On Thursday June 7, Marvel Studios’ latest series – Cloak and Dagger – will premiere on Freeform at 8/7c. The young adult drama follows the exploits of Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, teenagers whose lives were irrevocably changed one harrowing night – and remain forever connected due to mysterious powers they acquired years ago. After a chance encounter their abilities are triggered, granting them the extraordinary opportunity to mend their troubled lives.
For Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt, the eponymous leads of Freeform’s newest series, being selected to depict Tyrone and Tandy was a dream come true. However Joseph couldn’t get a single wink before that fateful phone call from Marvel.
“I literally didn’t sleep the night before I got the call. I didn’t sleep… and I lost my mind! My manager and mother were on the phone and it was such an important moment for me and life, period… just for my mom to tell me that I got the role, after how much she sacrificed just so I can be here. It was a great moment.”
“I was asleep…” Holt laughs. “I was at Orlando singing the National Anthem at the Pro Bowl. Right before I left for the stadium, I was taking a power nap, and was woken up by a phone call from my team saying I got the role. It was surreal! Aubrey and I had a really amazing chemistry read and that is what made me feel so confident about what we brought into the room. I got on a plane the next day and flew to New Orleans!”
While it’s an exciting notion for any young actor to be cast in the hottest and most successful media property today, the instant fame and exposure comes with lofty expectations from casual and hardcore Marvel fans, and that hasn’t escaped Joseph and Holt’s state of mind.
For Joseph, portraying Tyrone and simultaneously dealing with the pressing issues of being a difficult son and superpowered vigilante proved to be a welcome challenge. “It was kind of emotionally draining to a point because the material is so serious and dark in some ways. But I feel like we went into the situation prepared. We knew what we’re doing is very important and it has a chance to impact a lot of young lives.”
“Obviously,” Holt added. “We wanted to do it justice. We are tackling so many important topics, what this world needs right now is a little bit of education on certain things that are happening in 2018. And we also just want to inspire and impact people and move people to a certain degree. I think that was super important for us, and it still is. And we are excited to be a part of something like that.”
As the latest heroes to be added in the MCU, surely there were a few weeks or months of training to get them used to the rigors of being heroes. According to Holt, all they really needed were some gel inserts.
“Not a lot, believe it or not! But we definitely got our steps in!”
“We’re pros, we don’t need the training!” Joseph smiled.
“No no no, we’ll skip the training!” Holt replied. “Definitely a LOT of running, from everything. As far as Dagger goes, I had to a little understanding of what it’s like to throw, and I have terrible hand-eye coordination. So that was not fun for me, but as soon as we got the logistics and figured out the movement, it ended up being a really really fun experience.”
Another aspect the two swiftly constructed about their characters were their initial reactions in discovering and wielding their (currently) uncontrollable powers. Life was already difficult as a normal teenager but now Tandy and Tyrone have a whole new pile of unwanted challenges to face.
“I feel it’s a range of emotions,” said Joseph. “It most definitely starts out frightening. You’re a regular kid and out of nowhere you figure out you have powers. And you’re waking up on roofs and things like that, so nothing of that nature is normal at all! Once they realize the power that they have, they are like “OK, we can do something with this”, but it takes them a while to get there.”
Ultimately, Holt believes her and Joseph’s portrayal of Tandy and Tyrone will speak to many viewers because of their authenticity and earnestness. Though the story will eventually turn to the fantastical because of their burgeoning abilities, at its core, Cloak and Dagger is a tale about facing adversity – within and without – in a constantly shifting world.
“As a whole, just the relationship between Tandy and Tyrone and what they bring to their lives. Both of them are two very damaged souls and they go through a very traumatic experience on the same night as kids, cut to eight years later… Tandy’s living in survival mode, Tyrone’s living in fear, and I think what’s beautiful is you’re going to fall in love with these two characters as teenagers before you fall in love with them as superheroes. We just want this show to be relatable, grounded and authentic. I think people are going to be really moved by it.”