‘Shining Girls’ Boss: Why ‘Shifting The Mystery’ Was Key & How Kirby Isn’t ‘Just A Survivor’

HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with 'Shining Girls' showrunner Silka Luisa about bringing the book to life, 'shifting the mystery,' and more.

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Shining Girls is the new show that’s getting all the good buzz. Elisabeth Moss stars as Kirby Mazrachi, a woman who is constantly shifting reality in the years after a brutal attack. When a recent murder is linked to her assault, Kirby teams up with a veteran reporter to confront her trauma and help track down her attacker before he strikes again.

The thing about Shining Girls is that viewers already know the man who is responsible for Kirby’s near-fatal attack: the elusive and dangerous Harper, played by Jamie Bell. “It’s not meant to be a whodunnit, it’s how they did it,” showrunner Silka Luisa told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “Instead of the mystery being who committed these crimes, it’s why is Kirby’s reality changing so suddenly, and how is that connected to these other murders? I think by shifting the mystery it makes the experience more thrilling because you don’t actually know where the story’s going.”

Elisabeth moss
Elisabeth Moss and Wagner Moura in ‘Shining Girls.’ (Apple TV+)

Kirby doesn’t just stand by and let someone else solve the mystery at hand. She gets into the driver’s seat to face her past and what’s happening in the present. “I think for me what’s so unique about Kirby’s character is that she’s not just a survivor. She’s not just the subject of the story. She’s also the person breaking the story,” Silka said. “She has a lot of agency in driving the mystery forward. She’s the one figuring it out. She’s the one who’s reclaiming her own narrative. I mean, that is the show for me.”

Shining Girls is based on Lauren Beukes’ 2013 novel, which Silka read when it was released. “I think Lauren did something so unique in that she took different genres, she took sci-fi, she took mystery, she took serial killer, and she set it in the world of journalism. I hadn’t seen that blend before,” Silka admitted. “At the same time, what she did so elegantly was she really focused on the women and on the survivors, which for this kind of genre is unusual.”

The showrunner noted that she “definitely did change a lot of the structure of the book and the mythology. So the book is split between Harper’s point of view and the multiple women. Our show is very much you’re with Kirby, you’re on this ride with her experiencing the mystery with her along the way. In doing that, I had to change the mythology. I don’t want to give away too much, but I had to change the mythology so that you would be able to experience and have a sense of Harper even when they were not on screen together. That’s the biggest change.”

Elisabeth maintains a busy schedule with her role in The Handmaid’s Tale and upcoming films. Silka told HollywoodLife that Elisabeth was the “very first call we made. I’m eternally grateful that she read and took on this role because she became such a collaborator throughout the whole process. Since I had just done the pilot and as I was writing the season, Lizzy was able to just be a sounding board for Kirby and for how I was building out her arc over the season and really shaping what her story was going to be.”

Jamie Bell
Jamie Bell as Harper. (Apple TV+)

Jamie does a complete transformation into Harper. Serial killers are nothing new to television, but with Jamie in the role of Harper, Silka said that the character “has a vulnerability to him. He has a charm to him. He can play insecure. It felt like he brought all of this richness to Harper, which I think just makes him even scarier because he’s definitely a guy who would come up to you and you’d be like, ‘Yeah, maybe I’ll go for a drink with him.’ Like, why wouldn’t you? And then he can turn it like that [snaps].” Shining Girls will premiere globally with three episodes on April 29, with new episodes premiering weekly on Friday thereafter, exclusively on Apple TV+.