From showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, Marvel’s Runaways, available to stream on Hulu on November 21st , tells the story of six teenagers – Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer) and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) – who realize that their parents have been lying to them all their lives and that they’re really evil. As a result, this group of estranged friends, who also have secrets of their own, must band together to stop their parents before it’s too late.
On September 26th, Collider (along with a few other outlets) was invited over to the L.A. set of the series to chat with the cast and executive producers and learn about all things Runaways. During a small roundtable interview, co-stars Angel Parker and Ryan Sands (who play Catherine and Geoffrey Wilder, the parents of Alex) talked about how aware they were of the Marvel universe, prior to joining this series, how their friends and family want them to do these characters justice, finding the balance between playing parents and being supervillains, and what it’s like to be a part of the Hulu family. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: The Marvel brand is equated with success, but were you guys aware of the Marvel universe?
RYAN SANDS: I’m living a dream right now, ladies and gentlemen. This is amazing! I was that kid, from as far back as I can remember, with my Spider-Man underoos. I’ve been into the Marvel characters since I was a small kid. Just being able to sit back and see these characters hit the big screen, and be done so incredibly well, has just been fun. I was good with that. But, to be an actor on a Marvel show right now is super cool. This machine has been running so well, and coming up with new ways to tell stories and present these characters that have been around for decades. The older fans that love these characters are connecting with it, but they’re also being introduced to new audiences. It’s just a fun time and it’s incredibly exciting to be a part of it, especially with a fairly current property, like Runaways, that had such a devoted fan base. I think fans are going be really excited to see where we’ve stayed faithful. They’re going to be pleased with the representation of these character, and at the same time, they’re going to be excited by all of the spins and new elements that have been added to the story.
Do you have friends and family that are fans of the comic, who want you to do these characters justice?
SANDS: Absolutely, yeah! The funny thing is that I bear a resemblance to Jeffrey. At first, I got some ribbing, and I want to do the character justice. I have a couple of friends who are real Runaways fans, so in between trying to get details, they’re putting the pressure on me to do justice to Jeffrey Wilder.
ANGEL PARKER: I have an 11-year-old boy, and he read that comic in two days. He was like, “So, that’s you?! It doesn’t look like you!” And I was like, “Don’t worry!” We’re gonna do them justice. The fans are going to be very, very pleased with how we’ve portrayed all of these characters.
What’s it been like to find the balance between playing reasonable adults and being supervillains?
SANDS: The world our writers have created is grounded in a very real place, so these decisions, although I’ve never had to decide whether or not I’m going to sacrifice someone – at least not yet and hopefully that doesn’t happen – you get the decisions. Family is incredibly important to the Wilders, which is a very cool aspect of this whole situation. These decisions are made with family in mind, at the core. If that’s what you’re going into this thing with and that’s always at the forefront of your thoughts, then you get certain compromises. In real life, you can make a decision that you think will be fairly small and manageable, at the off-set, but then things snowball and stakes can get raised. It’s not as great of a leap, as you might think.
PARKER: We’ve made a deal with the devil, and the devil has come back. We’ve also compromised, in many ways, to advance our family. Those decisions are made, one at a time, so when you’re faced with the end of that, is it worth it? I think that’s where the Wilders are, in the beginning of our show. Is all of this worth it? Is it worth losing our son? Is it worth losing what we’ve built? Is it worth losing our souls? We get to dive into all of that. You’ll get to see the history. We get to go back in time to when we first became members of The Pride, and you’ll see The Pride grow and have conflict among themselves. And then, obviously, our show is about the Runaways finding out and running away. There is a lot at stake, and for a villain to be a good villain, you have to understand the reasoning and why they made the decisions that they did. The audience will get it.
What’s it like to explore and play the parent-son dynamics, within the Wilder family?
SANDS: It’s about always keeping the love at the forefront. We’re in the position that we’re in because of our love for our family unit. But if your kid is going to potentially throw a monkey wrench into this whole thing, you’re like, “I love you, but I can’t allow you to do this.” It’s a very interesting dynamic to play in. There’s also the dynamic of not wanting your child to see you in an unfavorable light. There are things that you’ve made peace with, to a degree or as much as you can, with what you’re doing, but you don’t necessarily want your child to see that side of you. Jeffrey has worked hard to build a great relationship with his son. The last thing he wants to do is to allow that to crumble, essentially at the finish line of what they’re doing all of these things for. That’s a really cool dynamic to play.
PARKER: Teenagers hate their parents, and parents think they know what’s best for their teenagers. That’s a universal story. These actors that we’re working with are young actors, but they’re actors. We do our scenes with Rhenzy [Feliz], and we’re coming together as three adults. He’s an adult, but he’s a young adult. We work with him like we’d work on any scene with any other actor. It’s about what we’re doing with the scene, how we’re gonna move it forward, and what’s happening with the dynamics. The three of us, when we come together, is Team Wilder. Sometimes our table reads become Game of Thrones, with these families coming together and facing off. They seat us all together, and it’s very interesting to see the dynamics of each individual family, of the teenagers vs. the parents, and then when we all come together. It’s insane to see how that all plays out. The scenes that we have with The Pride take all day to shoot because there are nine of us.
As actors, what are the benefits of working on a platform like Hulu vs. working on a network show?
PARKER: Hulu gives you freedom. There’s a lot of freedom that we have. It’s also a very exciting time for Hulu. My real husband jokes about it with me. I’m like, “I’m going to work on my TV show.” And he goes, “Oh, honey, it’s a web series. Don’t get so caught up!” But, it’s an exciting time for Hulu. It’s not really an either/or, at this point. I think audiences just find the show that they want to watch, as opposed to what the platform is. Hulu just has some really, really exciting shows right now, and some great shows of the past and live TV. Everyone is trying to consolidate these things because you have so many subscriptions and apps, and Hulu is leading the way on having it all in one place. It’s exciting for us. And they give you creative control. I’ve been a part of network shows and cable shows, and now I’m a part of Hulu. They all have their benefits, but right now, Hulu is where it’s at.
Do you think that The Handmaid’s Tale winning an Emmy helped streaming series get more respect?
PARKER: Oh, absolutely! House of Cards led the way, and now The Handmaid’s Tale is where it’s come, in just five years. I think it’s the content and the platform. The doors are opening now, for every way to watch your favorite show, and the choices that Hulu are making are great. If The Handmaid’s Tale is their flagship, that’s a good ship to be on and we’re happy to be there.
Marvel’s Runaways is available to stream at Hulu on November 21st.