In many ways, the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle is as much a work of science fiction as it is a period piece. After all, it’s an alternative history that imagines a world in which Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan won World War II, which is set to head into some pretty funky directions for The Man in the High Castle season 3.
For the majority of its first season, the show stuck to author Philip K. Dick’s original novel and largely avoided the more mind-bending aspects of parallel dimensions, the multiverse and other similarly speculative concepts. Season 2 dove somewhat deeper, but remained as close as it possibly could to the grounded reality beneath its characters’ feet.
The Man in the High Castle season 3, which premieres this Friday, largely abandons these restraints and goes all in. The Nazis have discovered the multiverse, as well as the so-called “travelers,” or individuals who are capable of moving from one parallel dimension to another. Per the trailer, their scientists are attempting to find a way to travel beyond their universe, so that they may conquer other worlds.
Rufus Sewell talks The Man in the High Castle season 3
“I don’t really worry so much about the genre, unless it affects the quality of the writing,” says Rufus Sewell, who plays the villainous John Smith, a former American turned Nazi commander. “One of the things that can happen is that when people start writing according to a genre, the writing can fall towards the nearest accepted tropes of that genre. It becomes very generalized, less organic, and less interesting to me as an actor.”
However, the British actor notes, such has not been the case for High Castle.
“That’s not the case when it’s very good writing, or when it’s top quality writing,” he explains. “One of the advantages of having Isa Dick Hackett, who’s Philip K. Dick’s daughter, as one of our producers is that we have access and permission to delve into his extended explorations of the themes that he revisited over and over again after the book’s publication.”
“He made any attempts to write sequels or short stories based on these explorations,” Sewell adds. “This is where the science fiction elements that we are eeking out here in the third season were first explored by Dick himself. These elements were always there.”
That being said, there was one particular aspect of the High Castle multiverse that Sewell admits he wasn’t too keen on, especially as an actor.
“Even though I’m jealous of other actors getting to play all different versions of themselves,” he says, “I was very grateful for the opportunity to not do that. I wanted to imbed myself as deeply as possible into the character that I was already playing, before there was any sort of departing from it. That’s the best way to establish an emotional arc, and a through line, that the audience can latch onto and understand.”
The Man in the High Castle season 3 premieres Friday, Oct. 5, on Amazon Prime.