Life-changing phone call made in Topic’s ‘Accidental Wolf’

Rick's Reviews

Kelli O’Hara stars in the new Topic series “The Accidental Wolf.” (Photo courtesy of Topic)

(KGET) — The original plan for “The Accidental Wolf,” the new series launching on the streaming service Topic on Nov. 26, was for it to be a movie. The decision to produce multiple episodes came after filming had been completed on what would become the initial episode.

Series creator and writer Arian Moayed realized there was too much story “to unpack” when filming wrapped.

“So much was happening in our world at that time, when we were first starting on it.  And the natural instinct to go into the series was really kind of very fluid,” Moayed says. “Overall, the series had so many different players and so many different, amazing actors that we knew from the theatre world that had so much history with their own.

“How you can best tell a story is to kind of give it the breadth that it needs.”

The story Moayed wanted to tell looks at what happens when Katie, an upscale New Yorker (played by Kelli O’Hara), finds her life turned upside down after she receives a distressing call from a dying stranger. The caller begs her to help save the life of his pregnant wife. Katie struggles to find a way to help while also trying to stay safe.

It was a long journey to get to Topic where Moayed’s story could be presented in the format he decided was best to tell the tale. Work started four years ago with the project that was initially released as a web series.

There was enough attention to catch the attention of investors who supplied backing to shoot a second season. The second season was shot but stalled when the pandemic hit. That’s when Topic got involved and made it possible for Moayed to put together the series.

Moayed was passionate about getting “The Accidental Wolf” to a point where it could be seen by the public. Before facing the pandemic and the financial issues Moayed had to deal with a cultural obstacle.

The Iran native grew up in a lower-middle-class household where he and his family faced difficult times. He found when he started pitching his ideas that most Hollywood executives wanted him to tell what they considered to the Iranian story.

“Like you have to be the Iranian ambassador all of a sudden.  But as immigrants, we see a lot of the world in a different light.  And it’s kind of hard for us to become all of a sudden experts on an Iranian culture that’s 3,000 years old,” Moayed says. “There were wars that were happening all across the globe and I thought what would happen if somebody from another part of the globe called in to someone that had all of the means and resources available to her.

“How would you react if someone called you begging for their life? And would you be able, with someone like Katie Bonner who has all the resources, could you fix that problem, could you not fix that problem? How do you be helpful in this world? And this is all before the #metoo movement and the words like ‘white privilege’ were being put in there.  But as a young immigrant I was really captivated with those ideas and putting all of that into this one beautifully complicated human being as Katie Bonner.”

The task of telling the story fell to a cast with more than 80 Tony nominations collectively. Along with O’Hara, the cast includes Denis O’Hare, Judith Ivey, Sahr Nguajah, and Laurie Metcalf. 

Providing work for Broadway cast and crew came at an important time because all of the theaters in New York have been closed due to COVID-19. O’Hara describes this as a devastating time for Broadway.

“We’re watching people give up their leases in New York City and move to the Midwest to live with an aunt because there’s no way to afford to sit alone in a New York apartment and wait for the unknown.  We all live and thrive and breathe off of this sort of human collaboration.  That’s what theatre is for us,” O’Hara says. “So, I think we’re all in this moment of uncertainty.  And you have days of real Zen when you see how little control we really have, but then there are other days that it’s maddening.

“We just want to make it work and get back.  At this point in our lives, it’s not pick-and-choose. It’s what work can I find?  And not only to stay creative, but also to provide for our families.”

All they can do is sit and wait for a call.

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