Avatar: The Last Airbender Prequel Tells ‘The Rise of Kyoshi’

Every fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender knows that no matter how mighty an Avatar may become, they are only the latest in line… and unlikely to ever match the legendary Kyoshi; one of the strongest, greatest, and most fearsome Avatars that had ever lived. Now thanks to her very own prequel novel, the story of The Rise of Kyoshi will finally be told.

The Last Airbender series allowed its hero, Aang, to commune with the previous incarnations of the Avatar. Aang relied mainly on Avatar Roku, his immediate predecessor. But as his story, and later The Legend of Korra offered a glimpse of the Avatar before Roku–an imposing woman named Kyoshi of the Earth Kingdom–it was clear one of the most intriguing stories in the Airbender universe was being held for a later date. Thanks to writer F.C. Yee, that time has come, with The Rise of Kyoshi and the announced Shadow of Kyoshi recounting the origins of the Avatar. And based on our time with the book and our interview with Yee, fans are going to have a LOT to talk about when the book arrives on July 16th, 2019.

RELATED: 20 Fan Theories From The Avatar Universe (That Make Too Much Sense)

Reading through the accomplishments of Kyoshi’s life, the shadow she casts over the future that followed only grows longer. The longest-living Avatar (and human) after dying at the age of 230. The one person Chin the Conqueror couldn’t overcome. The founder of the Kyoshi Warriors, who make their home on the island Kyoshi forced free from the mainland–one of the most stunning uses of Earthbending fans will ever find. Screen Rant had the chance to speak with F.C. Yee about shaping this origin story with Avatar co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, building out the world before The Last Airbender begins, and much, much more.

You’ve made it no secret that you were a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender before tackling this novel. There don’t seem to be too many ‘casual’ fans of Avatar, but can you tell us a bit about how this project first came to your attention, and how being a fan factored into your response? Was it a matter of seconds before you were on board with telling Kyoshi’s story?

During a conference where I was promoting my debut novel The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, the publisher at Abrams, Andrew Smith, turned to me and cryptically asked “Are you a fan of Avatar by any chance?” Of course I told him yes, but after that we didn’t say anything further about it. I knew that Abrams had a prior working relationship with Nickelodeon on some children’s books so I may have had some inkling why he’d ask that out of the blue, but I never brought it up again (probably out of fear of jinxing whatever project might be brewing).

Months later, I found out that Abrams had submitted a proposal to Nickelodeon for a prequel novel series about Avatar Kyoshi, and that all parties were game for it if I was. I was shocked at the size of the project and thrilled that it was focused on my favorite of the pre-Aang Avatars. The fan in me said YES, immediately. My agent translated my enthusiasm into a calmer, more rational response, and from there, we moved forward.

The Rise of Kyoshi is a story that you shaped with Avatar co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, a driving force in building and expanding the lore to begin with. What was that collaboration like when it came to sketching out Kyoshi’s story–and at what point did you get to take the reins and start putting words to paper?

Mike, Nickelodeon Editor Joan Hilty, Abrams Editor Anne Heltzel, and I did a significant amount of outlining and “axe-sharpening” before I started writing. Mike is a master storyteller, so in those first few calls he was less concerned with technical lore and more focused on giving me guidance about characters, motivations, and forces of antagonism. He let me pitch a lot of different ideas and follow their progressions in outline form. Eventually, we came to a story direction that we thought worked for the character and the universe, and I started writing on my lonesome.

The amount of time we spent up front was immensely valuable. Because we made the creative investment, I clocked my production rate at four times my historical average (I am a tech nerd; this is how we talk). Mike and the other parties involved gave me the perfect combination of feedback and hands-off trust to run with the story. I didn’t stick perfectly to the outline, but the skeleton allowed me to build the rest of the book with confidence.

It’s almost funny to watch the series now, and see Kyoshi introduced as what must be one of the most intriguing Avatars and characters in the world of Avatar… and then realize her full story hasn’t actually been told! Were you one of the fans who wanted to know more about her when the opportunity first arose? Was that a ‘dream come true’ scenario or added pressure, knowing you’re the one who’s finally telling it?

Years ago, I adored the glimpses of Avatar Kyoshi we got in the series since so much was conveyed about her in a small number of scenes. She was almost like a Boba Fett whose actions and attitude backed up her reputation. For me, watching the shows, her appearances as a foil to Aang were so effective and satisfying that I honestly hadn’t given that much thought into wondering more about her personally until I started writing these books.

Once I had the opportunity to write her backstory though, the possibilities exploded, and I became eager to figure out what paths led her to become the person we see in the show. It was both a dream and a terrifying, pressure-filled experience. If I botched her story, I’d never forgive myself as a fan, not to mention disappointing the community that loves this universe.

To travel back to the start of Kyoshi’s story, readers are brought into a different world than the one they know from Avatar and Korra. Without spoiling anything, what should readers be prepared for, or know heading in? Because the temptation to pause on just about every page and dive into the Avatar wiki is going to be hard to resist (…I may be speaking for myself here).

I drew upon history for thematic inspiration (more so than direct events), which meant the setting of this book is woven with a lot of internal turmoil. Nothing is monolithic, and the greatest threats are often the ones closest by. I wanted to capture that feeling when you read about a crisis that happened in the past and marvel at how people back then managed to keep everything together. Institutions and beliefs that we’re used to from “current” times may not have formed or solidified yet. It’s a bit darker in parts than the shows, hopefully not gratuitously so. Some of that is due the above, and some due to its category as a YA novel.

The Rise of Kyoshi also expands on the mythology and history in ways that open up new stories. Was that part of the goal, or an added bonus in the process? I think The Fifth Nation in particular is going to be a prime example.

Those new possibilities are more of an added bonus since the primary purpose of their inclusion was to support Kyoshi’s story. In order for them to feel sufficiently rich though, they got a level of detail that could be fruitful for whatever creator that might want to use them.

The Fifth Nation, for example, is loosely based off the forces of the pirate queen Ching Shih, plus a lot of pirate history in general. While I simply wanted them to be effective and believable seaborne marauders, it meant hinting at more stories the reader isn’t seeing.

Kyoshi is noteworthy for more than just her status, since she is one of the few, and likely the most influential LGBTQ+ character in the larger Avatar universe. I’m sure there are fans of the series who will only now discover that, so was it something you felt important to include?

I did feel that was very important to include. Kyoshi is mentioned to be bisexual in the Legend of Korra: Turf Wars comic. Some readers will be coming into the book already knowing that and looking for how her love life is portrayed, and others might be discovering it in the novel itself. Either way, since since media representation is so important, it felt crucial not to leave her relationships out.

Kyoshi feels particularly timely, and complex in this novel: she’s underestimated, strong, formidable, and feared, but she isn’t perfect, either. Fans know her legacy is a mixed one, with massive successes and questionable or even bad calls. Since her origin story can’t really address that legacy directly, did it still factor into the start of her journey?

Absolutely. One of the main goals of this story was to convince readers how it was possible for Kyoshi to create the mixed legacy she did. If I wasn’t going to show her dropping Chin the Conqueror as an adult, I was going to try to show how she became the type of person that would do so without remorse. She starts out very different than the person we see in the show; since narrative arcs demand change, her end affects her beginning from a creative standpoint.

The Avatar fans who can’t stand the wait for The Rise of Kyoshi can also dive into your Genie Lo novels (Epic Crush and the upcoming Iron Will), to see another fierce young woman chosen for greatness. Was the transition from those books to Kyoshi as almost ‘fated’ as it now seems?

There is admittedly a great deal of overlap. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is about a nigh-invulnerable young woman who hates injustice and isn’t afraid of confrontation. I believe that part of the Avatar pitch was pointing at the existing book I’d written as a demonstration I could handle Kyoshi’s story. The humor and action-comedy nature of ATLA was undoubtedly a big influence on the Genie Lo series.

In some sense it felt similar going from Genie Lo to Kyoshi. Both protagonists would rather move mountains than let evil get its way. But ultimately I found myself focusing on their uniqueness. Genie is hot-tempered and quippy but deep down, a big softy inside. Kyoshi is level-headed, a woman of few words, and well, we all know how soft her personality ends up being.

Rise is just the first of two novels diving into Kyoshi’s story in the larger Avatar universe, so in that sense, the ending isn’t really ‘the end.’ Without spoiling, how do you hope readers will feel once they put down The Rise of Kyoshi after that final page?

I guess I hope readers feel a bit like Kyoshi herself- struck by the sudden realization that while the beginning may have ended, there’s so much more business to take care of and story to tell.

The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee arrives on Tuesday, July 16th, with the second book in the series The Shadow of Kyoshi to follow.

MORE: Everything Aang Did Between Last Airbender & Legend of Korra


2019-07-13 05:07:40

Andrew Dyce

John Garvin Interview: Days Gone

John Garvin, the writer and creative director behind Days Gone on PlayStation 4 tells us all about the games he’s worked on, from Syphon Filter to Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The studio which would eventually be known as SIE Bend Studio first made waves with the Syphon Filter trilogy back in the days of the original PlayStation. Back then, they were known as Eidetic, though they became known as Bend in time for the 2001 release of Syphon Filter 3.

As a first-party studio owned by Sony, Bend went on to develop more Syphon Filter titles for PSP, a Resistance spin-off for PSP, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita. Now, Bend Studio is gearing up for the launch of Days Gone, their first original IP since Syphon Filter all the way back in 1998. Through it all, writer John Garvin has been the lead writer behind all of Bend’s titles, which has lent the studio a unique identity which has persisted throughout their varied titles.

Related: Days Gone’s Freakers Are Not Zombies

With Days Gone just days away, we spoke with Garvin about the ambitious title, and applying Bend’s momentum-driven narrative approach to the open world genre. He also dishes on the numerous changes that have been made to the game since its 2016 E3 debut, and reminisces on Bend’s older titles even offering a slight, tantalizing tease that more Syphon Filter could be on the way, eventually.

Something that’s surprised me in the launch cycle for Days Gone, in interviews that I’ve read and just general internet hype, is how many people still fondly remember Syphon Filter, and I certainly count myself in that crowd. The ending of Logan’s Shadow is still seared into my brain, more than ten years later…

John Garvin: You know what’s weird? We have a lot of Syphon Filter fans in Europe. I just finished a press tour that went all across Europe, and got so many Syphon Filter questions, it’s not even funny!

A lot of studios are famous, or infamous, for having so much employee turnover, to the point where an immediate sequel can be made by practically a entirely different team. I don’t know if that’s the case with Sony Bend, but you have been there since the beginning. Since before the beginning, when the studio was known as Eidetic.

John Garvin: Yeah. You’re right about turnover, in general. But for us… The people who created Syphon Filter 1, we still have Chris Reese, who’s the studio director. He was the lead engineer on Syphon back in the Eidetic days. I’ve always been there. And Jeff Ross, who’s the Game Director on Days Gone, he was a level designer on Syphon 1. And a lot of our producing staff, like Connie Booth (currently Vice President of Product Development), she was our producer way back then. There’s not a lot of turnover at Bend Studio. We’re growing, but a lot of us have been working together for over twenty years.

Do you remember how many people were at Eidetic back when you were doing the first Syphon Filter?

John Garvin: I don’t know the exact number, but I remember looking at a photo not too long ago, and I think it was twelve or thirteen guys, and one gal. Susan, our office manager, was also there. She’s been with the studio longer than me. She was there when I started, and she’s still there.

So maybe a dozen or so people. And how many people at Sony Bend are working on Days Gone?

John Garvin: I think the last number I heard was we were pushing, counting some QA folks we hired internally, I think we’re at about 145 now.

That’s so many, but it’s also kinda mid-size, compared to some. Bend has always struck me as such a hard-working studio that surprises with these impressively big games, usually made for handheld systems. Your Resistance and Uncharted games stand toe-to-toe with the best of their console siblings.

John Garvin: It’s funny, the studio stayed small for a really long time. By the time we finished Syphon Filter 3, we were maybe 30 people. Maybe less than that. I don’t think we really started ramping up until we started Golden Abyss (the handheld Uncharted title). That’s when we went to about 50 people, when we started working on that launch title for the PlayStation Vita. We’ve basically only done games that fit the scale of our studio. We were doing handhelds for quite a while; even though they were state-of-the-art handhelds with high production values, the scope of them was small enough for our pretty small team. The point of your question, I absolutely agree with. We’ve always felt we are a scrappy studio, just trying to hit above our weight class. That’s kind of the way we’ve always felt. For a game like Days Gone, 140 people is pretty small. It’s such a big game.

There must have been a lot of pressure, tackling a big budget console title after being away for 15 years (not including the PS2 ports of the PSP Syphon Filter titles)

John Garvin: But you have to keep in mind that we’re Sony “first party.” We have a lot of support groups. All of our music and audio, all of our cinematics, we went down to L.A. and got to shoot them all on Sony stages with Sony support crews, and Sony Visual Arts and Services really helped out. Probably another 50 people, all told. And that’s not counting PR and marketing.

How has the pressure changed since the days of Syphon Filter and even as recently as Uncharted? There’s an idea floating around that there was a lot more creative freedom in the pre-HD era, since budgets were lower and teams were smaller, so you could do what you wanted as long as you hit your deadlines. Was that really the case, or is development actually not that different now?

John Garvin: You know, this is just my opinion, because I don’t know about other studios, but in terms of Bend studios, we’ve always done it the same way. Sony is our publisher, and our goal is to support the platform. Since Sony purchased us, after, I think, Syphon Filter 2, our goal has always been to create games that sell hardware, whether it’s been the PS1, PS2, PSP, or Vita. And now, obviously, the PS4. We really want to create games that, I think, need to have a certain kind of appeal, and they have to be commercial. We need to appeal to enough gamers who say, “I want to buy this platform because I want to play that game.” I think that’s always the goal, whether we were doing something for the Vita or the PS4. I don’t think that’s ever changed. We could never do “whatever we wanted.” It always had to go through the green-light process and checks and balances with marketing and execs to make sure it’s a viable product.

This might seem like a silly question, and I think a lot of people want to ask it, but only I am humble enough to do so. There’s this ubiquity of visionary creators: you’ve got your Miyamotos, your Kojimas, etc. You’re credited as Writer and Creative Director on Days Gone, while Jeff Ross is credited as Game Director. Could you elaborate on the interplay between your roles? What are your responsibilities and what are his? I imagine it’s different from movies, where you write a script, you turn it in, and then you leave.

John Garvin: I would call it a very, very, very close collaboration, and not just with Jeff, our Game Director. Also with our Art Director, and our Technical Director. And I’m forgetting so many. Our Animation Director… All those key-holders and vision-keepers have to collaborate closely. About your earlier question, we were given carte blanche, at first. Golden Abyss did really well for Sony. It was a great launch title. We proved ourselves, that we could take on an ambitious project. So they said, “what do you want to do?” We were in a brainstorming phase, and I think I’m the one who came up with the idea of, “I want to do something set in the high desert or the pacific northwest.” I hadn’t seen a game set here before. We’re huge fans of Sons of Anarchy, and I really liked the idea of exploring characters in this culture, not because of the violence and criminality, but because of the relationship between Jax and his close friends, like Opie. Kurt Sutter, the writer, I think, did some really amazing things.

Great show!

John Garvin: I was interested in that, and Jeff Ross was the one who said, “I have always been a huge fan of open world games. We should do this as an open world. That would be amazing.” At the same time, we were both thinking of gameplay hooks. The power of the PS4, the ability to do something like a horde which was 400 or 500 enemies all at the same time. I think that came from both of us just spitballing. And that gets Don Yatomi involved, and his team created one of our very first pieces of key art that helped sell this game. It was this guy standing on top of a rooftop of an old saw mill, and hundreds and hundreds of freakers are swarming towards him in an orderly, hive-mind kind of way. A lot of ideas came from me, I suppose… Certainly all the characters and so on. But the game doesn’t exist without the game, and that all came from Jeff. In terms of clear demarcations, anything that has to do with playing the game, holding the controller from second to second, that’s all Jeff Ross. The mechanics and the skill tree and the way the weapon wheel works, the survival vision, that all came from Jeff. The final implementation of the radar, all that stuff.

I see.

John Garvin: He’s got a huge team of designers who all work on these things individually. They all have leads who direct every part of the game. That part is hugely collaborative. But the script, that all came from me, and all the characters and locations and a lot of the missions, honestly, and I think that’s one of the reasons you’ll find, when you play Days Gone, and if you play any of Sony Bend’s games… I’m a huge gamer, but I also have a Master’s Degree in English. My background is in Shakespeare! I was really able to, early on, bring this sensibility to the creation process. Like, why don’t we bring our inspiration from this? Instead of from a game, we’ll take inspiration from a book or a TV show, and combine things I haven’t seen done in games before. I think that’s my part of it. Jeff does the playability part of it. Anytime you’re having fun in the game, it’s because Jeff and his guys did a really good job making the game fun to play.

It’s so funny you mentioned Shakespeare, since Jason Dante from Uncharted: Golden Abyss is one of my favorite chracters in all of gaming, and I always thought of him as being so Shakespearean.

John Garvin: It’s funny, in writing Golden Abyss, I always thought of General Oro as being more Shakespearean, since I gave him some more flowery lines, just because he considers himself an orator, so he could get flamboyant in ways I don’t think Dante would. But it’s funny, I’ve never really thought about it that way!

Anyway, let’s talk about Sam Witwer! He is really dreamy. I mean, he’s talented, but also super dreamy, and we really get to see him in Days Gone! So, you wrote Deacon St. John. You created him. Were you hands-on in casting? How did Sam get pulled in?

John Garvin: I was totally hands-on. I was the guy. All casting decisions came from me. Early on, we were trying out a few different guys to play the lead. Early, we had gone with someone quite a bit older, but it was a very different-feeling game, early on. It was a little more tongue-in-cheek, and not quite so serious. Technology-wise, we were still working our character pipeline for PS4. We made a decision, maybe a year into development, that we were going to go with digital doubles, meaning we were going to cast someone who not only had a great voice, but needed to have the look we were searching for. Sam has that real combination of the right look and the voice. And he can act!

Did your work on Uncharted influence this casting process?

John Garvin: We knew we wanted screen actors. It’s one of the things I learned from Amy Hennig working on Uncharted. That whole process is literally about performance capture, which we had never done before. It’s about getting actors on the stage together, interacting with each other. You had to have experience doing that in order to get hired. We really needed our actors to have the chemistry with other actors, to collaborate and build the dramatic tension. Back to Sam, he has this great look, but if you know his work, he’s a passionate gamer, and he’s passionate about a lot of things, about genre-related things. He’s gung-ho. From the first time we got him on stage for a live audition, we knew he was going to be the guy. Once we had him cast, we used him to cast the other leads, because all of our auditions were him working face-to-face with them. They rehearsed together on the stage just to make sure the chemistry was there. Sam was the one who chose Courtnee Draper for Sarah. We had three actors vying for the part, and he was adamant about Courtnee because she was the only one who could really keep up with him. He believed her that she could keep up with an outlaw biker gang and hold her own. He was pretty important to the process, right from the start.

I really love, especially in games, these motion-captured performances. You can really see the actor in the character. When I first saw the game, I recognized Sam Witwer before he even spoke, from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Was that ever a discussion? Did you ever consider changing his likeness so audiences wouldn’t recognize the actor?

John Garvin: It’s funny because that never came up. Obviously, we got a lot of comments, like, “Hey, it’s Starkiller!” But for us, I think it’s an interesting question because it’s a question. In Hollywood, it’s never a question. Nobody goes, “Oh, you got Jack Nicholson; are you concerned because it’s the same guy from The Shining?” (laughs) The actor is the actor. But in games, it’s still kind of a new thing. My prediction is, ten years from now, you’re going to see a lot more digital doubles, and it’s going to become kind of the norm. It’s becoming more and more common that you’re hiring an actor, not only for their voice, but for the way they look. I think we’re gonna get to the point where it’s not even going to be a question. It was never a factor. I never said, “Maybe we shouldn’t do it,” or “Maybe we shouldn’t hire someone who has been digitally doubled before.”

We’ve also come such a long way since Syphon Filter, where you’d write the script and someone would come in and say the lines. Nowadays, they’re acting the whole performance on a stage. What opportunities do actors have to help shape their characters while they’re acting? Can they say, “Can I change this line?” or “What if I do this instead?” I imagine it’s much more collaborative than it was back in the quote-unquote “old days.”

John Garvin: Up until Golden Abyss, we always did the actors separately in the VO booth, working from a pretty tight script. Then, in San Diego, the stunt actors would be recording the scene separately, on a mo-cap stage. Then, we would combine them together later on in animation. We would hire animators to do all the lip sync and facial expressions. We did that, even for Resistance Retribution for PSP. We got some good work out of it, but you’re never gonna get Naughty Dog-level work using that process, which is why, when we started working on Golden Abyss, we spent weeks down in L.A., learning how they do it. And it’s night and day. And, to answer your question, of can they collaborate, yes, absolutely, that’s the whole point!

Could you give me an example of how things were changed based on an actor’s input?

John Garvin: There’s a scene where Deacon gets caught stealing drugs from one of the emcampment’s infirmaries, and meets these two characters, Rikki and Addie. Nishi Munshi plays Rikki. She and Deacon had to have this moment, and they’re two super important characters. The way I had written it was pretty serious. Over the course of six takes, we do all these shots. The first take is always going to be rough. By the time you get to the sixth take, you get to what the real story is about. It’s always a combination of what’s on the page and what the actor’s bring to it. Sam went, let’s have Deacon be a little more rogue-ish here, a lot more jokey and just have him trying to laugh it off and get past them, rather than pointing guns and being all serious. So the final take is way better than the first one, and it’s because the story, the character, it improves with the actors’ input. Nishi added a beat, as well.

What was that?

John Garvin: When Addie comes up to her and says, “he’s not stealing narcotics, he’s stealing antibiotics!” That’s a big surprising moment and I hadn’t written a reaction for Rikki, and Nishi said, “She’s gotta react there, right?” And I’m like, yeah, absolutely, so she added “Wait, what?” Actors are very important to the process. They help create the characters. They help improve the script, certainly, but just by being alive on the set, in the moment, trying to make everything feel real.

I think we really are at the point where there’s no line between crafting a non-interactive scene, whether it’s for a game or a movie.

John Garvin: One of the key things we’re trying to achieve here is naturalism and realism. We didn’t want anything to feel staged, or feel fake, or feel… “gamey.” We wanted it to feel as real as we could possibly make it, so it feels like you’re playing a movie, which is kind of what our goal was.

I feel like Days Gone is the culmination of so many different generations of technological advancements, in storytelling, acting, motion-capture, etc. And to put that in an open world game, this is a whole new beast for your team.

John Garvin: That was our biggest goal going into this. Bend has always done these third-person, narrative-driven games. Linear games. We really wanted to see if it was possible to do our style of game in an open world. Typically, the open-world genre is very distracting. You can go in any direction. It’s very hard to build tension or drama because you’ve got other things you can do! You can do some stuff in any order you want. The challenge for us was, how do we tell our cinematic style of game in an open world? That’s kind of how we ended up with six hours of cinematics in a 30-hour main story playthrough. We really wanted to make sure we had enough continuity in the character development and story development while you’re playing the game, to always keep things interesting.

And what did you do, writing-wise, to keep things interesting?

John Garvin: Going back to Shakespeare, probably the biggest thing I learned from Shakespeare, which has been carried over into sitcoms more than films, is just the sort of A plot, B plot, C plot structure. You have this main story, maybe it’s Deacon trying to keep his best friend, Boozer, alive. Then you have a side story, or B plot, I don’t even call it a side story. In a lot of open world games, side stories literally have nothing to do with the main story. In our game, everything has something to do with the main story, either thematically or in terms of direct through lines or character development. These different plotlines all feed on each other or build on each other in, hopefully, interesting or surprising ways. I learned from Shakespeare that it’s okay to mix it up; don’t keep the same two actors on the stage all the time! Make sure there’s something else going on. Let some of your characters be more humorous than the more super serious ones, or whatever. I think that’s something games could do more.

Does player choice have any impact on the way the characters and storyline develop?

John Garvin: The tone and the style of the writing doesn’t change. We’re not doing a Telltale-style game that has branching storylines or anything like that. The changes that occur in the characters, obviously, occur because of the story. So, not necessarily because of things the player is doing. The exception to that is the dialogue at the merchants and in the survivor encampments. It changes depending on your trust level with those camps. The player has agency in how much work they want to do with these encampments. The more Deacon does for them, the healthier the citizens become, and they become less grumpy and more friendly when they open the gates to let you in. They start calling you by your first name, for example.

Days Gone is a game we’ve been able to see develop over a longer period of time than is normal, but not because the game was terribly delayed, but because you were willing to show it that early. The E3 2016 demo was very impressive, but what’s come out in the last few months is completely overhauled. Bend has been so transparent on the changes, like the removal of binary choices made during cutscenes. I’m thinking about the relationship between the character, the player, and the writer, you know?

John Garvin: Thank you, number one, because we have completely… We’re always continuing to work on the game, but what’s interesting about that 2016 demo is that it’s an actual mission in the game. The gameplay there hasn’t changed. It’s part of the game, it’s one of the required hordes you have to fight over the course of the game. It’s at the saw mill, it’s one of the major gameplay beats of Days Gone. It’s still there, though it does look a lot better now.

That’s really cool, I love when stuff from previews appears in the final game and you can really compare and contrast the differences.

John Garvin: That was still alpha. The thing about the binary choices is, we released some of that footage when it was still alpha. We were working on the game up until even now. We’re always making it better. The thing about player choices is, players didn’t get it! (laughs) We have ongoing focus tests where we bring in twenty players at a time and have them play the game from start to finish over a week. We’ve done that dozens of times over the past two years. The data just kept coming back, you know? We thought it was going to be this awesome thing where Boozer’s morale was going to be this awesome thing players would have to watch, but players just didn’t understand it. For the amount of work we were putting into it, there was no payoff. It was hurting the player experience. When we got rid of it, it made a huge difference in a number of ways.

That’s so interesting.

John Garvin: As a writer, one of the lessons I had to learn that was really hard early on, was this: on a motion picture script, you’ve 90 to 120 pages, give or take. You want your character to start out flawed and broken, and you want them to be in a place where they have a lot of room to change and grow. For Deacon, he starts out as this nihilistic, broken guy. Honestly, he isn’t very likable at first. The thing is, in a movie, you’re doing that for ten or fifteen minutes before you have a catalyst that makes him begin to change. That turned out to be eight hours in Days Gone, and I didn’t realize that until I played the game for the first time, in December of 2017.

Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious, but it must have been so uncomfortable for you!

John Garvin: It was just like, “okay, so all these binary choices are also hurting that.” If Deacon has the ability to leave this guy to be eaten alive or to put him out of his misery, the player, at that moment, doesn’t really know what the right thing to do is. In either case, it makes Deacon out to be… If he leaves him to be eaten alive, it turns him into a real a**hole! The same with taking Boozer’s shotgun. Kind of going along with that, if you have an obvious choice to make, players will always choose the good thing. It’s something that we learned from looking at something like Infamous. The number of players who choose dark over light is actually very small, believe it or not. We want to be “good” in video games. We want to play the good guy. But the biggest thing was, it made Deacon’s character stronger. It made players less confused about what was going on, and it saved us production time because we didn’t have to polish all the cinematics that were resulting from all these binary choices.

When you changed the choices, did you rewrite how it played out, or did you make the choice for the player?

John Garvin: We just made the choice for the player. So Deacon will always shoot Leon in the first twenty minutes, and Deacon will always leave Boozer’s shotgun. We just basically made the choices in every case where we had them, and it was always making the character stronger.

Okay, now I have to ask you, and this is tremendously important: can you turn Deacon’s backwards cap around so it’s facing forward?

John Garvin: (laughs) Can the player choose to do that? Hmm… Here’s the thing. This is a bigger question, honestly. One of the things a lot of open world games have in common is that there’s a lot of player choice in the way the main character looks. We decided, very early on, that we weren’t going to do that. The reason is, the way Deacon looks has huge story implications. This is something the player may or may not notice, but in flashbacks, Deacon is pretty clean shaven. He doesn’t have his scruffy beard. I wanted there to be this really stark contrast between these periods in Deacon’s life. From flashbacks with Sarah to the prologue where you see him having to make this horrible choice between saving his wife and saving his best friend, and then the game itself, where you see things happening two years later. These different time periods all have a different version of this man. Going back to biker culture, it’s completely reflected in the way he dresses, including his hat and his hair and his facial hair. We had to make sure that the player couldn’t mess that up. We don’t want the player to say, “I want Deacon, in this flashback, to have a big scruffy beard.” Well, no! That’s not who he was then. During the course of the game, for story reasons, perhaps the hat’s not there at all…

Ooh, intriguing!

John Garvin: Let me tell you, I took a lot of s*** for that in the wedding trailer; a lot of comments were, “hey, why is he wearing a hat at his wedding?” And he’s wearing it the same way, backwards. But I can tell you, and I know from the research I had done, bikers do that! I got a lot of support from people who are actually in biker culture. They said, “yeah, we don’t dress differently just because of a special occasion; we are who we are.”

That’s really cool. I really like that answer. It’s the same as the binary choices. Sometimes, the players can have that intimate control over the character’s story, but sometimes, it has to be the way it’s written, the way you wrote it and the way the actor did it.

John Garvin: One thing, though, you can change how the bike looks. So, that was the compromise we made. There’s literally millions of combinations of colors and trim and all that, and it’s entirely possible to create a bike that looks like one Deacon St. John would never sit on. You can have a pink gas tank and green chrome and it can be garish and ugly. But if the player wants to do that, they are empowered to do whatever they want with the bike.

I’ve got time for one last question. Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow. Did Teresa and Gabe survive that ending?

John Garvin: (Laughs) …Maybe, hopefully, we’ll find out someday.

More: Stop Comparing Sony’s Days Gone to The Last of Us


2019-04-25 08:04:47

Zak Wojnar

How Shazam’s ‘Mary Marvel’ Actress Secretly Joined The DCEU

Shazam! fans always knew Billy Batson’s story could be something special, even in a blockbuster genre already filled with superheroes. But even the most confident comic fans didn’t ever expect the movie to introduce the entire Shazam Family–or that the adult cast would be kept a secret until release day.

Yet somehow the Shazam! team managed exactly that, as audiences were unexpectedly introduced to not just Billy Batson’s adult form, but Mary (Michelle Borth), Freddy (Adam Brody), Darla (Meagan Good), Eugene (Ross Butler), and Pedro (D. J. Corona). And with their roles in the DC movie universe now revealed, the cast is finally able to discuss their even-more-secretive-than-usual path to bringing a family of heroes to life on screen.

RELATED: Shazam Finally Sets Up a Justice League Dark Movie

While most of Billy’s foster siblings were introduced as magic champions in DC’s New 52 reboot back in 2011, his sister Mary Marvel and best friend Freddy a.k.a. Captain Marvel, Jr. are almost as old as he is, created alongside Superman in the earliest days of superhero comics. Screen Rant had the chance to speak with Mary Marvel herself, actress Michelle Borth, about the process of landing an unknown role in DC’s Justice League universe, and the rare opportunity to be part of one of the most diverse superhero teams–superhero families audiences may ever see.

Well I want to make sure that I don’t owe you an apology, because I think we were the first to figure out that you were actually in the movie playing Mary Marvel.

Oh, no way!

I think so, yeah. We ran a piece on the entire Shazam Family cast back in March, that you had all been cast in secret–

Wait a second, wait a second…

We did a photoshop of you and Zac in the hero suits…

Oh my God! Yes you were! I remember being so excited about that! You don’t have to apologize, I want to say thank you. Because listen: if it didn’t come from me, it was fine. You know what I mean? As long as it didn’t come from me. That was my only responsibility, was just to keep my mouth shut. But anybody else…

No! I remember–we’re all in a group chat, we’re all like ridiculous best friends, not kidding. Like, it sounds so cheesy but we really are family, it’s really gross. But I remember seeing that, and I texted everyone like, ‘It’s been leaked, someone’s leaking it!’ And everyone was like ‘Yes! Leak it! Yes!’ Because you know, we all want to talk about it. We all want to shout on the mountaintop of like, ‘We’re superheroes!’ And so we were really excited, thank you.

Then I can’t imagine how happy you are to finally be able to talk about your role in Shazam!

Ridiculous. Ridiculous. It’s been the hardest secret to have to sit on. And it’s coming up on almost two years for me, you have no idea. I’m very pleased with myself, because I didn’t have a big ‘oopsie’ at some point. But it’s such a relief, I’m so excited.

I imagine that going through the ‘superhero movie experience’ must be something, it’s really only been available to a select group of people in all of movie history.

Yeah!

How clear was it, just how top secret this was going to be? How did this experience start for you?

[Laughs] Sooo top secret. This is like classified, C.I.A. material. It was as closed as the Mueller case, I’ll put it that way. So no, I knew nothing, I knew nothing! I got this audition and it was like a three page monologue. The notes that I got from it were, ‘We don’t have a script, and there’s no character breakdown, but they’d like you to do this and put it to a dance.’ I was like, ‘Hold up, hold up.’ ‘Yeah that’s all, we’re really sorry. That’s all the information we have. Just do the best you can.’

I read it and it was just about a woman who was in a wrong class, who had signed up to go to an exercise class and got there and it was a dance class. Long story short, I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to have fun with it. I don’t know what it’s for, I’ve got nothing to lose.’ I spent the entire weekend Google-ing YouTube videos of the Saturday Night Fever dance. Like, the whole shebang. I went through every single step that John Travolta did. I memorized it, I got it down, and then I set it to this monologue. And then at the end of the monologue it kind of ran short–the dance wasn’t long enough–so at the end of the monologue I decided to go into an interpretive dance [Laughs]. So I did, I went into interpretive dance and started doing butterfly arms, and I just had a lot of fun with it. Again, had no idea what it was for. And didn’t afterwards, either. I completely forgot about it.

I want to say like two, three months later I get a call and they’re like, ‘By the way, remember that really weird audition you went in for? You’re Mary Marvel.’ I was like, ‘What?’ ‘That was for DC Comics, and they want you for Mary Marvel.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God that’s amazing! When do I test? Do I have to screen test, when is the producer session, I have to prepare.’ They’re like, ‘No no Michelle, that was it.’ So I was like ‘That can’t be it!’ ‘No, that was it, you are Mary Marvel now. No testing, no one else.’ From that tape. From that tape! The magical tape. So you can imagine, when I was told that I started bawling. Like, it wasn’t me laughing, it wasn’t me going ‘Yay!’ When they finally were like, ‘Michelle, do you get it? You are Mary Marvel now.’ I dropped the phone and just started crying. I’m like ‘I’m okay! I’m okay! Give me two minutes, I’m fine! I have to just pull my stuff together.’ And they just started laughing at me. Just like, ‘Cry it out girl! Cry it out!’

RELATED: Shazam! Director Reveals His Secret Movie Cameo

We had a chance to speak with David Sandberg on the set. You obviously weren’t there–or maybe you were, apparently.

Or I was hiding around a corner somewhere, yeah.

He spoke a lot about the energy and youthful exuberance he looked for in Zachary Levi’s Shazam, but I imagine it would be the same for all the kids. How did he explain the role, or how this movie was going for something a little bit different?

I think the major difference that sets it apart from more typical superhero films and what we got to work with was… the reference was Big. In the long-short of it. The reference was Big. Once I heard that, because you know, I’m a child of the ’80s, I love Tom Hanks, I was like, ‘Oh I totally get it. They stay the same, they turn into superheroes but we get to stay kids.’ Because up until we got a script I didn’t really know that Mary Marvel was a seventeen year old girl in a superhero costume. So that was the clincher for us. We do have this real playful and light, not so serious all the time. Superhero movies can be really serious where we’re kind of goofballs, you know? We look like we’re really badass, but we’re all just goofballs having a lot of fun like kids playing. So that energy was where we knew we were all coming from, and knew was going to make this movie different. Basically like kids do, this film doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s the beauty of it.

I’m curious to know how much of shaping Mary was figuring it out with David, or with Grace Fulton who plays Mary. That seems like a singular kind of challenge for an actor.

It was.I have to say though, out of all of them, I was probably the luckiest. Because we all wanted to at some point come to set and watch the kids, or be able to watch playback, or a reel, or something like that. We had to get some sort of idea of who these kids were, how the kids were playing their roles, otherwise it’s just not going to work. So it’s a little bit more difficult when you have a really young child. I lucked out because I got Grace. Grace is ridiculously beautiful and talented and smart, so I got to sit down with her like and adult. Because she is an adult [laughs], she just looks really young. I got to sit down with her and pick her brain. Because in essence… WE are Mary, you know what I mean? Both of us are Mary Marvel. And I was like, ‘Give it to me, how are you doing this, how are you going to go about that, what’s in your brain?’ And with her information it was really easy for me to say, ‘Oh okay! Then this is what I’m going to do with my part of Mary Marvel.’ She was like, ‘Perfect, great. So when I shoot this scene, I’m going to do this’…

Mary’s really uptight when you meet her, she has a lot of responsibilities. She takes the role of a second mom, and is always worried. And forgets that she’s a teenager, so Grace plays that. Mary is focused on college, and focused on raising these kids, and forget how to laugh at some point. So my whole job is the best part, in my opinion, because I get to make Mary have fun. I get to let Mary let her hair down, be badass, and have a blast doing it. She’s got her confidence now. She’s tough, she’s strong, she’s beating up these sins. You know, playing with it. ‘Oh you want more? You want seconds? C’mon, have at it!’ I get to have fun with her and make her a teenager again.

That sense of fun seems like it will be what a lot of people will take away from it. But anyone who follows you on social media knows that you are outspoken when it comes to the causes that you support and promote…

[Laughs] You do know! Yes I am!

So what does it mean to be a part of not just a superhero story, but one that is based in a foster family, a group of vulnerable kids who are forming a family and getting to overcome all kinds of insecurities and disabilities. Was that a connecting point for you in the story?

Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s really the heart of the film, to be quite honest. The heart and soul of the film is that… one, I kind of look at it in the sense that foster parents are superheroes. The foster parents who take in these kids and are selfless, and give a home and a good life to someone who is in need is something, to me, that should be celebrated. That they are everyday superheroes. And on the other side, I think no more than anyone else, a foster kid feels very alone, and very isolated. And probably is going to struggle socially through life. I hope the message that comes through is that your family doesn’t necessarily have to be the one you were born to. That you can find a community, and you can find people like yourself, and create a family. Because these days, almost every family is a broken family. It’s true! I mean there are a lot of split families going on, and a lot of kids who feel isolated. Because of technology, and spending a lot of time alone.

Billy Batson is constantly looking for his mom. Even when he’s in the foster home, he’s still looking for his mom. It hasn’t dawned on him yet that he’s been given this gift. So at the end of the movie he finally realizes that this is his family now. Just because he wasn’t born into it, and they’re not his blood mother and father, or blood brothers and sisters, they don’t love him any less. Or are going to not have his back in life. I think that’s an important message to have. Sometimes, if you weren’t given the best situation you can go out there and make that family. Whether it’s at workplace or with friends. You can connect with people.

RELATED: Shazam! Star Zachary Levi Auditioned For Freddy Freeman

I always thought that was such a beautiful part of the comic the movie is based on–that Billy doesn’t even have to be alone as a superhero. That was a major surprise in the comic, and I expect it will be one for movie audiences too. Are you just counting down the days until people get to vocally respond to it?

I am! I mean I’m so excited, but I’m also nervous, you know? You just don’t know how people are going to respond. But I’m mostly really excited because when I watch the film I thought it was fantastic. I thought it was fantastic. We all left feeling just… happy. It just has this feeling to it that I walked away feeling really positive. When I know that a couple hours earlier I was feeling really negative about everything that’s going on in our country. You know? I mean all the stuff that is happening right now, particularly here in the U.S. is really unfortunate and really sad. I don’t know how much it trickles down to kids and how much they understand what’s going on, but the thing about this film is that it’s a positive experience.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m really proud to be a part of something that is going to be a positive experience for people today. Particularly in the environment that we are all experiencing right now. I mean I am very tapped into it, I think a lot of people are, it’s kind of hard not to be. It’s kind of hard to not get jaded by it. To not feel some sort of negativity in one way or another. You know what’s so fantastic? I get to offer something really great, like a ray of sunshine and some joy into peoples’ lives. And make them laugh, hopefully make them feel inspired, give them that warm fuzzy feeling, even if it’s just for an hour or two. That, to me, is paramount that we get to do that. That makes me really proud.

People may not expect that from your director, given some of his more unsettling horror films. Can you speak to his approach, even in the marketing and build-up to the movie’s release he’s wearing his sense of humor proudly.

It’s so interesting that you say that. Because he is, he is. I’m going to be completely honest with you: when we first were in Toronto, and we first met David, he was actually very shy. I know, I know, but he was very shy. He didn’t have much to say, was a man of very few words. Absolutely kind and wonderful person, but I remember after our first meeting walking away and being like, ‘Oh he’s so shy!’ I think that… from my perspective, I think, in this process I’ve seen him not only come out of his shell as a human being, but then take on this real childlike… this beautiful, beautiful, childlike way about him that’s been really beautiful to watch. That’s my perspective of it. I don’t know if he’s always been like that! But I saw it as this slow rollout, towards the end.

I can only imagine, I mean I don’t think any of us had done a film of this magnitude before, and David along with us. So I can imagine that he came in nervous, I would assume. I mean this is a huge, $100 million budget, Warner Bros., DC film… it’s a lot to take on. And I congratulate him because he knocked it out of the park. It is so interesting to watch the diversity of people, because you would never think that this director did Annabelle, you know what I mean? You would never think that. But it just goes to the power of the script, and to the power of superheroes. Even the performances, I do a lot more serious stuff, a lot of my work is more dramatic. You get to see different sides of everyone. You get to see a different, fun side that we all tapped into this well. And then overflowed with [Laughs].

MORE: How Shazam 2 Sets Black Adam Up as a Hero, Not a Villain


2019-04-20 04:04:56

Andrew Dyce

Dennis Haysbert & Mike Colter Interview: Breakthrough

Dennis Haysbert is an American actor. He portrayed baseball player Pedro Cerrano in the Major League films, Secret Service Agent Tim Collin in the 1997 political thriller film Absolute Power, and Sergeant Major Jonas Blane on the drama series The Unit. He is also known for playing U.S. Senator (later President) David Palmer on the first 5 seasons of 24.  Mike Colter is best known for his role as Luke Cage in Marvel’s Luke Cage, The Defenders, and Jessica Jones. He has also appeared as Lemond Bishop in the television series The Good Wife.

In an interview for their new film Breakthrough, they discuss faith and science and how both and mix with the other to have a mutual understanding of how the world works.

Congratulations on the film, guys. It’s a heart wrenching and heart warming as well. And I don’t think I felt like crying so much throughout a whole movie.

Dennis Haysbert: Oh, let it go, man.

But first of all, did you guys hear about this story before taking the project?

Dennis Haybert: And on that note, I mean, I think that there has to be a record of a movie being made from a book, of an incident that happened, to two years from the incident to the book. To the movie. I don’t think, I don’t think anything has moved that fast.

Yeah. It’s 2015 was where everything. Mike, you play the first responder, that’s an atheist. Can you talk to me about Tommy’s journey?

Mike Colter:Tommy, you know, I think a lot of times, people talk about faith and people will tell you God works through people sometimes. You know that sometimes you yourself become a conduit or a messenger. I think Tommy, his job is to save lives. You know, he’s the first responding comes out, he did everything he can do to resuscitate, to get the person to the hospital, to just, you know, stabilize him. And he’s done it so many times. I think it becomes common, but at the same time, this is a special incident because this kid doesn’t give up. You know, his mom doesn’t give up. Tommy did it. Okay, it’s done. And then he looks around, he looks on TV, this kid is still alive? Wait a minute. Also he’s pulled in. He’s pulled in on the journey that the mother is taking them on. Everybody’s taken on his journey. The town, the school, the pastor, his character, the doctor, you name it, the father, even the father at some point, I think it gets it. Okay enough, I can’t, you know, this is not going to work. And I think that’s what Tommy taught me. He’s that guy that starts out from zero and now by the time the movie, I think he’s a little closer to believe, you know.

And with your character, he’s the doctor that is the best at what he does. But there’s an inherent debate about faith and science. Can you talk to me about how that kind of plays well into this film as well?

Dennis Haysbert: Well as a doctor, this character in particular, you can’t afford to let faith enter into it. You have to look at your work. You’ve got to look at all the tests and you’d have to see what’s going on factually. Basically, you don’t have time to sit there and say “Well, I really wish, I really hope this happens,” but when it does happen, you have to take it back a second and say, look, all these things I am, this is not the way I was trained. You know, I’m not supposed to feel this, but I can’t help but say that this is a miracle. You know, and it’s hard for a scientist to say what’s a miracle? Because you make the miracles. You know, by science, I mean, and you can, and you’re limited to what you’re able to do with medicines and whatever. And when you have that one intangible come through and it says, no, we’re going to take it over here. And not, it just blows his whole, preparation out of the water

Cinematically we live in a world of superheroes. You’re familiar with playing one. What can people take away from real life heroes that are depicted in this film?

Mike Colter: Anyone can be one. You don’t have to have a super special ability to be a hero. Sometimes you just have to be the right place at the right time, and you have to have the will. And that’s all it takes.

Dennis Haysbert: Inspiration to do it.

More: John Smith & Marcel Ruiz Breakthrough Interview


2019-04-19 07:04:05

Joe Deckelmeier

Dennis Haysbert & Mike Colter Interview: Breakthrough

Dennis Haysbert is an American actor. He portrayed baseball player Pedro Cerrano in the Major League films, Secret Service Agent Tim Collin in the 1997 political thriller film Absolute Power, and Sergeant Major Jonas Blane on the drama series The Unit. He is also known for playing U.S. Senator (later President) David Palmer on the first 5 seasons of 24.  Mike Colter is best known for his role as Luke Cage in Marvel’s Luke Cage, The Defenders, and Jessica Jones. He has also appeared as Lemond Bishop in the television series The Good Wife.

In an interview for their new film Breakthrough, they discuss faith and science and how both and mix with the other to have a mutual understanding of how the world works.

Congratulations on the film, guys. It’s a heart wrenching and heart warming as well. And I don’t think I felt like crying so much throughout a whole movie.

Dennis Haysbert: Oh, let it go, man.

But first of all, did you guys hear about this story before taking the project?

Dennis Haybert: And on that note, I mean, I think that there has to be a record of a movie being made from a book, of an incident that happened, to two years from the incident to the book. To the movie. I don’t think, I don’t think anything has moved that fast.

Yeah. It’s 2015 was where everything. Mike, you play the first responder, that’s an atheist. Can you talk to me about Tommy’s journey?

Mike Colter:Tommy, you know, I think a lot of times, people talk about faith and people will tell you God works through people sometimes. You know that sometimes you yourself become a conduit or a messenger. I think Tommy, his job is to save lives. You know, he’s the first responding comes out, he did everything he can do to resuscitate, to get the person to the hospital, to just, you know, stabilize him. And he’s done it so many times. I think it becomes common, but at the same time, this is a special incident because this kid doesn’t give up. You know, his mom doesn’t give up. Tommy did it. Okay, it’s done. And then he looks around, he looks on TV, this kid is still alive? Wait a minute. Also he’s pulled in. He’s pulled in on the journey that the mother is taking them on. Everybody’s taken on his journey. The town, the school, the pastor, his character, the doctor, you name it, the father, even the father at some point, I think it gets it. Okay enough, I can’t, you know, this is not going to work. And I think that’s what Tommy taught me. He’s that guy that starts out from zero and now by the time the movie, I think he’s a little closer to believe, you know.

And with your character, he’s the doctor that is the best at what he does. But there’s an inherent debate about faith and science. Can you talk to me about how that kind of plays well into this film as well?

Dennis Haysbert: Well as a doctor, this character in particular, you can’t afford to let faith enter into it. You have to look at your work. You’ve got to look at all the tests and you’d have to see what’s going on factually. Basically, you don’t have time to sit there and say “Well, I really wish, I really hope this happens,” but when it does happen, you have to take it back a second and say, look, all these things I am, this is not the way I was trained. You know, I’m not supposed to feel this, but I can’t help but say that this is a miracle. You know, and it’s hard for a scientist to say what’s a miracle? Because you make the miracles. You know, by science, I mean, and you can, and you’re limited to what you’re able to do with medicines and whatever. And when you have that one intangible come through and it says, no, we’re going to take it over here. And not, it just blows his whole, preparation out of the water

Cinematically we live in a world of superheroes. You’re familiar with playing one. What can people take away from real life heroes that are depicted in this film?

Mike Colter: Anyone can be one. You don’t have to have a super special ability to be a hero. Sometimes you just have to be the right place at the right time, and you have to have the will. And that’s all it takes.

Dennis Haysbert: Inspiration to do it.

More: John Smith & Marcel Ruiz Breakthrough Interview


2019-04-19 07:04:05

Joe Deckelmeier

DeVon Franklin & Roxann Dawson Interview: Breakthrough

DeVon Franklin is an American Hollywood producer, best-selling author, renowned preacher and motivational speaker. He is best known for the films Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real. Variety named him one of the “Top 10 Producers to Watch” Roxann Dawson is an American actress, producer, director, and writer best known as B’Elanna Torres on the television series Star Trek: Voyager.

In an interview for their new movie Breakthrough, they discuss the difficulties of working in extremely cold weather and the relevance of faith based stories today.

Congratulations on the film. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. And I think it has such a positive message behind it, but we live in a surreal time where our science and even faith is questioned by even our leaders. So what does this film bring to the table and telling a bigger story?

DeVon Franklin: Yeah. I mean, you know listen, in the medical record relative to this story. It says, “Patient Dead, Mother Prayed. Patient Came Back to Life.” That’s in the record. That’s not our interpretation of facts. That’s not the family’s interpretation of facts. That is literally what the doctors themselves say happened. So the beauty of this film is that it speaks for itself. And even for the skeptic, the skeptic is still going to have to wrestle with the facts of what happened to John and Joyce. And that’s why we wanted to portray it pretty much exactly how it happened.

That’s incredible. And the thing is, it’s crazy. It only happened a few years ago. Yeah. So  from the actual incident happening to the book, to the film, that has to be one of the quickest, kind of like turnarounds.

Roxann Dawson: A miracle.

Yeah, a miracle. This movie’s not only a breakthrough for the story, but it’s also a breakthrough because this is the first Fox film distributed by Disney. Did that have anything or did that help with production at all? Did it hold anything up or anything?

DeVon Franklin: No, because the Disney/Fox deal just closed literally just a few weeks ago. So up until a few weeks ago, it was distributed by 20th century Fox and when the deal closed, now Disney is distributing it. But Fox still has, you know, Searchlight still going to be on it and the Movie logo and whatnot. So we actually haven’t really felt the impact of Disney on the film and you know, our team at Fox has really been amazing and giving us the opportunity to make the movie. Still overseeing the distribution of it.

The lake scene was intense, visceral and just crazy to watch. Can you talk to me about the direction of that scene because it seems like such a crazy like setup, it just looks so real. Everything’s was so real.

Roxann Dawson: Well, I’m so glad you said that it wasn’t real. No. It involved actually shooting two days out on a real lake, on a wheel frozen lake in Canada, in Winnipeg where we were in  majorly subzero temperatures, like way below. It was very cold. And then we have three days of shooting in tanks. Very deep tanks, for the underwater stuff and then a more shallow tank for the water level stuff for the rescuers. And when the kids were half immersed and all of that had to be put together with all of our different departments knowing, you know, where each shot was gonna come from. It was carefully storyboarded and stitched together and with some wonderful visual effects we were able to achieve it. But it was really thought through. And I think every second of it had been thought through.

Steph Curry is a producer on this. How did he get involved in the project?

DeVon Franklin: I’ve been making films for a long time. I’ve been in Hollywood for over 20 years and you know, he and I met and he really wanted to get into Hollywood. He wanted to do films that could do faith, family and sports. And so I was like, “Man, look, read Breakthrough. John’s Smith’s is a basketball player. It deals with family and it deals with faith and if you’re interested, I’ll make you an executive producer.” And so he read the script in a day and reached back out and said, “I’m in.” And so I brought him on board and the same way that he leads an all star team with the Warriors, you know, I really wanted to lead an all star team of Breakthrough and having Roxanne on board and Chrissy and the cast and now, you know, bringing Stephen Curry on board. It just helps amplify this message and really positions us to win when the movie comes out at Easter time.

We see in cinematically nowadays that there’s a lot of movies that have superheroes in them, but this has a lot of real life heroes in them. What can people take away for that? Because I love the kind of supporting characters. Some of the doctor, I like Tommy, you know, Pastor Jason, I think is great. But what can people take away from these real life heroes?

DeVon Franklin: They can take away that they can do it too. Listen, I don’t mean to burst anybody’s bubble, but you can’t put on a suit and fly around the city of New York and blast. You can’t do it, man. But you know, you can’t just put your fist out and things just fly out of them. But you can prey. You can love, these are real superpowers. Joyce Smith is a real life superhero. So the thing about Breakthrough is that what you see on screen, real life people can do. And I think that’s why the movie takes on another level. And another meaning, especially in a time where people are looking for heroics. Breakthrough puts that on his plate.

More: Mike Colter & Dennis Haysbert Interview for Breakthrough


2019-04-19 01:04:45

Joe Deckelmeier

LEGO Movie World is Breaking New Ground For LEGOLAND Florida

The days of the LEGO name being synonymous with toy bricks and coveted construction sets is over, as The LEGO Movie showcased the many worlds alive within LEGO. And with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ensuring another generation of LEGO-loving families, the acclaimed movie series is being re-imagined into a physical space, thanks to The LEGO Movie World, now open for business at LEGOLAND Florida Resort.

The attraction marks a new chapter for the LEGOLAND Resort, and a new ambition: to not only imagine a fully immersive world built from LEGO–an idea few could fathom before The LEGO Movie stunned audiences–but to now live up to the high bar set by the two Warner Bros. animated features. Now that children and families can take a walk into Bricksburg for themselves, the early results are in… and we doubt any LEGO fan will ever look back.

RELATED: LEGO Movie 2 Blu-ray Date & Special Features Revealed

Screen Rant had the chance to attend the site grand opening, as press, park management, and families got to see the first look at The LEGO Movie brought into the real world. That opening coming just weeks after the theatrical release of The LEGO Movie 2, a film heavily inspiring the attractions themselves, is practically unheard of. When speaking with Rex Jackson, general manager of LEGOLAND Florida Resort, the chance to link The LEGO Movie to the LEGOLAND resort was revealed to be a years in the making. Today, the timing couldn’t be better:

“I started with LEGOLAND Florida in 2014, just after the first movie opened. And coming into the park I was surprised by how little we had activated this franchise in our resort. Through the years we’ve done some things, but it hasn’t been to this scale. So for me, bringing to life The LEGO Movie franchise in the way that we’ve done with The LEGO Movie World has always been the vision since I first joined and saw the potential of that movie franchise.

“We’ve been working with Warner Bros. for a few years now on the development of The LEGO Movie World. There was always a desire to have the opening of The LEGO Movie World be closely coordinated with The LEGO Movie 2: the Second Part… And then very quickly following, April 15th is the DVD and Digital release.”

Once families have taken their second trip into The LEGO Movie‘s universe, flying from the under-siege town of Bricksburg to the Systar System and everywhere in between, they’ll be primed for the rides and attractions featured in The LEGO Movie World. The most impressive, and sure to live up to its promised reputation as “the marquee ride” of the installation, if not the entire resort, is The LEGO Movie “Masters of Flight.” Featuring the only 180-degree turn on a flying theater in the world, guests are offered seats on Emmet’s (significantly expanded) Triple Decker Couch and taken on a suspended ride surrounded by a full-dome virtual screen. Simulating the feeling of flying through a world created completely from LEGO bricks, the ride employs sprayed water and scents to simulate pirate battles and some of the sweeter worlds of The LEGO Movie universe.

After taking in Benny the Spaceman’s on-site space shuttle play structure located in the center of The LEGO Movie World, there’s Unikitty’s Disco Drop, taking guests through a rainbow-filled journey based on Unikitty and her many moods. Once on the ride, guests will swoop to the tiptop of Cloud Cuckoo Land, then drop, spin and bounce back down to earth in sync with Unikitty’s wide range of emotions, creating a thrilling and frenzied experience. At Battle of Bricksburg, the only water ride at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, riders are challenged to stop DUPLOaliens from invading and stealing LEGO bricks by spraying water at targets from their boats. The riders aren’t the only ones who can enjoy playing in the water, as water cannons mounted along the exterior railings of the ride will allow guests to help the riders save the day.

The trio of rides is sure to cover the bases for LEGOLAND Florida’s target age range of families with kids 2-12, but the truly groundbreaking design is the land that connects them. While much of LEGOLAND Florida Resort is built to the standards of an amusement park its size, The LEGO Movie World is something new. According to Jackson that was also the ambition from the start, hoping to design the site so that the most invested and excited guests would feel like they were stepping into the world inhabited by Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Benny, on a level that could only be experienced if the location was designed for that very purpose, from the ground up:

“The vision from day one was always when you enter through the portal into LEGO Movie World, that you are walking into downtown Bricksburg. So there was a lot of thought that went into that entry experience. You can see the immersion. There’s a lot of height here, from the playground structure to the downtown area. That’s intentional so when you walk in it’s like walking into an urban environment where you feel immersed into it. Here you walk into downtown Bricksburg and all around you are the sights, the sounds–and the smells with tacos and Masters of Flight– that you would expect to see in The LEGO Movie universe.

The idea of LEGO Movie World meeting expectations runs through every installation and design detail, from areas for kids to construct LEGO while their families wait in queues, to lamp posts that look exactly like those of the LEGO variety. Right down to the dog constructed of LEGO bricks using that lamp post for… well, if you don’t know what a dog would use a lamp post for, ask your child.

It’s these details, which Jackson credits the Merlin Magic Making creative team with masterminding, that help elevate the entire experience. From a logistical standpoint, seeing a water-themed ride asking guests to defend Bricksburg from the DUPLO invasion that bridges the two LEGO Movies makes perfect sense. But consider that the ride was under construction long before The Second Part was even finalized, and the challenges come into view. Building an attraction of this size and scale isn’t easy, but making sure it pairs with a film still in development is another challenge entirely. Luckily, Jackson emphasizes the partnership with Warner Bros. helped to arrive at the finished product now being enjoyed by guests:

“Warner Bros. had a strong interest in making sure that we were bringing the movies to life. Part of the challenge with the opening of this world–going back to that theater to theme park timeline–was we were developing a land that needed to expand the universe of two movies, yet the second movie was still in development. So we were working very closely to make sure that the characters we were adding, like General Mayhem that we see over there or the video [shown in LEGO Masters of Flight], were elements that were actually going to be in the second movie as well. So in terms of staying true to the vision, a lot of that was developing ideas and attractions that are in line with what the movie is going to deliver.”

With doors now open, The LEGO Movie World represents the most heavily themed, immersive land to be found in LEGOLAND Florida Resort. And in no uncertain terms, the first step towards bringing the success and visibility of The LEGO Movie brand into physical LEGO parks. After experiencing the park for ourselves, we hope that it’s testament to the designers to say that it seems a no-brainer in hindsight. As impressive as it is to witness the seamless transition from theater to theme park–right down to the Taco Tuesday Everyday–the attractions themselves more than stand on their own. For those unfamiliar with the films, a trip into The LEGO Movie World is almost guaranteed to pique curiosity about the characters, locations, and storylines that inspired this physical space.

That might be the most unexpected and pleasant surprise to come out of our time in the park, and proves the difference between adapting a movie, and adapting that movie’s universe. As if delivering on expectations wasn’t enough, Jackson reiterates that The LEGO Movie World wouldn’t do its job if it catered only to the superfans:

“While the target is certainly those who have an affinity for The LEGO Movie universe, who have seen the movies, and know the characters, ultimately it was equally important for us to develop a land that if you’ve never seen the movies you can come in and ride the rides, enjoy the attractions, and walk away feeling like you still had an awesome experience. So the investment in the ride technology for Masters of Flight… The Battle of Bricksburg is our only water attraction in the park. On a hot summer day in Florida, whether you’ve seen the movie or not, you’re going to have an awesome time when you get on The Battle of Bricksburg.”

That’s not the kind of success that is arrived at by accident, nor is it likely to be a one-time affair. Jackson voiced his satisfaction with the project and those who helped make it a reality, and showed enthusiasm for the possibility of future expansions to the brand and resort. For now, though, the LEGOLAND team is enjoying a job well done.

“Our goal is to put a smile on every child who walks into LEGOLAND Florida Resort. By the looks of excitement on the faces of our guests, I know we accomplished that today.”

To book your stay at LEGOLAND Florida Resort today, be sure to visit the resort’s official website.

MORE: Every Easter Egg & Secret in The LEGO Movie 2


2019-04-15 06:04:28

Andrew Dyce

Jonathan Bennett Interview: The Haunting of Sharon Tate

For all the attention foisted on Charles Manson, his numerous victims are underrepresented in pop culture. Most people know little about Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, and numerous others beyond their status as young people who were murdered before their time by a manipulative madman who started a cult around himself.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a dramatized retelling of Sharon Tate’s final days, as well as those of her close friends who were ultimately killed at 10050 Cielo Drive. Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls, Submerged) plays Jay Sebring, one of the victims and a close personal friend to Sharon Tate. While Tate’s celebrity remains well-known to this day, Sebring was also a famous celebrity stylist, and even possessed enough fame to play a fictionalized version of himself on an episode of Batman.

While promoting The Haunting of Sharon Tate, Jonathan Bennett spoke to Screen Rant about the tremendous responsibility of playing a real-life murder victim and paying respect to the dead while still taking part in a scary and provocative horror film. He talks about sharing the screen with Hilary Duff (with whom he previously acted in Cheaper By the Dozen 2), and the undeniable fun of getting to star in a film set in the hip and chic era of 1969.

Related: The Haunting of Sharon Tate Trailer

This movie, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, is releasing during something of a perfect storm. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Manson Family Murders of 1969, which remains such a defining moment in American culture. But we’re also currently obsessed with True Crime podcasts and TV shows. Are you a big fan of that genre?

Oh my God, you have no idea. I’m watching The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann right now. The Staircase is one of my favorites. I’ve watched all of those.

What about podcasts, are you listening to any of those?

Up and Vanished and To Live and Die in L.A. are what I’m listening to right now.

In this movie, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, you play Jay Sebring. Can you talk a little bit about the research you did to learn about him? Were you able to meet with anyone who knew him or anything like that?

No, we weren’t able to do that, but I researched a lot about him. There are lot of articles about him online, and I was able to dig through… When you’re doing something like this, where you’re portraying someone who is a real person, I never want to say, “I’m being exactly Jay Sebring.” Nobody could ever be that, but I give my interpretation of what I think Jay Sebring could have been. You want to respect that.

Relating to that, Jay was definitely a celebrity. Sharon Tate’s star definitely overshadowed everyone else’s, but he was…

Absolutely! He was a hairstylist to the stars, you know? He cut every famous male actor’s hair in the 60s. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr,. Henry Fonda, he cut everyone’s hair. And he’s famous for bringing that layered look, in the 60s, to famous celebrity men! He was the guy. You try to figure out what his life would have been like on a daily basis. When you’re showing up to sets to cut Frank Sinatra’s hair… He had such an interesting life. He’s also credited for bringing hair dryers to America. The only hair dryers they had were in England, was where they used actual, hand-held dryers, but he brought them here, to the United States.

One of my favorite things about these kinds of movies are how they do show off the other people aren’t necessarily dominating all the headlines, especially fifty years later.

Yes, exactly.

That being said, I have to ask you about Sharon Tate herself, Hilary Duff. She looks amazing. At some points in the trailer, she’s the spitting image of Sharon Tate.

She’s absolutely fantastic! Hilary and I have worked together, on Cheaper by the Dozen 2, so we have been friends for a long time. It was really fun because we have such a history together, so when working together, like, it was comfortable to be on set together. I think that shows in our relationship with each other on screen. We’re comfortable together. We look like old friends, because we are! That helped. Then, when we’re doing scenes that are more violent and gruesome, having someone that you care about, that you know, and have a history with, who you trust, it makes it a lot easier.

Speaking of gruesome violence, you know I have to ask: this movie is not without controversy. It’s a horror movie with vaguely supernatural elements, let’s just say, based on a real-life event. What steps did the movie take, or what steps did you take, to make sure you paid respect to the history and the victims?

I read a lot of articles about them and I watched any video and documentary I could about Jay Sebring. I think Daniel, our director, did a great job in his research. I’m an actor, so I can only do so much. My job is to go and portray the character to the best of my ability, and my interpretation of him. And I feel confident that I respected him in every aspect. But really, the credit goes to our director, Daniel Farrands. He definitely really knows this world and knows what happened more than anyone does, I think. I think he nailed it. I think it’s very respectful. It glorifies the victims and it doesn’t glorify the villains or the murders. It has hope and a sense of catharsis when you watch it. It’s a little cathartic.

The movie is set in 1969. How was it to immerse yourself in the period?

What a fun time to be alive, huh?

I can only imagine, but I certainly can imagine!

It was such a cool time period. To get to put on those costumes and play in that world was just really fun. I mean, it was such a good… When Hollywood was just completely different. It was a golden age in Hollywood. We shot at Randal Kleiser’s house, who directed Grease. We shot at his house, at the top of Runyon Canyon. And Randal Kleiser actually knew Sharon Tate. You have this amazing old-school director, Randal Kleiser, who is so famous for his work, who actually knew Sharon Tate, and we’re at his home… Everything just came together to make this movie special.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

I love Insidious. I absolutely love it. Those movies. Also, the Amityville movies. The Amityville Horror is one of my favorites. I love the movies that are based on true stories.

More: Lydia Hearst Interview – The Haunting of Sharon Tate

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is out now in theaters and On Demand.


2019-04-07 02:04:51

Zak Wojnar

Cloak & Dagger Season 2 Interview: Olivia Holt & Aubrey Joseph

Ahead of this week’s Cloak and Dagger season 2 premiere on Freeform, Marvel TV brought the young adult comic book series to WonderCon 2019, along with some members of the cast and crew, such as Olivia Holt (who plays Tandy Bowen, aka Dagger) and Aubrey Joseph (who plays Tyrone Johnson, aka Cloak). Speaking with Screen Rant and a handful of other entertainment news outlets in a roundtable interview, Holt and Joseph briefly discussed Cloak and Dagger season 2 as well as the evolution of their characters on-screen.

So is it easy jumping back into the roles?

Aubrey: I feel like I have this relationship with Ty, at this point, that it wasn’t easy, but it was definitely… damn, it’s hard not to use the word easy.

Olivia: It was like sophomore year, I think. You know, it was freshman year when you’re, like, fresh meat, trying to figure out where we belong, what we do, why we do what we do. Now it’s, like, okay, now we have decisions to make. We need to buckle down, we need to get to business. I think it feels like sophomore year. I think it was maybe a little challenging at first to sort of step back into the waters of Tandy and Tyrone, but they’re still, you know, they’re the same people that they were before. Just a little more flavor to them.

Last season, Olivia, you were on the soundtrack. So, Aubrey, will we be hearing from you this season.

Aubrey: Yes.

Can you say anything more about that?

Aubrey No [laughs].

Will we be getting any covers out of you?

Olivia: We’ll see.

Any duets?

Olivia: Well, I hope so. We talk about it all the time. And there are so many opportunities for us to do that, but it’s got to feel right. We don’t want to force it. We want it to feel very authentic and organic. So whatever the scene is of the episode. Maybe one day. We’ll see.

Aubrey: Maybe we’ll do a whole musical episode. We’ll see.

Where do you guys feel like your characters can grow in the second season?

Olivia: I think both Tandy and Tyrone have a lot of big lessons to learn this season. Obviously, we touch on some pretty heavy topic for a season with focused on police brutality, suicide, drug addiction, sexual assault – lot of heavy stuff. Season 2, we dive into the realm of human trafficking, and it’s very real, very alive, not just in the US but in the whole world. And Tandy and Tyrone can sit there and they can talk about it. But the great news is they’re not just talking about it. They’re doing something about it. And so, they definitely involved in that way. They don’t stop at no, which is one of the things that I admire most about both of them is they can challenge each other. When one person says no and the other person can be, like, “Well, yes, and here’s why.” Or vice versa, and I think both of them sort of evolve in that way. Their powers have evolved so much more. We’re not just teleporting or manifesting light daggers anymore. I mean, he’s popping around so fast, you can’t even keep up with them and Tandy has a lot if new tricks up her sleeve, and I think everyone’s going to be really excited to see how they grow, not just physically but also emotionally and mentally

Are you asking people around the world who love your show, is there a thing they love most?

Aubrey: I definitely think it’s Tandy and Tyrone’s relationship. I would think so. A lot of people want them to be, you know, more intimate, but I think the beauty of season 1 was just the fact that they were dedicated to being there for one another moreso than being, you know, a boyfriend or a girlfriend knows. It was more about being that one person that cares enough to check on you and then cares enough to help you in whatever way you need, and that companionship is something that we obviously see in a lot of film and television, but not so much with a young black male and a young white female. So I think it was an interesting twist to have on television, and I think that’s the one thing that a lot of people fell in love with. Just seeing these unperfect teenagers and seeing themselves and the things we go through.

And with the introduction of her Mayhem this season, how’s it going to affect both of your characters?

Olivia: I think a lot of questions are going to be answered, but first there’s going to be even more questions. Definitely, Mayhem has been introduced and they are trying to grasp and cope with the idea of this thing that they were not expecting… they had it under control, and now things are getting a little rocky and a little tricky. And so I think there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of questions that need to be answered, but, again, Tandy and Tyrone, they’ll figure it out.

Well, the fact that Mayhem is Brigid, this person that was trying to help them. How does that interact with their relationship in the end?

Aubrey: I don’t want to give away anything, obviously, but Brigid, respectively, comes back this season with a little less pep in her step. She’s kind of developed a little bit of PTSD from everything that happens. So what kind of see Ty and Tandy become these protectors for her and kind of like reassuring her that, you know, everything is okay, that we have a job to do. You can’t sit around and kind of wondering what’s happening. We kind of just have to tackle it head-on, so that’s another aspect that you’ll see this season in the world

Since a lot of your powers are in added in post-production, have you gotten used to acting… does it feel awkward at all?

Olivia: I mean, yes and no. It’s kind of ridiculous, the stuff we have to do. Because, obviously, a lot of the things go in after we’re done shooting it. So sometimes you feel really dumb in front of a hundred crew members when you’re, like, throwing daggers – you’re not really throwing daggers – and it’s definitely weird, but I think we’ve gotten used to it. I think especially because we’re so comfortable with our characters now, and we have such a crass of who they are and what they’re going to do in certain moments. It definitely is, like, it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s weird, but it’s fine.

Next: Cloak & Dagger Recap: 6 Biggest Questions Going Into Season 2


2019-04-05 02:04:42

Mansoor Mithaiwala

Cloak & Dagger Season 2 Interview: Producer Jeph Loeb

Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb brought Cloak and Dagger season 2 to WonderCon 2019, just a few days ahead of the new season’s premiere on Freeform. Kicking things off with a two-hour season premiere, Cloak and Dagger season 2 starts out eight months after the season 1 finale and sees Tandy and Tyrone take on a set of entirely new challenges. Loeb teased some of those challenges as well as what else fans should expect in season 2.

What can you tell us about season 2, because some people are still cagey about it?

The way I look at it is that… First of all, we’re on April 4th on Freeform. That’s a special 2-hour premiere. And just so everyone’s clear, that’s two episodes that are back-to-back as opposed to the show didn’t suddenly become two hours, as much as I would love that. But it really is… if the first season was about these two people meeting learning about who they are with each other and discovering their abilities, and then ending on that question, which is, okay… Now we are who we are, can we do the job? Can we be heroes in the Marvel Universe? And when you start season 2 the answer is, unequivocally, yes. We’re going to do this. We’re going to take this on. We recognize that that may wreak havoc on our personal lives, but Cloak and Dagger have always been, when you go back to even the earliest of comics… they’re not really characters that were created to stop bank robbers or 50 ft monsters that are going to cross the city or aliens that are coming through a hole in outer space. They really were there to help people who couldn’t help themselves.

And, in many ways, they were there to help each other, and that’s what makes the show feel very true and feel authentic. And I think that’s why our fan base is as passionate as it is because they legitimately care about Ty and Tandy and what they’re going to do this season, and the excitement in the adventure and the danger that they’re going to follow. You know, you would hope that they would have… I think maybe mentor’s too strong a word, but at least an advisor, someone who understands how the system works. And, in many ways, that’s what they had in Bridget O’Reilly, and then someone threw her in the swamp. So, this season their lives are going to be complicated by something that we might as well just start a referred to as Mayhemic. And so, they may be setting out to do something that is really good and really smart and solve a problem, and then get hit sideways by the most unexpected person in their lives. I think that’s just a taste of what’s to come. Also, if there were any outstanding questions from season 1 there’ll be answered. I’m not saying that new questions aren’t then going to that arise from it. That’s what makes Marvel Marvel, you know. I don’t believe in ending the story with the end. I believe in ending the story to be continued.

You’re overseeing all the different shows. Like how often do you actually go on set?

As often as I can. This is what makes Marvel Television different from other television studios. Every show has more than an executive producer who is partnered with the showrunner. And so, we’re in casting, we’re in editing. We go in the writers room and hear the stories. We go to set, someone is always on set all the time. And that person’s role is to make sure that the show stays the course, and that’s always not easy. New Orleans is an amazing city. It also has some of the most unpredictable weather that you could possibly imagine, and if you’ve ever made any kind of television series and had planned on a beautiful, bright, sunny day, not a hurricane, it makes your life different. And that’s just one of the many, many, many challenges that the show has conquered really well. You don’t see it because the show just looks and feels as it is, but you know when you’re behind the camera you go, “Oh that was that night. That’s when that happened.”

You have so many Marvel Television shows on different networks. Are there some challenges with keeping the continuity of the universe together while allowing each of those shows and tell their own story in their own way?

Continuity that’s important to us is that the heroes always feel authentic, the world feels real, and that in some way they’re inspirational. This is a hard time for a lot of people, and whether it’s socially or economically or racially or any of those issues that are touching our lives and that we’re being assaulted by, you know, a 24/7 news cycle all the time. And so, to be able to sit and watch something that gives you a sense of hope is really our end goal, and not hope in the sense that we hope that you know this outside person is going to come and save us, but much more so that teenagers who decided they’re going to make the personal sacrifice of their own lives in order to make other people’s lives better, so that the end result of which is in the message is we are not so suddenly giving you is that anyone can be a hero. And that they are around us all the time, whether it is just nurses or doctors or teachers or parents or yourself, it is as long as you stand up when everyone else is told to sit down, then you’re the hero in the story. And if that’s what watching a Marvel Television show brings to you, that’s the feeling that you get out of all of it, then good on us. But, more importantly, good on you for watching us and watching us across those different platforms so that you get that same kind of Marvel feeling. It’s not bad thing; it’s why we’re all kind of here.

So last season we got some mystical elements of possibly like destinies unfolding, was about to bring in more magical characters like Brother Voodoo…

I think they’ll be some surprises. There won’t be Brother Voodoo, let’s just establish that, but there are certainly some as, Joe likes to say, there’s some Easter eggs along the way that it even I don’t know about. (He’s wrong.) But it’s okay, I like to let him say things like that. But, you know, look we’ve never been a place that’s an Easter egg farm. We don’t ever want to feel like when you’re watching the show that you should have left something there. But, by the same token, we all come from the comics, we all come from the same source. So if there’s a way that we can bring that in there, so that our geek fans can geek out, awesome. But we also never want the show to feel like I’m so inside I can’t even feel like I can go outside. We want this to be a show where… just care about Ty and Tandy and their adventures. And the good news is that Olivia and Aubrey make that really inviting. And so, I don’t know what else you’re doing on April 4th other than watching Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger. 2-hour Premiere. It’s not actually 2 hours.

Next: Cloak & Dagger Recap: 6 Biggest Questions Going Into Season 2


2019-04-04 03:04:40

Mansoor Mithaiwala