DMZ, the HBO Max event series based on the acclaimed Vertigo comic by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, is starting to take shape after announcing nine new cast members along with the characters they’ll be playing. In addition, the behind-the-scenes creative team added two new award-winning producers to its ranks.
Executive produced by Roberto Patino (Westworld) and acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay, DMZ tells the story of a near future America that’s embroiled in a bitter civil war, leaving Manhattan a demilitarized zone (DMZ) that’s destroyed and isolated from the rest of the world. The four-part series chronicles the harrowing journey of fearless and fierce medic Alma Ortega (Rosario Dawson), who sets out to find the son she lost in the evacuation of New York City at the onset of the conflict. Throwing gasoline on the flames of that conflict is Parco Delgado (Benjamin Bratt), the popular—and deadly—leader of one of the most powerful gangs in the DMZ. Delgado wants to rule this new world—and will stop at nothing to secure that outcome. Over the course of the series, Alma will contend with the gangs, militias, demagogues and warlords that control this lawless new no man’s land. In doing so, she becomes the unlikely source of what everyone here has lost…hope.
Joining the previously announced Dawson and Bratt are nine new cast members announced today by HBO Max, which also provided some compelling descriptions of their characters.
- Venus Ariel (NCIS: New Orleans) is set for the series regular role of Nico, a foul-mouthed scavenger with a hankering for mischief.
- Rutina Wesley (Queen Sugar, True Blood) will play Athena, a calculating operative for the separatist Free States of America—and the most effective power broker in the DMZ that no one there has heard of.
- Nora Dunn (The Big Leap, Home Economics) will play Oona, a powerful fixture of near-mythical stature who oversees an all-female commune, along with the most valuable currency in all the DMZ: the water supply.
- Jade Wu (Marvel’s Luke Cage, For Life) will play Susie, whose revolutionary past has shown her that the best of humanity can be discovered at its worst moments.
- Rey Gallegos (Animal Kingdom) will play Cesar, a ruthless and devoted consigliere who’ll stop at nothing to secure his gang’s authority in the DMZ.
- Mamie Gummer (True Detective) will play Rose, a jaded medic who tirelessly cares for the ill and injured of this disenfranchised population, regardless of the cost.
- Agam Darshi (Funny Boy) is set for the role of Franklin, one of the only smugglers who can get someone in or out of the DMZ.
- Juani Feliz (Harlem) has been cast as Carmen, the fearless and fiery partner to the biggest bad in the DMZ, and a critical source of power and community in her native Spanish Harlem.
- Henry G. Sanders (Queen Sugar) plays Cedric, a straight-shooting citizen of the DMZ whose only care in the world is protecting his grandson.
Top row, l-r: Rutina Wesley, Rey Gallegos, Mamie Gummer; bottom row, l-r: Agam Darshi, Nora Dunn, Jade Wu
In addition, HBO Max also released new descriptions for three previously announced supporting characters.
- Hoon Lee (Banshee, Warrior) is Wilson, an unflinching warlord with swagger to match who rules over the prosperous neighborhood of Chinatown. His only rival for domination comes from Spanish Harlem.
- Jordan Preston Carter (The Haves and the Have Nots) is the orphaned child of war Odi, an old soul with a curiosity that yearns for the world outside.
- Freddy Miyares (When They See Us, The L Word: Generation Q) is Skel, the ruthless triggerman of one of the DMZ’s most powerful gangs. He is also a talented graffiti artist with a profound passion for art, which serves as his lasting connection to his humanity in a world where survival is predicated on power.
The DMZ pilot episode was written by Patino and directed by DuVernay. The remaining three episodes will be helmed by acclaimed director Ernest Dickerson, who it was announced today will also serve as executive producer. Dickerson, who made his directorial debut with 1992’s Tupac Shakur-starring Juice, is no stranger to the realm of TV and has directed episodes of The Walking Dead, Bosch, Godfather of Harlem and Dexter, just to name a few. Emmy-winner Carly Wray (Watchmen, Westworld) was also revealed to be joining the series’ writing team along with taking on the role of co-executive producer.
The DMZ comic ran from 2005 through 2012 for a total of 72 issues. Wood and Burchielli’s series focused on a young photojournalist named Matty Roth who’s tapped to cover life in Manhattan during a second American civil war between the U.S. government and the Free States of America, a collective of middle America militias. After fighting each other to a relative standstill, the two forces declare Manhattan to be a neutral demilitarized zone. HBO Max’s adaptation promises to keep the overall premise of the comic while updating some of the characters and individual scenarios to be more reflective of today’s life and cultural climate. What looks to remain fully intact, however, is the series’ powerful cautionary message and stark glimpse at a ripped-from-the-headlines society pushed past collapse.
DMZ is produced with DuVernay’s ARRAY Filmworks in association with Warner Bros. Television. While we don’t yet know when DMZ will be debuting, when it does it will be a part of a small screen Vertigo renaissance, with both Lucifer and Sweet Tooth finding recent critical and popular success at Netflix and Y: The Last Man and The Sandman soon set to make their TV debut.
The DMZ series is shaping up, but we want to know what you think! Are you excited for it to hit HBO Max? Have you read the comic series? Let us know all your thoughts on DMZ right now in the DC Community!