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Director So Yong Kim on Revenge and Creating Wilderness

"We all have these animalistic impulses."
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“Survival. Who gets it and who doesn’t all comes down to who is willing to draw first blood.” 

For William and Olivia, life appears to be picture-perfect. An idyllic marriage, a luxury New York lifestyle, and a bright future together.

Their new life seemingly could not get any better however, cracks soon begin to appear when Olivia learns that she is not the only woman on William’s mind. 

WATCH: Gen V | Final Trailer | Prime Video

For Wilderness’ director So Yong Kim, the evolution of William and Olivia’s relationship is more than just a tumultuous journey to Yosemite National Park, with their story exploring some of human nature’s most poignant dilemmas. 

To celebrate the release of Wilderness, WHO sat down with So Yong Kim to get the inside scoop on the story behind the thriller. 

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(Credit: Amazon)

Wilderness has gained quite a loyal following from its readers. What first drew you to the story?

The project came to me through my agency and then I met Marnie Dickens and Elizabeth Kilgarriff, who are the executive producers. Marnie adapted the book into a series, and I loved what she did in her adaptation. I felt that there was some universal story there was a universal story there that connected to my personal experience of wanting to murder my husband, especially when I was pregnant (laughs). I thought there was a fantastic journey for the main character Olivia.

Throughout the series, the characters explore the relationship between nature and nurture. Do you feel that people are innately hard-wired for revenge and if not, what unlocks that instinct? 

I don’t know if we are hard-wired for revenge per se. I feel like, for Olivia, it was mostly circumstantial and impulsive. I think, in many ways, we have all those impulses and we have learned as humans to control those impulses. I think the touching moment between Carol and Olivia when she’s saying, ‘There’s good in you,’ and I think that comes down to [the fact that] Olivia has good in her, but she’s one of the very few that acts on her impulses. We have all these animalistic impulses inside of us, but they get unleashed when we get pushed too far.

wilderness-liv-will-cara
(Credit: Amazon)

Wilderness explores the complex marital relationship between William and Olivia. Is there any underlying message that you hope viewers will be able to take away from watching the evolution of their relationship? 

One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the dynamic between husband and wife. I feel like there’s a lot of empathy for Will, as well as Liv, and it’s conflicting emotionally. I think, as a viewer, when you watch their relationship evolve and develop, you can’t really be one-sided. For me, in the end, I feel that the most important thing for the audience is to have empathy for both of them. Will has also suffered through his upbringing and the expectations from society of who he is, and he was raised with a lot of expectations from society shaping his character. Olivia, in a similar way, has been shaped in her identity and her behaviour by society as well. I think at the end of their journey together, and also separately, I hope that the audience will feel a certain amount of understanding and empathy for both of them.

wilderness-will-liv-canyon
(Credit: Amazon)

Olivia’s character evolution appears reminiscent of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Why do you feel her character resonates so deeply with viewers? 

I think, for me, because the story is told from Olivia’s point of view, you can get an insight into her experience. I think that the most important thing, in our minds, when we were making this show was to create this connection between the audience and Olivia as she’s going through these experiences and challenges with her husband.

I think, in our society, we have this moral judgement and expectations for a woman, and also a wife. I think, especially now, it’s very demanding on a woman to be the perfect person, wife, [and] have a perfect job and there are so many different layers of roleplaying in many ways. I thought even though Olivia isn’t morally correct in many ways, and you feel like telling her ‘Oh stop. Don’t go there,’ but she does go there, and we get to go on this ride with her.

Stream Wilderness now on Prime Video with a 30-day free trial. Subscribe here.

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