INTERVIEW: Cloak & Dagger Cast and Crew Tease First Season

We spoke with the stars and showrunner of Marvel’s upcoming Freeform series, Cloak & Dagger, at Wondercon last weekend. Watch what cast members Olivia Holt (Tandy Bowen) and Aubrey Joseph (Tyrone Johnson), EPs Joe Pokaksi and Joseph Loeb, and director Gina Prince-Blythewood have to say about the series below.

Olivia Holt is thankful to her dance background when it comes to portraying Tandy Bowen in Cloak & Dagger. “I definitely got my steps in on this project for sure,” she jokes about the physical activity involved in the role. “We run a lot in this show, which was probably the most stunt work we did.” That being said, Holt confirmed that there was more focus on character-driven aspects than on action. Aubrey Joseph also had some working out to do in preparation for Tyrone Johnson. “I actually had to do some training because basketball plays a big role in Ty’s life,” he explains.

When it comes to authenticity for the characters and their dialogue, Holt confides that “there’s been a few times where we’ve had to confront [the showrunner].” Because the show is such a collaboration, Joe and the rest of the writing team was respectful and understanding of the need for truth in television “You know how much of an impact this show can have,” Johnson adds. “So you don’t want any corny things in there.”

When asked their onscreen relationship, both actors gush about the joy of working together. “I think me and Olivia just saw from the jump the chemistry that we had. It’s easy to work with Olivia,” Johnson says. “All I have to do is come in and bring it at the same level that my companion is.” Holt feels the same way about her costar. “Tandy and Tyrone have a very complicated relationship,” she agrees. “They love each other one day, they hate each other the next. It’s a lot that they go through, and it’s a beautiful way of telling it.”

Showrunner Joe Pokaski gives a lot of details when discussing how the Marvel team chose to approach Cloak & Dagger. Not only did they want to start from a character standpoint, “we wanted it to feel a little more intimate. So we started with what we call the Sundance coming-of-age type look,” Pokaksi explains. “When we found Gina, it really gelled.” Speaking of the characters, the biggest departure from the comics was moving them from New York to New Orleans. “There’s a lot of magic underneath it,” he says. “It’s a city that not only survives but needs heroes.”

While the first season doesn’t play in the mutant toybox, there’s potential for crossovers in the future once the Fox deal goes through. “I always loved the Fantastic Four. It’d be fun for Johnny Storm to show up.” He’d also love to see a crossover with Hulu’s Runaways. Fingers crossed! One exciting person who is arriving soon enough is Power Rangers‘ Emma Lahana, who plays a mystery role starting from the second episode. “She’s gonna say exactly one sentence, and she’s gonna blow you away,” he teases. “As you watch her story, you’re gonna see something you haven’t seen on television.”

Pokaski takes credit for making it impossible for Tandy and Tyrone to touch. “I love the idea of someone who you couldn’t touch, who you couldn’t manipulate, so you had to be honest with them.” His version of their love is quite romantic. “This is the story of ‘exactly one person understands me.'” That and saving the world, of course.

Gina Prince-Blythewood, who is responsible for the direction of Cloak & Dagger‘s pilot, gives a great rundown of how important the story was to her. “I love the fact that these two damaged teenagers that find each other,” she explains, specifically pointing out how rare black heroes and even white women heroes still are onscreen. She was also grateful to find the actors they did. “I wanted real teenagers… But we couldn’t find teenagers that could really act,” she confesses. “Then Friday night, Olivia and Aubrey came in and we knew immediately. Their chemistry was insane.”

As soon as she read the script, she had a specific vision for the series. “The themes that we’re dealing with are so deep that you don’t want splashy and slick,” she explains. The producers let her bring her team in so that she could produce her aesthetic, leading to a “great female energy” on set. Considering the many angles from which she could approach the story, it’s hard for her to pick just one. But eventually Prince-Blythewood settles on a rather poignant one: “I come from a family of addicts, so knowing the importance of getting that right and the responsibility of putting that up onscreen [was a scary thing] for Olivia and I.” As dark as the themes are,  she’s honored to tell the story and help the theme of hope shine through.

Right off the bat, producer Jeph Loeb gets to the heart of what makes Cloak & Dagger so different from other Marvel properties. “It was a story about race. When we started looking at what’s happening around us now [we saw] how kids and young adults are, particularly through social media, affecting the world around us.” He has been especially touched by the strength and passion of today’s youth, which matches Freeform’s desire to amplify young voices. “It’s hard enough trying to figure out how to be a kid,” he jokes. “Now let’s add that little Marvel sauce of, oh, now you have powers.”

Cloak & Dagger premieres Thursday, June 7th on Freeform.