On January 2nd, Freeform premieres its new science fiction series Beyond
. The series follows Holden Matthews, played by Burkely Duffield, who suddenly awakens from a twelve-year coma. He finds himself with new abilities that also bring danger. Along with some help from new ally Willa (Dilan Gwyn), he must learn to control his new abilities as he tries to figure out what really happened during the twelve years.
Recently the actor talked with SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about his work on the new series. SCIFI VISION:
How did you first get involved in the series? BURKELY DUFFIELD:
It was a script that I was immediately drawn to. There are so many aspects of our show, and beyond that, it's really cool, and it's different. I think it really finds its own sort of niche.
It's got such a cool character development for Holden and this journey that he takes throughout the pilot that I read, as well as, really, this whole season of him growing up from a boy to a man.
And then on top of that, to be able to incorporate a really cool sci-fi element that I enjoy watching on-screen, to be able to put myself in sort of an action based situation like that, and to be able to shoot it, is something that I was immediately drawn to. I really loved the show from straight off the bat. When you said you enjoyed watching it, do you mean you enjoy watching sci-fi in general?
Definitely. I think it's a genre that's really gaining its footing. I mean, it always has been there, but it's just sort of a popular medium now for people who are looking for something different, and sci-fi always has that ability to be able to incorporate new elements and worlds of characters, of sort of different parts of life that are just slightly out of reach for us in normal life.
So I think it's something that I enjoy watching on-screen, and for us to take an interesting and different take on a sci-fi show was something that I thought was really cool. At least for me, the show was not about what I originally expected. How much in advance did you know of the full trajectory of the plot? Did you know at the beginning, or did you find out as you went?
It was a little bit of both. If I ever had questions for my character's development or for his journey or path throughout the show, and I wanted it for my performance, we had a very open line of communication between our writers and producers that I was able to ask those questions.
But I didn't know everything in its entirety, and it was kind of cool being surprised. As a cast, one of our favorite days of the week was finding out when we would get our next scripts. It was like "Oh my gosh! Let's see where it goes!" and "What are our characters doing?" So it was always a fun part for us, which is always a good sign, for us to be excited for our show, to show audiences that even as we were shooting, we were excited about the episode. So we can only hope that the audience is going to feel the same way. Is there anything in particular you researched for the role or did to prepare?
Yes, I think there was diving into my experiences growing up for me, as well as just sort of collaborating a lot with our talented directors, producers, and writers to really try to preserve that innocence that Holden has as a thirteen year old mind, and trying to go into these situations with a lot less finesse then most adults would.
So it was fun building this character, drawing from characters that I appreciate in other mediums, as well as myself, as well as creating something new to be able to put on screen to hopefully have a very truthful, relatable character for audiences to watch. There are a lot of visual effects in the series. I'm not sure how much was practical, but it seemed like most of it was CGI. Can you talk about working with that?
It's a lot of fun. I love being able to sort of work with stuff that day to day is a bit different. There is definitely a big combination of both. There are a lot of stunts and practical effects that we have on set, where [it's like] me interacting with a very talented team of stuntmen to be able to create a safe environment, but creating some shocks that are really cool.
But, as you mentioned, we have a lot of green screen too, so we had those visual effects and a visual team that was creating stuff that they really couldn't in real life, in order to be able to give the show a new environment, or characters, or objects, or whatever it may be calling for.
So it's a fun sort of imaginative part of my job to be able to interact with something that isn't there, but I get to see sketches to be able to prepare myself as much as I can. You mentioned stunts, can you talk a bit about that and what parts you were involved in yourself?
Yes, it's definitely a part of the show that's important and allows us to gain that sort of action feel.
We had a very talented stunt crew, as I said, that were able to go through stunts with me and keep me very safe whenever I could do them. I myself love being able to do that stuff, so whenever I have the opportunity for that, to be able to do my stunts, I always jump up for joy and say, "Yes, of course I'll do it!" So it's always fun.
I did have a very talented stunt double, Brendan. Some stunts are quite dangerous, so I was not able to perform, but it was a fun combination of me being able to do some and Brendan jumping in and either showing me what to do, or himself doing it, to create the most real and safe performances as we could. But I think in all cases we got some really cool shots that are going to look really cool and really impact the audiences on the day. Did you get any training or anything like that for the series?
I have done some stunts in my past and had some action sequences, so I was familiar with what it meant to be able to do stunts, but in any case, stunts these days are very specific to each exact scene and each exact calling for what needs to be done, whether it be a harness stunt or me jumping from a height or me running, so it's very specific for the training for each, and that sort of comes down to the stuntmen being able to prepare you for those situations.
On top of that though, I did realize and know that this show was a very physically demanding show, so for me on the side I was always trying to keep my physicality very prepared. I'd go to the gym to try to stay in a fit condition to be able to take on whatever the show would throw at me. There is a big fight scene in the premiere, can you talk specifically about it?
It's a big moment in the pilot that is really something that changes the world for Holden yet again. He is trying his best to just adapt, but really just to get back on his feet and sort of go back to the life he had before.
But I think in that moment, and with this surge of whatever it was that is expelled from him, I think he sort of realizes that unfortunately something is different, and maybe his coma wasn't such a normal happening as he may have assumed. And I think that is a big turning point for him, realizing that his life is indeed never going to be the same.
Do you have a favorite scene you can talk about?
It's hard to narrow it down to one. There were some really cool stunts that I loved performing day to day, but also the emotional parts. There are a very large span of emotions and the overall journey he goes on that I enjoyed doing from episode to episode.
And I think we have so many of these different elements of our show that I did really enjoy shooting and performing and showing the audience at the end of the day.
I think we have some really cool stunts, that physicality that I loved to be able to perform, some physical effects stuff that was a really fun collaborative process on the day, as well as his emotional journey, whether it be a happy moment, whether it be a sad moment, whether it be a moment of angst or anger or a real sense of discovery when he walks in and really finds out who he is, or maybe taking something away from a situation is a truth that he will bring to his heart. So I think there're a lot of cool parts and scenes even episode to episode that I'm really excited to show everyone. The show has a lot of fun movie references. Do you have a favorite?
There are so many different ones, it's very true, and thinking back, I can't think of any one specifically. And I think for me, the thing is, that it's not just a universe that has not come in contact with any kind of [pop culture]. These abilities are given to Holden in a place where the violence is happening in a universe where it's very much like our own. There are movies, there are legends, there are everything that he interacts with, so he does very often compare his abilities to things that we will recognize from sort of pop culture, which I think is a cool part of our show, sort of playing on what it would be for someone real to start exhibiting these abilities. Now that you're a part of the Freeform family, are you going to be live tweeting and interacting on social media?
Of course. The opportunity to be able to interact with fans of the show and fans in general is really something that is a really cool part of my job, to be able to talk to people who love the show.
So I will be live tweeting the premiere, and I would love to keep the interaction going as well. I'm going to do my best to keep in contact with fans, as well as post about the show and give fans sort of that extra edge, that if you like the show and want to hear more about it, you can check out the Beyond
feeds that we have on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as myself and my cast mates who are going to be doing our best to keep everyone entertained, share little extra tidbits when we can, and interact with everyone who loves the show. Freeform is releasing all the episodes on different platforms at once, even though it will be airing weekly on the network. Do you think it will affect the show? How do you feel about it?
I'm super excited. I love being able to watch TV episodes back to back. I think to be able to sort of gain that momentum and be able to immerse yourself in the world, no matter what show it is, I think is a really cool sort of part that everyone is starting to love. And I think Beyond
is a show that really does gain that crescendo of action and intensity and relationships and asks you a lot of questions, that even as I was reading them, and hopefully the audience is going to as well, want those answers too. So I think it's going to grip audiences to want to watch more.
To be able to give them more episodes right away, whether it be a day off, or an evening, or if they want to watch one more of five more, I think it's going to be a really cool way that audiences are going to connect with our characters and our world. Even though they are releasing it all at once, am I correct to assume this isn't just a miniseries, and that there could be a season two?
Yes, I mean there are a lot of unanswered questions that you will see going forward, and that it's really just Holden's beginnings, as I like to say, and it's really just the start of his life.
And the opportunity to be able to explore more of Holden's life and experiences and stuff is something that I would look forward to doing, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Lastly, describe Holden in three words.
I would say, 'innocent, passionate, and powerful.'