The Looming Tower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Austin-based journalist Lawrence Wright, tells the incredible story of al-Qaeda’s rise in the 1990s, leading up to the attacks of 9/11. It’s stunning, vividly reported work, dramatizing Osama bin-Laden’s rise and the struggles within the American counter-terrorism and intelligence communities that ultimately helped create the circumstances for the tragedy. The anecdotes captured are bold and dramatic—in one scene, FBI agent Ali Soufan is taken aside on September 12, 2001 and shown the names and photos of men the government had known for more than a year were in the country, a day too late—and the characters, both American and in al-Qaeda, are compelling.
That’s what executive producers Dan Futterman and Alex Gibney and director Craig Zisk (a Dallas native) had to work with when adapting The Looming Tower into a ten-hour Hulu miniseries. The show stars Jeff Daniels as counter-terrorism expert John O’Neill, Peter Sarsgaard as CIA officer Martin Schmidt, Alec Baldwin as George Tenet, and French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim as Soufan. The trailer, released today, gives us a glimpse into what the show does with the material.
The Looming Tower premieres on Hulu on February 28. Until then, look forward to Michael Stuhlbarg with a jarringly bright coif, a dark soundtrack, and—of course—the spiderweb maps of any good FBI show.