PHOTO BY MARCO ARGÜELLO
“How will I ever fall in love after this?” You can’t fault Charlie—the protagonist of the new AMC miniseries The Little Drummer Girl—for asking this as she stares up at the Parthenon, bathed in golden light, and then over at the mysterious man who brought her up to the Acropolis for a private nighttime rendezvous, with nary a tourist in sight. At this point, Charlie (an English actress played by English actress Florence Pugh) thinks she’s being romanced by Becker (Alexander Skarsgård), but she soon discovers she’s being recruited by him and his team of Israeli spies (led by Michael Shannon’s wild-eyed Kurtz) to help take down a Palestinian terrorist. So much for love.
Based on the novel by John le Carré, which was also adapted into a 1984 film starring Diane Keaton as Charlie, this Drummer Girl marks the TV debut of South Korean director Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden, Oldboy), who filmed in as many settings from the book as possible. Shooting this scene on location was a must, says production designer Maria Djurkovic, “because we obviously couldn’t shoot the Acropolis anywhere other than the Acropolis.” Indeed, filming there late at night when the site was closed to tourists was “jaw-dropping,” she adds. “Even the Acropolis staff accompanying us were excited and taking photos. A visit to the Acropolis as a tourist during the day with hundreds of other people is an extraordinary experience, but to have it entirely to yourself is quite magical.”
Set in the late ’70s (and frighteningly relevant today), the miniseries follows Charlie as she’s trained to be a double agent, embedded with Palestinian fighters, and torn apart by conflicting loyalties. It’s heavy stuff—but easy on the eyes. Besides the Acropolis, Greek shooting locations included the 2,500-year-old Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, at the tip of the Attica peninsula. “I had to contribute very little at all to these sites,” Djurkovic says. “Everywhere else, we are adding or taking away, dressing, building, changing color, making [it] period correct. But Ancient Greece certainly needed no help from me.”