A new iteration of Battlestar Galactica is headed to Peacock with Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail producing. Esmail and Peacock hired Michael Lesslie to develop and serve as showrunner on the new series. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Esmail says he never planned to helm the series himself. "I'm a huge fan of Ronald Moore's Battlestar, but I don't know if I'm great at hard sci-fi like that," he says. "I love it. I'm a fan of it. But I knew early on that we were going to have to bring somebody in to run the room and to write the scripts."
He went to explain why the job went to Lesslie, who is best known for the miniseries The Little Drummer Girl. "He's just a fantastic writer," Esmail says. "I loved his series, Little Drummer Girl, and the one thing that really struck me about him and his take for Battlestar, one of the reasons I even wanted to do Battlestar, was that the way Ron Moore, what he did with his remake in the early 2000s where it was this sort of hard sci-fi series with lots of action set pieces and really this exciting sci-fi adventure but purely grounded in an allegory of what was going on at the time, which was post-9/11. And it wasn't that subtle, the links, I would say. But because he was also attuned to the sci-fi nature of the show, you didn't feel it.
"When I was approached to do Battlestar now, it has to have that same sort of dynamic. It can't be just a retread of what he already did so masterfully back then. What are we saying about today's world? And Mike just had this great take, and I'm not going to go into it because obviously, I don't want to spoil it for fans, but you kind of see it a little bit in Little Drummer Girl where politics plays a big part in it but without compromising the entertainment value, because in my opinion, you've got to have that. That's number one priority. I want people to be excited and emotionally invested and on a thrill-ride but at the same time I think Mike is going to bring a lot of depth and sort of parallel and mirror what's going on in the world right now."
Leslie goes on to say that that the series won't be leaning on the "10-hour movie" model made famous by Netflix's all-at-once release models. Instead, he plans to experiment with what's possible given the freedom of a streaming network.
"There might be episodes that are longer than others," Esmail says. "There might be a three-episode arc. There might be a standalone episode that's a half-hour long. We don't want to put guardrails up at all. We want to do whatever's best for each episode. And because I do believe in the episode model, I maybe share the frustration some critics have when showrunners go on an say 'Well, it's a 10-hour movie.' That's silly. It's not. What we're doing here is every episode you have the opportunity to change up the tone, to change up the story, to change up the point of view. So we're going to lean into that, not shy away from it."
Esmail went on to confirm that they won't be rebooting Moore's iteration of Battlestar Galactica but finding new places to tell stories within that universe. He also said they're focused on writing at the moment with no update to offer on casting.