Is 'Mayor of Kingstown' a True Story? Co-Creator Hugh Dillon on Show's Inspiration

Paramount+'s new show Mayor of Kingstown premieres on the streaming platform on Sunday, November 14, and will be released on a weekly basis.

The crime drama follows the McLusky family, Mike (Jeremy Renner), Mitch (Kyle Chandler) and Kyle (Taylor Handley), and the extreme lengths they go to in order to bring order to a town bursting with crime and corruption.

And Hugh Dillon, who created the show alongside Tyler Sheridan, discussed the inspiration behind the show with Newsweek.

Dillon drew on his experience as a child for the story of Mayor of Kingstown as he lived in a place similar to the one he's written for the small screen.

He explained: "I can tell you this, I grew up in a town with 9 penitentiaries, a maximum, a medium and a women's [penitentiary], minimum security.

"You know, as a kid, my mom was a teacher my friend's parents were prison guards, one was a warden, other friends were convicts and it was, you know, in this perfectly cultivated civilised world there's this brutality and these institutions.

"So, as a kid I was fascinated with it and I remember I'd drive by with my parents and I'd see the guard tower and you think at five and six 'oh that's Disneyland', but it isn't, it's the polar opposite.

"And as I got older you see these things that happen in our society, child killers to serial killers to murderers to whatever horrific thing we're seeing in the news and they're coming to your town.

"Wherever in the country they've been captured they're coming to your town. So, I don't know how that bleeds into my psychology or how that works but that's what I brought."

On his co-creator Taylor Sheridan

Dillon added that it was Sheridan who encouraged him to pursue his dream of making a TV show 15 years ago, when the latter was the former's acting coach.

"He'd sit there and put the acting coach aside and say 'what would you really want to do?' it's about dreams and perseverance," Dillon explained. "I said I want to make a TV show. I'm a songwriter and a musician, and I got into acting late and Taylor said 'that's a great idea'.

"And we would focus – hyper focus – on keep[ing] it deconstructed, a character, a world, the emotions of the character."

Heaping praise on Sheridan he went on: "For me I was a giant film nerd and I am fascinated, this guy is my mentor, he coached me on Flashpoint the TV show I did for years, he hired me on Wind River, he hired me on Yellowstone, and he made this happen.

"It's amazing to watch, like I said I'm a musician so it's like watching Jimmy Page play when I watch him create and I watch how he does it."

The Mayor of Kingstown cast on their characters

Handley, Aidan Gillen, and Emma Laird also spoke with Newsweek about the show, reflecting on their characters Milo, Kyle, and Iris respectively.

A character who is thrown into the ringer is Kyle, a police officer who Handley says is comfortable working "in the grey" if the family business demanded it.

Handley said of Kyle: "He wants to uphold truth and justice, and walk that thin blue line, however when his brothers [Mike and Mitch] call upon him and want him to work in the grey he doesn't hesitate, he backs them up.

"And that is definitely, it feels like it's the beginning when you first watch it but this is something that's been at work his whole life... this is the family business and Kyle knows it well."

Gillen's character, meanwhile, is a cunning criminal who pulls the strings from behind prison bars, which is a trait he does like in the roles he takes.

"I do like that but I don't think about it in the same terms of other cunning characters like, for example, Littlefinger on Game of Thrones," Gillen said of Milo.

"I try to make it more realistic, I suppose. These guys are real and they do exist so I was definitely not trying to take too much pleasure in it and to kind of ham it up or anything like that, god forbid."

He added: "But, It's always fun to play a really smart guy because then people think you're smart."

It's through Milo's machinations that Iris finds herself in Kingstown, and while she does not appear often in the first few episodes Laird teased that fans will see her go down "a downward spiral of coming to terms with her situation."

"It was my first time on set and I was really nervous, and kind of discovering the character," she said. "We pretty much short chronologically and in 1-5 Iris has this false sense of charisma and personality, so it was nice for her to really come into her own.

"It was timed right with my time getting to know Iris and her journey because the real stuff hit and I was really there and present, and it was authentic."

The actor added: "She's got a mask, she's living in her own fairy world and when she comes to Kingstown the reality stars to seep in."

Mayor of Kingstown Season 1 is released weekly on Paramount+ from Sunday, November 14.

Mayor of Kingstown
Kyle Chandler, Jeremy Renner and Taylor Handley in "Mayor of Kingstown". Emerson Miller/Paramount+