Why Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal made a ‘Blindspotting’ series
Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal originally had no intention of turning their critically acclaimed 2018 movie “Blindspotting” into a show.
“That was not a goal of ours. We wanted to leave it alone and go do something else,” Casal, 35, told The Post. “Lionsgate — who helped us release the film — proposed the idea of a series and we were quick to tell them ‘No, thank you.’”
Premiering Sunday, June 13 (9 p.m.) on Starz, “Blindspotting” is a half-hour dramedy continuing the story from the movie of the same name that Casal and Diggs co-wrote and starred in.
Set in Oakland, Calif., the movie follows friends Colin Hoskins (Diggs) and Miles (Casal) as their relationship becomes strained after Colin witnesses a police shooting and Miles’ behavior becomes increasingly reckless.
The series — which the duo co-created and co-exec produce– begins after the events of the film, when Miles is suddenly incarcerated. His longtime partner Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), must then bring their son Sean (Atticus Woodward) to move in with Miles’s mother Rainey (Helen Hunt) and half-sister Trish (Jaylen Barron), as Ashley’s life spirals into chaos.
“It felt like Colin and Miles’ story was hard to top,” said Casal. “We thought we’d come in and tell Lionsgate ‘No’ politely. And I remember on the drive there, [Daveed Diggs and I] were like, ‘Is there a version that we would make on our own?’ When we cut the movie, we wanted more Jasmine [Cephas Jones]. The version of the show that we would want to watch is one that was about the women that shaped our lives growing up in the Bay.
“Ashley is really a combination of about four to five people that we grew up with. All the characters in this world are based on people we can write to and also pick up the phone and just call and ask a tough question. That’s the beauty of having a community in your art.”
Casal’s real-life friendship with the “Hamilton” star extends back several decades.
“We met in high school probably around 1999 or 2000,” he said. “He was a senior when I was a freshman. So ‘meet’ is an extreme word. We didn’t become best friends as seniors and freshmen often do not. But he was in the theater and poetry scene and I was in the poetry and music scene — so there was that overlap of the poetry scene. We became fast best friends probably around 2004, when he came through a studio session at my recording studio.”
The rest is history, as they got to working on “Blindspotting” together.
“The next challenge – which ended up being a beautiful process – was figuring how to make this truly collaborative, so that there wasn’t two dudes at the top deciding what a bunch of female characters do, which is sort of a nightmare,” said Casal.
They ended up filling their writers’ room with women and giving stars such as Helen Hunt heavy input into their characters.
“We knew we wanted it to be Helen from the moment we came up with the character. Helen was a big supporter of the movie. She said something about it on Twitter, I slid in her [messages], and we became friends. We were always teasing the idea of her of her playing this white hippie progressive Bay Area mom. I hadn’t seen Helen in a role like that. She came back to us like, ‘I want to talk about who she is.’ And that really became our process.”