You’ve probably practised reverie sometime in your life, but never taken it to the extreme of the new NBC summer series aptly called Reverie, starring Sarah Shahi.
For most, reverie is the simple act of daydreaming, getting lost in your thoughts. The series notches that up by allowing individuals to enter an advanced immersive virtual-reality program in which they can live out their wildest dreams or fondest memory.
When those dreams become so addictive the subject refuses to leave the dream state, it is up to Mara Kint (Shahi), a former hostage negotiator and expert on human behaviour, to join the dream state in an attempt to coax the person back to reality before the results are disastrous.
Shahi knows exactly what memory she would live if Reverie were real. The series came to her a few months after her father had died. Shahi didn’t have much of a relationship with him when she was younger, as he was a drug addict and abusive. She and her mother were in and out of women’s shelters while she was growing up.
“When he died, it really threw me back,” Shahi says. “It took me by surprise at the amount of grief I felt. Then I started talking to him, seeing him and feeling him around me. I became convinced that there was so much more to this world than our eyes can see.
“If there was a moment I could pick. I have a very vivid memory of being 2 or 3 years old and being at the lake with my mom and dad. I was in between his legs like a cat. I remember the song that was on, the way the wind was blowing through my hair. I remember the smell in the air. I remember feeling so secure and there was nothing better to me. If I could go back and revisit that time for a moment, I would.”
Sashi knew from the age of 6, watching TV programs with her mom at a shelter, that she would one day be an actor. The escape she would get through the TV shows was something she wanted to give others when she got older. The moment Shahi got the script for Reverie, she knew this was a big way for her to accomplish the task she set for herself all those years ago.
Even working on Reverie has created a special memory for Shahi. She recalls visiting Universal Studios Hollywood when she was a child and thinking that one day she needed to work on a series or film at the studio. But she never had a chance to work on any productions there until Reverie came along.
“I had this moment where my eyes welled up with tears and my heart exploded because working on the show was everything I had ever wanted,” Shahi says. “It was my dream come true.”
Since making the leap into acting at the urging of Robert Altman, when the director was filming in Texas while she was attending Southern Methodist University and was a member of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Shahi has worked in a variety of different roles. The Texas native recently was a series regular on Person of Interest, plus she’s appeared in TV series such as The L Word, Chicago Fire, The Sopranos, Ray Donovan and Alias. Her feature film roles include Bullet to the Head, I Don’t Know How She Does It, Old School and Hangman.
None of those parts pushed her imagination to the extremes of working on Reverie. Each week, her character enters a new world that can be stunningly beautiful or painfully frightening.
“I have been describing this show as Alice in Wonderland meets Deception. A lot of the show feels like Alice falling down the rabbit hole because she never knows where she’s going to end up,” Shahi says. “Every episode of this show is its own ride.
“You just never know where it is going to take you.”
In the series opener, Kint joins the dream of a man who keeps reliving a moment associated with his marriage proposal. What appears to be a very sweet and special memory is hiding a darker element Kint uncovers.
The story is the first of 10 episodes in the summer series, which also airs on Global. Shahi is happy Reverie is starting now rather than in the fall because it will have a better chance at snagging an audience when there is less competition.
The cast of Reverie also includes Dennis Haysbert, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Kathryn Morris and Jessica Lu.