'3 Body Problem' star 'cried' and 'gasped' watching Netflix series from 'Game of Thrones' creators

"I loved everything everybody did," actress Rosalind Chao said

Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss joined forces with True Blood executive producer Alexander Woo for another all-star novel adaptation: 3 Body Problem, on Netflix, starring Liam Cunningham, Benedict Wong, Rosalind Chao, Jonathan Pryce, John Bradley, Alex Sharp, Jess Hong, Eiza González and Jovan Adepo.

"It tells a huge story, but within the huge story, we have a historical context, we have a love story, we have a mystery," Chao told Yahoo Canada. "I cried, I gasped, ... it really took my breath away."

"Even though we'd read the scripts, after we got the links I was receiving texts in the middle of the night because everybody's spread all over saying, 'Oh my God!' ... Not every job do you love everything you've done, but this was very exciting because I loved everything everybody did."

3 Body Problem release date: March 21, episodes released weekly on Thursdays
Where to watch 3 Body Problem: Netflix
Showrunners: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Alexander Woo
Cast: Jovan Adepo, John Bradley, Rosalind Chao, Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, Jess Hong, Marlo Kelly, Alex Sharp, Sea Shimooka, Zine Tseng, Saamer Usmani, Benedict Wong, and Jonathan Pryce
Number of episodes: 7

(L to R) Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, Rosalind Chao as Ye Wenjie in episode 101 of 3 Body Problem (Netflix)
(L to R) Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, Rosalind Chao as Ye Wenjie in episode 101 of 3 Body Problem (Netflix)

What is '3 Body Problem' about?

Based on Liu Cixin's trilogy of novels "Remembrance of Earth’s Past," 3 Body Problem begins with a particularly impactful scene, which takes place in 1960s China, during the Cultural Revolution. Astrophysicist Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng) is watching the public execution of her father, a physics professor, reprimanded for teaching topics like the Big Bang theory.

Ye is sent to a labour camp, but is eventually moved to a secret base called Red Coast, due to her obvious intelligence, and is forced to make a choice that has a serious impact on civilization.

Moving forward in time to the present day, detective Da Shi (Benedict Wong), working under Wade (Liam Cunningham), is investigating suicide cases of specifically scientists from around the world. One of these cases is linked to a group of young scientists called the Oxford Five.

The group consists of Jin (Jess Hong), a determined theoretical physicist; Saul (Jovan Adepo) a physics research assistant who's been less successful than others in the group, but not due to lack of talent; Auggie (Eiza González ), a trailblazing researcher in nanotechnology; Jack (John Bradley) who used his skills to create a snack empire; and Will (Alex Sharp) a high school physics teacher.

The Oxford Five are connected to Vera (Vedette Lim), who worked with Saul before she died by suicide, which sets off a portion of the story where they try to figure out what happened, including a VR game Vera would play, which eventually leads them to discover a massive world threat.

(L to R) Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand, Alex Sharp as Will Downing in episode 3 Body Problem (Netflix)
(L to R) Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand, Alex Sharp as Will Downing in episode 3 Body Problem (Netflix)

Finding personal, intimate stories in a complex sci-fi adventure

While much of this story is filled with serious and scientific conversations, and sci-fi elements, there is some great character development to latch onto, particularly when it comes to the Oxford Five.

3 Body Problem requires some humanity from its characters for things to feel, at least in some respect, relatable and tangible for the audience.

That's particularly present with a character like Saul (Jovan Adepo), who we first meet with an understanding that he hasn't reached the full potential of his success, and has some self doubt, a very relatable experience for many.

"I think it was just fun to be able to take my time with his arc, when you first meet Saul he's lacking the ambition that his colleagues have, he's equally gifted, but just is missing that driving force to really push his life forward in a positive way," Adepo said. "In his personal, intimate life, he hasn't quite figured out how to get out of being a child."

"It was exciting to play just because I don't really relate to Saul, that much, I like to pride myself on being incredibly ambitious and sincere and in touch with my emotions. So getting to exercise somebody's lifestyle and mindset that's different than mine, that's always fun if you get the opportunity to do it."

For Jess Hong, who plays Jin, there's something compelling about watching a woman who is so obsessive about seeking knowledge and finding answers.

"Obsessive is definitely the word I would use, especially when she encounters the VR game," Hong said. "She's someone that never gives up, I think that's where her ambition lies."

"She's someone that refuses to leave a problem unsolved. So that's where that obsession comes in and I think she's actually someone that moves through the world with a lot of hope, a lot of optimism, that if she can just solve every single riddle in the universe, life will be a better place for everyone. But she just has to do that first. So I think her work will never be over until she's satisfied and she has an insatiable appetite for knowledge."

(L to R) Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, John Bradley as Jack Rooney in 3 Body Problem (Ed Miller/Netflix)
(L to R) Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, John Bradley as Jack Rooney in 3 Body Problem (Ed Miller/Netflix)

One of out favourite points of relief (at times) comes from Game of Thrones star John Bradley who plays Jack, with a comedic and sarcastic tone, and big personality.

"It was really liberating to play a character that ... doesn't have any self-confidence issues or self-esteem issues, or isn't plagued by any of that self doubt that a lot of the other characters that I've played are," Bradley said.

"I think the satisfying moment for me, and this is what great writers do a lot, is that they show a character and let the audience think that they've got an angle on them. They think, I know what Jack's like, he's this quite flippant, quite surface, quite a shallow guy, and then they give him a scene with Will, which makes you completely doubt everything that you thought about him. It just gives gives him so much depth all of a sudden and you think, oh he's not that person at all. That's part of him, but there's this other deeply caring, deeply compassionate side of him as well. ... I hope the audience kind of keep reevaluating him as the episodes go on."

While we won't spoil the entire journey for the character, we will say that that Alex Sharp's character, Will, has one of the most emotionally affecting arcs in the whole series, with an unexpected health issue that impacts the entire trajectory of his life.

"He's dealing with the same thing that humanity is dealing with, ... there's a timeframe, the clock is ticking, what do you do with your twilight hours, which was really interesting, ... but it's on such an intimate scale," Sharp said. "The psychology of it and the journey of just trying to get to that place that I think, in my experience, is very common, that I've seen with people who are in end of life care. ... There is an immense clarity and perspective that comes with that, which is so profound and so beautiful."

"As an actor it's like, how the hell do I get there. So it was incredibly daunting. It felt like a very big task, because it's so simple, but it felt very, very monumental. And so I had a really incredible, profound and challenging ... job, ... but maybe I have a really warped idea of fun because I love doing it."

(L to R) Adrian Edmondson as Porlock, Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in 3 Body Problem (Ed Miller/Netflix)
(L to R) Adrian Edmondson as Porlock, Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in 3 Body Problem (Ed Miller/Netflix)

In terms of processing a character's trauma, that's very present in the journey Auggie (Eiza González) must take throughout the series.

"She goes through pretty intense emotional journey, I think," González said. "I liked that they sort of indulged in different aspects of what that looks like, procrastination, fear of failure, fear of the future, there are so many fears discussed within this series, I think [Auggie's] is sort of this riddling anxiety of something that she can't control."

"She goes in a really, really large, long rollercoaster of emotions. That was jarring as an actress. ... I always try to remind this to people, when you're acting your brain is not registering that it's not happening to you, ... your body doesn't read that, your body's just going through the trauma physically. So that physically becomes really challenging, after a while. ... So that had a real impact physically on me, but I learned so much through that process of myself and it helped me grow and learn how to navigate anxiety or stress, or the states of mind that I was putting myself into."

(L to R) Liam Cunningham as Wade, Benedict Wong as Da Shi in 3 Body Problem (Ed Miller/Netflix)
(L to R) Liam Cunningham as Wade, Benedict Wong as Da Shi in 3 Body Problem (Ed Miller/Netflix)

'It's a multicultural, global story, and that's how it needs to be told'

Benioff and Weiss proved with Game of Thrones that they're able to take a story set in a specific genre and give it the dimension it needs to appeal to a far broader audience.

"They could very easily rest on their laurels, and then they go around and go, 'You know what, let's do it again,'" Liam Cunningham highlighted. "They do these things beautifully, they're wonderful at adapting and bringing their own creativity into that, and going through this maze of ... moving this thing from the written word on a page to putting it in front of people on a screen in a completely different medium.

"You weren't looking at these scenes and wondering how to fix them. All we had to do was service them."

Benedict Wong echoed Cunningham's comments, praising Benioff, Weiss and Woo for the way they distilled this complex and detailed story for the series.

"When I first embarked on reading 'Three Body' and 'Dark Forest,' ... the first one is so science dense, and the games, I was getting really confused with it, and then when we got the scripts I just thought ... the way that they interwove it and they just made it easier, visually more palatable to engage with the story," Wong said.

"A much more global story, but still incorporating the Asian spine of Da Shi, but being from Manchester and a new character of Jess Hong and and Jin from New Zealand, ... the Irish chief in command that only invites you to comply. ... It's a multicultural, global story, and that's how it needs to be told."

"It's a story about humanity and humanity needs to be represented on the screen and in the story," Cunningham added. "It's admirable the way they've done it."