Although Tom Hanks portrayed Langdon in the cinematic adaptations of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and Inferno, Zukerman claims that the series gives a fresh genesis story.
“That’s who he’s going to be,” Zukerman, 37, told UPI via Zoom. “This show will reveal how he will become that guy.”
Brown’s third Langdon novel, following Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, was The Lost Symbol. Then came Inferno and Origin.
Landon is a symbologist at Harvard University. Because of his study of religious iconography, Langdon finds himself solving clues in historical artifacts.
“This is absolutely his first adventure,” Zukerman said. “In our story, he’s a young history professor who just gets pulled into something because his mentor is abducted.”
Fans will recognize Zukerman from shows like The Pacific, Designated Survivor, Manhattan and Succession. This summer, Zukerman starred in Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy, which he filmed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Lost Symbol.
Zukerman said The Lost Symbol series gives him a chance to show how Langdon got involved in solving historical clues. Langdon visits Washington, D.C., to find clues in Freemason artifacts when his mentor, Peter Solomon (Eddie Izzard), is kidnapped.
“We’re just very lucky that it hadn’t been made into a film because it’s so perfect as an origin story,” Zukerman said.
Zukerman said the story of The Lost Symbol, first published in 2009, establishes “little details about his rigidity, about his hubris, his arrogance, his inability to feel, his attachment to knowledge and to facts.”
Each episode of The Lost Symbol finds Langdon explaining history to partners in his quest. Those partners include Solomon’s daughter, Katherine (Valorie Curry).
Zukerman said each script motivates him to research the subjects Langdon is discussing. Because the clues of The Lost Symbol revolve around the Freemasons, he drew upon books like A Brief History of Secret Societies by David Barrett and Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes.
“I obviously don’t know as much as [Langdon] does,” Zukerman said. “But I do need that confidence to be able to know that much or that feeling to know more than the person you’re talking to.”
When The Lost Symbol begins, Langdon is presenting a lecture about the origin of symbols such as the swastika and Unite or Die. Langdon shows his class how the swastika began as a Sanskrit symbol before it was the Nazi emblem.
Zukerman said Langdon’s understanding of the evolution of symbols will apply to the Freemason symbols he discovers.
“This is someone who understands how meaning moves through time,” Zukerman said. “The meaning changed constantly and it was constantly adopted by different organizations.”
The clues lead Langdon to texts in ancient languages, too. One scene in which Langdon reads a Hebrew passage made Zukerman recall his own childhood.
Zukerman said he grew up hearing his parents speak Hebrew, but he didn’t learn it until recently. Moshe Zukerman, an Israeli, met his wife, Ingrid, in Israel, despite the fact that Ingrid is Peruvian.
The Zukermans had their children in the United States before relocating to Australia to raise them. Ashley Zukerman filmed The Lost Symbol in Toronto, doubling for Washington, D.C.
The actor was quarantined upon his arrival in Toronto due to COVID-19 safety regulations. He claimed to have spent 14 days talking with his mother on the Hebrew passages of The Lost Symbol.
“I enjoyed translating half a Bible page, with my mom back in Australia, into Hebrew,” Zukerman said. “I did spend two or three weeks learning the Hebrew that I’d need for those episodes.”
New episodes of The Lost Symbol premiere Thursdays on Peacock.