Interview with Dylan Gage (Jake) and Gus Birney (Gaynor) of “Shining Vale” on Starz by Suzanne 2/7/22
This was from a great press day where we interviewed many of the cast members for this new show. I really love this show, so it was cool to be talking about it with the cast. These two young people are just a small part of the awesome cast. It stars Courtney Cox and Greg Kinnear as the parents. Judith Light is their grandmother. Mira Sorvino is a ghost in their new house. Merrin Dungey plays the mom’s best friend agent. It has so many great stars like Sherilynn Fenn, Rob Morrow and more. Check it out Sunday, March 6! My questions are here at the top, and then the rest of the questions from our roundtable group are listed below that.
Suzanne: So, can you each tell us about the audition process that you went through to get the show?
Gus: Well, I auditioned, I think, like, two summers ago, and it was still COVID. I sent in a tape, and I think I didn’t hear back for like two weeks. Then, I did a read with Courtney over Zoom. It’s so interesting, auditioning over Zoom, because you can’t really get a sense of people. But [what] I remember about this Zoom audition was I really, really still felt connected to her through this Zoom weird format that we’re using now. I remember leaving that and being like, “Oh, that was interesting.” I actually felt like I was just having a moment with someone. Then, I found out not that long after that, that I got it, and it was the the best feeling in the world. So, yeah.
Suzanne: Great. Thank you. And Dylan?
Dylan: Yeah, I so I did my audition. I sent it in, and I got a callback, as you do, and the callback was virtual, and I did it in my grandmother’s office, and the internet wasn’t great. It was over Zoom, and it was hard to hear. So, a lot of the times I misheard what they were saying, and I thought I was doing terribly. I thought I was blowing it so hard, but no. It turns out that they liked me. So, I’m glad.
Suzanne: That’s a great story. Thank you.
Suzanne: I saw the first five episodes, and I enjoyed them a lot. Is there anything unusual that you can tell us that happens to your character in the last three episodes after that, anything non-spoilery?
Gus: I’m trying to think of a way not to spoil things. I guess I would say that each character kind of goes through an emotional shift, and I think you start to see it by the fifth episode, but at least for Gaynor, I think it kind of is cemented more in understanding her mom a little better and starting to make make bigger shifts in the person she wants to be. So, yeah.
Dylan: Yeah, I’m very excited for the last three episodes. I don’t want to say anything to spoil it character-wise, but I definitely think some of the best of the comedy and some of the best of the horror and drama parts of it are caked into those last three episodes, and [it] just sort of crescendos very well and I think end on a very good note.
Suzanne: Oh, great. Thanks so much. I look forward to seeing the rest of them.
Suzanne: I might have missed something there. Where was the house? Is there an actual house that you filmed in, or was it just one they built for the show?
Gus: There was an actual house, and that house was in, was it Pasadena, Dylan? I don’t remember where.
Dylan: I’m not good at geography in my own state [unintellible] a state that I don’t live in, but yeah, for the pilot we actually had a real house. It was a real house, and all of the stuff inside it, all the wallpaper, all like the weird scratches and stuff, that was all there. They didn’t add anything to the house for the pilot. Everything’s there, but then, for every episode after that, they recreated the house like one to one very, very well. We filmed it on like lots and stuff and not like on location.
Suzanne: Does the real house have a particular name or anything? Is it one they use for stuff like this? Do you know?
Gus: It was some woman’s house. She lived there by herself, and I think she might have been a hoarder or something, because they had to clean the house out completely.
Dylan: Yeah, I think that’s just someone house. I don’t think anything else has been filmed there. I think they found a gem just for the series.
Suzanne: Looks like it. Thank you.
Question: Playing brother and sister, how do you develop a relationship as actors, maybe you haven’t even met before? And we can start with Gus first, and then over to Dylan. How do you kind of create that?
Gus: I know immediately when I met Dylan, I mean, I’d watched him in PEN15, so I was a fan; I’m not gonna lie. I little starstruck, but I think that the more we hung out on set, and the more we developed, I don’t know, just an off camera relationship, the easier it became. And it was nice, because we were the two kind of younger people on the show. So, we really only had each other to rely on in that way. It bonded us. Also, I think we’re both a little dorky. So, it was good. I’m sorry, Dylan; it’s true.
Dylan: Wow, just dragging me under. Yeah, I feel like just because we’re both sort of young, there wasn’t a whole lot of people to relate to, other than just me and Gus. So, we sort of like became conjoined at the hip. Yeah, [it] just sort of blossomed naturally into where we’re very easily able to play a realistic brother sister relationship in the show.
Question: Dylan, we were just hearing about PEN15, big fan of that, and we’re kind of conditioned to not like you from watching PEN15, and I think you redeem yourself here. Gus, great on screen as well. So, my question is for both of you, how important is it for likability to be part of your role?
Gus: Wow, Dylan, you want to do it?
Dylan: Sure. I feel like I could play a character – I feel like likability does not really affect – I think that Jake is very likable, just in the fact that he’s just sort of goofy and a little bit dorky. He’s just in his own world doing his own stuff. He’s very uncontroversial, because he doesn’t really put himself out there that much. But I feel like a character’s likability does not really affect too much of what I care about the character, because it only matters how the character thinks of themselves.
Gus: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, the audience is gonna have their opinion. So, it’s like, it’s the viewer who’s gonna like you or not, and you can’t really control that. And look, Gaynor can come off very, I guess at times unlikable, as sixteen-year-olds do, and you have to let that be and know that that’s part of it. I don’t think that should be something you’re worried about, because people are unlikable sometimes. And I hope as the show goes on, you see that she’s much more layered and complicated than at first glance.
Question: Gus, you’ve been brilliant on Dickinson, and, of course, Dylan, amazing on PEN15, but these are kind of darker roles, I think for both of you, where both of you sort of have some sort of struggle that you’re dealing with. There’s sort of a lot of angst as well for you, Gus, and a little bit more mentally, as far as for Dylan. How did you all shake off a long day of being these characters?
Gus: I mean, I know there were actually pieces of Gaynor that I really liked and pieces that I wish that I had. You know, she’s just kind of a spitfire and very confident and outgoing and strong. I guess I would leave, and I’d be like, “Wow, I wish that I had a little bit more of that in me.” So, it would actually be I would shake off the day and be like, “I should take that with me moving forward.” But I always left really happy.
Dylan: Yeah, and I mean, I feel like I’m close enough to Jake, as a personality. I feel like the only thing really that differentiates us and is a little bit difficult at times, it’s just sort of the fact that he’s very just sort of apathetic towards the outside world and is very [tuned] out. It was kind of hard a little bit sometimes to just like, be so in my own stuff, like on set, and then have to be back into it. So, I kind of had to keep doing that. But after the first few days, I got into the groove of it. I really started doing pretty [well].
Question: How hard is it balancing the horror and the comedy? I know, Dylan, you have the horror credit with Creepshow and Fear Street, so you know that part, but mixing in the comedy? What’s that like? We can start with Gus first.
Gus: I mean, it’s fun, because, actually, they merge them so well. So, you get a good sense of both sometimes; like, if it’s all horror, you don’t get real people behind it, and then, if it’s all comedy, sometimes it can be a little cheesy. I think that there’s this great mesh of all of these different genres in there, and at the end of the day, they’ve written very real, full people and characters that I think anyone can kind of find themselves in. If not one, then you’ll find one in someone else. But yeah, it was very fulfilling.
Question: I’m finding more and more when there’re two people who are going to be acting a lot on screen, that as part of the casting process, they put them on [what] I think they call a chemistry date or a chemistry test or something like that. Did they as part of casting or once you were cast put the two of you together, or did you spend time together going [for] coffee or anything like that to see that you vibe well?
Dylan: I feel like during like the rehearsals and stuff, whenever they like had the outline of like – We were doing basically blocking and stuff, or they just had like tape outlines for how like the furniture would be set up, and we’re doing it in a warehouse and stuff, or something similar, and that’s when we kind of like, I at least when I first knew where we were like, “Okay, this is a cool person, and I think I can jive with them well.” Yeah.
Gus: Yeah, we hung out a little outside of the set too. We would like do an “escape the room,” so, yeah.
Dylan: We did do an “escape the room,” and also, we ate at a Cheesecake Factory.
Question: For both of you, what do you think it is about Shining Veil that’s gonna make it such a fast fan favorite series?
Gus: I really think we’ve created like our own unique genre that hasn’t really been seen and isn’t like anything on TV. I think it’ll intrigue people to keep coming back, and truly, every episode gets better, gets scarier, gets funnier, and gets more complex. So, yeah, I think I think once you start you really can’t stop.
Question: It’s very bingeable.
Dylan: Once you pop, you can’t stop. Yeah, I feel like this show definitely has something special. It shifts. Ever since I first read the script. I was like, “This show’s it.” It’s very good. I feel like it’s very easy to get into, whether you like horror, whether you like comedy; it has something for everyone and such great actors, such great directors, such great writers. I feel like it’s definitely going to be a hit. Absolutely.
Question: Talk about playing in that house. What that’s like? We can start with Dylan first. I looks pretty creepy.
Dylan: Yeah, we only filmed the pilot with the actual house, and everything else was on [the] Warner Brothers lot, like on sets and stuff, but they recreated it scarily well, on the Warner Brothers lot. Like it was like one to one. It was very well done, but just seeing that house in person was kind of jaw dropping. They kept showing us pictures and stuff before we actually did it, but that house is a character.
Gus: Yeah, you get chills walking in there. It’s pretty special.
Question: So, one thing I wasn’t sure about with the show is how long it was filmed over the course of – maybe Gus can take this one, because I keep throwing it at Dylan. You know. that likability question, it just buried him.
Gus: Well, so, we did the pilot a year ago last February, and then we did the the rest of the episodes from June to September, so it was like two and a half months. So, it was pretty fast, and it was all in LA. Yeah, it felt very fast. It was great.
Question: Agree with that Dylan?
Dylan: Mm hmm.
Question: Dylan, your character has OCD, ADHD and some other issues. What kind of research did you do into preparing to portray him?
Dylan: I feel like I definitely have friends that have OCD, ADHD, people that are on the spectrum, and I definitely have a lot of experience with with those friends and stuff. And also I feel like playing Jake, it’s less about those things and more just about he’s just a quirky kid who is really just sort of in his own world doing his own stuff, really likes electronics, video games, but those are the things I could really touch on and really dive deep into, and the rest of it just comes naturally of just not making eye contact, kind of like being hunched over and all sorts of stuff like that.
Here is the audio version of it.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
“Shining Vale” is a horror comedy about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place. But no one seems to notice except for Pat, who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed – turns out, the symptoms are exactly the same. Patricia “Pat” Phelps (Courteney Cox) is a former “wild child” who rose to fame by writing a raunchy, drug-and-alcohol-soaked women’s empowerment novel (a.k.a. lady porn). Fast forward 17 years later, Pat is clean and sober but totally unfulfilled. She still hasn’t written her second novel, she can’t remember the last time she had sex with her husband (Greg Kinnear), and her teenage kids are at that stage where they want you dead. She was a faithful wife until her one slip-up: she had a torrid affair with the hot, young handyman who came over to fix the sink while Terry was at work. In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, she and Terry cash in all their savings and move the family from the “crazy” of the city to a large, old house in the suburbs that has a storied past of its own. Everyone has their demons, but for Pat Phelps, they may be real. Cox plays the lead role of Patricia “Pat” Phelps, with Kinnear playing her ever-optimistic husband, Terry Phelps, whose patience and self-control will be tested like never before. Mira Sorvino plays Rosemary, who is either Pat’s alter ego, a split personality, her id, her muse, or a demon trying to possess her. Dungey plays Kam, Pat’s oldest friend and book editor. Gus Birney and Dylan Gage also star as Pat and Terry’s teenage kids, Gaynor and Jake.
Dylan Gage captured audience’s attention as ‘Gabe’ on the hit Hulu series “PEN15”. Prior to his standout role, Gage guest–starred on such high–profile shows as “This Is Us” (NBC), “StrangerThings” (Netflix), “Creepshow” (Shudder), and “Bobcat Goldthwait’s
Misfits & Monsters” (truTV). On the big screen, Gage can be seen in Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, Eli Roth’s The House With A Clock In Its Walls, the independent feature Mercy Black, and the upcoming Netflix feature Fear Street 2.
Gus Birney has appeared as ‘Jane Humphrey’ in both seasons of the Apple TV series “Dickinson” opposite Hailee Steinfeld. Previously, she appeared as a series regular on Spike TV’s “The Mist” and in guest-star roles on “Bull”, “Jessica Jones”, “Instinct”, “Law and Order: SVU”, and “Chicago Med”. Her film credits include Here & Now, The Man in the Woods and Untitled Woody Allen Film. She also starred in Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo at the Williamstown Theater Festival opposite Marisa Tomei, and in Connected at 59E59. Birney is a singer/songwriter and has played at the Bitter End, Arlene’s Grocery and The Listening Room. She also models, including for Kanye West in New York Fashion Week
Proofread and Edited by Brenda