Interview: Stephen Moyer and Natalie Alyn Lind talk the Gifted season 2

FOX’s hit X-Men TV series The Gifted has returned to UK screens with an emotional and intense premiere, showing the destructive impact that the Hellfire Club has had on the Strucker family following Andy’s shocking decision to join them. The episode also revealed the toll it’s had on Reed, as it appears that his powers that were suppressed as a child seem to be re-emerging – will he be able to control them?

We caught up with one half of the Strucker family, Stephen Moyer (Reed Strucker) and Natalie Alyn Lind (Lauren Strucker) to discuss the changed family dynamics, filming their own stunts and what we can expect from season two of the show.

So what can you tell us about your characters in this season?

Stephen Moyer: At the end of last season obviously we know that the family is split. Andy has chosen to go off with this group, the Inner Circle, to sort of fight for what they believe in. Which is you know a kind of a mutant sort of power base where they’re fighting back against humanity and what the Mutant Underground believe in is a world where mutants and humans can coexist together. And when we meet everybody six months on, the relationships between Reed and Caitlin are quite strained because she believes that Andy has been taken from her by these people, that they’ve indoctrinated him and taken him. But we kind of believe, myself and Lauren, that he’s gone of his own volition, that he’s chosen to go and that he’s not quite as brainwashed as she thinks. So there’s a kind of a conflict between the two of us. Also within Reed’s world six months has played a big part and as we all know, like mutant powers come about when people, usually in their teens, go through sort of some extremis or some kind of being bullied or an emotional sort of turmoil or something which would ignite the mutant gene, and he starts getting the headaches that he had when he was a kid with the extremity of Andy being gone from them and what they’re going through.

And so Reed kind of tries to stop those headache and in so doing he may or may not have kind of reignited his mutant power. And Even though he’s told everybody that they have to be truthful and honest and not lie and be very open so that we have a nice cohesive relationship, he’s not doing that and he’s not telling anybody about it. And so he’s trying to sort of suppress this thing that’s happening to him. So there’s lots of extremis in Reed’s world.

Natalie Alyn Lind: For Lauren when you last saw her in season one she has this kind of traumatic experience where she figures out that her brother had this power that when they hold hands they can pretty much disintegrate anything. And they’re kind of put into a circumstance where it’s either killing hundreds of humans or saving their families. Obviously they save the family and Andy kind of has this darkness that he enjoys killing which is creepy but kind of cool.

SM: Not necessarily that he enjoys killing – he enjoys the power of what it does.

NAL: Yeah exactly, he likes the darkness – he likes the dark side of himself. And I think that Lauren secretly likes the darkness but doesn’t want to go down that path. So this season’s kind of her trying to veer away from that. There’s always a little dark temptation in the back of her mind but at the same time she’s trying to keep her family together because I mean the parents are kind of distraught and all over the place. Yeah I mean it when you lose your son especially, like you said, in the circumstance where he’s technically wasn’t taken but I mean he’s still your little boy.

SM: Also I think one of the fascinating ideas in this season is this really interesting dynamic between you and Andy, so some of that plays out.

NAL: Yeah there’s something really cool that happens this season that Steven had a little part in!

SM: Yeah I can’t say too much but it was something that happened to me. I have twins and it was something that happened with my twins that I sort of told Matt about and was a very helpful device in terms of keeping Natalie and Percy/Andy and Lauren connected – which has a huge part to do with something that happens.

NAL: Like all the things!

So what was it like going back to the set and the chemistry between the cast? Also, did you recieve the script for the whole season?

SM: Nooo! You know they’re up against it in terms of getting the scripts out. For instance were just about to start Episode 10 and we got it the day before! Sometimes it’s not like that, sometimes you get it two weeks before, maybe eight or nine days before but sometimes, depending on the rewrites, and you know sometimes the studio i.e. FOX the network will say you know we want this changed or we want that changed.

It’s a great bunch of actors on set too, I mean me, Nat and Amy are very very close and It’s been tough because last year Percy was close to all of us, but this year we’re not filming with him – he’s in this other world with the Hellfire Club. And so his storyline , obviously I don’t want to give too much away, but his storyline and Emma’s storyline and Skyler who plays the Frost sisters, their storyline is taking place in a different place than our storyline. You know we’re very close with Sean and Blair and Jamie Chung, so we’re very happy because we all get on really well, so our bunch is like super tight!

NAL: Yeah we miss Percy! There are scenes where we are like oh we’re missing something – oh yes of course – Percy! It kind of helps in the storyline because sometimes you’re sort of naturally playing – like where is he? But we love everyone, we’re kind of like a singular bunch.

SM: Yeah it’s a really good bunch. You know I’ve had this before and I’m sure you’ve had it in other jobs, but I’ve just had my kid’s birthday party and half of the people, even 80 percent of the people there, were the crew from Trueblood because it’s family. And so when you get back on set and you see everybody again it’s just lovely and it all just kicks off again. We’re currently filming in Atlanta and we live very close to each other and so does Amy.

NAL: Yeah we live two floors down from eachother! I had a bug in my apartment a couple days ago and he came in and squashed it for me!

SM: I did not squash it!

NAL: You kind of squashed it a little bit, but didn’t mean to – we didn’t mean to.

SM: It flew away! But Natalie was basically like “hey, are you home?” and it was a moth!

NAL: I was so scared! They’re furry and scary!

SM: I had to get the moth and free it.

NAL: He’s like my dad.

The series is getting more serious and darker – do you think current political events influence the storyline?

SM: I think by the very nature of what we’re doing within the show. There was a seriousness to it this year because machinations the way that storyline plays out has a seriousness to it and it’s a little bit difficult for it to be kind of have that sort of comic edge. I think that’s good personally, I don’t have a problem with that. You know there is still some comedy, there’s still some sort of bro stuff between Thunderbird and Eclipse. Thunderbird and and Blink are together so there’s a kind of nice romantic link between those guys. I mean I’ve said this before but I think that one of the things that we do quite well is reflect society – I think that’s what the X-Men is about. I think when it was written all those years ago it was a reflection of what was happening in the civil rights movement. So whether it be religion or race or sexuality/sexual orientation, the X-Men reflect back on what society is really about. And one of the things that we do this year is we look at both sides of what being extreme would be. So you know from the human element, you know you’ve got kind of the Jace character Coby Bell’s character, who lost his daughter and therefore has an absolute right to be feel like he’s been wronged and you know he is anti mutant because of something very specific and I think that the audience empathize with that. So it makes it confusing because the mutants in our world are the heroes but there are bad mutants and there are bad humans and there are good humans and so we have the far right, we have the sort of medium right, we have the sort of middle and we have a sort of liberal thing and then in the show you will also see sort of an extreme left version of what mutants could be. And there’s no way that you can do something like that on a television series without it being some kind of reflection of what’s going on. But as I said in the screening, there’s no way that you would be able to reflect what’s going on in America right now because it changes every two minutes. But I do think it is reflective of some aspects of what’s happening in the world.

NAL: One of the storylines that I like the most is your storyline because when you first meet his character you’re a prosecutor and my character is kind of hiding who she is because she’s a mutant and her dad, whenever mutants use their abilities in public, they are put in jail and not really given a chance to speak for themselves. And I feel like that’s something that happens now that there is a certain type of person that they’ll do something and regardless of what happens, they’re just put into one category and that’s unfair. But I think it’s cool because his character kind of develops from again one extreme and then the moment that his children are brought in to these circumstances, it’s a full 360. And you see the different side of him.

SM: Absolutely fearless and it’s also like, it’s about how far you would for your family and what you would do for your loved ones even if it goes against what you thought you believed in. And you know I think that in itself is a political argument in a way, isn’t it? Whether it’s about what’s going on in the world or not it’s about your own sort of beliefs vs. what you do for your loved ones.

Do you think this is important for people watching this to see what the other side looks like?

NAL: I mean it’s definitely important. Hopefully our goal is to create a mindset watching a show like this where there are different categories of people and there different types but everybody can come together and unite as one.

SM: We have a faction within the show this year which I don’t even want to say far right, but if you were looking at a spectrum you know it sort of represents what that would be – but it’s human. I don’t know if anyone has seen BlacKKKlansman, but you know within that film there are people who are extremists and there are people who just believe that what they believe and they believe that they’re protecting. So you so you’re sort of given all of the equipment – we don’t tell you what to think – we show you who there is. We’re not commenting on them. And some other people within that, as I said with Coby, some of the people within both extremes, we see why they are the way they are, rather than just going this is wrong. We’ll let the audience decide for themselves which I think is something that we do really well.

Do you enjoy filming all the action sequences? Stephen, I’m guessing you’re getting more in this season?

SM: I love all that stuff.

NAL: It’s so fun! I mean we have awesome sunt people there, but I think for both of us we try to do as many of the different action scenes we can. I mean that’s the coolest part about it!

SM: We didn’t get to do one cool thing in episode 3 that I would really like to have done together! It’s this big sequence that happens with just the two of us – just insurance wise you’d never be allowed to do.

NAL: I’m surprised some of the stuff they let us do, they hooked me in some of the harnesses and do some of the things but it’s super funny cause whenever they don’t let us to do it and then they’ll have a stunt person at first and by the time that they come to us, I’m wanting them to use mine so badly that I’ll just go intense and really you just want to them to use your cut.

SM: The truth is that it’s much easier for the filmmaker and the director if it is the actor that’s doing it because you know whatever stunt man is being Natalie or me, when they fall into camera, everybody always falls with their head away from the camera. You know, so that then the camera will pick it up from here and it’ll be us. If we’re doing it when we can do it, you can fall with your face into camera and it makes it look much more realistic if you don’t have to cut.

NAL: When I watch it back and they’ve used my stunts, I’m like “my face – it’s me!”

SM: So it’s much better for them if they can but obviously sometimes it’s more to do with insurance than it is whether you want to do it or not. I mean it’s a lot of fun this stuff.

You mentioned Derrick the mutant specialist at the screening, can you tell us anymore about how you’re working with him?

SM: Firstly he’d get a real kick out the fact that he’s getting a mention! We love him dearly, he’s actually a brilliant producer is what he really is. But he’s been working with Lauren Shuler Donna who made all the X-Men movies since they started. So he was somebody who was you know a big comic book fan who became a TV/movie producer who had a real sort of encyclopedic knowledge of what the stuff is. And over those years working with Ian and Patrick and Hugh Jackman and all of those guys, he’s learned you know what looks good on camera often. And you know the minutiae of detail with him which they will talk about how our power is manifested and where it’s coming from, so what they want it to look like. Often sometimes a new director will come onto an episode and go oh it would be really cool if you could kind of do that and he’ll be going no you can’t do that because if he were to do that it would mean this, you know, so he’s there to sort of make sure that there is a sort of thread of realism throughout.

NAL: He’s just a great guy, I mean he is very smart and intellectual and he has great concepts for our characters, and emotional storytelling really. Yeah we’re very lucky!

You also mentioned about the science behind the special effects and how it makes the show more real?

SM: There’s a very cool scene, Nat you haven’t seen this yet, but there’s a cool thing coming up where the science of what is going on inside my body is explained. And there was a graphic on a computer that as the actress who is explaining what’s going on, the graphic on the computer shows it. So prior to us shooting it, they have to create the graphic and there’s the graphic of the human genome and what the x gene would look like coexisting together in a human body and how they would integrate and and form and what happens when they’re attacked by a drug. That’s me being a very unspoilery! Yeah but but explaining actually something very detailed that we specifically see. So they have to come up with how that would work in a realistic and honest way and then represent it in a computer form. So it’s quite cool shit like that you know, which is where, going back to your question, is where the fans get really excited because as we’ve talked about endlessly you know with X-Man stuff, it’s very specifically about, I think more than any superhero genre, the X Men stuff is very much about representing part of society that feels left behind sometimes. You know recently it was a landmark day in India as homosexuality was made legal, and if you if you saw any of those photographs that were coming out they were spectacular photographs of people leaping for joy in traditional Indian dress and what that means and how extraordinary that is and 2019 and you know that happening. And in a small way the X-Men world represents those people.

What do you consider to be a superpower in real life?

SM: Parenthood!

NA:L Being able to talk multiple languages and being able to understand many people, you know being able to go anywhere and be able to communicate. When you can’t understand their language, there’s such a barrier there.

SM: Being able to read original Pushkin books would be superpower! I think motherhood though is as elemental as it gets.

Do you consider America to be home now? Do you like to come back to Britain?

SM: I do. I worked here at the end of 2016 for the first time in like years and years and year and it was so lovely. America is home. I still am very lucky I’ve got a house here in the UK and it’s really lovely to be able to stay in that home when I’m working over here. So yes America is home purely because I think you know the multitude of my children go to school there. There’s one coming to meet us for lunch today who doesn’t, he lives over here. It’s funny though because I’ve said this before but it’s a very interesting thing that the first thing I do when I get here is make a cup of tea! See the first thing I do when I get to America is make a cup of coffee and I don’t think about it. And I feel at home in both places. It’s such an odd concept to feel at home in two different places, but I really do!

Stephen how do you balance being an actor and being a parent?

SM: We’re shooting in Atlanta and and it’s tough sometimes. You know my 18 year olds here and he’s just been finishing his schooling here. And my 16 year old is in L.A and my two 6 year olds just turned 6, so I flew back for their birthday party at the weekend and when I was leaving Monday morning, I spent 20 minutes in the doll’s house with my daughter playing with being all the characters in the doll’s house, painting her nails, then I was doing Lego with my son for 20 minutes like doing this crazy stuff, I got nail varnish all over me and I was getting it all over the Lego. And then I put them in the car because they were going off to their school orientation with mom and then I took my 16 year old for lunch and took her to her first day of orientation and then I got on the plane and flew. We shot in Atlanta, finished that day, got on the plane, came here to the UK. First thing I did was when I saw my 18 year old, had like a couple of hours with him and then we came to the screening last night. And you just do as much as you possibly can. Face time’s changed everything, it really has. We used to say Skype of course but it’s kind of Face time now!

NLA: And you have to put up with being my fake dad!

SM: And I have put in time for my fake children – Natalie you probably get more of my time than any one of them! Coming and saving moths from you!

The Gifted continues Sundays at 9pm on FOX.

Nicola Austin

Lover of all things Marvel, DC, Game of Thrones, Disney, Pokemon and Studio Ghibli. Favourite superhero is Ms Marvel closely followed by Spider-Man.

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