There's nothing better than sinking your teeth into a brand-new YA series. Thankfully, Netflix continues to supply the goods with their latest original show The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself. Starring Jay Lycurgo, Nadia Parkes, Isobel Jesper Jones, and Emilien Vekemans, the story follows the son of a notorious witch responsible for a deadly massacre who tries to find his place in the world. FILMHOUNDS sat down with the awesome foursome to find out more about their time on set.
I'd love to know a bit more about how you got involved with the show. Is this one of those roles that sort of comes along and you think: “Yes, I'd really like to get this?”
Emilien: When I first read the audition scene, I was really in love with the character because it was really fun, really playful. There were things in the subtext that told me he has a weakness. I really enjoyed working on the tape and felt this character can offer a lot of different things. I automatically really wanted to play it.
Jay: For me, it was Joe Barton's writing. It's amazing how you can have something so dark and devastating but also very light and humorous. And that's the thing that really excited me. I find as an actor, that when you're reading scripts if your imagination just starts going off, that's a really good sign. Then there's Nathan's character. I am just quite cheeky and fun! I really like to get wrapped in someone that is really human and raw, and I think the challenges of his emotions were something that I was really excited about.
We meet Gabriel a couple of episodes and a bit later than everyone else, who then brings this amazingly normalised queer representation. What was that like for you as an actor to be pioneering that for the show?
Emilien: I didn't really think about it, to be honest. I was focused on putting on feet into this character to try to find his humour. Trying to find his way of being cynical and playing with that. I think that was more my goal, but it was really nice. And I had so many good lines that Joe wrote that really played with all that.
Jay: In that apartment scene, I absolutely wanted to get so serious and then this charming man and underpants and a robe comes in. I think that's what everyone's waiting for. We saw the posters for the first time today in South Kensington. And it was funny because this guy is right next to his poster and just a massive group of girls spotted him. Then there's what they don't know about this show. What they're not going to expect from him.
Isobel — when we meet Jessica, she perhaps isn't she's not the nicest to those around her. What is it like getting to grips with a character that's supposed to be one of the good guys but doesn't have the nicest streak?
Isobel: I love that. I think it's a testimony to the writing that you've got a character there that is claiming to be so moral and in the right and is so the other way. Playing that character made me so excited because I think she's so complicated. From quite early on, you think that maybe it's sibling rivalry between these two, maybe they just rub each other the wrong way. And then you realise actually she's incredibly cruel. I loved getting to like excavate some of the layers of that. I think there's a lot of pain and damage that's gone on in her life. The way she buries that and how it expresses itself is an actor's dream because there's just so much there. But yeah, it was pretty horrible being on set and everyone was terrified of me.
Nadia: And then they learned that she was the nicest person.
We've spoken a bit about how important ‘closeness' is to the show. How's it been working as a group — did you immediately become a work family?
Jay: I met Nadia two years before we even filmed because we both went up for an indie film. And I ended up getting it she didn't, but I remember being in the room with her. I thought she was just so incredible. She's just so raw and the way she hits emotion is amazing. Then I met Emilian at the first table read and got close. I think you can see that in Gabriel's apartment scene — the chemistry is just really lovely. We had so much fun filming all the time. That scene was four weeks in, so it was really the first time that we all really got to work together and play, realising it was going to be a great time filming together. Even in those emotional scenes, we were able to, like, respect each other.
One of the first places we see all of you interact is that amazing house party in episode one. Is a party as awkward as, you might think to film? If it's like, I don't know, four o'clock in the afternoon or whatever. How did you find doing that?
Nadia: It was quite mad to be dressed up as a cat by 8am in the morning, pretending to drink. We shot that scene over three 12-hour days. It was quite fun at the beginning! And then after a while, with the lights and the new pounding music, you were stuck in a nightmare of a party where you're an awkward teenager and you don't know how to talk to the boys.
Isobel: There's no booze.
Nadia: There's no punch in the corner to get you through it. But it was nice because it was actually one of the last scenes we shot, so it was a kind of rounding moment for everyone.
Isobel: It really was like being stuck at a never-ending party for three days. By day two, we're all sat there like: “Oh yeah. Do you want us to dance again?” But as you say, it was one of the last things we shot of the whole series. And it was actually really nice to see to go back and revisit the characters having gone on the journey that we were on, before any of the madness.
Were you fans of the books before you got involved with the show (based on Half Bad by Sally Green)? Were you the teenager sitting at home reading a YA fantasy or was that not on your radar?
Isobel: I'll be honest, I wasn't ya girl. I didn't. But I was a massive Twilight fan. And so when I kind of heard about the books, I knew they lived in that kind of genre. I had some friends that had read them. But also I was in a position where I could read them before we started filming. Jessica's journey particularly in the first book doesn't get followed so much. So it was quite easy for me to like read it.
Nadia: I had a conversation with the director where we discussed whether or not to read the books, because I wasn't aware of them before I came onto the project. We decided that because Annalise's journey differs so much at points from the book, I didn't really want to take in information that might lead me astray from what Joe has so amazingly created in our lives. But I read the first book after we wrapped and it was fascinating to read our world versus the original springboard for what we've made.
Hopefully fans see a second season — do you think that the show will be telling more of your stories, and where do you think your characters would go?
Jay: I would love for it to carry on, just because I think it's rare that you get these worlds that have so much potential. I think that what's so fun is I feel like we've only told a tiny bit of these guys' stories and where they could go.
Emilien: I think there are little details that maybe if there is a season two, to explore further. I have blue fingers if you notice. There was a lot of work every day putting on these blue fingers for six months, so I hope people notice! There are a lot of questions to answer still. Why do I have them? Fingers crossed we'll see.
The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself streams on Netflix from 28th October.