Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger tells the story of Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph), two teenagers from very different backgrounds, who find themselves with superpowers that mysteriously link them to each other. As dangers surrounding them heighten, Tandy’s ability to emit light daggers and Tyrone’s ability to control the power of darkness puts them at risk, but also teaches them that they are better together than apart.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Aubrey Joseph talked about how little he knew about the show and his character during the audition process, his easy chemistry with co-star Olivia Holt, why it was important to him to read the comics, the desire to make sure these teenagers feel real, whether Tyrone feels that his powers are a blessing or a curse, how he most identifies with Ty, the fun of getting to play a superhero, and how exciting it is to feel like the story could go anywhere next.
Collider: Because of how secretive Marvel is about everything that they do, when you went through the audition process for this, what did you actually know about the series and character?
AUBREY JOSEPH: To be honest with you, I didn’t actually know a lot about it, at all. It was not only cool to find a new comic book to be a fan of, but also to be introduced to such a legendary duo. It’s been great.
At what point in the process did you know what this story was and who the character would be?
JOSEPH: Everything with Marvel is pretty secretive, so we didn’t really actually read the full script of the first episode until we got the role and were already in New Orleans. Then, it was just about making sure we broke down the characters and were interested in how the characters work because all of the superhero stuff would eventually come. Our main focus, at first, was just focusing on the humanity of Tyrone and Tandy, and how grounded they are and the realness of it.
Once you had realized exactly what you were a part of and how big the fan base for these characters is, what was your reaction? Did you have a moment of panic?
JOSEPH: Yeah, and I still have those moments because it doesn’t really hit you, all at once. It hits me at different times. Definitely when I got the call, it was one of the best moments of my entire life.
With as popular as comic book and superhero movies and TV shows are now, who in your own life was the most excited about you doing this?
JOSEPH: I’d probably have to say my roommate right now. He’s a pretty huge Marvel fan and knows everything about the MCU. He actually had a Cloak & Dagger poster in his room. He turned me onto all of the Cloak & Dagger comics. It was crazy to see his reaction.
What was it like, the first time you and Olivia Holt got to work together during the auditions, and then how did that compare to your first day together, on set?
JOSEPH: I feel like it was all easy. Nothing was ever forced. We both knew the chemistry was there and we felt it. Since we had that magical moment in the room, we gained each other’s trust and kept that, through the whole season. To have her as a partner, it was a great experience.
With a show like this, you want to do the comics justice, but at the same time, you want to give it a modern, updated twist. Because of that, how deeply did you want to dive into the comics, knowing that you’re not making an exact copy of them?
JOSEPH: Out of respect for the comic, I had to read the issues, just to have the feel of Cloak and to have the feel of Dagger, and their relationship. Even though we’re going with a modern feel, there are a lot of things that are still the same. It was about finding things that align with that, and then bringing new things to the table. Tandy is not as well-off, and Tyrone isn’t as well-off, either, but he’s from a nice neighborhood. I think we did a great job of modernizing it, a little bit, but not too much.
This show is unique and different, among the other superhero shows that are out there and among the teen shows that are out there. Tyrone and Tandy feel like two very real teenagers from very different backgrounds, and neither of them have things easy. Is it important to you to make these characters feel real, even though they’re in a very extraordinary situation?
JOSEPH: Yeah, that was definitely number one on our minds. When Gina [Prince-Bythewood] came in to direct the first episode, she helped us a lot with bringing the realness to it. Even though it’s a superhero story, people want to see that. Because the show is so grounded and so real, it’s easier for a lot of teenagers to relate. There are so, so, so many kids out there, like Ty and Tandy, that have experienced traumatic events, early in their lives, that force them to grow up and mature and become adults. Kids like that can see themselves, and see that they’re not alone and they’re not going through a unique process. Almost everyone goes through tough times.
Tyrone didn’t ask for this power, and he didn’t specifically choose or ask to have Tandy to share this with. How does he feel about her, and the fact that she’s the only other person who completely understands what he’s going through because she is, too?
JOSEPH: I think Tyrone and Tandy are both very, very weirded out by the fact that they’re connected. At the end of the day, they’re really the only people that genuinely care about each other. They see how much they affect each other’s lives, and they’re stuck with each other.
At this point in Tyrone’s life, is having powers a blessing or a curse for him, or will that keep shifting, back and forth?
JOSEPH: I think it’s a little bit of both, most definitely. As a teenager, you’re trying to find yourself, so when you add superpowers to that, what do you expect him to do? That just brings another dynamic to the show and it makes the show even stronger.
How do you most identify with Tyrone, and how are you different from him or find him most challenging?
JOSEPH: I would say that I most identify with Ty because of his ability to operate out of love. Even though he lost his brother and he doesn’t really trust a lot of people, everything he does is because he loves his parents so much, he doesn’t want to let them down. He really cares about his family. As far as differences, I would say that Ty is definitely more of an introvert than I am, but that’s about it. You bring yourself to the character, but you also find pieces of yourself.