GeekDad Interviews ‘Powers’ Cast: Part 1

Reading Time: 12 minutes

ECCC2016-PowersPowers Season 2 premieres today, May 31, 2016, and I got the chance to sit down with some of the cast at Emerald City Comicon. Talking to them only made me more excited and anxious to see the new season.

I spoke with Olesya Rulin (Calista) and Logan Browning (Zora) first (Part 1), followed by Susan Heyward (Deena) and Remi Aubuchon (Executive Producer and Showrunner). Yes, I was wearing my Ashitaka cosplay for the interview, and yes, Susan Heyward did recognize my cosplay! There was also a gentlemen from another press outlet, but I didn’t have a chance to catch his name so he is listed as “Press” in the interview.

GeekDad:
How does it feel to be two of the most bad-ass superhero women on the screen, TV or otherwise?
Rulin:
Thank you!
Browning:
Thank you!
Rulin:
Thank you for saying that! I’ve been waiting to hear that. It’s amazing! He’s totally right though. It’s true. We’re sexy and complex and make mistakes and are real. We’re not perfect, and we don’t pretend to be. Which is what’s so cool about our show and what Sony and Playstation and Brian (Bendis) and everyone’s been able to do. We are definitely real women. We’re complex. Not perfect. We’re not always pretty. Sometimes we are! We’re gorgeous and that’s a super hero power too. But at the same time Calista makes a lot of mistakes and is not very apologetic for it. She’s crying and is kind of a hot mess for awhile. I love that because its honest and its true. Its not something that you see very much in our industry. So its been a blessing.
Browning:
I totally agree with everything she said and Brian wrote us this way. He writes these characters this way for a very specific targeted reason. It’s no mistake, and it’s so good to hear you feel that way.
Rulin:
And acknowledge it. Thank you!
Browning:
To Brian and to Olesya and Susan, even though Deena isn’t a superhero she has that female power and energy.
Rulin:
She’s a tough detective but is also kind of misguided and trying to figure things out. Looking around right now with all the shows that are airing, and anything Marvel or DC are making right now are like the mass, mass huge film market and you don’t really get to see a female as complex as our female characters are. It’s so refreshing. And I’m so excited for season two. I’m like, “Hey guys, watch it! No really!” because now everyone is coming out with like Supergirl and I’m like, “We’re the bad ass version of that. And we have black girls too! We have Supergirl, and she’s black and wears purple.It’s really cool.” I’m really excited.
Press:
What have you learned from playing these characters? What have they taught you about being a superhero?
Browning:
I know how to fly. Zora was misguided. In season one she was guided by her representation that wasn’t true to herself. I haven’t had to experience that, but it does make me more conscious about what I want out of my life and my career and to focus on staying true to my intentions and not getting lost in the fame and celebrity of it all. It’s just like LA. I think that’s really what I’ve learned–to stay true to myself.
Rulin:
Calista is constantly growing, especially now that she’s coming into powers and trying to figure out how to use them properly, so it’s a nice reminder to constantly grow. I’m like, “Oh, it’s okay if I make mistakes.” In some of the sequences we see in the first three episodes are like Calista learns how to fly! She can fly, but she doesn’t know how to land. So there’s a lot of beautiful underlying meaning in that. Yeah, you can do all this but you still don’t know how to put your feet down on the ground. And if you hug someone, will they die? And be careful with your words. I’ve never been asked to be as physical or prepared as I have for a role, but Calista is buff. She’s a superhero, so I had to really be on top of it and not be like, “Oh, it’s fine I can have this cheesecake.” I was like, “No, you have to be a superhero and work out a lot and be on top of it!” Calista has made me very ahead of the game. I actually have to pay attention much more and that’s because of her. She has to be a little ahead of the game or try to catch up.
GeekDad:
How is the intensity of the show compared to the other stuff that you’ve done from a physicality and how action packed it is point of view?
Rulin:
This girl has been jumping up and down and been on fire. She’s from Hit the Floor so she’s constantly jumping around.
Browning:
For Hit the Floor I had to train to dance for that. That was my first time really having to get into being really phsyical but I fell in love with martial arts, specifically Krav Maga and boxing. I feel like it somewhat prepared me for Powers, but this second season our stunt team is the dopest, baddest…
Rulin:
Mike Massa. Look him up. He was Superman and he’s in…
Browning:
He’s Iron Man. Everyone you love, it’s him in the suit. So we had him training us and teaching us, and that, aside from it being technical and gruesome, it was a treat to work with “oh, this is what it’s supposed to be like.” Now, anytime after this when we play future superheroes or future physical roles, we know how things are supposed to be done because we’ve seen the bar set. We can say, “no, that’s not safe. I won’t be doing that because that’s not what Mike Massa did.”
Rulin:
Exactly. As much as they’ve asked us to do a bunch of crazy stuff, I mean I was 60 feet up in the air in a tiny harness, they give you what looks like floss, and are like, “So we’re going to put this on your waist and then 60 feet up on a green screen the size of a football field. You’re totally fine.” I don’t do aerial things. I was a ballerina, so I can dance, and I can hold my body straight. Thank god I had that training because it’s all core. Because I can dance I could figure it out up there…a little bit, but you’re not prepared for that. And Mike, half the time he would be very vague because if he told you all the information, you’d be like, “No!” The physicality was insane. I’ve never had to throw a punch, and our stunt team did teach me how you do it. But its different than how you would really do it because for camera, you have to angle it towards the camera, and there’s all this movie magic involved, but it was a lot of learning on the job because we shoot so fast. People don’t realize that we have this concept that is almost like a movie. These productions are huge, but we have to do it on a TV schedule which is insane. So you’re just running around, “Ok, you’re going to punch her now,” “How do I do that?”, “Like this!” And some of the stuff I did was one take. They were like, “Ok, next.” And I’m like, “really?” And I’ve never done it before so I get all this anxiety. You’re like, “That looks good?” And they’re just, “yeah, yeah, yeah, its good.” As excited as the audience is and everyone that’s here, we haven’t actually seen anything either. So people are asking what’s coming up, I have no idea!
Browning:
Don’t know.
Rulin:
Don’t know how that turned out. Super fun.
Press:
Overall, how did season two compare to season one? The end of season one seemed to really hit its stride as far as the tone of the show. Is that something that continues into season two? Or is it something different still?
Rulin:
I think for us season one was more of the grand picture of it all, kind of the whole universe and the Powers world as a whole. And now season two is more of everyone’s got their own little world that’s much more internal. Internal stories between Walker and Deena and me and Logan. Everyone’s character is figuring something out from the inside and then its projecting outside versus season one was more detailed about the world and now its detail about us. Very Game of Thronesy in that sense where its a bunch of little worlds but then they come together in little pieces. I think you get to escape, as the audience, with the characters more.
Browning:
I’d agree with your perspective. Being an actor on a show I can enjoy being a part of it, but then when it comes time to watch it, I watch it as a fan. If I’m going to watch it, I watch as a fan. So from a fan perspective, I feel like the show picked up around episode six or seven. That’s when it really started to have its pace and set its tone. Season two is elevated in a very–
Rulin:
We kind of grew up. We got our big girl panties on.
Browning:
And it looks better. It looks really, really good. I was really impressed with the special effects. You’re going to be so impressed. They look real. It doesn’t take you out of the story. You’re able to completely believe and buy into everything you’re seeing which is way more fun as a viewer.
Rulin:
From what we’ve seen it’s great.
GeekDad:
You mentioned watching the show as a fan, what besides the show and acting are you total geeks about?
Rulin:
Health and wellness. I’m such a health and wellness nut.
Browning:
She is.
Rulin:
I’m really into anything that’s organic, wellness, getting your body to its full capacity, being healthy naturally. I just love that. Anything on the Discovery channel or survival stuff.
Browning:
Naked and Afraid.
Rulin:
I’m so, so into that. And sharks. I work with WildAid to try to get us to stop fining sharks. We kill about 100 million a year for shark fin soup. China! China! Stop it! I work now with Michael Mueller, which is amazing, and anybody else that does shark awareness. Just sharks and health!
Browning:
No, that’s really, really cool! I’ve had a roller coaster of the past two years, so I feel like I’m finally re-grooving myself and figuring out what it is I love today, what I love now. One of my favorite pastimes is picking people’s brains and talking to people and figuring out what it is that they like. I like people and people’s nuances and where someone’s from. I keep trying to figure out how to make that a career. Maybe acting is it–pretending to be these other people. Also, I love Naked and Afraid. I love survival stuff because I don’t think I’d ever actually be able to do it myself. And books. I like to read.
Rulin:
She also works like ten months out of the year so when Logan does get a break, she’s all Netflix and chill.
Browning:
Yeah, I’ve been trying to decide if I’m going to read the new Harry Potter or not. I’m like, am I invested or no?
GeekDad:
What are you reading right now?
Browning:
I just started this book called The Gingham Dog. And Seven Guitars by August Wilson. I just started getting really into plays.
Rulin:
I just joined Emma Watson’s book club, the Feminist Book Club, so I’m just crushing it right now through the ’70s women’s movement. Equal pay, come on! Please!
Press:
After having worked on the show, would you actually like to live in a world with super powers?
Rulin:
I think we do live in a world with super powers. Magic is out there on our planet currently. It’s just wether you choose to see it or not. There are a lot of people in political positions that do have a “super power” where you can make wonderful positive changes or you can also destroy the planet simultaneously. I think just being a little more open and aware of that and realizing that is a real thing. No they can’t fly, but they can transnavigate the world. How can you reach a different audience say in China to say, “Stop shark fining.” That is a super power in itself.
Browning:
I totally agree with Olesya because that is a very deep, true statement.
Rulin:
I’m so deep guys.
Browning:
Way down there with the sharks. I don’t think I’d really want to forever live in a world like that but maybe visit or go on vacation. I don’t think I’d want to live in a world with powers because, honestly, I think I’d be scared, especially if I didn’t have powers. That’s when it would really suck. If you lived in a world of powers, and you don’t have them, that is scary. You have to be so dependent on the people who do that they’ll be good with them. That’s what our world has to deal with–this looming chaos of the biggest baddest superhero of all time is gone, so who is going to save the world.
Rulin:
Me! Just kidding.
GeekDad:
Did you read the comic before doing the show?
Browning:
Not before we got it, and Olesya has a different story. I started, and after I read the firstbook, I realized that it was going to be a little bit different. They were taking some of the characters and plots but for the most part it was going to be a completely different tone and show so let me not get super swept up. But what I did see and read and the illustration is beautiful and dope and dark, and I enjoyed it.
Rulin:
My character is like 12 in the original, so I was told, “Don’t even go there because you’re just going to get confused.” So I kind of browsed through it a little bit after I booked the job, and I had no idea. The original script, our pilot, was amazingly written. I was like, “Wow! This is such a crazy world.” And you just hope it gets made. Then I booked the job and I called my brother and said, “Dude, I got a job!” My brother is a big comic book fan. He was like, “You booked Powers? Ok, let me tell you what this is.” Then he sends me all the links to the YouTube of the Playstation convention, so for like an hour and a half on the side of the road in Venice Beach, he explained to me what my job actually was. It wasn’t until that conversation finished that I thought, “Oh my gosh! I have an incredible job. It’s like a thing!” And he knew exactly which comic books. “You’re in like thirty of the books!” My brother is a huge resource.
Browning:
When I read them I was like, “Oh, I die! Great!”
Rulin:
I’ll send my brother a link. “Did you see the trailer?” He’s like, “Yeah, I saw it last week when it dropped.” He’s much more on top of it than I am. I really like it, but, like Logan said, its a little hard. They ask actually not to really get into the comic books because then you get committed to a theme, and when it doesn’t happen, it messes with your performance.
Browning:
Can we pause for a second? This poster (there were promotional posters on the table), wow. The version of Susan as Deena, she looks like Deena in the comics. I mean obviously Michael (Avon Oeming) drew this but, wow.
Press:
One of the big aspects of the show is the worldbuilding you mentioned earlier. Is there anything in season two that you’re looking forward to watching that you got to explore when you were doing it?
Rulin:
For Calista, when she got her powers and she’s learning how to land and fly and what her powers are, we built the Mojave Desert. It’s insane, but you only see it in little pieces when you’re acting. I would love to see the outdoor spaces that we’ve created. It’s a giant green screen. It’s where they shot Fast and Furious 7. You’re like, I can kind of, sort of imagine. There’s also a bunch of scenes where Calista and Zora are on rooftops together, so it’ll be nice to see that world, and our special effects are so much better this season. It’s really exciting. I don’t stand on rooftops 600 stories up, so it’ll be fun.
Browning:
I’m excited to see everyone’s characterization. I feel a lot of the times when you watch procedural shows, everyone is kind of the same or a different version of the same kind of person. They’re all doing the same thing, but all of these people are so unique. It’s almost like, how did you create all of these completely different minds, and everyone looks completely different and so it makes the world colorful. Because we don’t always get to watch everyone play out their characters, I’m really excited to see how everyone executed their different nuances.
Rulin:
We blow a lot of stuff up, so that’ll be really fun to see too.
Browning:
Blood.
Rulin:
A bunch of riots.
Browning:
Guts.
Rulin:
All of our extras were so dolled up because they’re powers too. So there’s a bunch of little things when you’re not paying attention, again, Game of Thrones reference but, you can look at any scene in Game of Thrones and be like, “Oh, that extra’s cool!”
Browning:
There’s just so much happening. And the costumes are amazing.
Rulin:
The costumes look so good this season. If they actually showed us anything before we had these interviews, we would tell you, but we don’t know. There’s a reason they do it.
GeekDad:
How do you like the whole con atmosphere?
Rulin:
I love it! The fans are so amazing. I come from a Disney background, so the people that are fans of the Disney Channel world grow up and eventually leave. Con people don’t. It is the best fan group ever. They are so stoked to be here. Everyone’s excited. You’re all here for the same reason. It’s not just a fad. I mean our comic book has been around for 15 years. People want to see it, and they’re genuinely happy to be here. It’s not like, “Oh my god! Justin Beiber!” for like a year. No, they want to know what Powers is doing, and that’s so intoxicating as an actor. You just want to do that much better. You want to be here for them. It’s really cool.
GeekDad:
Thank you!

Check back for Part 2 of the interview when I talk with Susan Heyward and Remi Aubuchon. Also stay tuned for more coverage of Powers Season 2. Check out the trailer for Season 2!

Powers Season 2 is based on the premiere storyline of the comic series, Who Killed Retro Girl? and premieres today, on the Playstation Network with the first three episodes available initially and each subsequent episode released weekly. And if you haven’t seen Season 1 yet, you can grab it on Blu-ray!

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