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Alfonso Cuarón, J.J. Abrams are ‘Believe’-ers

PASADENA, Calif — Newly minted best director Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón is bringing his cinematic touch to television with the NBC series “Believe.” Debuting Monday at 10 p.m., the series centers around a young girl with special powers including levitation.

The “Gravity” director and fellow co-executive producer J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek,” “Lost,” “Fringe”) recently fielded questions from reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour.

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Q. How did the idea come to you?

CUARÓN: Well, first of all, I wanted to do something which people were not floating.

ABRAMS: Alfonso, did you watch that clip? She’s floating. (Laughs.)

CUARÓN: I wanted to do something more grounded, and we wanted to do it with real people, real locations. And I wanted to do something really exciting, but, at the same time, something that would be highly emotional. And this idea of having a girl that has a mystery and put it together with this other character, that they are like an odd couple that starts turning into this father-daughter relationship that is not easy. But through that, I think it’s about the idea of healing.

Q. You’re both very busy, what does “Believe” allow you to do that you can’t in your other projects?

ABRAMS: Well, first of all, over 20 years ago I met Alfonso Cuarón. And I’ve wanted to work with him desperately ever since. I was a huge fan of every movie that he made, and each one made me more and more desperate to try and figure this out. And it wasn’t until Alfonso, through some magical moment, called and said, “I have an idea for a TV show,” that it gave this opportunity to me and to [my production company] Bad Robot. When he pitched the idea, it didn’t have to come from Alfonso to be something that was compelling and something that felt like I had to see that on television. But, of course, because it was Alfonso, it was even more so. So it was an opportunity that was too exciting to pass up.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.
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