Everyone knows the story of former CIA operative Bryan Mills as it pertains to his
desire to find you and kill you attempt to rescue his daughter from human traffickers in the hit action film franchise Taken. But NBC's prequel to the events of the films — which is also called Taken, something that probably won't confuse anyone at all — trades Liam Neeson for Vikings alum Clive Standen in order to tell the character's origin story.
"What we wanted to do was bring the franchise, or the unique selling point of Taken, to the TV screen but do our own story and really create this character from the ground up," executive producer Alex Cary said during the show's panel at the Television Critics Association winter previews Wednesday.
To that end, the younger Bryan, who is dealing with a personal tragedy at the start of the series, will only just be beginning to unlock his particular set of skills at the CIA, something that should allow viewers to see how the character becomes the broken man at the center of the films. As executive producer Matt Gross puts it, the show is not just about developing Bryan's skills or following a kidnapping every week, it's about "how a hero becomes a hero" while also chasing after someone who is never coming back.
And for Standen, that's just about perfect. He says he has no interest in playing the character Neeson portrayed in the film ("He's the finished product. He's this man with this particular set of skills. This is about how he acquires them"), nor does he yearn to take after more traditional action hero roles like James Bond, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt.
"What I find interesting about Bryan Mills," said Standen, "is he's not like any other action hero or a regurgitation of any action hero. ... Bryan is just a man. In the film, we see a man who is a father who's chasing after his daughter. ... He's got to find his daughter otherwise there's no sense of humanity in the world. And that's why I'm interested in playing this character."
Taken premieres Monday, Feb. 27 at 10/9c on NBC.