In almost every story told there is some sort of battle between good and evil. Whether it’s an epic superhero tale where there is a salient fight with a villain, or a love story where maybe the main character is battling demons within—there is always an exemplified push and pull with two forces.
But what really is good and what is evil? Who is to decide what ends justify the means? Just because you wear a cape and call yourself a “hero,” does that put you on a higher moral level, or does it truly take someone unmoral to fight the sinful forces in the world?
These questions are explored in Amazon Prime’s lastest series “Hunters,” which traverses the idea of Nazis living in plain sight in America in the 70s, and a group of Holocaust survivors and vigilantes who make it their mission to hunt them down before history is doomed to repeat itself.
The show comes from David Weil and was produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions with it’s own impressive line-up of actors taking on the roles of both the Nazis and the hunters. The starry-eyed talent signed on to the project was part of the reason why Logan Lerman and Josh Radnor decided to sign on, but also it’s that question of morality.
Lerman plays Jonah, who is the driving force of the story. Right off the bat, the 19-year-old Jewish Brooklynite is thrown into an unanticipated upheaval when his grandmother is murdered and a mysterious millionaire, Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino) enters into his life.
“It’s his story and his plight that we are connected to as an audience,” says Lerman. “We’re really connected to him searching for answers and the center of the series—the thing that really attracted me to the project— was that question about morality at the center of it. Does it take evil to combat evil? Do you need to become a bad guy in order to fight the bad guys? I thought that was an interesting moral and ethical question that we could explore throughout this series.”
That question is imminent throughout every episode of the show. Shortly after meeting Pacino’s character, Jonah also enters into a team of vigilantes who call themselves the “Hunters.” And why are they hunting Nazis? According to Offerman, “they all have their reasons,” which we as an audience begin to learn as the story unfolds.
One of the curious characters making up the avenger team includes a 70s film star by day, Nazi hunter by night cool cat named Lonny Flash (Josh Radnor.) Out of all of the characters in the show, Radnor’s is one of the most intriguing.
“This show has such a fresh, audacious and original voice with David, his script and Jordan being involved, and this cast which is top shelf and this part which is so outrageous. A 70s movie star who is a Nazi hunter— there just wasn’t anything in me that said I don’t know or let’s hold off and think about this,” says Radnor. “I think I just had some intuitive understanding of Lonny. There’s this relaxed quality to him and it’s masking this insecurity. He’s got a lot invested in being cool and looking cool and I think he’s watching himself in a self-conscious way, but he’s such a good actor that you almost wouldn’t know it. I just had this sense of who he was and where his wounds were. I felt like I had access to his voice and his kind of vibe, but it wasn’t until after I got cast and we found the facial hair look and the wardrobe and jewelry— I almost understood him more in a molecular way.”
The eclectic band of characters also includes a nun who shows no mercy, a couple who unapologetically take no prisoners, a knife-wielding huntress and a badass soldier who all have their own skills that they bring to the team. It’s after meeting the hunters that Jonah really begins to view life through a different lens.
It’s interesting, my character is constantly battling that ethical question at the center of the show. He’s kind of ping-ponging back and forth with his beliefs in terms of what is right and what is wrong. After what happens to his grandmother, he’s pissed off and he’s filled with rage and he feels like there has been a great injustice, so he puts in a great effort to find answers. He’s just hellbent on trying to understand why anyone would do this to an old lady,” says Lerman. “That question about morality is the thing that I want people to be asking themselves when completing the season. What’s the best way to stop a facist uprising? Can you do it with an ethical approach? Or do you agree that the Hunters have a better approach or maybe the only approach that works? It’s an interesting conversation about morality at the center of the series.”
The series itself is quite dynamic with Weil’s intricately interesting writing and Peele’s dark, yet encompassing style. The characters each bring their own sense of moral ambiguity, more so than any recent show has highlighted in recent years. It’s entertaining, it’s witty and it’s violent, but it does always put that moral question of what is good and what is evil and how do you really separate the two at the forefront.
“Certainly, I might have some opinions about that as a human being, but as an actor, I feel that in some ways it might complicate my job. I trusted that the people who wrote this show and my character was written in a really dynamic way. My job was to just show up and be as honest as I could in those situations and bring all I had to it,” says Radnor. “It’s a perennial question, and I don’t know if the show answers it and I don’t think the show should answer it— but I do think the responsibility of the show is to pose that question and then let the audience make their own conclusions.”
“Hunters” drops on Amazon Prime Feb. 21.