting in the MFA program at UCLA.
Altered Carbon is based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 book. Kalogridis had been pitching the adaptation of the book for 15 years before the series was finally realized on Netflix. She told Entertainment Weekly about the reluctance of movie studios to produce a film adaptation of the book, “The complexity of the story requires — as noir often does — to make something that’s an extremely twisty murder mystery, but it also had to be hard-R tonally. And a hard-R sci-fi movie usually is something like Logan, for example, where you’re building out a piece of a franchise.”
Set in the year 2384, the science fiction series’ first season consists of ten episodes and premiered on February 2. The description on Netflix reads, “After 250 years on ice, a prisoner returns to life in a new body with one chance to win his freedom: by solving a mind-bending murder.”
According to imdb.com, in this dystopian future, “consciousness is digitized and stored in cortical stacks implanted in the spine, allowing humans to survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness ‘re-sleeved’ into new bodies. The story follows specially trained ‘Envoy’ soldier Takeshi Kovacs [played by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman], who is downloaded from an off-world prison and into the body of a disgraced cop at the behest of Laurens Bancroft [played by British actor James Purefoy], a highly influential aristocrat. Bancroft was killed, and the last automatic backup of his stack was made hours before his death, leaving him with no memory of who killed him and why. While police ruled it a suicide, Bancroft is convinced he was murdered and wants Kovacs to find out the truth.”
Kalogridis told Neos Kosmos that the series “is a commentary on the widening gap between those ‘who have and those who don’t’” and that was “what struck her most when reading the book.”
“Maybe this comes out of being Greek; it is a deeply anti-democratic thing to have a few people who own everything and everybody else being underneath it. It’s bad for human society,” she said, Neos Kosmos reported.
Of her background, Kalogridis told The Hollywood Reporter, “When I was a kid, my grandparents were Greek immigrants on my father’s side. My grandfather used to read me Greek myths, in which there are a great many goddesses and stories of strong women. And I was entranced by them. Then I started reading science fiction very young, and I loved it.
“There was a brief period in college where I flirted with the idea of becoming a lawyer, because my father was one. But I was cured of it rather swiftly. I was very lucky in that I just kept pursuing graduate degrees where I could get scholarships or TA-ships, and I ended up in the MFA program for screenwriting at UCLA.”
One of Kalogridis’ favorite stories about being a screenwriter in Hollywood involves being fired from the 2007 Bionic Woman reboot. She had written the pilot and first episode of the show. Kalogridis told The Hollywood Reporter, “I got fired off Bionic Woman in part because I was told that I don’t know how to write women, and they promptly replaced me with a guy. What I find lovely about the story is how unaware the white dude who said that to me was when he said it. I’m not bitter, but clearly whoever he hired wasn’t quite able to really find that voice either based on what happened to the show.”
Bionic Woman was cancelled in its first season after only 9 episodes.
Altered Carbon is available on Netflix.