01x91 - The Style Of Limitless

Jean-Pierre Morneau died on impact.

Sorry, guys, but he's not doing any talking.

It is essentially, at its heart, a case-of-the-week show and a procedural.

I'm gone, Brian! Don't follow me down!

It's also sort of the anti-procedural.

I'm sor... I'm not doing this.

There's virtually no formula that gets duplicated from week to week.

I'm sorry. Where were we? I lost my train of thought a little bit.

We began to take stylistic risks as early as the pilot because we felt like that was the hallmark of the movie.

But then we really began to take stylistic risks in the second episode.

That episode had characters breaking the fourth wall.


People really responded to that, so we leaned into that as the season went on.

I was excited with the prospect of it being something even just slightly askew, and it's so different that I don't even know what to expect script by script at this point.

Cool subconscious.

I've been having fun down here for the past decade and a half.

You're trying to capture the internal life of a character and translate that into cinema, so that gives you an enormous license.

It's a very technically savvy show.

We do a lot of effects and a lot of different effects.

All the camera movements, the way that the light gets warmer when Brian's on NZT versus when he's off NZT, these push-in moves.

You're working, you have the discovery and look up.

Marc Webb called them Brian's ah-ha moments.

Brian's capable of lip reading. The speech bubbles are really cool.

And it also makes it look a little bit like a comic book, which I think is a good allusion for our show.

Craig, as the show's gone on, and the writers, have really taken advantage of the possibilities of the world on NZT.

When we're looking for locations, I'll have conversations with the DPs about how we wanna do it and it becomes a color temperature, or things become warmer or cooler.

So we're pretty conscious of the scenes, whether he's on NZT or off of NZT, and that affects, you know, my design and my choices.

For the FBI set, the most interesting part was how to convey the confinement of Brian and his constantly changing mental state based on NZT and off NZT.

Brian's safe house, you know, that was his home and his refuge, so I really wanted that to be something that took him out of the confinement of the FBI

and the transparency that was part of the FBI, so I wanted to have the tones warm and I wanted it to feel inviting.

They had a lot of segments with time lapse, so I wanted to be able to provide Brian with things in the safe house that he could just pick up and play with.

And a lot of my research had this kind of half-dome window and I was sort of inspired by it, so I knew to help the DPs, cos they always want some light on their sets, that I could do the back of the set with this great window that they can light from but you don't have to provide any backdrop.

So she sent the emergency signal to someone else.

Is it wrong that I feel less special now?

We've worked on stuff where it's sad guys that are in a sad place, and that's not always fun to write and it's not always fun to go home after writing that.

But Brian's in a good mood.

So? Day one. So epic. Where we going?

Jake is a naturally very funny actor and just engaging in that way.

All right. Thanks, guys.

We were able, as a staff, to write a lot of great jokes and write a lot of really funny stuff that wouldn't fly on other shows.


We in television seem to have broken things up.

Either it's a comedy or it's a drama.

And I think that things have the ability to be both.

How in the hell was Kenny Sumida supposed to control your arm if he couldn't see what he was doing?

Boom! Boyle for the win!

There are serious themes woven into the DNA of the show, so even though we'll occasionally do quite light-hearted episodes, they need to be balanced.

The seal is broken. It's empty.

Brian: RDD?

Radiological dispersion device.

Looks like Sam Garper's building a dirty bomb.

We had a pretty heavy case about home-grown terrorism, but we were able to counterbalance it with claymation.

And if you look very closely at the weapons of mass disruption spoof, there's a little zombie footage we threw in there for fun.

You don't play baccarat with Uno cards.

Just shut up, OK? This is my fantasy. It's not yours.

Through his voiceover and his narration in the show, we see things from his perspective and his kind of quirky sensibilities all the time, but to see Boyle and Rebecca and even Naz, and even Sands...

"You know what, man? Cram it!"

And he'll have to say...

Brian's voice: "I will, Brian. I will cram it."

He was mimicking me. He was imitating me.

Brian's voice: And Naz will be like, "What do you mean, he's gone, yeah?"

"He's not allowed to just go."

He kept saying "Yeah?" I was like, "Who says that? Yeah? Who says yeah?"

And he said, "You do." I said, "Do I really?"

"Whatever on the sweaters, yeah? Just find him."

Episode 14, in the evidence locker...

That's the guy.

...she slaps him in the face.

Then Sands comes in and shoots 'em both.


That was one of the funnest days of shooting, cos Jennifer and Hill got to be as ridiculous as Brian gets to be.

That's the guy.

I have to play what Brian Finch's perception of me is, which is great, because I can say, well, he thinks that I'm stuck-up.

Brian's voice: "I knew something like this would happen."

"Brian's a flake. He wears dumb sweaters."

And so I can play it more stuck-up.

When you're on NZT, do you ever see things?

Second Brian and third Brian and sweater Brian and bad-ass Brian and all the various manifestations of Brian Finch's subconscious on NZT, they're really a way to explore feelings that Brian can't express to anybody else because he has so many secrets in the series.

Has anything good ever come from listening to that guy?

I don't have to hear you to know what you're saying. We're the same person.

All right! Would you both just shut up? I'm thinking.

Brian Finch's Black Op serves as our episode-long tribute to the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

We'll tell the office you're sick. Look, if you need anything, call.



The premise of the episode is quite serious.

Brian is essentially abducted by the CIA.


Oh, that's not how it goes!

That felt like a cool and exciting story, but at some point Taylor Elmore, the writer, and I, looked at each other and went, "This needs a little something, something."

Taylor: Craig looked over at me and said, "What if we did Ferris Bueller's Day Off instead?"

Life goes by really fast.

If you don't stop to look around sometimes, you could miss it.

And so we decided to go for it.

Taylor: We were thinking there was no way this could possibly work.

But as we dug more and more into it, we realized it was actually getting better as it goes along and is actually funny.

My stomach feels strange.

Gummy bear?

And that's an example of how we tried to vary tones not just week to week but even within the body of a given episode on the show.

I have to be honest, I wish you didn't dress me like this.

But you get to be Sloane. Sloane's the best.

Someone raped her, stabbed her 40 times and then strangled her with her own...

Man: This isn't very fun, is it?

Episode 113, Stop Me Before I Hug Again, was a real experiment with the form.

How about, just for this one, every time someone is going to use a scary word, we come up with a word that's better?

I had a glossary in my office on note cards that Craig and I had sort of talked through of what our translations were, so that we could keep track of it.

Well, the soda-pop spatter indicates that she was still playing air guitar before she was sent to an awesome farm in the country.

At first read, you just sort of go, "What?"

And then you do the first take and you're like, "This sounds so absurd."

You think Hannan's doctor committed those huggings?

And then by the fifth take, it's normal.

You think I'm a serial hugger?

Andre Hannan lacked the strength to cuddle those victims with his bare hands.

As an actor playing it, it was so much fun, because you could remember what the meaning of the term is and you just play that meaning.

It's very Shakespearean in a way.

Someone played Cowboys and Indians with her.

Tickled her 40 times and then cuddled her with her own unicorn.

It's our most experimental episode, I would say.

Why do bad guys get cool nicknames?

Shouldn't they get stupid nicknames?

It was a real love it or hate it sort of response to that gag.

That wasn't the reaction I expected.

We hadn't really seen Brian romantically engaged up to that point before, and we sort of had set up the notion that Lucy is a bit much to handle on every possible level.

So we wanted to try and find a way to convey the sense that this experience had been transformative for him in some way, and so I threw in a Bollywood scene.


I think it was maybe this long on the page, "A Bollywood sequence with Mike and Ike and whatever."

And then we wound up shooting it for two days.

It was awesome. We built the whole legitimate Bollywood set here.

We had great choreographers.

What was? I forgot his name.

John Carrafa.

He was fantastic. Mike and Ike still had their ties on.

And James Tech had his glasses on. Stavros had a broom.

It was a lot of fun.

First of all, you lot rescued me from the FBI. Cheers.

We really enjoyed working with Colin Salmon as Sands and said what if he formed a consortium of people who he could allocate NZT to and make a literal supervillain group?

We decided that it would be better filtered, as usual, through Brian's point of view.

Once Craig came up with the notion of the Legion of Whom and Brian sort of imagining them in superhero costumes, we got to sort of have our cake and eat it too as Limitless, which is we could convey that they were an evil consortium of supervillains, but at the same time they could be fun and funny and we could goof around with them and have Brian's point of view.

Our costume department, our wardrobe department, Sarah Mae and Dan Lawson, those guys just nailed it every step of the way, so that was fun to watch.

Being part of anything original is rare.

You know, I'm Ferris. Everything's supposed to work out for me.

No. You have to make it work.

It's just a variety show, in a way.

It's sort of like you sit down to the same table every week, but there's a different menu.

Brian: You're welcome.