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Hulu’s ‘Looming Tower’ looks at events leading to Sept. 11 attacks

"Enough time has passed that it’s helpful in terms of the healing," co-star Peter Sarsgaard says.

"The Looming Tower" on Hulu stars Peter Saarsgaard and Wrenn Schmidt. Photo Credit: Hulu / JoJo Whilden

Journalist Lawrence Wright’s examination of al-Qaida, the U.S. government and the lead-up to 9/11, chronicled in his book “The Looming Tower,” gets adapted on Hulu with a series of the same name.

In the show, Peter Sarsgaard and Wrenn Schmidt play CIA analysts Martin Schmidt and Diane Marsh, respectively, whose decision to withhold information from the FBI has catastrophic repercussions.

The pair sat down with amNewYork to discuss the series, which begins streaming Feb. 28.

Did the series change your perspective on 9/11?

Wrenn Schmidt: I feel like my perspective changed after I read this book called “Ghost Wars,” but I think that was just understanding the change of events. In hindsight you can kind of see how one thing lead to another. I would say that about the first 200 pages in Larry’s book as well. The first 200 pages really focus on the history of al-Qaida and that was new to me.

The information in the show seems accessible enough to connect with an audience.

Peter Sarsgaard: For me, the project was always really compelling because I think for years, the events that lead up to 9/11, and 9/11 itself, was untouchable in terms of really understanding how it happened and in what ways we could’ve avoided it [and] what ways we participated in making it happen. I think enough time has passed that it’s helpful in terms of the healing.

Martin is a complex character in how he views the FBI and what he does or doesn’t do with this information. Did you empathize with him?

PS: Not when I wasn’t playing him, but when I was playing him, yeah. I understand the idea of being in this room, even separate from the CIA at Alec Station, where we have our own myopic view of things. We think we’re the ones that know everything but we aren’t in the field. I think you get an arrogance about your opinions and your knowledge.

What do you hope Americans will take away from the series?

PS: I hope that they see how much it reflects on the time we’re currently living in. I hope that they’ll see, as several people have said, divided we fail.

WS: I really hope people start to ask questions and that they’ll pick up Larry’s book and that people will want to investigate that period of time more.

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