Hunters is a 2020 American drama streaming television series created by David Weil.
In 1977, in New York City, a troubled young Jewish man bent on revenge is taken in by a secret group of Nazi hunters fighting a clandestine war against the cabal of high-ranking Nazi officials in hiding who work to create the Fourth Reich.
Also known as The Hunt (US working title).
The series’ characters draw from a number of real Nazi hunters through the decades, but are not meant to be a specific representation of any of them. It follows a diverse band of Nazi hunters living in 1977 New York City who discover that Nazi war criminals are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the US. A parallel plot element is the discovery of Operation Paperclip, the US government operation relocating many German scientists (including many Nazis) to the US.
- Logan Lerman as Jonah Heidelbaum, a young mathematics whiz who takes his grandmother’s place among the Hunters. Lerman joined the project due to the involvements of Jordan Peele, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, David Weil, and Nikki Toscano, and the series’ moral dilemma of being bad to fight evil.
- Al Pacino as Meyer Offerman, a Polish-Jewish philanthropist and Holocaust survivor who recruits and leads the Hunters. It is Pacino’s first-ever TV series lead role; said the long-time actor, “I missed out on some great television offers I had in the past because the whole thing was: ‘You don’t do television.’ That’s what the advisors would say early on. I’m talking 30 years ago.” Creator David Weil, who created Hunters because his grandparents were both Holocaust survivors, describing writing Meyer as “me meeting my grandfather for the first time, and that was a really beautiful and kind of powerful thing.”
- Lena Olin as The Colonel, leader of the Fourth Reich.
- Jerrika Hinton as Millie Morris, an FBI agent who stumbles onto the Fourth Reich and the Hunters during a murder investigation. Hinton focused the most on the character’s overwhelming faith on powerful institutions meant to protect citizens, such as the FBI. In studying the role as well as the nature of the FBI in the 1970s, she had conversations with a black woman who was an FBI agent in the 1970s like Millie, named Jerri Williams, which, in Hinton’s words, were “monumentally helpful.”
- Saul Rubinek as Murray Markowitz, Mindy’s husband and the Hunters’ electronics expert; a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor.
- Carol Kane as Mindy Markowitz, Murray’s wife and the Hunters’ signals expert; a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor.
- Josh Radnor as Lonny Flash, actor and master of disguises for the Hunters.
- Greg Austin as Travis Leich, an American Neo-Nazi acolyte drawn into the Fourth Reich. Austin chose the role after doing many prior ones very close to his empathetic real-life personality, and wanting to challenge himself playing the opposite of that; he studied psychopathic characters in various television series, as well as the real-life Ted Bundy, for his role.
- Tiffany Boone as Roxy Jones, a member of the Hunters who specialises in counterfeiting and forgery.
- Louis Ozawa as Joe Mizushima, a Vietnam War veteran and the Hunters’ combat expert.
- Kate Mulvany as Sister Harriet, a former MI6 operative who now works with the Hunters; a former German-Jewish child refugee.
- Dylan Baker as Biff Simpson, an Undersecretary of State in the Carter administration and secretly an undercover Nazi agent.
- Christian Oliver as Wilhelm Zuchs, “The Wolf,” a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz who tormented both Meyer and Jonah’s grandmother Ruth.
- Victor Williams as Detective Kennedy Groton.
- Jonno Davies as Tobias, the Colonel’s body man.
- James LeGros as Hank Grimsby, former OSS operative and now Millie’s boss at the FBI.
- Ebony Obsidian as Carol Lockhart.
- Caleb Emery as Arthur “Bootyhole” McGuigan.
- Henry Hunter Hall as Sherman “Cheeks” Johnson.
- Jeannie Berlin as Ruth Heidelbaum, Jonah’s grandmother and a survivor of Auschwitz.
- Julissa Bermudez as Maria, Millie’s girlfriend and a nurse.
- Becky Ann Baker as Commerce Secretary Juanita M. Kreps.
- Celia Weston as Dottie.
- Joshua Satine as Aaron Markowitz.
- Josh Mostel as Rabbi Steckler.
- Barbara Sukowa as Tilda Sauer.
- Judd Hirsch as Simon Wiesenthal.
- Keir Dullea as Klaus Rhinehart.
- William Sadler as Friedrich Mann.
- John Noble as Fredric Hauser.
- Victor Slezak as Wernher Von Braun.
- Veronika Nowag-Jones as Gretel Fischer, a NASA scientist killed in the first episode and investigated by Millie Morris.
Digital Spy writer David Opie considered a show about Jewish heroes like Hunters important, due to the marginalisation of the Jewish religion in the fictional superhero landscape. While there are many Jewish comic book heroes, including Scarlet Witch, Kitty Pryde, the Thing, and Harley Quinn, the Jewish aspect of their lives is almost always marginalised.
The Jewish David Weil noted “casual” forms of anti-semitism taking place throughout his life, such as jokes about “Jews in ovens” and swastikas sprayed on his high school. Hunters is also far from the first piece of media to involve protagonists hunting down Nazis, as those have included films like The Odessa File (1974), Apt Pupil (1998), The Boys from Brazil (1978), and Marathon Man (1976), as well as content regarding Nazi zombies.
I think as a young Jewish kid growing up on Long Island in New York, there are feelings of wanting to be powerful. You rarely see Jews depicted as superheroes; as having might and strength. They’re often nebbishes or Woody Allen or very intellectual. But to have power to reclaim your place and get justice for your ancestors is definitely a wish fulfilment. And that’s what Hunters became. Hunters creator David Weil in an interview with Digital Spy
Creator David Weil’s inspiration for Hunters was bedtime stories of World War II experiences told by his grandmother Sarah, who was a survivor of the Auschwitz camp Birkenau; the stories had a long-lasting impact on David because they were about “great good vs. terrifying evil” and had themes of “hope, courage and survival,” elements he also noticed in comic book superhero stories he would read. Additional reasons for creating the show were a “lack of Jewish superheroes” in film and television, citing examples of films about Nazi Germany like Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Schindler’s List (1993) having non-Jewish protagonists, and a desire to expose “hidden truths” and to help those “who’ve always felt persecuted, who linger with trauma and injustice” in response to “rising anti-Semistism, racism, xenophobia.”
Despite the attachment of Get Out director Jordan Peele and Weil having an “80-page bible” of the show written, most buyers were wary of the project and refused to purchase it; the creator suggested that it was due to the series’ premise of “a diverse band of ‘others’ kind of rising up and trying to reclaim power in some way” not being typical in mainstream entertainment. Amazon Studios head Jen Salke bought the series. Nikki Toscano joined as producer for its ambitious concept: “I think that the juxtaposition of the 1970s New York City with the Holocaust, with some of the levity and the humour, was certainly a challenge for us to balance throughout. But it was a challenge that I thought was an obstacle worth trying to get over.”
On 17 May 2018, it was announced that Amazon Video had given the production a straight-to-series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes. Weil was set to executive produce alongside Jordan Peele, Tom Lesinski, Jenna Santoianni, and Win Rosenfeld. Weil was also expected to write for the series as well. Production companies involved with the series were slated to consist of Monkeypaw Productions and Sonar Entertainment. On 07 August 2018, it was announced that Nikki Toscano had joined the production as an executive producer and would also serve as co-showrunner alongside Weil. On 03 August 2020, Amazon renewed the series for a second season.
On 13 December 2018, it was reported that Logan Lerman was in talks for a lead role in the series, Jonah Heidelbaum. On 10 January 2019, it was reported that Al Pacino was finalising a deal for a starring role in the series. On 07 February 2019, it was reported that Jerrika Hinton, Dylan Baker, Lena Olin, Greg Austin, Catherine Tate, Tiffany Boone, Saul Rubinek, and Carol Kane were in various stages of negotiations to join the cast of the series. Four days later, it was announced that Boone had officially joined the cast. Josh Radnor was cast in March. In April 2019, Kate Mulvany, James LeGros, Ebony Obsidian, Caleb Emery, Henry Hunter Hall and Jeannie Berlin joined the cast of the series, with Mulvany joining as a series regular. On 05 April 2021, Jennifer Jason Leigh was cast as a lead for the second season.
The bowling scene was Austin’s audition scene as well as the first sequence he filmed for the series, and a continuous shot where his character talks to the congressman before bowling a strike was done within one take.
Upon the release of its first season, Hunters received polarizing reviews, with praise for its premise, messages, action sequences, and performances, but criticism for its story-telling, inconsistent tone, pacing, historical inaccuracies, and conclusion.
- Series 01 (2020):
- Episode 01: In the Belly of the Whale.
- Episode 02: The Mourner’s Kaddish.
- Episode 03: While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head.
- Episode 04: The Pious Thieves.
- Episode 05: At Night, All Birds are Black.
- Episode 06: (Ruth 1:16).
- Episode 07: Shalom Motherf***er.
- Episode 08: The Jewish Question.
- Episode 09: The Great Ole Nazi Cookout of ’77.
- Episode 10: Eilu v’ Eilu.
- Series 02 (?2021):
Production & Filming Details
- Nelson McCormick … (3 episodes, 2020).
- Michael Uppendahl … (2 episodes, 2020).
- Wayne Yip … (2 episodes, 2020).
- Alfonso Gomez-Rejon … (1 episode, 2020).
- Dennie Gordon … (1 episode, 2020).
- Millicent Shelton … (1 episode, 2020).
- Kris Baucom … producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Mark Bianculli … consulting producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Eduardo Javier Canto … co-executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- David Ellender … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Alfonso Gomez-Rejon … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Glenn Kessler … consulting producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Jerry Kupfer … producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Tom Lesinski … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Ryan Maldonado … co-executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Jordan Peele … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Christopher Rosati … associate producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- David Rosen … co-executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Win Rosenfeld … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Jenna Santoianni … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- William Sell … co-producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Nikki Toscano … co-showrunner / executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- David Weil … executive producer (10 episodes, 2020).
- Nelson McCormick … executive producer (2 episodes, 2020).
- Zakiyyah Alexander … (executive story editor) (10 episodes, 2020).
- Zakiyyah Alexander … (written by) (10 episodes, 2020).
- Stacy Osei-Kuffour … (story editor) (10 episodes, 2020).
- David Weil … (created by) (10 episodes, 2020).
- David Weil … (written by) (10 episodes, 2020).
- Nikki Toscano … (written by) (2 episodes, 2020).
- Mark Bianculli … (written by) (1 episode, 2020).
- Eduardo Javier Canto … (written by) (1 episode, 2020).
- Charley Casler … (written by) (1 episode, 2020).
- Ryan Maldonado … (written by) (1 episode, 2020).
- David Rosen … (written by) (1 episode, 2020).
- Haley Z. Boston … (executive story editor) (1 episode).
- Cristobal Tapia de Veer … (10 episodes, 2020).
- William Rexer … (6 episodes, 2020).
- Tim Norman … (4 episodes, 2020).
- Frederick Elmes … (1 episode, 2020).
- Matt Barber … (3 episodes, 2020).
- Amy E. Duddleston … (3 episodes, 2020).
- John Petaja … (3 episodes, 2020).
- Andrew Groves … (1 episode, 2020).
- Release Date:
- Series 01: 21 February 2020.
- Series 02: ?2021.
- Running Time: 60 minutes.
- Rating: 15.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.