What do Jack the Ripper and Dexter Morgan have in common? Other than the fact that they’re two notorious serial killers, not much. We mean, one’s fictional and one was a mass murderer whose true identity was never uncovered. But that’s all about to change with the upcoming CTV drama Time After Time.
The upcoming series revolves around two notorious historical figures: Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman, Revenge) and H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma, UnREAL). At the outset, the former character is better known as brilliant surgeon John Stevenson, who also happens to be one of Wells’ buddies. That is until he jumps in a time machine and heads to the 21st century to kill. Then it’s up to Wells to follow and stop him.
Sound familiar? This series is based on the novel by Karl Alexander and the 1979 film of the same name. Only this iteration comes from twisty show runner Kevin Williamson, a.k.a the guy behind the Scream movies, Stalker and The Following.
Although this “true” identity of Jack the Ripper is completely fictional, it also allows Bowman loads of flexibility in terms of making him a more charismatic, complicated killer with his own set of morals. Kind of like Ted Bundy or Dexter Morgan, if you will.
“Obviously Jack the Ripper was famous for killing women — prostitutes. Drunk ones, to be precise,” Bowman tells us. “Past the pilot, what will be interesting is potentially putting a spin on it à la Dexter. Where he kills for good maybe, and the lines get crossed and he does something so the audience can get behind him a bit.”
That was an important component for the star to be able to play when he agreed to take the role. Basically, he wasn’t interested in just playing a one-dimensional figure who became known for brutality against women, something that’s caused a lot of controversy on television as of late.
“We would face an uphill battle if it was just me killing women,” he continues. “I don’t think that would be right at all — having him be this misogynistic, cruel individual. Having him trying to find the justifications for why these people do these things instead is interesting. To show that they’re actually extremely damaged people and very vulnerable makes it a defence mechanism for them to act out in this way.”
As for the random connection between H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper? At first it seems just as random as the connection between the two leading actors, who also happened to go to the same elementary school together and are repped by the same management team. Upon further examination though, these scripted roles fit into the classic “good versus evil” mould that serves as the base for any great serial-killer drama.
“They’re polar opposites. I’m the realist and H.G. Wells is the idealist,” Bowman explains. “Wells has this image of utopia that in 200 years, which is the 21st century that we arrive in, everything will be perfect and we’ll have adapted to be these perfect individuals with no war. It’s just ridiculous. My character thinks that’s absolute bollocks, and he was right.”
In fact, Bowman has put a lot of thought into the difference between the time periods, and in real life, he seems to echo some of Stevenson’s pessimism when it comes to society’s overall evolution.
“Some people think that back then it was much more brutal, but it actually wasn’t. Because now we have guns and bombs and all sorts of awful people living in the world and running the world as well,” he explains. “These social themes to be discussed throughout the show are also going to be great talking points for the audience.”
As for the North American audiences who are used to seeing the English actor as rich-kid Daniel Grayson on the now-wrapped series Revenge? They’ll have to adjust their ears to hear Bowman’s true English accent finally come out on this series. According to Bowman, it’s about time he’s allowed to let his true dialect flow freely on the screen.
“It’s exciting to be able to be English,” he wraps. “I don’t have to check myself or have someone say, ‘No, no let’s go again, that was completely wrong, Josh.’ So yeah, I’m absolutely very happy to be able to use my natural accent on Time After Time.”
Time After Time joins the CTV schedule in early 2017. Check out the trailer below.