Freeform is premiering its newest show, Siren, on International Mermaid Day. The show premiere has been a long time coming. But fans at New York Comic Con were treated to a sneak preview of the show. After watching the show’s first episode, YEM sat down with the show’s male leads, Alex Roe (who plays Ben) and Ian Verdun (who plays Xander) to talk about their characters and the challenges of filming an under-the-sea show.
(The Siren panel at NYCC)
Young Entertainment Mag: How much of the series actually takes place under water. Is it challenging to work on a show that films underwater?
Alex Roe: I definitely jumped in the water in the first episode. And there will be much more jumping in the water. I actually love it, it’s great. I surf back home and where I’m living at the moment in LA. I just love the water. So when this came up, the idea of being in the water a lot was nice. We trained to do these breath holds, because you’re kind of acting underwater. You have to get over the fact that you’re freaking out and trying to stay alive. You have to be able to relax yourself so that you can kind of act underwater and do these fight scenes and things like that. So that was really cool.
Ian Verdun: [My character] Xander doesn’t get in the water.
Alex: I’ll get you in the water one day!
Ian: (laughs) Xander’s a fisherman. The fishermen are like, “Yeah, we don’t get in that. We take the fish out of that, but we don’t do that.” So it’s actually kind of nice. I dodged the underwater bullet, at least in season 1.
Alex: [My character] Ben just jumps in!
Ian: Yeah! He loves to jump in.
Alex: Anytime he needs to, he’ll jump in. He’s that guy. “You want me to jump? I’ll jump!” That’s Ben in a nutshell. (laughs)
(The cast and executive producers of Siren)
YEM: What are you going to see in terms of your characters interacting with the Siren?
Ian: I think Xander’s perspective on all the mermaids is that it’s very different. He had a very different first experience with them. Xander and Ryn [the Siren] don’t really cross paths in episode 1. For Xander, he’s still figuring things out. He’s not a stupid character, he’s actually very intelligent. But he’s still naïve in the sense that he doesn’t really know the full scope of what’s going on. But he is putting things together.
Alex: Yeah, that’s a really interesting way to put it. Ben and Xander have had different experiences with the Siren. Xander’s first experience with the mermaid is her attacking people on the ship, and her wounding his best friend. And mine is kind of this feral girl who seems like she needs help initially. And obviously, she doesn’t really need my help, she needs to get back in the water. My [character’s] world is rocked when she attacks because initially I thought of her as something different.
Ian: You had the luxury of treating her altruistically, because you’re first experience with her, you were really able to take some time. And also, you didn’t meet her in mermaid form. You met her as a woman, and me, I haven’t seen the transformation. It’s just this dangerous thing that we pulled out of the water.
YEM: Will we see the backstory of how your characters became interested in the water? Will we see the backstory of how your characters met?
Ian: [Our characters] grew up together.
Alex: Yeah in the same town.
Ian: It’s a water town. The entire culture is kind of based around the ocean. I feel like currently, as people are dealing with where their relationship is now, you get some insight into how their relationship was.
Alex: As far as Ben’s reason for being around the water, Ben’s mother was in a car accident when she was about 14 and was paralyzed. I think he was really the member of he family that was helping her through all of that. And I think the studying he was doing and the saving of animals that he was doing, kind of became his place of solice. And I think that how he initially fell in love with the water. So when Ryn comes to land, and she’s a creature that is so connected to that water and to that thing he loves, I think he feels a real connection with her and a desire to find out about her and get closer to this thing that he already loves so much.
Ian: That’s another different perspective as well [between our characters]. Ben thinks of the water as this very wonderous thing, and Xander thinks of it as very industrial. And as this very dangerous industry, like it’s part of livelihood, not wonder.
Siren premieres this Thursday on Freeform. Stay tuned to the YEM website for more coverage! And click above to see the Siren panel at New York Comic Con 2017.