Interview with Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and Paul Sciarrotta

TV Interview!

 

Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T'Shan Williams, Alana Boden and EP Paul Sciarrotta of "Flowers In the Attic: The Origin" on Lifetime

Interview with actors Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and EP Paul Sciarrotta of “Flowers In the Attic: The Origin” on Lifetime by Suzanne 6/22/22

This was a Lifetime event where we watched the first episode of this series and then asked the actors and executive producer questions.  It was unusual that we watched the episode first, live, right before the Q&A. Usually they put the episodes up on their press site for us to watch on our own time. It was nice to chat with these nice people, most of whom are British! The characters they’re playing are all Americans, though. I enjoyed the show and the panel. I hope you like the show! It’s a four-part miniseries that airs every Saturday starting tonight, July 9, on Lifetime.

 

Here’s the transcript, but it’s not edited yet. Check back to see it!

Please welcome our panelists for today’s Q&A with stars Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and executive producer Paul Sciarrotta. Hi everyone.

Thank you for being here today. Paul, our first question is for you. You both executive-produced and co-wrote “Flowers in the Attic: The Origin.” We understand that you were in close contact with VC Andrews ghost writer, Andrew Nierman. Can you please tell us a little bit about that process?

Paul: Sure. Yeah. We started about four years ago when the project was brought to me, and I, of course, had read Flowers in the Attic,” you know, maybe a long time ago. and I wasn’t, at the time, even aware there was this prequel book… and when I found out it existed and that Andrew wrote it, I was very excited. So it’s actually the first book that he wrote in the VC catalog…The first of, I think over a hundred, now, that he’s written. So it’s been a valuable resource to have him on speed dial all the time. I would call him, always. I still do for any questions I might have, if I’m ever unsure about story point or if something is totally correct. Or, you know, of the world. I can just check with him, and he has his finger on the pulse of all things VC. So it was…I was very lucky to have him be a part of the project.

Awesome. I will take some questions from the audience. Just a reminder. If you can, please make sure you have your first and last name so I can call upon you correctly. Our first question is from Suzanne at TVMEG.COM. Please unmute yourself to ask your question.

Suzanne: Hey, how are you all? I really enjoyed that. That was a good movie… or, it wasn’t a movie, I know, but it was. Let me ask you, Max: What did you do to prepare yourself for this role of being this horrible, horrible person?

Maxi: Hi, Suzanne. Well, I think for me, firstly, I had to get past the fact that he was horrible quite quickly. I had to look and find why he was the way he was, how he had learned to cope with the world as the world presented itself to him. So, the formative things I think in Malcolm’s life were his mother and father. His mother was the center of his universe was taught him about emotions, about love, about, you know, everything. They coexisted for the first few years of his life almost entirely. And then, all of a sudden, she left, and his father wasn’t around to help him process that or make any sense of that. You know, there was no modern psychology to come to his aid. He had tutors. He was sent away to a boy’s school, and he had to make sense of that. And so he did, and he hardened himself to the world and where his father had been through his, you know, through Malcolm’s understanding headness and not particularly capable. Self-serving Malcolm discovered duty and, and, you know, rigid a rigid work ethic and, you know, uh, where Malcolm had shame, he, he sought to, to, to elevate the Foxworth name and his business and make himself triumphant and powerful. And so, yeah, it was just looking at his younger self and yeah, and, and going from there.

All right. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Our next question is from my cues. Yeah, this is a question for Elena. Um, this is a really unusual role for you. Um, it’s, it’s not pretty unusual to have a romantic scene with someone who’s 43 years older than you are, but it’s not the cliche kind because you warmly like the man and he warmly liked you.

So it’s, it’s not any kind of cliche. So tell us a little bit about playing it, getting in the mood. And were you really familiar with Kelsey grammar ahead of time? To what extent did this become kind of a, a, a big challenge. Yeah. Um, I mean, Kelsey is absolutely fantastic and he made me feel so comfortable for some of the, some of the scenes, because like there is, there is like that really, um, really big age gap.

Um, But I think in terms of getting prepared, you know, we, we just took some time to, we worked with an intimacy coordinator. We took some time to figure out, um, how we think their relationship would be, how, what we were comfortable with. Um, and yeah, it was, it was actually really, really interesting to sort of work on that.

And, um, you know, I think for me, it’s, it is genuine love between the two of them. So to make sure that was, that was how it, how it was, you know, Perceived as the audience was, was really important. Um, but yeah, it was, yeah, it was really, it was really interesting Dean, like I say, he’s fantastic. And he was, you know, always making sure I was feeling comfortable and, um, just really worked with me and we worked together to hopefully create something that, that comes across really genuine.

Okay. Thanks. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Hanta Smith.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. Oh, okay. Is there, um, video on here? No video, just audio and we can hear you. Oh, okay. Perfect. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your time. I’m so excited for everyone and it’s exciting series. I would love to know what was it like, you know, interacting with everyone on set and also what can the viewers expect when watching this awesome series?

Anyone can take that question, right? Uh I’ll I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll jump in. Um, uh, it was, we shot the series, um, sort of in the height of the pandemic. We all relocated to Romania for four months. Um, and we became, uh, a lovely family, not quite the twisted family of the show. Um, and I think, uh, You know, I, I adored working with every single person on set and, uh, what was amazing is that as we were there after more time, the episode that you’ve just watched is very much just sort of the beginning, but from episode two and three to four, the whole thing opens up the children grow up.

Um, they come into it, um, the, the whole sort of premise six fans and, um, the whole S. Expands. And, uh, that was what it was like for us. Uh, in Romania, we suddenly got this injection of, uh, new minds and hearts and then while we were working and, um, and it was just. You know, gorgeous in, in every respect and despite, you know, how dark some of it gets.

Um, it, it was always a very happy set. I think sometimes when you’re doing things that are a bit darker or a bit more serious, you kind of find the fun a bit more on set. So it’s more enjoyable. Um, I think people are sometimes more miserable during comedy . Um, we had, yeah, we just had, uh, a beautiful time with, uh, a lot of really amazing people and we all just felt really happy to be working at a time.

Uh, it definitely felt like a luxury. Awesome. Thank you so much. thank you so much for your question. Our next question is from Jared Horton.

Hi, can you guys hear me? Yes. I am. Well, first of all, congratulations on the series. I thought it was great. Um, when I’m watching movies and TVs, I’m really big on dialogue and I thought you guys had some great dialogue within the series. I was wondering it was something that you picked up within your character that you took from, um, Um, afterwards in your own personal life, like she made the comment that a mother said forgiveness and revenge.

And I was just wondering, did is anything that you guys picked up far as wisdom or life lessons that you picked up from your character or just in general? Great question. I’ve started doing voiceovers in my everyday life. I now describe everything’s doing I’m going downstairs in the morning. Um, uh, no, I really, um, that’s a great question.

Um, No, I don’t think I, I sort of, sort of hope I haven’t taken anything of Olivia into my day to day life, but I tell you what I was thinking about this earlier today. Um, playing, playing that part, playing that kind of a role, um, playing this character that. I, I feel like it’s very far removed from who I am as a person, but she was so vivid on the page.

Uh, Paul’s writing what he did. Um, I sort of never had any questions as how to play her. And, uh, there’s something about playing Olivia. That for me was incredibly empowering and I sort of feel like that element of it I’ve taken. I hope that’s great. That’s great. Well, I think you did do a great job with the role.

Thanks. Um, I think it’s a great series. I look forward, um, to watching it more and congratulations to you guys, especially pulling it off during the pandemic. I just think you guys did a great job, pulling it off. KU kudos you guys over there. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Dominique Clark from Ben worthy media.

Hello, all. Congratulations on this series. I mean, the trailer gave me goosebumps and I’m so excited that we’re finally getting the origin story of the grandmother who locked our children in the attic. Um, Seeing the story through Olivia’s eyes shows how evil isn’t born, it’s made. Right. And specifically for the ladies here, how did Olivia’s transformation throughout this series transform your individual characters?

How did you change as she did? I think, I will say with, um, Nell’s character, I think as she was a, a longstanding staff member at Foxworth hall and was quite used to, as max was saying, like the rigid rules of how it works. Um, I think meeting. Olivia and seeing that she had a bit of bite and spark really kind of opened up their friendship a little bit and it made it grow, which was really quite interesting to discover with Jemima.

Um, yeah, cuz I think, yeah, I think she, her character really like challenges him and um, and yeah, and I think with N working there for so long, um, and I guess. Conforming in, in a way until she kind of meets Olivia. I think it’s, um, I think she definitely, um, like made an impact on her arrival for vanilla.

Thank you. Any other other ladies or folks wanna share? No, that was too

Okay, great. Thank you guys so much. And congratulations again. Thank you our next, oh, thank you so much. Our next questions from Pauls.

All right. Hello? Hello. Thank you so much for being with us today. And, um, congratulations, uh, on this, this is fantastic. Uh, I gotta note because these characters are so different from you personally, um, everything about them, where they’re from, you know, and different time, everything, uh, what kind of Headspace do you have to for each of the actors?

Do you have to put yourself in to, to play these really dark roles? Cool. My personal experience, which may well be very different to the others. So, um, they, they must say as well, um, uh, the, the sort of amount that Olivia had dialogue wise, um, and scene wise, especially sort of at the beginning, it kind of eased up a little as we got into it.

Um, Sort of so full on. Um, I remember I just had to be, I just to get one foot in front of the other and to know my lines and turn up on set was what I could manage at the time. Um, which in a way is really liberating and kind of makes it easier because otherwise you can. Get, I very often get stuck in my own head and think too much about everything.

Um, and sometimes, you know, after the event, you look at things and think, oh, I wish I wish I’d thought about this, or I wish I’d done that differently. Um, but. Such a sort of big undertaking in so many ways is actually in some ways easier and, and, uh, yeah, more, more freeing, more liberating, um, than sometimes not having so far to go with a character.

Um, it’s, you know, I find it easier to be further away from myself, I think, but, and normally I do lots of research, but, uh, in this. I, and I, I think with regards to Malcolm, um, you know, a lot of credit goes to Paul for, for, you know, when, when the writing’s good, it helps those neurons connect sort of effortlessly, and you don’t have to.

To force anything, but sort of, it returns to my first, um, thing I said at the beginning that, you know, when, when you are evil, when a person’s evil, they don’t wander around thinking they’re evil. You know, they, they wander around thinking what they’re doing is right and proper. And just, but I, I do know, um, I spent quite a lot of time in the early days trying to convince people that I wasn’t an asshole.

There was a, there was a picture of me in the production office. You know, all the actors have their faces up in the production office. And my everyone elses was lovely. My picture, I looked like an asshole, like really smug. And then I thought, oh shit, they’ve seen that. Now I’m cast as this, this asshole.

How is your so I, I, I dunno if I can say anyway, I spent a lot of time giving people cups of tea, that sort of thing. And, and trying not to be an asshole. Um, yeah. Yeah. Sorry. Todd was one thing there too. Um, like Jeremiah was saying we had a lot to do in a limited amount of time. And, um, I, I can’t necessarily speak to what everyone did individually creatively to prepare for that, but I certainly can speak for when they showed up, everyone was on point, smiling, prepared, professional, lovely.

Um, and that is, you know, that’s pretty special when that all comes together. So I felt like the lucky recipient of all that on my end. So thank you to you guys. Thank you so much, Paul and max, that was a great answer. And you are allowed to curse here, so it’s okay. oh really? Oh, great. Let’s go away. OK.

Thank you so much. Thanks, Paul. Our next question is from women for the culture.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. There you go. Okay. Hi. Thank you guys for having me. My name is Natasha and I’m with women for the culture. My question is for, to Sean. Um, I just wanted to ask you, so from the moment we meet your character, Noah, we can tell just by looking in her eyes that she’s compassionate, caring and knows something that everybody doesn’t know right now, especially when we see the scene from your daughter.

But I just wanted to know why do you think black women’s first instinct is to go into protective mold, even when we barely know, um, their person. Well, I think if you think about the time that this is set in, um, it’s a very, very good question. And I found myself asking that question in my process as well.

Um, especially in scenes where I found myself helping, um, Olivia and. Because in some ways, she’s very much the more compass of, of, um, the story when all of this madness is going on. And sometimes I find myself asking that question as well, um, for my process, but, um, I think is she’s a rock for her family and she’s also a very fiercely loyal friend and, um, And I think if, if we look at the time, as I was about to say, if we look at the time that this is set in, it would be very unlikely that her and Olivia would probably even strike up a friendship with one that’s lasting anyway.

So it’s just a, a very specific circumstance that they have kind of built their friendship on. And I guess you’ll see more, more about that when the other episodes come out and more be clear, um, about, um, maybe ask, answer your question more, but, um, yeah, I can say that. She’s got a really good heart, I think.

Yeah. Thank you so much for that answer. And I can’t wait to see Noah’s, uh, story unfold more throughout the series. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Karen Mo from sci-fi vision. Hi everybody. Um, thanks for doing this. My question is for Paul, I’ll try to keep it short. Um, flowers in the attic has been adapted before.

I think the last time lifetime did so was in 2014 and 15. Um, in the, since then audience standards and industry standards for how you adapt and present some of this really sensitive, uh, material rape incest abuse. Um, Has really changed. And I wonder if you could speak for a minute about your approach and lifetime’s approach and how it may have evolved in the last few years.

Sure. Um, I can’t speak to how their other, um, flowers movies were produced. I wasn’t a part of those back then, but I do know that from the very beginning of my working with them, they were, um, incredibly supportive, incredibly collaborative. Um, and what we had was this, um, this source material. Where so much of the main character story was based on this sexual assault.

And it was a balancing act that I worked with with my, um, my, my producing team in Los Angeles and all the great executives at a and E in lifetime, trying to figure out just how much of that assault do we show and how do we show it. Um, and in order to tell the story best, uh, and I hope we struck. A good balance.

Um, I was very grateful to have such, um, open partners with it. And the other piece of it was Jemma for the, um, on set. We talked, um, a lot with the intimacy quarters and everyone else, but even about certain lines, you remember, we were talking about a line in the fourth movie, um, with Paul Wesley and, and Jemima.

And it was something about how she didn’t wanna, like, I think the line I had written was allow someone to control me again. And we talked a lot about that in that tent of all the mosquitoes. I remember that. Um, we changed the line. Um, and I think it’s that kind of conversation, um, that I hope helped tell Olivia’s story in a thoughtful and sensitive and productive way.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Mr. Dark eye podcast.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. Thank you. Yes. All right. Can Y. Yes, we, yeah. All right. So my question is for max, um, in your role, like with you having to be evil and, um, you know, play that role so well, what was your inspiration to be so into the character the way you was and how did you really tap in?

Oh God. Um, I, for fear of repeating myself, um, You know, there there’s, there was a few, obviously the cast, uh, helped enormously. Um, you know, also as an actor, when you have wonderful costumes and you have wonderful sets that also helps a great deal. Um, but yeah, I just, I like, like I said, I sort of just had to tune into the, the child inside of Malcolm.

That was the tapping in, uh, and, and, you know, these days we, we are so there’s so much modern. There’s therapy available. There’s psychology and there’s, you know, the way parents work with their children. Now it was these things were unheard of in those days. Um, and we, we take these things for granted, modern parental thinking and, and trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder and all these sorts of things.

Um, Malcolm was just left to figure it out and it didn’t, he didn’t figure it out. He didn’t. Do a good job, but he, he, he did so in a way that enabled him to survive. Um, and that’s how I have to look at Malcolm. Uh, and, and out of that way of thinking comes his evil. And, and that for me is, is a byproduct of that, that interior life think.

Thank you for that. And you did a very convincing job, so that just means you’re good at what you do. thanks. You guys also very kind and put a lot of people on set at ease with his kindness with, with, with that kind of material. Um, and it takes a very special to person to do that. And we had that in that, so, yes.

Oh, thanks. Cool. I’d like to add as well that, um, I know probably a lot. Male actors who would just a approach it as is wouldn’t, wouldn’t struggle playing this sort of a role would probably quite enjoy it. And max is, you know, the opposite of Malcolm. He is, um, such a lovely person. And for him to get to those places was a struggle.

And the struggle is what makes the character more interesting and more layered. And so it’s only better for that. I. I agree. Nice guys go. This is nice. Thank you so much for your question. Our next question is from Towanda Blake.

Hi. Um, my question is what was it like filming inside of a, the pandemic? And did, do you think that offered you more? I’d say it stretched you more to bring perfection to your characters.

Yes, I think, uh, in a way it did, it was this sort of quite surreal bubble. Um, I think for us all to be away from home for as long as we were, um, normally people, if you are filming, you know, outside of home, you are in and out or, um, You’re not really with each other. And it was such a shared experience, the whole thing, onset and offset, and, uh, Yeah, I think there was such a, a lovely feeling because you did, everyone felt really grateful and really privileged to be working.

And it was also really interesting work and everyone really looked out for each other, the, the credo all the way through the crew from the top to the bottom, um, it, it felt very collaborative and very supportive. And I think that’s quite rare to that extent. And, um, and that made. Very special. Um, it wasn’t just another job, I think.

Thank you. Awesome. Thank you. We have time for one more. Our last questions from Aries, urban bridges.

Hi, everybody. I’m gonna echo everybody else. You guys did a great job. I love the movie. I’m gonna address my question to Taan. Besides it being an epic book. First, what made you want to be a part of this role and play Nella and flowers on the. Oh, because, because she’s not part of the books because, because I could, because I could, um, Paul really gave me the reigns to like build on her from the ground up and I kind of just got to implement her story, um, where it wasn’t there before.

And, um, yeah, so I just got to bring this completely fresh character to such a huge franchise of, of a book. Um, Book series and I just, and I thought her character was really interesting, um, and layered and, um, Yeah. And quite exciting and important as well to the story. Yeah. Um, as I said, like her being, um, like the moral compass of, of the story for a lot of the, a lot of this, um, episodes, um, and her family, which you’ll get to meet in the other episodes and, and yeah, you get to see a bit more of her when you see her family as well.

And that’s all really exciting and they’re all brilliant actors as well. And yeah, so it, I mean, it. It wasn’t hard. That’s, that’s an easy, it wasn’t very hard. yeah, it makes a lot of sense, but you brought the character. Great job again. Continued success. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you everyone for such great questions.

Thank you to our panelists. You guys were amazing as always. And thank you all for joining today’s advanced screening of part one. If we did not get to your question, I know we dropped this in the chat as well.

MORE INFO:

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"Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" key art

Flowers in the Attic: The Origin tells the story of the headstrong and determined Olivia Winfield (Rooper) who is working alongside her beloved father (Hamlin) when she finds herself unexpectedly wooed by one of the nation’s most eligible bachelors, Malcom Foxworth (Irons). After a whirlwind romance, Olivia finds herself as the mistress of the imposing Foxworth Hall, where she soon discovers that the fairytale life she expected has quickly become a nightmare.  Under Malcolm’s debonair exterior lies a dark heart, and a twisted evil lurks inside Foxworth Hall that will threaten Olivia’s happiness and that of her children. Her attempts to keep them all safe ultimately push Olivia to become to most terrifying version of herself, leading to her inevitable—and notorious—decision to lock her grandchildren in the attic…

Dodd stars as Olivia’s daughter, Corinne; while Williams takes on the role Foxworth Hall’s longtime staff member and Olivia’s observant housekeeper, Nella. Mulgrew plays Mrs. Steiner, Malcom’s loyal house manager and head of the Foxworth Hall staff. Grammer portrays Malcom’s illustrious father Garland Foxworth, who is married to new wife Alicia, played by Boden. Wesley stars as John Amos, Olivia’s cousin whose revelations change her life forever and Callum Kerr stars as Christopher, a close relative of the Foxworth family whose life will be eternally intertwined with Corrine’s from the moment they set eyes on each other.

Additional talent starring in the four-part miniseries event includes Luke Fetherston, Buck Braithwaite, Jordan Peters, Evelyn Miller, Rawdat Quadri, Emmanuel Ogunjinmi, David Witts, Carla Woodcock and Peter Bramhill.

Flowers in the Attic: The Origin is an A+E Studios production in association with Sutton St. Productions and CBS Studios. Paul Sciarrotta serves as executive producer. Jennie Snyder Urman and Joanna Klein serve as executive producers for Sutton St. Productions and CBS Studios. Zoë Rocha serves as executive producer for RubyRock Pictures, Gary Pearl executive produces for Aquarius Content and Dan Angel executive produces. Declan O’Dwyer also executive produces and directed part one and part two of the miniseries. Robin Sheppard serves as director for parts three and four. Scripts are from executive producer Paul Sciarrotta, as well as Amy Rardin and Conner Good. Flowers in the Attic: The Origin is based on the prequel novel, Garden of Shadows by Andrew Neiderman. The miniseries was made with support of the Romanian Government.

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Irons and Rooper in "Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" on Lifetime

Interview with cast of “Naomi”

TV Interview!

 

Mary-Charles Jones, Kaci Walfall and Camila Moreno of "Naomi" on The CW

Interview with actors from “Naomi” on The CW by Suzanne 1/6/22

This was a great panel with the cast and creators of the new teen superhero show on The CW. I love all of their superhero shows, so I was very grateful to be there. There was a lot of youth and passion in our little Zoom press panel.

THE CW NETWORK

Naomi

Cast Zoom:  Ava DuVernay (EP), Jill Blankenship (EP), Kaci Walfall “Naomi,” Cranston Johnson “Zumbado,” Alexander Wraith, “Dee,” Mary-Charles Jones, “Annabelle,” Barry Watson, “Greg,” Mouzam Makkar “Jennifer,” Daniel Puig “Nathan,” Camila Moreno “Lourdes,” Will Meyers “Anthony,” Aidan Gemme “Jacob,” 2022.0106

Here’s the description of the series that we were given in the panel:

“This is a truly fresh take on the superhero genre from executive producers Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship. And we’re so happy you’re joining us today to hear from them and our incredible cast. The DC drama Naomi follows the journey of a cool, confident, comic book-loving teenager as she pursues her hidden destiny. When a supernatural event shakes her hometown of Port Oswego to the core, Naomi sets out to uncover its origins with a little help from her fiercely-loyal best friend, Annabelle. She also has the support of her adopted doting parents, veteran military officer, Greg and linguistics teacher, Jennifer. After an encounter with Zumbado, the mysterious owner of a used-car lot leaves her shaken, Naomi turns to tattoo-parlor owner, Dee, who becomes her reluctant mentor. While unraveling the mystery about herself, Naomi also effortlessly navigates her high school friendships with kids on the military base, as well as local townies, including ex-boyfriend and high school jock Nathan, Annabelle’s long-time loyal boyfriend, Jacob, proud townie, Anthony, and fellow comic book enthusiast, Lourdes, who works in a vintage collectible shop. As Naomi journeys to the heights of the Multiverse in search of answers, what she discovers will challenge everything we believe about our heroes. Don’t believe everything you think. This is… Naomi. New series, Tuesday, January 11. Only on The CW.”

I was able to ask just two question because it was a large press panel with many journalists. First I asked the show’s star, Kaci, if she had been a fan of this (or any other) comic book prior to the show. She answered that she’s an “avid reader,” but not of comics. However, she did love The CW superhero shows, such as “Supergirl” and “The Flash.”

I love Barry Watson because I used to watch “7th Heaven,” where he played the hunky oldest teen boy. Here, he plays Naomi’s adoptive dad on the show. I asked him if he’d ever played a military man before. He replied that he hadn’t, as far as he could remember. He added that he does come from “a bit of a military family,” but this is his first time playing someone in the military.

Ava DuVernay chimed in to say how much she likes him “with the salt and pepper beard.” She said it’s a shame that he can’t wear it on the show, since he’s in the military. Then she mused that they might have to find a way to write it in the show. I had just been thinking the same thing, that he should keep the beard because he looks great with it. I thought, “Should I say that? Do I have time?”… so I’m glad she said it! She said that he looked “fantastic.” He grinned modestly. I’m sure he’s used to women complimenting him. He said that this is “how I roll.” Like so many men, he doesn’t shave when he’s not working. I don’t normally like beards, but it looks good on him. She joked again that she’ll have to write it in the script. He agreed and revealed that “shaving it every day hurts my face.”

DuVernay was very chatty during the panel and had a lot of energy. I could tell that she’s really the driving force behind the show as well as its biggest cheerleader. I can see now why people are so inspired by her.

Jamie asked where the show might fit in the DCU and whether it might be involved with some of the CW crossovers. Executive Producer Jill answered that this is the third DC show she’s worked on, and she loves how they have something for everyone. She doesn’t think that anything is “ever off the table” (including a crossover). That’s great to hear.

Max asked Ava and Jill about where the idea came from to develop the series and what their experiences were with comics beforehand. Duvernay informed us that through her production company Array, which is via Warner Brothers, she had been involved with a DCU movie “New Gods” (unfortunately, this film had been canceled because it conflicted with the “Justice League” movie). She also worked with them on another new show, “DMZ,” which comes out on HBO Max later this spring. Then she heard about a new comic about a black girl superhero, so she really wanted to be involved with it. She liked it because it was different from other superheroes, since this girl is figuring out her destiny and who she is. She praised Jill as one of the “top two best writing partners I’ve ever, ever had,” so she wanted her for the show, and they started working on it. Then she went on to heap loving praise on all of the cast and crew and said they’ve had a good time creating the show together.

Max then asked a second question, for Kaci, about what her audition process was like; he also asked the producers why they chose her. Kaci described her audition. She sent in a self-tape and didn’t hear anything for 2 weeks. Then Ava emailed her and wanted to do a Zoom call with her and two others. She did some scenes with them and answered questions, and then they flew her to L.A. She went with her mom out to L.A., where they had her do some readings (for chemistry). Then they talked about the show over lunch and got to know each other. A week later, Ava phoned her to say she got the part. This sounds like a very thorough audition. They never answered his second question, unfortunately.

Fred was called on next. Ava recognized him from when he was a publicist and she used to pitch (story ideas) to her. Awww, that was nice. Ava said he was very sweet and that they’d both been doing this a long time.

Fred asked Kaci whether the fact that Naomi just discovered her powers gives her a little leeway into training a little bit, and he also asked her how extensive her physical training has been.

Kaci agreed that she has been able to ease in to the training. She’s finding things out as Naomi does and is able to grow over time. She credits her stunt coordinator, Elizabeth, for telling her that she’s just at the right place (the same as the character). She just works out to stay fit and keep her energy going, but Naomi gets better every episode.

Fred followed up with asking Alex about his own physical training for the role of Dee. Alex admitted that while he was “pretty athletic,” he’d given up on heavy training and martial arts for a few years, so he had to start training again. He pointed out that it feels very good, and he feels that he’s back on track.

Ava disappeared for a moment to get her charger, just as Rick was going to ask her a question, so everyone laughed because it was a funny moment. He asked her whether she thinks first of the scifi elements of the story, or the coming of age stuff first, and what have been the pitfalls, as well as positive things about adapting a popular comic to the screen.

Ava answered that she thought of it first as the coming-of-age story and that’s what she loves most about it. She believes that all comic book stories are “really personal human stories about the … journeys that we all take, written in with issues of heroism and … magic.” The best ones are the ones we can relate to. She shared some of her favorite scenes in the show. There was one she was editing today that brought a tear to her eye. She was getting emotional editing this “young adult drama.” There’s another scene where Naomi and Cranston talk about love that made her cry. She also spoke highly about Barry and Mouzam, who play Naomi’s parents. She praised them for having “an edge” and “mystery. She added that Naomi has three love interests (one a girl). Lastly, she said that her favorite couple is Jacob and Annabelle; she said they might get a spinoff one day. All of these things make it more than just a superhero show to her.

Jill answered the other part of the question. She’s a fan herself of the comic book and loves how “characters jump off the page.” She’s excited to honor the writing in that and how the story progresses, yet still “expanding the world even beyond the comic.” She added that seeing this wonderful cast bringing it to life has been “spectacular.”

Judy asked Cranston and Alex to describe their characters, whom have known each other a long time and lived in the same town for years. She wants to know what their relationship is and whether they wrote their own backstory for them. Cranston relayed that he had been told that his character doesn’t like Dee, and we’ll find out why. Also, “the feeling is mutual,” but they may have to work toward a common goal. Ava praised him for avoiding any spoilers, saying “Well done!”

Alex doesn’t agree that Dee hates Zumbado. Dee keeps to himself to avoid any kind of drama, which he’s been through before. He just knows that Zumbado will be responsible for any problems that might come up.

Judy pointed out that the series relies on Naomi’s relationship with her friends, so she asked each of the young actors what they did outside of the set and hanging out together to get their chemistry. Ava asked Mary Charles to start. She shared that she and Kaci had done one scene together over Zoom for the pilot (so they could work looking like best friends). Then they started doing a group Zoom with the other younger people. She revealed that they “did very teenagery icebreakers,” such as asking each other’s “star signs” and what their favorite ice cream flavor was.

Camila remembers that and said she really liked “this amazing group of people. She thought that building this relationship was going to be very easy. She’s blessed to part of it and says that they’re a very likable group.

Ava pointed out that this is Daniel’s first job. Puig agreed that making the chemistry with them all was “awesome” and reminded him of hanging out with his high school friends. He feels that they’ll all be close forever. Will was wearing a suit, so Ava pointed out that he was “”looking so debonaire” and asked him his thoughts on it. He noticed that at the beginning, they were all just working on their characters and anxious to get started, but then they were told to get to know each other, which made him more excited. He said that they were all “wonderful” and that getting to know them has been “such a joy.” He echoed Daniel’s sentiments, saying, “I really feel a connection with every single one of you, and it’s been nothing but fun. ”

Ava called on Aidan last. He said there was some awkwardness when they did their first table read, but since then, they’ve all been building on their relationships. He feels that “everybody wants to be here and [is] open and engaging.” It makes him feel “humbled” to be included. Then Ava praised them all and talked about how they support Kaci, which is “extraordinary.” She said that Kaci is the star and lead of the show, and they all work to rally around her, even though she’s only 17 and the youngest person in the cast. She complimented her on handling things with such “grace.”

Abbie asked Ava if she’ll be addressing issues such as “race and civil rights” in a real or metaphorical way, since that’s what she’s done in previous projects. Ava says they will be doing it with a process she calls “normalization,” which means having diversity of race, gender and class as if it’s an every-day thing and not anything out of the ordinary. She feels this is a “radical revolutionary thing.”

Abbie also asked Kaci about how she views her character, whether it’s through being excited that she has superpowers or something else. Kaci replied that the show is very realistic, so she asks herself the question of what she would do if she had superpowers. She wouldn’t necessarily be “joyful,” which is how the character is dealing with the issue. Being a teenager, she doesn’t want to be “different.” Abbie went on to ask whether Naomi feels that she has a greater responsibility to protect her community (now that she has superpowers). Kaci believes anyone with powers would feel that way. Being 16, it may not be a good thing to have to struggle with, which she does throughout the show.

Jim asks about Naomi’s flirting and romances in the show and whether we’ll see some of that as a story point in the first season. He feels that some viewers might be struggling with their own sexuality and want to see that addressed.

Jill, adding on to what Ava said about normalization, replied that she admires how the younger people today are very different when it comes to sexuality. She finds their “attitude towards sexuality and toward this sort of aversion to labels so inspiring.” They do use that through the season, grounded in the reality of their show.

Ava asked Barry and Mouzam to give their opinions on this, since they’re playing Naomi’s parents. She reminds us that there’s a conversation in the first episode where they’re talking about the other teens that Naomi is involved with. Mouzam agrees with Ava that there are many different people in the world, and their characters raised Naomi to believe that “love is love.” They have great communication between them. She praises their family dynamic and how Naomi can be free to be herself and that it’s all coming from reality. Barry agrees and says they have “an openness” to everything and they really want their daughter to be happy, more than anything.

Jim had a follow-up question. He calls the teens the “Scooby gang.” Ava chimed in to say that the kids don’t know that ancient reference, but they all do (of course, because “Scooby-Doo” has run in re-runs and remakes forever, and the phrase has been used many times, over and over, in the media). Kaci said that they do call themselves that already.

Jim asks them if they knew the backstory of their characters, whether it was in the script or not. Camila answered that they have great access to asking Jill questions. She and Ava are very open about answering their questions. She’s very curious about her character’s background and personality. Aidan agrees. He comes from the theater, where there’s always an end, so they don’t have as much opportunity to explore their characters. This show has been fun because they’re all on a journey together. Every time he opens his script, he learns something new about the characters.

Ava piped up again to say that they gave Mary-Charles, Will and Daniel the most background material. She mentions who the characters each are. She doesn’t like giving them too many details because they want the actors to help fill in those gaps. They listen to the younger actors and how they speak, so they use some of the slang terms they use. Jill agrees that she feels “10% cooler just from my text exchange …with these actors.” Mary-Charles backed them up by saying that what is really great is that they listen to them in a respectful way about how they speak and whether this or that is still trendy to say.

Dawn asked Ava and Jill what made Kaci just right for the role (which is great, since that question was asked earlier and never answered). Ava says that besides the talent, she looks for a person that has certain qualities because she has to work closely with them, possibly for years. She asks if she wants to be in a relationship with this person. She knew after Kaci auditioned that she is “flat out incredible, beyond good enough” as an actor. She had to fly her out and meet her, have a meal and get to see who she was as well. Even though Kaci was only 16 and just had a little theater experience, she had a great “work ethic, the professionalism, the talent, the vibrancy, the charisma, all of it.” She also liked her as a person. She knew Kaci would be able to shoulder the responsibility of being the title character of a TV show. She feels very lucky to have found her, and she felt the same way about other actors she found for roles in her TV and movie projects (which she listed). Jill also added how impressed she’s been with Kaci. She sometimes forget she’s 17 “because she’s so thoughtful. She’s so mature. She’s so considerate and such a great leader, as Ava said that again, it’s just, she’s exceeded my wildest expectations, personally.” Kaci blushed a bit and smile at all of the nice things they said about her.

Ava also added that the rest of the cast was also great. They all like each other in real life, which is not always the case. She complimented Cranston, Alex, Barry and Mouzam again.

There was more, but this was a really long interview. I’ll add the rest later if I see anything worth adding, but you get the idea. I hope you enjoy the series!

MORE INFO:

NAOMI

Tuesday (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET) on The CW

 

From Oscar® nominee/Emmy® winner Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”), and starring Kaci Walfall (“Army Wives,” “Power,” “The Lion King” on Broadway) in the title role, the DC drama NAOMI follows the journey of a cool, confident, comic book–loving teenager as she pursues her hidden destiny. When a supernatural event shakes her hometown of Port Oswego to the core, Naomi sets out to uncover its origins, with a little help from her fiercely loyal best friend Annabelle (Mary-Charles Jones, “Kevin Can Wait”). She also has the support of her adoptive, doting parents, veteran military officer Greg (Barry Watson, “7th Heaven,” “The Loudest Voice”) and linguistics teacher Jennifer (Mouzam Makkar, “The Fix”). After an encounter with Zumbado (Cranston Johnson, “Filthy Rich”), the mysterious owner of a used car lot, leaves her shaken, Naomi turns to tattoo parlor owner Dee (Alexander Wraith, “Orange Is the New Black”), who becomes her reluctant mentor. While unfolding the mystery about herself, Naomi also effortlessly navigates her high school friendships with kids on the military base as well as well as local townies, including ex-boyfriend and high school jock Nathan (Daniel Puig); Annabelle’s longtime, loyal boyfriend Jacob (Aidan Gemme); proud “townie” Anthony (Will Meyers, “Bad Education”); and fellow comic book enthusiast Lourdes (Camila Moreno), who works in a vintage collectible shop. As Naomi journeys to the heights of the Multiverse in search of answers, what she discovers will challenge everything we believe about our heroes. Based on the characters from DC, NAOMI is written and executive produced by Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”), and executive produced by Sarah Bremner and Paul Garnes of ARRAY Filmworks. Amanda Marsalis (“Echo Park,” “Queen Sugar”) directed and co-executive produced the pilot episode. The series is from ARRAY Filmworks in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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