In this interview special episode we’re joined by special guests Emma Dumont and Blair Redford who play Polaris and Thunderbird in FOX’s X-Men show The Gifted, which was recorded at Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London
The pair talk about who they’d love to see play Magneto on the show, whether the series will connect to the wider X-Men universe and much more!
The Gifted continues Sundays at 9pm on FOX.
00:00 – 03:23 – Intro
03:23 – 35:29 – Emma Dumont and Blair Redford Interview
35:29 – 36:4 – Outro
Season one closed with quite a momentous finale and Polaris made a huge decision, what do you think the world will look like after what happened?
Emma Dumont: A disaster! So, we’re jumping ahead six months into season two, so obviously things have changed, people have changed, people have been struggling for longer and everyone’s pretty emotionally wrecked when we come into season two. Obviously there’s a baby coming, so six months means that we’re closer to that, but yeah, the world is hard…
Will we get to see baby Polaris?
ED: Oh yes! I love that we’re calling it baby Polaris – forget the dad!
How do you think Polaris will fair as a mother?
ED: Have you met her? She’s nuts! No, you know that thing of mother’s adrenaline, where they say mothers can lift cars off of babies, it’s a real thing, and boy does Polaris have it! Everything she does is crazier and more dangerous and violent and unlike normal mothers, you’d think she’d try to not put herself in danger and not be so violent – she’s the exact opposite, she’s like, I have to fight for this kid. And there’s actually pretty high stakes in the first episode of season two.
As a mother you notice you’re not thinking about yourself at all and there are gonna be times in the season where we maybe see Polaris having to choose between her and her baby, and as a mother you’re always gonna choose your kid, so it’s a struggle. So I think she’ll be okay as a mum.
So where’s Marcos in all of this?
ED: Who cares! Marcos is off being sad, hanging out with T-Bird.
BR: He’s hanging out with me! What happens when you’re girl leaves you – you hang out with your best friend and you hit the town! No, he’s obviously pretty broken up about it. It’s gonna be something that kicks off part of the second season. He’s not forgotten about her, and his child – it’s gonna be a huge plot point and it’s going to be one of the fun things to see as it’s a relationship that everybody enjoyed a year ago.
ED: What I’m really excited for is, because Thunderbird can communicate with animals and he has this tracking ability – I’m wondering if he can talk to the baby before the baby can talk?
BR: I don’t even know if he can communicate with animals, it seems like something that just sounds right!
ED: Do you guys know Zingo, our pet dog on the show? Well he’s my favourite character – we were joking around with one of our Marvel produces the other day about how Thunderbird and our pet dog probably have a really deep relationship.
BR: Thunderbird’s just sitting there with a coffee talking to the dog.
What about Thunderbird and Blink’s relationship’s heading into season 2?
ED: Oh Thunderblink!
BR: Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting because it was something that was a slow burn, and it took a long time for them to have a real kiss as the audience got the fake one.
ED: It was a slow burn – are you kidding?!
BR: They were tip toeing around the attraction I think! Thunderbird’s very midleton-minded and closed off and is trying to push that romantic notion away. And it overcame them, I guess, which is how those things go. So yeah, I think he’s coming into second season really holding on to that and he’s got someone he cares about and something else to fight for, you know, and that’ll be fun for the audience to see ’cause they didn’t get a relationship really the whole first season. But yeah, we can’t really go into too much detail – but they’re together.
Is there anything you want to explore more going into season two?
ED: I mean, I have to learn how to be a mom – so that! But we’ve been discussing this with our showrunner, Matt Nix, and that in one way we’re veering towards more of our comic book selves. He wants to see more powers and he wants to see us doing more things and being less trapped in one location, as we were having to hide for the majority of the last season. But this season we’re sort of being shoved into the real world. Even as far as our wardrobe, like in the finale I wore a body suit and that was sort of paying homage to the original Polaris and the original war. But on the other hand, and these are just what he’s told me in our conversations, we’re sort of getting to see the mutants in real life, things that aren’t like ‘I’m tearing down a power line’ or ‘I’m tracking moose…’
BR: Which is essential to the Mutant Underground! If we don’t track this moose, we’re not going to survive!
ED: We joke, but an everyday thing would be like Thunderbird and Zingo the pet dog having a relationship, or Polaris stealing quarters from the laundry-mat.
BR: No, I agree, it’s the combination – we love seeing the mutants in everyday situations as well as using their powers. Like to me as a comic book fan that’s as fun as hell, there’s this idea that me and Shawn always talk about what we want to see – maybe we’re sitting on the couch watching TV or something, like not trying to rescue anyone or trying not to die!
Most of the fans are waiting for The Gifted to connect to the wider X-Men universe – is that something we’ll see in the second series?
ED: We can’t afford Michael Fassbender!
BR: Keep that in mind! You know, we kind of talked about this with our producers and writers the other day. I asked the same question as we haven’t filmed all of the series yet, we’ve just heard broad strokes of where we’re going.
That’s always gonna be part of the tone of the show, I mean we exist within that world. What the direct connection will be in this season, we don’t know. I enjoy that stuff, so, I hope we can colour it with X-Men storyline, but as far as other characters, if they’ve established them in the films, it’s kind of hard to bring them in. And Havoc in the films, that was in the 1980s…
ED: Also he died!
BR: And the actor who played him, Lucas Till, is shooting MacGuyver in the same city, so the timing just wouldn’t work!
ED: Also Alex and Lorna were a horrible couple – they were very bad for each other!
Towards the end of the first season it felt like there was more and more X-Men mythology, where would you guys you like to see that go?
ED: I mean if it was up to us, if we didn’t have contractual things and whatever franchise nonsense – I want Magneto on the show! I mean, we want the X-Men!
BR: That stuff is fun. I agree with you when it comes up, you know, it’s reminiscent of the films we’ve had, and if you’re a fan of those. But I think it also was important that we’re telling an original story too, as we wanna make our own mark within the realm of mutants and X-Men lore. Yeah, I think there’s a happy medium in there, so hopefully we can touch on it in an interesting way where we can, but I know our writers want to forge new stuff. Stuff that you haven’t experienced before.
ED: And I mean here’s the deal, if you’re a homeless refugee, which is what we are basically, and on the run for your life, and there’s a team of mutants out there with a bunch of fancy body suits and anything at their disposal – then what’s the point? They’re just gonna come in and save us like “Oh look Rogue’s here again – we’re saved!”
BR: Yeah, I like the idea that we don’t have a bald guy in a wheelchair who is a billionaire, that can offer us any amount of resources that we can get our hands on.
Could you not do something like the Marvel/Netflix franchise? As in the fact that they’re connected to the films as they namedrop certain characters or events?
ED: Yeah, but all of those characters are loners! Like Jessica Jones isn’t trying to save the entire race, we’re literally trying to save an entire population of people – do you know what I mean? Or at least Polaris feels like she is, she’s trying to save millions and millions of people, like an entire minority group, whereas Jessica Jones is kinda just like… meh, I’m a sad alcoholic, I might beat up a few bad guys, and so be it. It’s a very different state of mind!
BR: And touching on what you just said, I’m pretty sure that was all mapped out by a lot of the MCU heads to keep it under the umbrella. Like they all planted those mentions within the script ’cause they knew they were doing that from day one. Whereas they didn’t with the ’90s X-Men movies and then the resurgence of the franchise with the new film First Class, it wasn’t all mapped out on a blueprint. Like they didn’t think “oh and then they’re gonna have the Gifted” and they’re gonna separate things. So I think it’s like you make the connections where you can, but they didn’t establish it in the same way.
ED: Yeah, I mean the movies don’t even line-up – let’s be honest! Sometimes the comic books don’t line up at all either. What, I will say though is we could fit, we have many sentinels so obviously we would be before the future part of Days (of Future Past). And my father would be very, very, old – if you consider the twins ages!
What about Thunderbird’s brother, Warpath? Would you like to see him in the show
BR: Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve talked about it with some of the producers and it’s an exciting idea that they’ve been into, but I don’t know when it will come to fruition if it does, I don’t know… Each character is that big, they have to go through a series of hoops for it to be allowed and to bring it into our show. If there’s a chance they can use it in the next five years, then everyone needs to be on the same page so you’re not doubling up on characters, I think that’s kind of important.
ED: It’s crazy – Marvel is so strict! Even picking the name of the Marcos’ and Polaris’ baby was a huge deal.
How has the fan reaction been to both of your characters?
ED: Oh, it’s been phenomenal. And everyone’s been so supportive. So here’s the deal, when FOX first announced that they’re going to make a TV show out of the X-Men movies, everyone’s like… nooooo, that’s gonna be terrible! Even I doubted it to be fair and I’m playing a character from 1969. How old is the character of Thunderbird?
BR: I think he’s from the early 70s.
ED: So playing characters that are generational like this, that have so much back story that’s basically set in stone in the lore and the canon of Marvel, playing Mutant royalty in my case, you never know what’s gonna happen. All we want to do is do right by these characters and bring them to life and make sure anyone who knows them, enjoys what we’re doing.
BR: Yeah, same thing. I think going into it, there was a lot of pressure. A lot of people are like don’t f*** up my X-Men and I get it. You expect producers and people that run this stuff to be on top of it, and produce something good as it means a lot to people. So I do feel like we delivered something with a good tone and something that they hadn’t seen before and I’m pleased with that. It’s been a positive response – the fan response has felt good. I think we got on the right track and hopefully it will continue for a few years now.
What sets the Gifted apart from other Marvel shows like Legion, Runaways or Cloak and Dagger?
ED: I think we have a different demographic. Runaways and Cloak and Dagger – those shows have a younger demographic. I feel like, and maybe it’s just because I’m biased, but I feel like our demographic is so wide just because our cast involves so many different people and has a huge ensemble. Our show is very similar to the comic books as a child can read it and get one thing, and an adult can read it or watch it and get a very different thing. For an adult the show may have a deeper, more broad meaning of prejudice against minorities and war and bigotry and all those really, really dark things and to a kid, it might just be like, “oh if a kid wears glasses or looks different to me, that’s okay, it’s okay to be different.” Like a very simple and innocent version of that. So I feel like in that way, our show is very different than all the other shows, whereas like Legion, (I’m such a Legion fan!) is a very adult show!
BR: Well you have more liberty on a show for FX on cable, you can go to some really specific styles of shooting. Like when you’re watching it, you feel like you’re in a nightmare half of the time, which is really cool.
Although you guys are established characters, you get to explore things that aren’t necessarily in the comics like Polaris’ pregnancy and the fact that Thunderbolt lives a lot longer! So you’re exploring fresh material, but you still have the backstory, that must be a great balance?
BR: Yeah, I mean obviously Thunderbird had really only two appearances before his death and then they revamped him and brought him in here and there. But yeah, it’s cool ’cause it is established even with two issues – I was surprised ’cause like I said, I wasn’t super familiar with Thunderbird even though I was a fan of the X-Men and then when I got the role hardcore X-Men fans started coming out and being like “yes Thunderbird!” So I was really excited about that, that was great. But it did leave enough room where we could explore it and make it original – it was also written at the time where it was maybe a little stereotypical and stuff, and I think we’ve tried to do a really good job of making a more three-dimensional character, not just the native American superhero. We tried to add some layers and background to him, which we get to do with all of the characters.
ED: Yeah same thing for Polaris, she was written in the sixties – she was very over-sexualized a lot of the time and written off as the crazy girlfriend. And we can say we even have a scene in the show where Reed Struckers, like “That’s crazy, you’re crazy” and Polaris is like “don’t call me crazy!” But it’s true. She was written off as just a crazy girl who was under mind control so many times and now it’s like no, we’re justifying it. Same thing with Thunderbird, like making them real people. She’s not crazy, she has mental illness and she’s a soon to be mother. These people are more than just this caricature, they’re people, and so that’s what’s really cool about the show.
Which side would you guys be on if this happened in real life?
ED: Hellfire Club – 100%! I don’t believe, personally, in murder, but if you have to hurt someone to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, I’m not gonna say I wouldn’t do anything about it if given the opportunity.
BR: My gut would like to tell me that I’d be on the Underground side, but I also think that once you lose somebody you love, you can change your mind in an instant. And so, there’s something like that happened, yeah, I’d switch it up.
ED: I’m loving having a Frost lineage in our show, but I sort think having everything you want is like, not very Polaris. We just had all our fittings and the clothing is so fancy! But I guess that’s part of it, that’s what it’s like having everything you could want but feeling empty inside!
If you could pick any actor to play Magneto in the show, who would you pick?
ED: Sir Ian McKellen, right?! What a gem!
BR: How about Daniel Day Lewis?
Thunderbird is quite hot headed in the comics, but in the show he’s more of a level-headed leader. Do you think given that he lost so much in the first series, we might see more of that hot headed guy?
ED: He unravels mentally!
BR: I think that’s a good theory. It’s interesting that you point that out ’cause I remember reading this stuff first time and it was very different from where I knew I was gonna take it and also where I thought a had to take it based on the writing. He’s more kind of a glue that tries to keep the group together and he’s very zen a lot of the time. But yeah, you’re looking at the comics and he’s just calling people names. Earlier we were talking about being in a different world now with more money and all that, I think it’s important for shows to see development and it’s more fun to see them going through different avenues each season. So, yes, I think you see a different tone for him.
Do you think we’ve seen the full extent of Polaris’ power yet? Will the baby influence her abilities?
ED: I mean look, we’ve seen her tear down telephone poles, and smash cars and people, we haven’t seen her tear apart a whole city let’s say… No, I just mean I think she was a long way to go. She’s far from manipulating the iron in the Earth’s core and from controlling people with the iron in their blood, she’s got a lot to live up to! Her legacy is that of a very powerful mutant…