***Slight spoilers for 1.01***
Tonight, FOX premiered its new series from the X-Men
universe, The Gifted
. The series follows a couple, whose lives are turned upside down at the discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Chased by the government, the family must flee with the help of an underground network of mutants.
Amy Acker stars as Kate Strucker, the mother of the family. Recently Acker talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about her role on the new series. I had heard you say in a video that you are a fan of Marvel. What was it like as a fan to get the role?
I've been lucky enough to have had a little part on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
and got exposed to a bunch of the people at Marvel through that, and, you know, being friends with Joss [Whedon] and other people who have had real Marvel relationships, and hearing so many great things about working for them, not only watching all of their projects.
So, when I heard that this show was an X-Men
show and that Marvel was doing it, I was really excited to go in.
They are very secretive about what they tell you. So there wasn't a lot to go on, but luckily being familiar with X-Men
, you kind of get at least a gist of what you're getting in to. They didn't release any of the scripts, and they had fake names on the sides to read for the audition.
But I went in early on and sort of saw the show coming together, and saw that the Stephen Moyer was going to do it, and all the great people they were assembling. And I just really loved meeting Matt [Nix] and everyone and their enthusiasm for the project. They were kind of [indicating to] me that it would be something exciting to be involved with. So, I know you are familiar with Marvel and the X-Men, and that your character isn't actually in the original stories, but did you go back to the comics or movies to get inspiration for playing the role in that universe?
Well, I had seen most of the movies, and right when we were doing this project, Logan
was out in the theaters. So I went and saw that, and I rewatched some of the ones that Bryan [Singer] had directed.
And then when we got to set, Marvel actually gave us access to their digital library of the comics, and so we got to go back and read some of the origin stories of the characters who were on the show and just get a greater sense of where the movies were drawn from and the bigger picture of it all.
But my character is not in any of that. [laughs]
I'm kind of a new element, but it's nice to know how the idea of what they're trying to do with this role slipped into that universe. Other than the script and getting ideas from the comics and films, is there anywhere else you got inspiration from for your character, like anyone you thought about when you were creating her, anything like that?
This is probably the character that I've played that's closest to my real life. I've never really been a mom onscreen, and I have two kids who are about to be teenagers. A lot of the problems that we deal with in the show are [laughs]
closely related, even metaphorically, to my own life. My kids are just like “How come we don't get super powers?” [laughs]
We didn't have all the same problems without the powers.
But there is also this idea that we've kind of been tossing around of this sort of Sarah Connor character who finds out what she's capable of when she's fighting for her son. And that leads me to something else I was going to ask you about. Having seen the pilot, as well as going by a lot of other characters you've played in the past, I assume she's not going to be just this normal mom, but a kick-ass mother who gets in on the action and all that.
Did you have any training or maybe a different exercise regimen that you had to stick to?
I probably should have done more, I think. In the pilot, when we were running through the warehouse, one of the crew guys had a Fitbit on and calculated that we ran twelve miles in one day! [laughs]
But nothing specific yet. I mean, I think the action that she's finding herself involved in, in this first half of it, is more not by choice. You know, it's like she's having to step up in the moment. She's in situations that she never thought she would find herself in, and just having to be able to keep up with the mutants.
And so I think it's with that sort of development of those characters that she starts to find her strength and maybe realize that she needs to gain strength in certain areas to be able to keep up and be able to be part of the fight. I assume you met Stan Lee if you hadn't before. Being a fan of Marvel, can you talk about how that was for you?
It's kind of a funny story. We were shooting in Dallas, and my college roommate was actually in charge of Dallas Comic-Con marketing, and it was going on while we were shooting the pilot. I was about to go downstairs, and I saw Matt and one of our other producers, and they're like, “We're going to go to Comic-Con and try to find Stan Lee and see if we can get him to be in the show.” [laughs]
And I was like, “Oh yeah, my college roommate is actually in charge of all of the talent!”
So, they called her, and she got them special passes and met them at the door.
They got right up to Stan Lee and talked to the people who he was with. He was signing autographs, and they were like, “Sure, he'll do it,” and then at like 3:00 that afternoon they were filming the scene.
So, I felt very excited that I got to be part of facilitating the whole thing, but sadly did not get to meet him at that point.
And then we all as a cast got to see him at San Diego Comic-Con which was really exciting and really cool that we got to have a picture with our X-Men and him. So, he approves. I know your character doesn't have any powers, but working with others in the show, I'm assuming that you've been part of some of the practical effects, at least with things breaking and shaking, and that sort of thing, is there anything dealing with that you can talk about working with?
They're trying to really integrate practical and digital effects, so that's great, because it gives us something in the moment to respond to. When they were doing the school gym, they had that whole bathroom on a room that was actually able to vibrate and move, so that was really neat to see how the actual practical effects tied in with what they did visually.
We also have an amazing visual effects team, and we're lucky that they're on set with us. So, a lot of the things we're getting to see composed as we're doing them and kind of getting to see the evolution of a lot of these powers, which is sort of part of the show, that these X-Men are not necessarily working at their full potential. Some of them are discovering who they are and what their powers are and honing in on what they can do. And as this happens, their powers sort of evolve. So, we're getting to see that evolution through the effects, and it's pretty cool. They've shown in the trailers that one the characters mention that the original X-Men are gone. From what I've read, that's going to be somewhat part of the plot. Is there anything you can tease about that? I mean not that they would necessarily even be in the show, but just how they are connected to the story?
I don't actually know what I'm allowed to say about that. [laughs]
I don't want to get in trouble, but yeah, we do refer to them being gone, but there is one character in particular in our sort of core group that has a real strong connection and history with the X-Men. So, I guess that's probably the most information I can give you. [laughs] Can you talk about working with Stephen Moyer and the kids?
We got very lucky; we got a great little family. Stephen's awesome; he's so talented and generous and always looking out for everyone. You know, kind of really playing the dad off screen as well, making sure everyone's always comfortable, and not only looking out for the actors and the crew, but is just a great guy.
And then the two kids, we were really lucky to find them. Natalie [Alyn Lind] is so sweet, and she brings so much emotion to the role and has a real strong connection to what she wants the character to be. She is always really actively involved and sort of showing the growth of the character, which I think is great. She's more of mom than me on set. [laughs]
I'm always like, “I feel like you're the one taking care of everyone.” She brings everyone banana bread and is so sweet. [laughs]
And then Percy [Hynes White], I just think he's incredible. I can't wait to watch him grow up. He's so, so smart, and at the same time I just love that he is a kid, you know, it's not like he's an acting kid. He's just a teenage boy. He just brings such a realness to the role. I think it's great. You've been in a lot of sci-fi projects; is that something you enjoy watching too?
I love doing it and watching it, and I think also because so many of my friends now are in it. It's fun watching the projects they create.
Like for instance, I love Westworld
, regardless of Joe Mullaney being a part of it, having worked with him on Person of Interest
. I just think it's so smart and interesting.
And I love the whole idea that I just got Hulu this weekend to watch The Handmaid's Tale
So I would say those at the things I tend to gravitate towards, and with my own kids, if we're going to the movies, it's usually to see a sci-fi or a comic book movie. I know you've probably been asked this a bunch of times and likely will again, but I'm going to ask anyway. [laughs] If you had a super power, an X-Men super power, what would you want it to be?
I think, I feel like I should control the weather with all of these terrible hurricanes. We've kind of lost control of all these natural disasters that are happening. That would be my choice right now.