Miles Mussenden & Andrea Roth Interview: Cloak & Dagger

Miles Mussenden is an actor and music producer, who has paved his way in shows like Stranger Things, Marvel’s Luke Cage, and Queen Sugar. He will be playing Otis Johnson in Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger. Andrea Roth is an actress who has made her name known in both the horror and sci-fi genres. She is most known for her roles as Diana and Neurobrain in RoboCop: The Series and Janet Gavin in FX’s Rescue Me. She will be portraying Melissa Bowen in Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger. Cloak & Dagger premiered on Freeform on June 7, 2018.

On press day for Cloak and Dagger, Screen Rant and other journalists had the chance to chat with Miles and Andrea, where we discussed what drew them to work on Cloak & Dagger, how Miles brought his personal experience into his role and into the show, and the serious topics the show tackles.

Q: What was the attraction for you guys? Not knowing that it was a Marvel show starting the audition process?

Andrea: I did know it was Marvel show.   I don't know how. Somebody screwed up something I think, um, but I only got one scene or two scenes. I just did a little super sleuthing and was like, oh, this is Cloak and Dagger.  Oh, they say that people have been cast. I know that they haven't it. So I just tried to do. And then I went and I looked on Wikipedia to find out any little bits of information to sort of go in acting like, “Oh me gosh, I just did this work without knowing anything.” Sorry, there was a point to it and I just got chatty.  I got chatty. As an actress, I love that my character was a hot mess. Like that's pure fun to play, you know, and the complex relationship. I have an eight year old daughter. Luckily I, there's no real complexity there, um...yet. But like that's just what I understand it from my mom and I. And just, you get to do layers and nuances. And I love the fact that since it was a Marvel show that it seemed like they were kind of going gritty. I'd come from Rescue Me, which was very gritty. And so I wasn't quite certain like, you know, what tone it should be. And it seemed like they were like, “No, we want to make it a gritty kind of cable thing.” And that was exciting to me, you know, that it wasn't going to be all sugary and bright and colorful.

Miles: For me, I did not know it was a Marvel show. It was kind of like the universe kind of aligned, spooky actually. I had got some mock sides. I did not know it was Marvel.  This father son, it was almost like they captured the whole season in like a scene or two. When I read it, wow, right. And then I read it again. So I literally read it two, maybe three times tops. I didn't have to memorize anything. It was just in my mind. It was very weird and I just felt like I knew the character. I understood this father, I understood what he was going through.  Maybe because I have a bunch of kids of my own, you know, it could have had something to do with it. So it just came out. Intuitive.

Q: Talk about playing scenes with your TV children, particularly kind of getting those relationships nailed down.

Andrea: It's been challenging, not because they're, Olivia is a young actor, but because she is so lovely and unassuming and easy and darling to work with. And so like in many ways if she was a bit of a little shit, you know what I mean? It would just like innately, no work has to be done. I keep saying it, but she really is though, she's cool and edgy too, but she's like, she such a role model.  So that actually made it more complicated. Yeah, it actually made it harder. That was the hardest part, was that I just had to. They're paying me. You know what, I had to go and do work. I actually had to work, at it.

Miles: Ask me that question one more time.

Q: The bond that needed to be created for the show.

Miles: For me it came a little easier. First of all, I’ve always wanted a son. Every time I had my first daughter and I have several daughters and I always wanted a son. So just to be able to have those kinds of things. So was like, “Yes.”  Once we met, once we did the pilot, we were hanging out together and stuff. It was really after the pilot, that we got to spend a lot of time together. We’d go out have lunch. We’d talk about, he had to go get his driver’s license, so we’d talk about driving, so we built that bond.  He, Aubrey, I think we might be related. His family and my family are from ??? in South America. Not very many people at all. In fact, I have family members with the same exact name. So we have all these different things. Both from Brooklyn, both grew up in music. And so we talked on the phone. I'm like, oh, we can't wait. He'll send me a text. I can't wait to get back to season,  to start the season. So for me it was easy. It came, the challenge only came when his character started acting up. So now we have this really cool bond but now you're acting out and I got to straighten you out. So that was a little tricky. So we had like behind the scenes I, I couldn't talk to him, we had to stay away from each other. And I was just not having any kind of, no hellos, no nothing.  The day after episode four, you know, once we wrapped, he was like, “Wow, man.” Then he gave me, we hugged and he said, “I'm glad you did that.” (LAUGHS)

Q: What is it like for your character, especially to bring in the culture of New Orleans into the show?

Miles:  It's rewarding. As an actor, as the character, you know, I always felt like it would be good if people, young black kids had kind of a rights of passage. You know, going into manhood. I never knew anything about the Mardi Gras Indians. Learning about it was really, really eye opening experience. Like wow, I didn’t know this was going on. And this is kind of like a rites of passage. So I spent some time, you know, when we get the script, about the week before I was fascinated. I did all the research I could. I went out and meeting with the Mardi Gras Indians so they have to have, they have clubs.  So I got to spend some time with them and I just think it's gonna be great for people to see this. I'm glad we get to share this with the world. Because I have never heard of this. And I think, I don't know, I need to know how it's really affecting more people out in New Orleans. I feel like it's just a great thing for black youth especially. We get a lot of influences from music and a lot of negative influences and I think this is an opportunity for young boys to spend time with men and commit time. It’s a year process to make those suits and you've got make another one the next year. So I think it's going to be a beautiful thing to share and I'm just excited that I get to do that.

Q: You guys were a little ahead of the curve when you started shooting. You're telling stories that all of a sudden are very important to the culture.  And to have that sort of emerge in the world as you guys we doing it. What does it mean to you to be able to tell these stories through the dual lens of a superhero universe but also a very real teenage universe.

Miles: You know, so for me, I really loved that even though this is a Marvel superhero show, the family dynamic is just as intriguing. Well, I know you guys have seen it, I haven't seen it yet. (LAUGHS) So take that in mind.  I haven’t seen anything yet. But what I could see, what I was a part of felt like it was intriguing. I felt like it was hard hitting and it wasn't like, all “shoot, shoot.” So we get to show this gritty, tell this gritty story, and we get to fans, to people who might not normally see, or  watch that kind of thing. So, man, what a privilege, to be able to share that. There was a lot of high highs and a lot of low lows and because it's very emotional. A lot of emotional scenes. There were times, I almost felt a little depressed. You just have to get into that head space to be able to tell the story, but I think it felt like it was worth it. And then we have the times of levity. You know Marvel does their thing where they make these jokes and funny that kind of lighten things up. It's a real rollercoaster ride and I just feel privileged to tell a story.  And I just hope that the people get it, and they love it as much as we do.

Andrea: In terms of how, what's going on in the world. Now, how our show. One thing that of course is great is we have the black and the white superheroes. We have these. I think another thing, one of the, 13 Reasons I feel like it was a bit of a phenomena last year. And I think it's because it spoke to all of the kids feeling alone, or different, and they could all find themselves through there. I feel like, in our show, Aubrey’s obviously struggling through hurts his past and his dealing with his family things. Tandy is, she's doing drugs, we've lost her father. And so on top of just the normal stuff that makes you feel different and alone. See, I told you it would happen, I’m trying not to do that.  Instead of feeling different and alone. Then all of a sudden they bang into each other and now they have super heroes, super powers. And so again, I think it's just sort of speaks to being, I liked, I am for some reason, I like that it speaks to you being different, to being odd, to not belonging, to not understanding, not knowing how you fit in or where. And then there's two kids, from two completely different lives, and lifestyles like, being drawn to each other. I just, I think there's a real potential for some beautiful, lovely life lessons to be imparted on all of us.

Miles:  If I could add, because Andrea you reminded me of something, I feel like it’s also time. Because you know, I look at like, not to get political, but the political arguments like, you know, they talk about people not, people ignoring the white working class, something to that effect.  I feel like when you mentioned the black and white aspect of it, you see the challenges of a white working class family and what Tandy goes through. You see some of the things that Aubrey’s going through, Tyrone was going through with, you know, with the loss of his brother and then violence and that type of thing. So we get to see how they're both, they both matter.

Q: How do you create sympathy? Especially for your character. I feel like she's such  a complex character that, you know, at first, you’re like kind of feel one way about her and then you definitely learn throughout the episodes.

Andrea: Let's hope that continues because I, who knew, like even that second episode when all of a sudden, “Oh God, I, I do all these pills to, oh, okay, and now I'm going to steal her, oh!”  She's like, there's nothing redeeming about her. But I do know as the show goes we're going to see some dips and turns and some learnings. In terms of having sympathy. I think it's like all of us, we're all doing the best we can with the skills that we have. And so she just, her skills have been numbed by pain and alcohol and depression. And so I'm going to say something, it's not, I don't think about feeling sorry for her. I just, this is where she's at and these are her tools, and sadly she's doing the best she can, and hopefully they won't kill me off because my character so unlikable! But I dance and tell jokes off-set. So I think they like that.

Q: Thank you!

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Cloak & Dagger premiered on Freeform June 7, 2018.

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