Mike O'Malley on the Post-Apocalyptic World of TNT's ‘Snowpiercer'

NBC LA entertainment reporter Heather Brooker talks with Mike O'Malley about the parallels between "Snowpiercer" and current events.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

After several years in development, TNT has released the post-apocalyptic series “Snowpiercer.” Many people might remember the story from the 2013 film directed by Oscar winner Bong Joon-Ho (“Parasite”) starring Chris Evans. The television adaptation is based on a graphic novel series illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette and brought to the small screen by showrunner Graeme Manson ("Orphan Black").

“Snowpiercer” centers on the remnants of humanity who inhabit a perpetually moving train, with 1001 cars, that circles the globe, biding their time until the earth becomes inhabitable again. The series deals with issues of class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival.  

Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”) and Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton '') star in the show alongside Mike O’Malley (“Yes, Dear”). Although there is no formal law enforcement on the train, O’Malley plays Brakeman Roche who is tasked with keeping the peace and solving a murder. O’Malley says he sees his character as a father figure on the train.

“He’s like, hey guys we gotta have some rules because clearly nobody was following the rules which is why we’re in this situation,” O’Malley explains.

The “rules” O’Malley is referring to are the recommendations by scientists on preventing climate change. The train is now an ark for humanity, its last bastion of survival. And the mysterious Mr. Wilford of Wilford Industries conceived, created, and implemented this train utopia before the global devastation hit. 

Justina Mintz
"Snowpiercer" stars Daveed Diggs and Katie McGuinness.

Inside the train, there are class systems and it’s clear they are meant to separate the rich in first class from the poor in the tail of the train. Now, after 7 years of living in the tail, the Tailies are ready to revolt. 

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“I think it’s an allegory for our times in the sense that there are people who have nicer homes, who have better healthcare, eat better food, and drive better cars,” O’Malley says. “Should that be the way it is? That’s something the show talks about.”

In addition to starring in “Snowpiercer,” O’Malley is also the showrunner for the new Starz series “Heels,” starring Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig. The 8 episode drama follows the men and women in the world of small town professional wrestling in a close-knit Georgia community. “Heels” was in pre-production when the shut down order came due to the coronavirus.

“We were shooting 8 episodes for Starz and we were going to go down to Atlanta on April 1. We’ve obviously been put on pause,” O’Malley explains. “I believe we’re going back to work at the end of August. We’re waiting for all the protocols to get together but we are still going to be making this show. And we’re so lucky to have Steve and Alexander starring in this.”

For now, you can see what O’Malley is wrestling with in “Snowpiercer”, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.

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