‘Locke & Key’ Stars Darby Stanchfield and Connor Jessup on Finding Their Family Dynamic

     February 9, 2020

From co-showrunners Carlton Cuse (Bates Motel, Lost) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House), and adapted from the best-selling comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, the Netflix original series Locke & Key follows the Locke family, as they move to their ancestral home, Keyhouse, after their father is murdered under mysterious circumstances. Once there, while learning to deal with the grief that they are experiencing, they discover that the house is full of magical keys, each with their own unique powers, and that there’s a demon who will stop at nothing to get its hands on them. The series stars Darby Stanchfield (“Nina Locke”), Connor Jessup (“Tyler Locke”), Emilia Jones (“Kinsey Locke”), Jackson Robert Scott (“Bode Locke”), Bill Heck (“Rendell Locke”), Laysla De Oliveira (“Dodge”) and Sherri Saum (“Ellie Whedon”).

During this phone interview with Collider, co-stars Darby Stanchfield and Connor Jessup talked about what attracted them to this material, why they liked their characters, finding the family dynamic, their favorite Locke family moments, the bonds they created with each other as a cast, what they’re most excited about with Season 2, and the magical keys they’d love to have.

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Image via Netflix

Collider: First, I have to say that I’ve been waiting for this TV series for a long time. I saw the 2011 Fox pilot, and then waiting through possible movies, and a TV series that didn’t happen at Hulu, before this series that’s now hitting Netflix. I’m just thrilled that it’s finally coming out.

DARBY STANCHFIELD: Oh, man, we’re glad to hear that.

CONNOR JESSUP: We’re happy about that.

What was it about this material that attracted you guys? What did you see as the most interesting and exciting aspects of telling this story?

JESSUP: From the comics and from the scripts that we had available, before we started, I really liked how committed the show was to using its concepts as a way to explore what it means to grow up and, specifically, what it means to grow up through trauma, and how that affects your relationship with yourself and your relationship with the people that matter most in your life, like your siblings, your parents, and your friends. Like most good fantasy and science fiction, like Peter Pan or Narnia, it uses this device of a magical world to explore childhood, and the transition between childhood and adulthood. To me, the fact that the show was so willing to explore that, and the comics obviously did that so beautifully, was really compelling.

STANCHFIELD: For me, I really was attracted to this character. I find a lot of mother characters on TV shows can be quite boring or one-dimensional. Especially in a fantasy show, the moms tend to be very much on the sidelines, but Nina Locke is so layered and has so much texture. She certainly is a piece of work in the graphic novel. I liked her dysfunction and her isolation, yet she has a real heart and she loves her family. She’s not very good at it, maybe, but she’s really, really good at fixing up houses and art, and she’s recovering from alcohol addiction. And I liked that it was very different from what I last came from, with Scandal, for seven years. It was a very different world to go into. And I like the fact that it’s not just one show. It’s not just a fantasy show. It’s not just a murder mystery. It’s not just a family show. It’s actually all three elements, combined, and it does it very consistently, throughout the show. There’s nothing quite like it on TV, so the originality of it really spoke to me.

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Image via Netflix

I really love this family dynamic, between these people, who all mess up and all make mistakes, but you can tell that they all really love and care about each other. When did you guys actually all meet, as a cast, and how did it feel to actually find that dynamic?

JESSUP: It’s TV, so things tend to happen pretty quick. We probably met a week and a half or two weeks, at most, before we started shooting, as people started to arrive in Toronto.

STANCHFIELD: I met each of the actors playing my kids at the table read. Then, after the table read, we had a week before we went into production, so there was just a little bit of time to feel your way around these people. There was a little bit of texting, and Connor and I got together, and we sat and talked for two hours. It all happened very fast. We’re very, very fortunate, in that we all get along, really well. These are three human beings that I genuinely care about and would love to hang out with, at any given moment, so that makes it easier to start to make choices and take risks and be convincing as a family, ‘cause you just genuinely like them.

JESSUP: Sometimes things work out serendipitously. I met Emilia [Jones] and love her. I immediately felt a deep connection to her, and Tyler and Kinsey are one of the central relationships of the show and the most important relationship to Tyler. And when I met Darby and Jackson [Robert Scott], just fortuitously, the relationships mirrored how the show developed. We got lucky.

What are your favorite family moments, over the course of the season? Are they moments that you guys had on camera, or are they moments that you guys shared together, outside of shooting?

JESSUP: The best thing I can think to compare the usual experience of shooting something to is summer camp because it’s so intensive and it’s so unique. You meet a group of strangers, and you spend every moment of every day with them, and you form very intense relationships, very quickly. It really is like summer camp. Because we were working every day, the lines between [Darby] and me and Emilia, and what you’re experiencing as your character and on camera, and how your relationships in real life are developing, becomes so muddy. Without getting too much into it, there was a time, towards the end of the show, when Emilia and I were shooting a fairly emotional scene, and some stuff was happening in both of our lives, outside of work, and we were off-camera, comforting each other. They’d be like, “Okay, we need you,” and we’d show up, and they’d call, “Action!,” and it was clear that we’d look at each other and have this moment of understanding where we were both still back there, off-camera talking, but we just happened to be on set now. It’s not often, in life, that you get to have that sort of connection with someone. It’s really valuable.

STANCHFIELD: For me, there’s a scene in the finale where we’re all at the cliff’s edge and we’re releasing the ashes. We had to get up at 2:30 in the morning, to get to this location for the sunrise, and you’re punchy, at the time. Some people didn’t even go to sleep, and other people slept early and woke up. We had gone on this whole journey and spent almost six months on location together, and we were shooting this particular part in Nova Scotia. So, we weren’t only going from Toronto to Nova Scotia, but it was our second time doing it, we were at the end of the run, it was 2:30 in the morning, we were watching this amazing sunrise together, and we were having this really cool, close family moment. For me, that really sticks out. I know we had some of our best laughs up there. I have an amazing video that I took of the kids, where we were just goofing around. We also spent some time off set together. We had some dinners together, and it was just nice. Connor is from Toronto, but most of us were on location and we didn’t have a community. It was nice to just get together off set and hang, and have a bite to eat, and just share our life together. I enjoyed that, too.

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Image via Netflix

Just when you think that the Locke family has gotten everything back on track and that they’ve succeeded, by the end of the season, you realize that things don’t have the neat little bow that we first think they do. There’s definitely many questions and much more story to tell. Have you guys had conversations about what could be next for this family and where things could go for a second season?

JESSUP: The exciting thing for us is that the first season really re-mixes the beats from the comic, but also follows them, in a way. It arrives at things in different order and by different means, but there’s a throughline and we know, more or less, that we’re attached to story points from the comic. But the way that the season ends, it throws that all out the window. So, going forward, you can’t even really look to the comics to ask what’s gonna happen and what could develop because everything is so new, which to us, is really exciting.

STANCHFIELD: It’s super exciting. It reminds me the first couple of seasons of Stranger Things. You see this danger and you’re queued up for the next thing where, if there were more episodes, this is what this family has in store for them. That element of danger is so delicious to me.

This is a house full of magical keys, all of which have different possibilities and powers and abilities within them. If you could find a key that can allow you to do anything, or to learn something about yourself or someone else, what would you want to be able to do?

JESSUP: If there’s a new key, the key that I would be most excited to see is a Dream Key. I guess it overlaps with the Head Key, but I would like the ability to either lucidly see my own dreams, or to see someone else’s. I would want to know what that key could do.

STANCHFIELD: I’m gonna be a little selfish about Nina Locke’s storyline and say that I would like a key that would truly bring someone back from the dead because the Mending Key doesn’t work. That would probably be pretty dangerous and a pretty dark thing. I mean bring someone back, really, in their original form. But then, this show wouldn’t be a show because you would have the whole family intact and they would have to move back to Seattle, so maybe not so much.

Well, that could be the series finale.

STANCHFIELD: There you go! That’s the series finale.

Locke & Key is available to stream at Netflix on February 7th.

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