INTERVIEW: Allegra Acosta and Ariela Barer Talk Marvel’s Runaways

With Marvel’s Runaways a week away from premiering on Hulu, we sat down with actresses Allegra Acosta and Ariela Barer to discuss their characters and experiences on the show. Barer plays the intelligent and quirky Gert Yorkes, while Acosta portrays the role of her adopted sister Molly Hernandez, who soon discovers she has powers beyond her control. In our fourth installment of Runaways set interviews, we talked about the tone of the show and how it’s handling representation.

Ariela Barer as Gert.

Given Molly’s power set, complete with glowing eyes, it’s natural to assume she might be referred to as a mutant. But Acosta clarified, “I’m referred to as a person who has superpowers but I kinda feel I’m a mutant.” So while the word has not yet been uttered on Runaways, the sentiment is there. “Maybe we’ll get that later on in the season. But I’m just enjoying being the super badass powerful thing.” Speaking of mutants, Molly actually has a moment in the comics where she beats up Wolverine, which Acosta was more than ready to act out should Hugh Jackman ever return to Marvel. “He’s been waiting [to return]. He knows I’m on his radar,” she joked. After all, getting pummeled by a teenage girl “seems like a natural progression after Logan.”

Molly has mutant skills onscreen, but both Acosta and Barer are talented in the dancing and singing department off-screen. When asked if those particular skill sets would make their way into a script, the actresses were effusive about drawing the line between turning Runaways in a variety show and actually incorporating singing in a way that makes sense for the characters. So Acosta confirmed that Molly “would be that very enthusiastic girl who went to dance tryouts” in the first episode, while Barer gave a few details on Gert’s songwriting. Originally she was going to play a song that already existed, but the producers asked her to do one of her own once Josh and Stephanie “found out about the band [The Love-Inns] and the music I make at the table read.” The process of writing the song was an interesting one, and Barer recalled, “me and Sid, our composer, sitting down and thinking about like what a six year old girl would write. It was about story.”

Another exciting aspect of Runaways is the practical puppetry involved with characters that would most likely be CGI elsewhere, such as Gert’s dinosaur Old Lace. When she was brought up, Barer gushed about the work that went into her. “There’s one guy holding her and he knows like all the moves of a dinosaur… I’m just so happy that I get to work with her. You just see her eyes and you see pure innocence, what an animal should have.” She continued to sing the crew’s praises, explaining, “When so much care goes into something like that, it really ups the passion of everyone around it. When you see something that so many people worked on, and really poured themselves into, it really just makes everyone work that much harder.” We personally can’t wait to see how that translates onscreen.

Molly in happier times.

Allegra Acosta was also very eloquent when discussing her view of representation, seeing as Molly is now a Latina character in a very diverse show. “We represent the Latina community,” Acosta agreed. “We are representing a stronger voice and we are not basic stereotypes. We are much stronger in reality. We do have a responsibility.” But she felt that responsibility lessen due to the larger amount of representation, which meant that each character of color is given the space to be flawed and human without becoming a trope. “It’s not like one person has to represent this blanket version of this race, and no one has to be the perfect role model.”

Ariela Barer, meanwhile, touched on the addition of Molly now being Gert’s sister instead of just the youngest member of the group. “A nice thing in the comic is the way everyone kind of looks after Molly. It’s a really nice relationship, so it’s cool to just bring that one step further.” It makes sense to have a pre-established reason to take Molly on the run from the start, instead of having to hash out whether an 11-year-old girl should be in that new environment. Regardless, it’s very clear the actresses have already bonded like sisters and may become the Arya and Sansa Stark of Runaways. Except hopefully their pet doesn’t run away or die.

Be sure to check out the first three episodes of Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu this November 21st, and come back daily to find new cast interviews until then.