In the latest comic book series for the DC Universe streaming service, Swamp Thing follows CDC investigator Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) as she returns to her small hometown of Marais, Louisiana when what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus breaks out. Coming face to face with her past would be challenging enough, but Abby soon realizes that the swamp contains even more terrifying secrets and no one is safe from the horrors that are emerging.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Crystal Reed talked about what sold her on being a part of Swamp Thing, the clear vision that the creative team had, reading the comics for research, trying not to destroy her voice with all of the screaming she has to do, how her character inspires her, and why Abby is so drawn to the Swamp Thing.
Note: This interview was conducted before DC Universe cancelled the series, but all 10 episodes will still air in their entirety.
Collider: How was this presented to you, and what was it that sold you on a show called Swamp Thing? Did you know that it would be as R-rated as it is?
CRYSTAL REED: First of all, I read the script and it read completely differently than I had imagined. Most people would think Swamp Thing and have one perception, but then you read the script and that was completely turned on its head. That’s what I really liked about it. It was very real and grounded in the character’s life, which felt really fresh to me. It wasn’t pushing for the scares or the drama. It just felt really grounded in Abby’s circumstance, and that’s something, to me, that was a huge draw. Also, I knew that it was gonna be different because of the people who were involved. Atomic Monster (James Wan’s film and TV production company) has really produced gorgeous pieces that have a shock value, but also maintain the integrity of the story, and I felt very comfortable with that. It was also directed by Len Wiseman, who is such a beautiful filmmaker. He maintains his characters throughout his films, in a way that I felt safe and also very free. I knew that I was gonna be surrounded by creatives who had a very clear vision and that I’d feel safe enough to say, “Okay, I’m gonna be able to give you all of Abby,” which means it’s gonna be dirty and gritty, with loads of tears and screams of horror. At the end of the day, I knew that I would be taken care of.
When you’re screaming as much as you scream in this, how do you make sure that you don’t just completely lose your voice?
REED: There’s no good way. I need to take musical or vocal training. I just go for it. It’s something that you do, and then you deal with the circumstances. I never really lost my voice fully, but I would always do the full-on screams at the end of the day, so that I had 24 hours to get back to it.
Swamp Thing and the character of Abby Arcane have quite a history, through comics, a live-action show, an animated series and movies. Did you read any of the comics or watch any other versions of this story, prior to doing this?
REED: I had seen Wes Craven’s film, awhile back, and then I re-watched it and thought it was brilliant. For what it was, it was great. Then, I knew that our series was based on Alan Moore’s run of the comic. I was in New York when I found out that I got the role, and I went to a bunch of comic book stores, which is really fun. I’d never been, and I just picked up all of the comics. DC sent me a bunch, as well, and I couldn’t stop reading them. It’s funny, I didn’t know how to read a comic, so I actually had to do a Google search for, “How do you read a comic?” It’s not like a book. You have to read it a certain way. So, I did and I couldn’t put it down. I had those comics with me, in my bag, everywhere that I went in New York, and I was reading them non-stop. That particular run is so dynamic and beautifully illustrated. The language is so rich that it really drew me in, and it make me more excited to play Abby.
What have you grown to appreciate about Abby, the longer you’ve played her and gotten to more about who she is?
REED: Abby is a character that always sees the light in people. She’s constantly searching for the truth. She’s so brave. In the first episode, she’s in the Congo and she takes off her mask, which is a huge no-no, to help a child, just to be able to communicate with him and give her version of love. That inspired me, in my real life, to take steps to be braver and live in that world, where we fear less and jump more.
Abby comes pretty face-to-face with the creature in the swamp pretty quickly. What do you think it is about her that makes her curious enough to want to look for the humanity of the creature, and not just run away scared, like most people would be?
REED: At the beginning, it’s based off of science. She’s not sure what’s happening, so she’s looking at it from a scientific point of view. She wants to learn why and how this could possibly happen. It’s baffling to her. The reason why she’s a doctor is because it’s very measured and there are answers. It’s very black and white. There are answers to everything. So, it’s intriguing to her, at first. Then, it does shift into something else, which I will get fired for, if I talk about, so I’m not going to. That’s a huge spoiler. But her journey changes, and it changes her, and that’s based off of what she can and cannot explain.
Swamp Thing is available to stream at DC Universe on May 31st.