The Parents of ‘Runaways’ on Avoiding Evil Stereotypes
December 27, 2018
Executive Produced by showrunners/writers Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage and Marvel’s Head of TV Jeph Loeb, the Hulu series Runaways is back for Season 2 with higher stakes and greater danger, as this group of teenagers who realized their parents were evil have now left their homes and are learning to live on their own and take care of each other while working to take down PRIDE. At the same time, PRIDE is looking to find their children, and a secret plan has been set in motion that might lead to betrayal from one of their own.
While at a junket held on the set for The Hostel, an underground dilapidated mansion that the runaways take shelter in this season, co-stars Angel Parker (“Catherine Wilder”), Ryan Sands (“Geoffrey Wilder”), Annie Wersching (“Leslie Dean”), Kip Pardue (“Frank Dean”), Brigid Brannagh (“Stacey Yorkes”), Kevin Weisman (“Dale Yorkes”), Ever Carradine (“Janet Stein”), James Marsters (“Victor Stein”) and James Yaegashi (“Robert Minoru”) spoke to a small group of outlets at roundtable interviews, and Brittany Ishibashi (“Tina Minoru”) spoke to Collider by phone, about the evolution for their characters, how the parents all share the common goal of getting their kids to come back home, exploring the family dynamics, the delicate dance of committing villainous acts, and avoiding evil stereotypes.
Question: What are the biggest shifts with your characters, this season?
ANGEL PARKER: I feel like the conflict is gone. The kids have run away, and we’re not conflicted. We have one main goal, and that is to find them, by any means necessary. In Season 1, there was a little bit of torment, especially with the sacrifices, but that’s all gone now. We’re pure evil. Well, I am. I think I’ve crossed a line. I have to take things into my own hands ‘cause he can’t get things done.
RYAN SANDS: Geoffrey is a big teddy bear. He’s a big, bald teddy bear. Catherine has her own ideas for the way things need to happen and then the time frame in which they need to happen. Geoffrey’s got some plans, too. He’s got things in motion, but she’s impatient. It’s a very interesting dynamic. Last season, I felt that we were very unified in our goal. This season, we have the same goal and we’re moving in the same direction, but we’re moving about it a little differently now. That aspect is really fun to play, especially because the rest of PRIDE can’t know that we have a little something going on.
PARKER: We maintain a unified front, but we are not unified at home. That’s been great to play, but it’s not great for the home life.
KIP PARDUE: At the end of Season 1, Frank learned a lot of stuff that he didn’t wanna know. The one true thing in Frank’s life was his family. The one thing that he could believe in, more than anything else, was his wife, his kid, and the Church, and all of that is turned on its side now. Coming into Season 2, I thought that there were two distinct paths that Frank could go down, but what the writers came up with was unbelievable. As many questions as I had, leaving Season 1, I had just as many, through Season 2. Frank is in a really tough spot, in a great way. It’s morally ambiguous, nothing is true, North is South, and up is down. It’s wild, but it takes him down a path that’s undeniable.
ANNIE WERSCHING: In Season 2, we start a little bit apart, and then it seems like we’re gonna come back together, but then things happen. It was definitely different than I thought it was gonna be. Leslie has lived her whole life believing in the Church and Jonah (Julian McMahon), and keeping him alive, and all of that is different now. With the finale of Season 1, where it seemed to her that Jonah was really willing to kill Karolina, it’s a completely new ball game for her. All she wants is to take Jonah down, but that’s so connected to the Church. Now that she wants him gone, things are very different. She sees things much clearer now.
PARDUE: It’s easier to not have any answers, and to figure it out as you go. Now that we know, how do we react with that information? There is a real sense of Frank wanting to belong. There’s a real sense of naivete with Frank, just completely being underestimated, that’s legitimate. He’s really not much, but that’s also a position of power, in a weird way. He’s constantly being underestimated. As Frank gathers knowledge this season, he uses that to his advantage. Nobody thinks that he’s capable of doing much of anything, and nobody takes him super seriously. Leslie is very dismissive. Frank is just the window dressing. That can be a really sad place to be, or it can be a really powerful place to be. When faced with the reality of this Church doing evil things, you can focus on the evil things, or you can focus on all of the good that the Church did. Maybe there’s something there for Frank to dig his teeth into, even deeper than Leslie was capable of doing. Leslie’s focus was always Jonah, and maybe she’s missing the forest for the trees, a little bit.
KEVIN WEISMAN: In all seriousness, Stacey and Dale joined PRIDE thinking they were gonna cure the issue, as scientists. And then, they meet Jonah and quickly realize that’s not the case.
BRIGID BRANNAGH: It’s like realizing that the loan was from the mob.
WEISMAN: And like the mob, they’re so far in that they can’t get out. And now, their kids are also on the run, and that’s their main priority. The stakes are much higher, in Season 2.
EVER CARRADINE: You get to see a lot of Janet. You get to see her reflect on who she was, and really put what she’s good at to use, and her own schooling and training and scientific mind. You’ll see her find her voice and her next phase. Janet kicks ass. She’s super smart. It’s a really fun season for me. I had a lot of fun.
JAMES MARSTERS: It was nice, last season, to see how they met and what that connection was. Victor is a lot like me. You can be as beautiful as you wanna be, but unless you’re also smart, skin deep beauty reveals itself, very quickly. Janet is every bit as smart as Victor. The IQ comes from the mother, so the fact that Chase is as smart as he is, doesn’t actually come from Victor, it comes from Janet.
JAMES YAEGASHI: This season is a lot of fun because it’s a season where we get to see an evolution of Robert, and certainly a lot of different colors than what we saw in Season 1. It’s an interesting examination of what circumstances do to people and how it takes them out of their comfort zone. What’s the price for that? It’s been a lot of fun doing that stuff, this season.
BRITTANY ISHIBASHI: Over the course of the first season, it was fun to get to know why Tina had put all of these walls up, and was so guarded and mean. It was wonderful, episode by episode, to see what the writers put in. You could see the little cracks in her facade, and all of the hurt and pain that she couldn’t deal with, and you understood why she had put herself in this emotional fortress. I think it’s really fun, going into Season 2, now that all of us feel a lot more established in our characters and we feel more comfortable. It’s really fun to see all of the colors that are coming out now. I think all of us were very excited with the pace and how quickly things were coming at us. It just immediately felt like a bigger, bolder show. Emotionally, it was really fun to see. The second season is all about every kid eventually becoming their parents. As a parent, knowing that eventually your kids are gonna come into their own power, but not really being ready for it, especially for Tina and Nico, it’s this whole power struggle. Tina doesn’t want to give up or relinquish her power. Just because her daughter is coming into her own power doesn’t mean that she has to give up hers. That’s a really fun thing that we get to play with, over the course of Season 2.
How does it affect things, with the kids gone?
WERSCHING: The good thing about that is that it does give the parents a common goal. Overall, they just wanna get their kids back. They all have different ideas and ways of thinking, as far as the best way to do that, but even though Frank and Leslie are divided in a lot of ways, at the top of Season 2, they are together, in the fact that they just want their daughter home. That’s a common thing for the parents, although some people wanna do it a little more extremely.
PARDUE: There are a couple of different ways to get the kids back, so it seems. They try different methods.
YAEGASHI: You think you know how to reign in, or manipulate, or control your kids, so that they do the right thing, but kids are their own people. Ultimately, it’s a human truth that you can’t control someone else. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. Like with many parents, you do something that you think is going to work, and it totally backfires. I think the scene where Nico and Tina go at it, and then Nico takes off, is also a case where you have two strong-willed people that get out of control.
In another actor’s hands, Robert could have very easily turned into a sad, beaten guy. How does he keep from ending up that way?
YAEGASHI: His strength comes from who he is at his core. What’s interesting is that family is important. He enjoys what he does, but in his core, it’s really the family relationships with his wife and his daughter that matter. When those things are threatened and under attack, then there’s a strength that comes from that core that gets expressed in a different way, and you’ll see that more this season than last season. Even thought it’s unexpected, it still does come from that same core.
What have you enjoyed about exploring the relationship dynamic between Tina and Robert, this season?
ISHIBASHI: Tina and Robert are rediscovering each other. After the affair and him willing to sacrifice his life, and her saving him, they know that there’s a lot there. But with what he said to her in Japanese in Season 1, which was, “I don’t know how we got to this place,” they decided to just start over. There’s been a lot of stuff that is happening between them, emotionally, with what they’ve done, and they’re getting to know each other again. Tina was so determined and focused to get things done her way because she knows her way is the best and most efficient way. She closed herself off and didn’t let anyone in, but her walls are slowly coming down, and she’s realizing what a wonderful partner Robert is and what brought them together, in the first place. You really start to see their strengths, as a couple, and how powerful their partnership is. I’ve really enjoyed getting to play that with James Yaegashi more this season. The Minorus are an awesome family.
Will we see a shift in focus for Victor, this season?
MARSTERS: All of the parents got caught in a devil’s bargain, trying to do good for the world. They were trying to provide water to the world. They were trying to get new energy production going. They were trying to tackle big issues, and Jonah said, “I’m gonna help you with that.” And then, we’re in this deal with him and he says, “By the way, you have to kill, once a year.” There’s one couple that’s like, “No, and we’re out.” And then, they died. Jonah says, “You’re gonna do what I tell you, or I’ll kill your kids.” All the parents did what I would probably do, which is to keep going along with Jonah to save their children, but then, I would also be hating myself, having nightmares, losing sleep, getting cranky, and going slowly insane. When your reviled by your own actions, you are not at your best.
CARRADINE: When you’re stuck in a corner, that’s when you flail around and things get messy.
MARSTERS: We all think that we’re better than this. We just don’t know that we see another way out. And now, our kids are seeing us for the villains that we’ve become, and that’s just so painful. The great thing about this season is that the kids are the villains. This is something that I’ve been trying to talk the producers into, but they’re not quite understanding it. I’m correct about this. You can prove it because no hero will tell you that they’re a hero. If you say to a guy with a bronze star, “Thank you for your service, you’re a hero,” They always say, “No, I just did what I was asked to do.” If you ask a villain, they’ll always say, “I’m a hero,” because they have surety. It’s that moral certainty that can lead you to hurt good people without good cause. Good people question themselves. How we remain good is by constantly re-evaluating. So, if you ask the runaways if they’re the heroes of the show, they’re sure about it.
What does Geoffrey’s version of leadership look like, compared to Catherine’s?
SANDS: Overall, I don’t think its that different. But when it comes to certain people and certain things, Geoffrey is probably looking to distance himself from the way he might have handled it, years ago. Whereas Catherine doesn’t have the time or patience, and the ends that she goes to are very drastic.
PARKER: And permanent. It’s a new day and age for television now. They’re starting to understand that women do rule a little bit more than they’re usually portrayed. Especially in this show, with all the women of PRIDE, they’re smart and capable, and many times, they go behind their husbands’ backs to get things done. It’s fun. The men aren’t weak. It’s just that the women are just as strong. It’s good.
Are there any characteristics in your characters that are reflective of yourselves?
PARKER: I wish that I was this put together, all the time. I wish that I was as smart and as capable as Catherine is. I am, in most aspects of my life, but this woman is unstoppable and has no remorse. She does have feelings, and she cares for Geoffrey and about what he feels and what he thinks about her. That’s the only regret that she gets to play with.
Has Geoffrey reconciled the ‘hood side of himself with the Brentwood side of himself?
SANDS: One of the early questions that I had for our showrunners was about Geoffrey’s clothes, and were the clothes a costume or was that his uniform? I was told that it’s his uniform, so this is who Geoffrey is. However, there’s still that side of him that he wants to distance himself from what he wants to leave behind him, but it’s always accessible, if the need arises. You don’t want to see old Geoffrey.
As the couple who’s murder adjacent, what can we expect from the Yorkes, this season?
BRANNAGH: We start out very much together and aligned, when it comes to figuring it out by science, but we do feel maybe like we should stick with PRIDE, as opposed to some who are like, “I’m out!”
WEISMAN: There is a duality with their relationship to PRIDE and how they can get their kids safely back while excavating themselves from this situation without murdering anyone, and without hurting their kids or themselves. The stakes couldn’t be higher. These are some real stakes, so that’s what motivates us.
As these characters have grown, what’s been the most fun aspect of playing them?
BRANNAGH: They get crazier. They really do!
WEISMAN: That’s a testament to the writers. They really service all of these characters really well and the story just keeps moving. By the end of this season, our characters are onto another storyline that’s hopefully gonna propel us into the next season, if there is one. It’s the writers and Brian K. Vaughan who really keep this thing moving. So, in terms of what’s the most enjoyable, that’s why we’re growing.
BRANNAGH: They don’t hold back. It doesn’t get boring. In Episode 6, everything goes crazy, and then, it still keeps going. You don’t feel let down.
WEISMAN: The middle of the season is like a finale, and then it keeps going. There’s no case of the week. It’s just a continuation.
BRANNAGH: We’re always shocked reading them at the table. We were looking at each other like, “Oh, my god, what did you just do?!”
WEISMAN: There’s some dark stuff.
For a character who seemingly likes to have control over things and have things a certain way, how does it affect Tina’s mental state to know that so much is out of her control?
ISHIBASHI: It’s terrifying for Tina to be out of control. She functions best when she’s at the helm of the ship. And to have all of these things up in the air with her alliances, and no one knows who’s siding with who and everyone’s set up in different camps, it’s really hard for her to manage. I guess we get to see a lot of that unraveling, and how it affects her relationships and with Robert. And then, when she decides to relinquish the staff in Episode 2, I don’t think she fully understands what that is. She honestly does think that it will do Nico good., but it’s not the best decision. Even though she feels like she’s at her best when she’s in control and running the show, deep down, she does know that it will ultimately serve her to get back in touch with all of that pain and vulnerability and work through all that, just to be a better woman and mother and wife, and to get her family back together.
What was that whole sequence like to shoot, having to do that mother-daughter fight scene?
ISHIBASHI: It was really tough. It was hard because, at a certain point, we were filming and you see that your child is capable, strong, determined, focused, and able. There’s an element of letting them go and letting them spread their wings that just broke our hearts because we knew this moment would come, we just didn’t think it would come so soon. And also, we have no idea what we’re getting into when we do let her go, but that’s part of parenting. It’s about trusting. That’s a battle for Tina, in her relationships. She knows that she should maybe relinquish a little bit of that, but she’s not ready because she does like that power.
Does Tina see a bit of herself in Nico?
ISHIBASHI: I think Tina and Nico are so similar, and she does see so much of herself in Nico and wants to encourage that. She put so much of her time and energy into Amy, and she’s finally really getting to see all that Nico is. It does make her proud, but she’s also threatened by it. She’s proud of her, but it’s complicated.
What do you think the staff means to Tina, compared to what it means for Nico?
ISHIBASHI: Nico knows nothing about the staff, besides how it makes her feel. For Nico, it’s a little bit more than just a really cool toy. It’s also enabling her, as she discovers herself, to be her best self. Tina knows better. She’s older and wiser. You have to be strong in spirit, in heart, and in your mind, and Nico is capable, but there’s also an element of Tina testing that. It’s a very special instrument. Tina knows that Nico is not ready to handle it, and that it will come back to her, eventually. Tina is not ready to give it up because it has all of her secrets. She’s just letting Nico play with her toy for a little bit.
Tina is such a funny character because she seems like, at any point, she could just scream and have a fit, but she holds so much in. What do you think Tina does to unwind? What do her weekends look like?
ISHIBASHI: Tina needs to just relax and let it all go for a second. Her way of unwinding is probably something that’s still really high stress, like some intricate martial arts training that lets her keep her mind focused. Nico would probably send Tina to a spa or a quiet retreat where you can’t talk and you can’t have technology. It was really fun, in the back half of Season 2, to see where Tina goes, as the season progresses. With all of the characters, it moves fast. So much happens this season. There are a lot of cliffhangers, at the end of the season.
Most villains don’t think that they’re villains. They think that they’re doing what’s right. What keeps Catherine from falling into those evil stereotypes?
PARKER: That’s a delicate dance to have. It’s for family and for the future. It’s to make sure that these things don’t continue to happen. It’s survival and instinct. I also know that Catherine knows that she’s crossed a line into evil. It was a conscious decision to do what she did. So, that being said, you don’t want to play evil, but I do think that Catherine knows that she is more evil than she ever has been. She’s become Geoffrey, when we first found him in prison. So, we’ll see what happens to her.
After the events of the first season, and then the journey that you go on for Season 2, what do you think Tina would ultimately like to see happen?
ISHIBASHI: Honestly, Tina wants Nico home. Everything that happened in Season 1, and getting so caught up with everything with PRIDE and what they felt like they had to do, and then understanding what that costs them, she was able to ignore a lot, or block out what was unessential. At that very last moment, when she understands that Jonah killed Amy, she really understands just the true cost of her actions, and that really drives in the point that the most important thing to her is her family. She got really, really close to losing all of them. She already lost Amy, she almost lost Robert, and she lost Nico when she ran away. At this point, it’s a priority for her to get her family back together.
Marvel’s Runaways Season 2 is available to stream at Hulu.
Co-stars Annie @Wersching, #KipPardue, @EverCarradine, @JamesMarstersOf, @AngelParker, @TheRyanSands, @BrigidBrannagh, @KevinWeisman, #JamesYaegashi and @BrittIshibashi on #MarvelsRunaways, PRIDE, avoiding evil stereotypes & more: https://t.co/L81uon1k71 @MarvelsRunaways @Hulu pic.twitter.com/nWY5YrHpHt— Christina Radish (@ChristinaRadish) December 27, 2018