Based on the best-selling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham, The Firm makes its series debut January 8 from 9-11pm on NBC. Although John Grisham revisited The Firm in 1993 with Tom Cruise as attorney Mitch McDeere, Josh Lucas steps into the legal shoes of McDeere ten years after he brought down the prestigious Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, which had been operating as a front for the Chicago mob.
Also starring Molly Parker as McDeere’s wife Abby, plus Callum Keith Rennie, and Juliette Lewis, The Firm continues the story of Mitch McDeere and his family who emerge from Witness Protection isolation to reclaim their lives and their future only to find that past dangers are still lurking and new threats are everywhere.
Ahead of the series debut of The Firm, The Deadbolt caught up with author John Grisham and executive producer Lukas Reiter to learn if there was anywhere Grisham wanted to take Mitch McDeere but couldn’t, what he loves about The Firm as a series, and how their past experience as lawyers helped the working relation on The Firm.
THE DEADBOLT: With The Firm as a TV series, where do you think Mitch can go as a character on TV that you’ve always wanted to take him or perhaps couldn’t?
JOHN GRISHAM: I can’t say I wanted to take Mitch anywhere. You know, when I left Mitch in the book he was pretty much on the run and probably facing a lifetime of that because he had ticked off some really nasty people. The movie was different, a very different ending, but I’ve never been one to go back and think about sequels or think about finding a character. I’ve never – knock on wood – I’ve yet to suffer from writer’s block. If one day I get a good dose of it, a good case of it, I may have to go back and resurrect some of these old characters and start writing sequels but I hope not. So when I was finished with Mitch and Abby, as a creator I was done with them.
What the cool thing about the TV show is that each week you get to watch Mitch in action as a real lawyer with different cases. And that’s what I’ve always wanted to see on television.
I’ve enjoyed some TV shows over the years, the good ones. You see good lawyers in courtroom situations or dealing with clients or even the visiting of the jail, all this intrigue I like to read about, like to watch, and like to write about. So I think that’s where Mitch is going to really be fleshed out as a character with his interactions with real clients.
Then what’s great about the series, or great about the premiere, you always know that there’s some bad, bad guys still back there and they’re not going to go away and they’re still after you. And the suspense is really well done.
THE DEADBOLT: Since you’ve both worked within the legal system as lawyers, how has that experience translated into a more effective working relationship for the series?
LUKAS REITER: Well, it’s been a great transition from my time as a prosecutor. I think everything that I write, the way I approach stories are certainly impacted from some of those early experiences. I’ve said before that writers and lawyers have one critical trait in common and that is the ability to think about the same thing for an irrational amount of time.
So certainly just having that perspective on the way I approach stories from my time as an attorney makes a big difference. I don’t know. John, would you say maybe it gives you and I just a shorthand in the way we think about cases and stories and approach ideas?
GRISHAM: Yeah, it’s also like books about lawyers and trials and firms. I can read five pages of a book about a trial or thriller or whatever and normally I can tell you if the author is a lawyer, or was a lawyer, because there’s just a certain amount of authenticity that you naturally bring the process when you’ve lived it and when you know what you’re talking about.
I mean, I certainly lived it for ten years, not a long career but long enough. What’s really beneficial in working with Luke is the fact that he did too. He’s been in courtrooms, he’s worked the tough cases, and that is something that’s invaluable. It’s something you really can’t teach and something you really can’t research. You just know it because you’ve lived it. That, again, has really helped the process.
REITER: And it’s really helped in the writer’s room as well. Among the other writer-producers on the project, we have a former federal prosecutor, USC law professor, Chief of Staff for the Lieutenant Governor of California. We’ve got a guy who handled homicide cases from the defense perspective in New York. So we’ve got those voices helping us shape where we’re headed.