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'Raised by Wolves' explores parenting, faith and what makes us human

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The HBO Max series "Raised By Wolves" was created by our guest, Aaron Guzikowski. Ridley Scott is the show's executive producer. Scott also directed the first two episodes. "Raised By Wolves," which is now in its second season, is centered on two androids, Mother and Father, who are sent with human embryos to a distant planet. The androids are to birth and parent their children in a desperate mission to save the human race. I'll let our producer, Sam Briger, who spoke with Guzikowski, tell us more.

SAM BRIGER, BYLINE: "Raised By Wolves" is set in a future where Earth has been devastated by a long war between the Mithraic, a sun-god worshipping religious group, and the atheists. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and both factions decide to colonize a distant planet, Kepler-22b. The mythic travel across the galaxy in a spaceship called the Ark of Heaven that holds 1,000 of their faith in suspended animation for a 12-year journey. The atheists send the Mother and Father androids in a much faster ship along with the human embryos. Kepler-22b turns out to be a harsh planet, and five of the six children die. When the Ark arrives, it is only Mother and Father and their son Campion who remain. The violence of Earth breaks out on Kepler-22b. On Earth, the android Mother was designed as a weapon of mass destruction, but she's been reprogrammed with parental directives. She will do anything to protect her children, even if it means killing lots of people and jeopardizing humanity's chance of survival.

"Raised By Wolves" is a show about parenting, about what makes us human. And it's about faith, religious or otherwise. It's violent, often funny and full of mystery. And it's deeply weird, which is one of the reasons why I like it. If you like science fiction of the David Cronenberg, David Lynch and Ridley Scott variety, then this is the show for you. Aaron Guzikowski created "Raised By Wolves" and is its showrunner. He also wrote the 2013 film "Prisoners," directed by Denis Villeneuve, and created the 2014 television series "The Red Road."

Aaron Guzikowski, welcome to FRESH AIR. I really love the show.

AARON GUZIKOWSKI: Thanks. It's great to be here. I love your show, too.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGER: So where did this idea come from, having androids raising children on another planet as a last attempt to save humanity?

GUZIKOWSKI: Well, I think in terms of the android characters, it probably came out of my own experience as a parent. I have three sons. The oldest now is 11. And, you know, as I was through that whole experience of, you know, or at least the beginning of raising them - I'm still doing it now - just becoming obsessed with the technology and just how it was, you know, kind of working its way into our relationships, you know, just human relationships in general. And you'd see them with an iPad or you see them doing things with technology and starting to wonder, you know, as I'm also kind of carrying my phone around, you know, at what point did the phone start carrying us around? You know, at what point did the iPads - you know, it's just less and less human-to-human interaction and more and more, you know, human-to-tech interaction. And trying to make sense of all this, this idea of, you know, is technology getting to a point where it can actually raise children and maybe, in fact, improve upon some of the shortcomings humans have when raising children? And maybe, you know, and also, of course, there would be a downside to it.

BRIGER: So the androids, Mother and Father, have been programmed to care for their children above all else. But that directive can make them act in really disruptive ways, ways that actually threaten the survival of humanity. Can you talk about that paradox?

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah. You know, it's interesting. You know, the idea that, you know, though she - Mother and Father, they have this kind of hierarchy of concern. You know, at the top of that hierarchy, their greatest objective is to make sure that their children are kept safe. And that comes first. And then after that, you know, obviously, they want to ensure that there is this human civilization and that it's properly rebuilt on this planet so their children have a, you know, something to be a part of. You know, it is actually part of keeping their kids alive and, you know, making sure they have good lives.

But as they start to get into these situations where, you know, their child's life is at stake, but in order for something good to happen for a great many people, one of their children needs to be harmed in some way, shape or form, you know, they're going to choose their child, you know, like most human beings. And these androids do eventually find themselves in a situation where they are, you know, taking on a good deal of responsibility in terms of the future of mankind. But they come up against this wall, these really, you know, terrible issues when something impacts their kids personally that they have to take the side of the child. And yet, you know, the way they have to deal with it and the way they talk about it is very much, you know, it's kind of a novel occurrence, you know, in their minds and the way they have to kind of dissect it and look at it. Whereas a human being would probably just take it more, you know, just take it for what it is - you know, that's just part of being human that your child comes first.

BRIGER: So as the title of the show alludes, these kids are being raised by somewhat feral beings. Like, for instance, Mother howls when she loses one of her children. She sniffs at things like an animal would investigate things. Like, Father, Whenever, he's trying to diagnose something, he, like, puts it in his mouth and chews it. You know, tell us how you envisioned these androids.

GUZIKOWSKI: I - you know, it's interesting. They - I always - I love this idea that, you know, in addition to having this kind of human mimicry, obviously, they do have programmed emotions, you know, which they need in order to raise children. They need to be able to smile. They need to be able to laugh, you know, to pretend to feel the things that the kids need to see on their parents' faces. So they kind of have that as part of their, you know, build description as it were. And in addition to that, they also have these kind of, you know, in terms of their, you know, their caregiving program as it were, some of that is almost animalistic in the way they behave. You know, that it's trying to almost take sort of the best attributes of all living things on Earth, you know, putting it into these androids, you know, in terms of how it would benefit them in this wilderness, in this alien wilderness, in this unknown world.

So they do also have these almost kind of animalistic attributes, you know, to, you know, to your point, the way they hunt and gather and the way they sort of - they're - they stay up at night, you know. And they just kind of, you know, stand in front of the barracks while the kids are sleeping, you know, like a guard dog. And they are not just human. In some ways, there's something, you know, even in the way they start to feel. But then as time goes on, they start to develop, you know, deeper emotions that they don't understand that aren't part of their program. And they start to realize that the kids are kind of rubbing off on them, that they're not really changing the human children so much as the human children are changing them.

BRIGER: Well, actually, I have a clip that gets to that. Maybe it's a good time to hear it now. This is from last week's episode. And as I said in the intro, the children that Mother and Father originally came to this planet with have almost all died. But Mother kidnaps some other kids, and they start raising those kids. And one of them, Holly, has run away with the religious group which she came from originally. And so here's - we're going to hear Mother and Father talking about what to do. And Mother's played by Amanda Collin. And Father's played by Abu Bakr Saleem.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RAISED BY WOLVES")

AMANDA COLLIN: (As Mother) She needs to be brought home. She's more apt to listen to you. You've always had a softer touch when it comes to the children, with the exception of No. 7, of course.

ABUBAKAR SALIM: (As Father) I made no attempt to harm your animal, Mother.

COLLIN: (As Mother) Tempest told me that you've been fighting for sports or some such thing.

SALIM: (As Father) What I do in my off hours is none of your concern.

COLLIN: (As Mother) You're flagrantly risking damage. Do you need a systems check?

SALIM: (As Father) No. I'm functioning normally.

COLLIN: (As Mother) Who are you? Are you a parent on a mission to restart humanity? Or are you some rogue android who fights and tinkers? It's one or the other, Father - can't be both.

SALIM: (As Father) Mother, I feel we're becoming too human to be the parents that our children deserve.

COLLIN: (As Mother) Nonsense. When you do retrieve Holly, perhaps bring someone along with you who isn't perpetually distracted. It might be dangerous.

BRIGER: So that's a scene from "Raised By Wolves." I mean, first of all, that's just - it's just funny to hear these robots squabbling with each other, you know, like having a little, like, parental spat. But getting to the point that you mentioned earlier, the androids are worried that they're becoming more human, and the more human they become, the worse parents they'll be. That's an interesting contradiction there.

GUZIKOWSKI: It is, you know. And a lot of it, I think, is to do with, you know, by human, in some ways, you know, they're talking about sort of their, you know, looking outside of the family, you know, kind of what's trying to find, you know, something in life, you know, for themselves because their existence is so completely selfless in terms of their program. You know, it's all about the kids and, you know, doing whatever they can to make sure the kids are OK. And now, you know, since the end of last season, they've begun to - certain things have taken, you know, become interested in things outside of the family.

And Mother in particular at the end of Season 1 was sort of seduced outside of the family in terms of, you know, what possibility existed for her, you know, being the most powerful thing on this planet and, you know, having this sort of thankless task to take care of these human beings, that they, in fact, are, you know, the point of everything and not her. And, you know, similar - in Season 2, Father, taking a page out of Mother's book, also finds, you know, and also feels kind of resentful towards Mother for having done this. And in some ways, he's kind of working out his resentment over that. And in Season 2, he starts working on his own sort of project outside of the family, which is assembling this ancient android. He's kind of like a guy in the garage, you know, trying to take an engine apart, working out his issues. But in both cases, you know, both of these things spell trouble for the human population.

BRIGER: Androids shouldn't have hobbies is probably...

GUZIKOWSKI: They really shouldn't. No.

BRIGER: It's not a good thing.

GUZIKOWSKI: It seems to go bad more often than not. Yeah.

BRIGER: Yes. Your father android is programmed to lighten the mood by telling a lot of dad jokes. Is that your - was that your MO?

GUZIKOWSKI: I have tried. I'm not as good at it as he is. I do try to make jokes and make light of things and do my best to be a comedian when it's called for. And yeah, it's a thankless job, for sure. You know, and I'm not very funny. So - but I do try. I don't know what it is about having children and wanting - I guess you just want to see them laugh. You want to amuse them. You know, you want life to be entertaining, you know, even when it's not. And so it's a noble pursuit. But yeah, for me, it's not always successful.

BRIGER: You may not have reached it yet, but there's a point when they stop laughing at your jokes so much. That's a really crushing moment.

GUZIKOWSKI: It is a crushing blow. Exactly. And the audience obviously, yeah, is much less receptive as the years go on. So you have to deal with that. But it makes you a better comedian, I think.

BRIGER: That's right. A tough crowd, right?

GUZIKOWSKI: It is, yeah.

BRIGER: We need to take a short break here. If you're just joining us, my guest is Aaron Guzikowski, who's the creator and showrunner of the HBO Max series "Raised By Wolves," which is now in its second season. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN COLTRANE'S "OUT OF THIS WORLD")

BRIGER: This is FRESH AIR. If you're just joining us, our guest is Aaron Guzikowski, the creator and showrunner of the HBO Max series "Raised By Wolves." So Ridley Scott is the executive "Raised By Wolves," and he directed the first two episodes. They had. How did he get involved? Obviously, he has a prior interest in androids from "Blade Runner" and the "Alien" movies.

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah. So the way that worked, you know, I had written the pilot script. I had, you know, kind of worked the show out and was looking for a producing partner. And it ended up where I was talking to Scott Free, Ridley's production company, and they were going to produce it. And we hadn't really talked about, you know, who was going to direct it. I didn't imagine that it was going to be Ridley Scott because he's very busy and he's Ridley Scott. And I had no idea. But I - at some point, he got his hands in the script. And he read the pilot script. And apparently right after he had read it, he just started drawing storyboards, like just basically storyboarded - or he did storyboard the whole pilot. You know, before it was greenlit, before even anything happened, he just went ahead and did that.

And, you know, I went in to talk to him. And we had this great meeting. You know, he loves drawing. I love drawing. And just - I found him really easy to talk to and really just such an inspiring presence. And in this really, you know, contagious sort of way, his enthusiasm for the whole thing and just how, you know, he loved how weird it was. And I think he likes, you know, he obviously, you know, kind of built the foundation of a lot of what we know to be this kind of modern science fiction and movies and - just on the screen. So thankful to him for just, you know, his - just level of interest and just how generous he's been.

BRIGER: There's a lot of religious elements to this show. There's like - there's prophets. And there's prophecies about a tree of knowledge. There's an immaculate conception. There's a snake, sacrifices. It's - it feels like Old Testament religion rather than New Testament. Did you read the Old Testament as a kid?

GUZIKOWSKI: I'd never actually read it. I was raised Catholic. I went to Sunday school, so I was taught about it. I was definitely - you know, it was in the periphery. I saw the imagery and had some idea about some of the stories, but it was always kind of presented to me, even in Sunday school, more like, oh, these are old - you know, these are kind of these old stories. They're not really about things that actually happened, but they - it's more about the meaning, you know, within them. And, you know, and in some respects - I don't know - some part of me, it was just - still kind of took them all on, and they still have this kind of deep meaning, again, that kind of primeval sort of - that primal sort of effect that they have. But it is - no, I never read it, never read the Old Testament.

BRIGER: The primal part of it can actually just be just terrifying (laughter), some of those stories. Like, do you remember any of them, when you were in Sunday school, that scared you?

GUZIKOWSKI: You know, it wasn't the - even in my house, there was a crucifix on the wall, you know, one of the ones with, you know, the nails and the blood and the whole thing. And I think in actuality - it was a candleholder. There were candles inside of it if you took it down off the wall. But I remember just looking at that and - looking at that and seeing those old kind of - you know, those gladiator movies were on - like, on in the morning on, like, Saturday morning TV and just being kind of so horrified by it all that there - you know, any of this could have actually happened and that there's this man, and they nailed him to a cross.

And somehow, this means something, you know? We're supposed to look at this and take away some really sublime meaning, and it just kind of freaked me out. It felt kind of terrifying more than anything else - kind of the same with space. Space felt scary. And, you know, like, I didn't want to go there, and it was kind of disturbing that there even was such a thing (laughter).

BRIGER: So you grew up in Brockton, Mass., which is a city south of Boston. Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood, like, what your neighborhood was like, what your parents did for work?

GUZIKOWSKI: Sure. Yeah, Brockton - Brockton, Mass., it's a kind of a blue-collar town, kind of a tough town. I wasn't tough necessarily, and I grew up there. And me and my brother were pretty artsy kids in this kind of - in a town that really had no use for artsyness (ph). So we, you know, did our best to be as - you know, to try and pretend we were tough and kind of, you know, live that way.

BRIGER: How would you pretend you were tough? Do you remember?

GUZIKOWSKI: (Laughter) Well, it's - yeah, you just kind of - I think you don't really - you kind of hide your artsyness. You know, you're more - you kind of just - you act like everybody else. You know, you dress like everybody else, and you just try to stay under the radar. And you - you know, maybe you do some sports. You try and just fit in as best you can.

BRIGER: You wear, like, Bruins jerseys and stuff like that.

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah, exactly, Patriots and all that good stuff and the Red Sox, and you just try - you just do your best. And it was a good town, though. I liked the people there, and you know, it was an interesting place to grow up. And it definitely - I think the - being forced to at least pretend to be tough, I think, actually toughens you after a while in some weird way. But I do - I did - I do value the time I had there. My mother lived there up until only a few years ago when she moved to Maine. But my mother worked as a school guidance counselor, and my dad worked at a hospital in Boston, so he would - at night, so he would sleep during the day, and then he would drive to work at night. And he worked in a lab at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

BRIGER: So were you an avid moviegoer as a kid?

GUZIKOWSKI: I did. I love movies. I would say, you know, I only got to go to the movies when my parents took me. I was never in a position where I could, like, walk - you know, sneak out to the movies myself until I was a bit older. But no, I loved movies, and my dad was one of the first kind of video pirates.

BRIGER: (Laughter).

GUZIKOWSKI: So he had all these VHS tapes.

BRIGER: Yeah.

GUZIKOWSKI: And he would just copy the - you know, he'd put, like, three movies on a tape, and he would just do this constantly. I - and so I had all of these - and he really - didn't matter what the movies were. So I had this really nice variety of just whatever movies came out, and he was just copying them and just amassing them in this - in our cellar. And I would just - you know, that - I think that was kind of my film education was my dad's pirated video collection. It was really great that way. So yeah, I loved them.

And you know, I - we - I wasn't allowed to watch rated-R movies for quite some time, I think, until I was almost literally 17 years old. So I do accredit that partly with my - what I ended up doing because I would always look at the posters and, like, look at the little blurb and try and figure out in my mind, you know, what these movies were about. Like, what was, you know, "Friday The 13th" about? Or you know, what is "The Shining," you know - and trying to look at the pictures and, you know, put together a story. To me, that was kind of the - that was sort of my film school, as it were (laughter).

BRIGER: Do you remember your first R-rated movie?

GUZIKOWSKI: I - well, the first one I remember sitting in the theater - 'cause I remember sneaking in with my friend - was "Fatal Attraction."

(LAUGHTER)

GUZIKOWSKI: I believe.

BRIGER: That's quite a first.

GUZIKOWSKI: It was a good first. Yeah, it was so - and that's definitely - if you're going to see a - you know, that's your first rated-R movie...

BRIGER: (Laughter).

GUZIKOWSKI: It's a good one for - you're like, wow, that's rated R (laughter).

BRIGER: Aaron Guzikowski is the creator of the HBO Max show "Raised By Wolves." We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF GILFEMA'S "LITTLE WING")

BRIGER: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Sam Briger sitting in for Terry Gross. My guest is Aaron Guzikowski, the creator of the science fiction show "Raised By Wolves." The show is in its second season on HBO Max. "Raised By Wolves" takes place in the future and on a different planet where humans have fled after a devastating war on Earth. Two androids, named Mother and Father, have been programmed to raise human children. They're played by Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim. Even though the androids are unpredictable and capable of terrible violence, especially Mother, they often behave better than the humans around them who haven't left the religious war behind on Earth. Aaron Guzikowski also wrote the 2013 film "Prisoners."

So how did you learn how to write screenplays?

GUZIKOWSKI: You know, I had been drawing all my life. And at some point, I had decided, you know, I wanted to do comics, but I didn't have the patience to draw, you know, sequential drawings and panels. I just could draw covers and, you know - and I never worked professionally, but, you know, that was sort of my interest and where most of my talent lied, was drawing.

And then at some point, you know, after I had gone to art school - and I went to art school and then I started taking these blue-collar jobs in New York because I was, you know, kind of just screwing around. I was in, like, rock bands and just kind of doing all sorts of things. I was kind of all over the place. I was a jack of all trades and master of none, I kept saying. So at some point, I think I - in my early 30s, I decided - I'm like, to heck with all of this stuff. I am only going to allow myself to write. And I'm just going to write, and somehow I'm going to sell a script. And then I'm going to use that money to get out of here. And that was my plan. And then many years later, it actually worked out. But that was the plan.

BRIGER: You must really enjoy the storyboarding part of these projects.

GUZIKOWSKI: I do. I absolutely do. I love it. And actually, when Ridley storyboarded the pilot, it was just the greatest thing ever. And, you know, just watch - actually getting to watch Ridley draw and kind of see how - you know, see how he draws, it was kind of the greatest thing ever.

BRIGER: So your first big break, I think, was for the original screenplay you wrote called "Prisoners." And so the screenplay was listed on this list called The Black List in 2009. Can you explain what that is?

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah. The Black List is sort of this - it's a list that's put together every year. I think there's a hundred scripts on the list or something like that. And basically, it's like - I believe the way they - you know, everyone in town, all of the managers and agents and producers, I think they kind of - they talk to them or people all kind of vote on whatever they read that year that hasn't been produced that they think - that they thought was worth recognizing. And somehow - and that's basically how it works. So this - every year, they'll put out this list. So if you haven't - you know, if you're just starting out or even if you've been in the business for a while, it's just a good way to get noticed.

BRIGER: Let's talk about that movie a little bit. It was directed by Denis Villeneuve, has a great cast, including Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. It's about two families whose young daughters are kidnapped, and Hugh Jackman plays one of the fathers. And he's a recovering alcoholic. He's a very religious person. He's also the kind of person who's, like, prepared for the worst-case scenario. Like, he has a fully stocked prepper - doomsday prepper kind of basement. But so he takes the investigation into his own hands because he believes that the detective, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is not moving fast enough and not focusing on the person he thinks has kidnapped the kids.

So, like, with a setup like that, you know, this movie could have been a pretty standard revenge film where this guy is, like, the hero for his decisive action, but it's decidedly not that movie. Like, instead, it's about what happens to a person when their family is threatened and how much they can lose their moral compass in crisis.

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah. And I think the idea, with me, was always this idea that you're - you know, even with the best intentions, when you kind of step into this river of moral ambiguity, you know, it's going to take - eventually, it's going to take you away. It's going to consume you. You know, even if you have the best intentions, even if your goal is a just one, these things - you know, violence, especially - it's like a disease, and they can consume you.

And that was something I think Denis really responded to. And, you know, it was so great that, you know, he ended up - because it took many years to get it made. And when he finally came on, it just all fell together really quickly because he's just such an artist, and he just really - you know, he had - he understood, really, the - what the heart of the whole thing was. He wasn't interested in just making, like, a genre movie. He wanted to really get down into the psychology of these two characters. And that was great because that's absolutely what I had hoped for. So it was really nice.

BRIGER: I want to talk about the - writing the character that Jake Gyllenhaal plays, this Detective Loki. He's work-obsessed, and it seems in part because he's had a lot of trauma in his life. He's very good at his job, but he seems damaged. And I'm just interested in his dialogue. He doesn't have a lot to say. He repeats himself a lot. And often it just feels like he's just saying things in a very automatic way, like the words don't really mean anything, like he's just been sort of taught to say them. Like, especially when he's talking to Hugh Jackman's character, this really worried father, he keeps saying, I hear you, Mr. Dover. I hear what you're saying. Can you talk about writing dialogue for a character like that?

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah. I mean, you know, being someone myself who's not super talkative and always has a hard time, you know, kind of expressing, you know, what's in my mind and then, you know, verbalizing it and making it understood and - I think Loki is someone who's - you know, obviously he's damaged in some respect, but - and he has this mind, you know, that's kind of spinning. And he's able to, you know, find things that others can't, you know, see things in sort of a different way. And I think he's so damaged, I think, in a lot of ways, the way he's - you know, when he's talking to other people, there's always this kind of thin veil, you know, that's kind of separating him and others. You know, there's something that kind of alienates him.

And I think on some - in some ways, that makes him a good detective because he kind of sees everyone in this very clinical way. But he - the one thing he can do - the one thing that does give him a good feeling is this ability he has to uncover things and to figure puzzles out. That, to him, is his contribution to humanity, as it were. But I think, you know, when he's talking to people, he's in a very different space, you know? He's not really one of them, sort of thing. I think the trauma, the damage, kind of does that.

BRIGER: I see some similarities between "Prisoners" and "Raised By Wolves." Do you?

GUZIKOWSKI: For sure. I mean, I see them. I don't know how close to - I mean, obviously, there's faith. You know, what are you going to put your faith in? You know, in "Prisoners," you know, he loses faith in institutions. You know, he loses faith in the police's ability to find his daughter, you know? And so he ends up putting his faith in, you know, himself. But then, you know, that - you know, how that transmutes into violence and, you know, the things that he is capable of, the ways that he can, you know, enact some kind of change, you know - you know, similar to Mother, you know that they have these kind of dark parts of themselves that they're trying to use for good. But, you know, they have to kind of deal with the consequences and deal with what these things kind of make you and the way they cause other people to see you.

BRIGER: I can't say that I enjoyed watching the movie. I mean, I think it's a really good movie, but it's a hard-to-watch movie because there are these scenes of torture in it. And also there's, you know, missing children. What was it like to have written this movie and then see it realized on the screen?

GUZIKOWSKI: It was interesting. You know, I wrote the movie before I had kids. I don't think I would have been able to write it if I did have kids because I think, you know, every time I sat down to write it, it was like putting myself in the mind of Keller Dover, you know, thinking about how Keller Dover thinks.

BRIGER: Who's the - one of the - the father, played by Hugh Jackman - right.

GUZIKOWSKI: Who is the father - right - who's the protagonist. And he's the father who's searching for his kids. And yeah, I don't think I'd be able to do that now because if I did it now, I would be like, OK. And then I'd somehow - I'd think of my own kids, and then I'd be like, OK, I don't want to think about this anymore, and I'll go write something else (laughter). So it was definitely the right time to write that. And it was just sort of - I think I was younger and I think just willing to just go to the darkest place possible because I didn't have a family. I had nothing to lose. I was just trying - you know, at that point, I think I had figured I probably wasn't going to make it as an artist of any kind, that I would probably doing, you know, manual labor (laughter) for the rest of my life. So I think I just had a lot of sort of these kind of dark kind of impulses at the time.

BRIGER: Well, fair enough at the time. But I also have to say that your imagination right now lingers on the dark side, too. So why do you think that is?

GUZIKOWSKI: Yeah, I always wonder about it. I don't really know. You know, my parents were really kind of sweet people. You know, I think it's just something in my genetics, like, something that goes way far back because I can - you know, since I was little, you know, I'm drawing skulls and all these kind of weird sort of, you know, Hieronymus Bosch-type of drawings. And - you know, and my kids do it, too, so - or one of them does. It seems - and my brother does it. I don't know. It seems to be something in our genetics. Like, and also, it doesn't really - the way I understand those sorts of images and - not violence, nothing to do with, you know, something causing harm to others. But if you're just talking about, like, images of, like, a - of darkness, you know, there's something almost comforting about it in this weird sort of way. Like, I don't know. Like, some ancient - one of my ancient ancestors, like, lived in a house made of skulls. You know what I mean?

BRIGER: (Laughter).

GUZIKOWSKI: And he - you know? And he woke up every morning - was like, this is home. This is great. This is my house made of skulls. And - you know, and, like, somehow that embedded in my, you know, genetics. And so I, you know, see these things, and I'm like, oh, that's kind of cool. And then someone else sees it, and they're like, what are you talking about? That's horrible, you know? (Laughter).

BRIGER: Aaron Guzikowski, thank you so much for being on FRESH AIR.

GUZIKOWSKI: Thank you. It was my pleasure.

GROSS: Aaron Guzikowski is the creator of the science fiction series "Raised By Wolves." It's in its second season on HBO Max. He spoke with FRESH AIR producer Sam Briger.

After we take a short break, John Powers will review the BBC hit series "The Tourist," a thriller that drops on HBO Max tomorrow. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF PAUL AUSTERLITZ'S "FINNISH WALTZ") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.