Syfy's apocalyptic series Aftermath
follows the Copeland family as they struggle to survive in the wake of natural disasters, disease, and supernatural creatures. Levi Meaden, who plays the eldest of the siblings, Matt, talked to SciFi Vision last week in an exclusive interview about his work on the series and what fans can expect next. SCIFI VISION: Can you talk about how you first got the role?
Pretty much like anything, but originally casting had reached out to my agent about another actor, a friend of mine that she also represents, but he was unavailable, so she pitched me out. And they kind of went, 'okay, have him send in a take,' which was funny, because he and I are pretty much opposites in character types, but anyway, she sent it in, and I didn't hear anything for a bit.
And then I was in LA, and I was told they wanted me to come in for a screen test, so I went in and did my thing with the producers and writers and the directors. We did the screen test quickly, and I pretty much headed back home, and by the time I got back to my place, I got a message that they wanted me. It was a pretty quick turnaround. Is there anything you did to prepare for the role? Any post-apocalyptic books you read or movies you watched or anything like that?
I've always been a big fan of the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic genre, so I'd already read and seen a bunch of the books and movies, you know, The Stand
, The Road
, obviously the Mad Max
movies, and a whole bunch of others, but I kind of dove back into the genre. I revisited those, but then I went even further and sort of started finding kind of lesser known works that were really critically well received to kind of just get a feel for the rules of the genre and kind of put together the certain ways that characters work. You know, there's always this battle for them to keep their humanity, and what happens to them when they cross over that line. People who start off bad at the beginning usually turn good, and there're a lot of kind of role reversals. So I definitely dove back into that just to know what to expect and kind of how to start creating a character from the very start, because there were a lot of those kind of left open for us to interpret as we would. So that was great, and then I knew we were going to be shooting a lot of guns, so I went to the firing range and got refamiliarized with some weapons. I was actually going to ask about your weapon training.
The production didn't put it up, but I thought, you know, I've been shooting kind of since I was a kid off and on on farms that my family owned. So it had been a little while, and I thought I better go make sure my skills weren't too rusty, so I didn't look like a complete fool when I was handling them on set. I know there would have been some stunts; did you do any of them yourself?
I tried to get them to let me do as much as I could. They wouldn't let me do a lot of the bigger ones that I wanted to, like jumping on cars or whatever, but a lot of fights I did myself.
So I had a little bit of fight training kind of on the go, which was great. I'm hoping the stunts keep up and they let me do more. By the end they were pretty good at letting me do some minor stunts, because they knew I could fall and not get hurt.When I talked to you last time [for Olympus], you said you were relatively new to green screen work and getting used to it, but I assume now you've gotten used to it, so how was it this time for you?
You know, this time it was a little bit easier. Olympus
had this one giant green screen room, so there were no real sets to interact with. This time around we tried to keep it as practical as possible. So we'd be on location, and we could have explosions, and we'd only have to react to, you know, meteors in the sky, or we'd have to pretend one of the Quetzalcotl, or giant dragons, was there.
But when you have it kind of in a real setting, it makes it a little bit easier, and it helps when you have more than just yourself. So when we have the whole family looking at something, we can kind of feed off of each other, and it creates a little bit of wonderment just building off of each other's emotions. Do you think Matt is more like his mother (Anne Heche) or father (James Tupper)?
Obviously it's going to be both. I'm definitely more on the side of my mother. You know, one of the things we find out, especially as the show goes on, is when I meet my grandpa (Timothy Webber), my mom's dad, he's kind of got this anger, this, I don't know, primal violence in him. I think one thing about mom is that she took that, and she decided to go down an avenue in the army where she had to learn how to control it, and how to channel it, and make the best decisions through it. I think Matt has that in him, that violence that's built up, that's why he played football. So he came out of his football career, but when that ended, he wasn't sure what to do with it, and I think that worried him. Those moments I think he wished he was more like his dad, because in the show he says he's going to go in the Peace Corp, but he never makes it there. So I don't think he is necessarily like his dad, I just think he wishes he was, and he wishes he could listen to his advice. Then the world falls apart, and it becomes very important for him to embrace that violent side, and that's something that he struggles with. Both the sisters have had them, so is Matt going to have a love interest anytime soon?
I think [laughs]
after Brianna (Taylor Hickson)'s little dig at him in the car, he's looking for it now, that's for sure. It wasn't on his mind before, but now he's kind of in the search for somebody. So somebody might show up by the end of the season. What was your favorite scene that you got to film so far?
There've been a few, just depending on what I'm looking at. I loved the scene where Brianna gets taken, where they launched her up. They had a stunt woman up 120 feet in the air on a crane that just kind of launched her out the front [yard] of the house where we were about five feet away. It was a really cool thing to watch happen. That was an exciting day.
And then as far as like emotional scenes, I love the one with Donny (Bernie Yao) at the end of episode two, because I'm a big fan of that scene, and when I got into it, it just kind of flowed really nicely.
And then initially there weren't many scenes where Brianna and I or Dana (Julia Sarah Stone) and I got to just kind of banter back and forth. So when those scenes first happened, it was a lot of fun, because we developed this rapport where we were able to just go off of each other. And as the show went on, they started to add a lot more of them, so those kind of became my favorite scenes, because they became the ones where we could have the most fun, because we could just go back and forth at each other like we normally would off set. Can you talk a bit about this week's episode?
I love this one. This is one of the ones where I think we really embrace what the show could end up being: it gets gory; it becomes almost torture porn-y. It was a lot of fun.
I didn't get to be in those scenes; it was just mom and the two sisters that were, but God the script was a lot of fun to read. There's some twisted stuff the show gets to embrace with the post-apocalyptic world I think. I think people had a lot of fun with it.
And then there is again, one of my favorite scenes I think we shot, the one where Brianna and I are on these crates in a warehouse, and we're just talking. And she's talking about her guilt, about her fear, about almost getting killed by her sister.
And we had a back and forth, and it ended up being one of my favorite scenes we shot, because it got just very real and natural between Taylor and I. I think it was the most fun I had on set, just doing that small little scene.
And watching Josh [Tupper]'s descent into madness was also a lot of fun.In the last episode, we learned that Josh is something called an Adept. Will we find out more about that soon? Is there anything you can tell me about that?
The trip that Josh went on becomes very important, and you'll start to see that becoming a main focal point as the show goes on.
There's a lot more answers coming, and there are questions raised. So things wrap up in a pretty satisfying way, but they leave open a whole new can of worms for a second season. Do you have any fun behind the scenes stories?
I was playing constant pranks on Julia and Taylor. At one point [laughs]
we had a camera operator by the name of Jos [Osman], who I convinced Taylor his full name was Joss Whedon. Taylor had no idea who Joss Whedon is, but Julia does, so she kept going around set telling everyone that Joss Whedon was on set, which confused everybody until finally I had to tell her. [laughs] In addition to the disasters on the show, there have been quite a few supernatural creatures. Do you have a favorite that has been on the series?
That's a good question...The Aswang, the shape shifters. As the show goes on [we can see] the possibility of those things, and I think I'm really curious to see where they go with it. I think people will see that they're going to do something new with it, and I'm hoping that we get to play around with that concept a little bit more. It reminds me of one of my favorite horror movies, The Thing
, and so I love any chance you get to really play with the idea of who's real and who's not. The mistrust, I think, can be a really fun story element to anything you're watching. Can you describe Matt in three words?
Passionate, repressed, and heroic Lastly, do you have any other projects you can talk about coming up?
Next up I'm shooting on Pacific Rim 2
, which will be coming out next year, or no a year after, so that should be a lot of fun. And I just finished a small indie called In Control
that should be making festival rounds and video on demand pretty soon. It's a thriller about these kids who find a machine that allows them to take over people's consciousness, but it starts turning into a drug-like addiction for them.