1 road, 2 paths for Larry and Nadine in The Stand
The Stand’s Amber Heard and Jovan Adepo give us a quick peek inside their characters and their work on the Stephen King post-apocalyptic horror-fantasy series, The Stand.
If you’ve been putting off watching The Stand because you can’t stand the weekly wait, the good news is that it becomes a box set to binge on DStv from Monday, 22 March, following the season finale on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Monday, 8 March.
The Stand is a fun yet gritty show with a supernatural spin that explores the practicalities of the end of the world (after a deadly and highly contagious virus has annihilated most of humanity). It also looks at the seductive pull of the dark side of human nature.
Two of the series’ characters, Nadine Cross (Amber Heard) and Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo) (who we meet in Episode 2), start their journey to a sanctuary in Boulder, Colorado, with a feral child named Joe (Gordon Cormier) who is a musical prodigy.
But they are already walking different paths. While Larry is determined to stay on the side of good, Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), the supernatural bad guy in the series, is chipping away at Nadine in secret, appearing to her in visions and tempting her with that one special wish that speaks to her… if she would just join him at his centre of power in Las Vegas. It makes her a dangerous companion, one who’d stop at nothing to get Larry on her side.
Amber and Jovan opened the door just a crack to let us see inside their stories in The Stand.
Welcome to the dark side
Larry is a coke-snorting, drinking mess when we meet him in Episode 1. What's his journey like going from there to the Free Zone?
Jovan: When we find Larry, he's in a place of really relishing in quick fixes and all of the guilty pleasures. Once he's thrust into this pandemic, into this situation, he has no idea where to go because all his vices are not really accessible to him. He's forced to grow up and mature overnight because that's the only way he is going to survive. The best thing that he decides he needs to do is to get out of the city and try to find other people. This is the first moment in his life that he's actively searching for a lifeline, where he's used to doing things on his own.
It was fun to track his journey and approach playing a flawed character who has the essence of good in him, but he's going to have to peel back the layers to find it. It was fun for me to talk to Josh (Boone, one of The Stand’s executive producers and the series developer) and the rest of the creators and to work with my castmates, and to find moments where he does showcase more favourable characteristics for society and how to introduce them slowly.
Larry is a musician. Did you have to learn to play any instruments for your role?
Jovan: I had to learn to play the guitar better (laughs). So I was lucky that I had a great coach, and all the patience from all the creatives to learn the songs they wanted me to play. It's like with acting, you learn all your lines, do all your research and then you forget it and you just have fun. And if it sucks, they're going to fix it in post (production) anyway.
Amber: He's being modest! He's so good. He's a natural musician.
Jovan: It was fun to get to play, and Amber was my biggest cheerleader so I really appreciated that. It was good for my confidence. When the camera is on you, it's different because it's like, “We can see your fingers and everything. Don’t you mess it up!” (Jovan says in a scolding tone). And then you've got a 10-year-old who's a prodigy and he's learning chords in a day and he's doing so much better because he's like, "I don't care, this is fun!” (in a bratty voice). I'm competing with a 10-year-old but it's fine. Showbiz, baby.
What was it like filming the scene in the sewer with all the rats in Episode 2, when Larry is forced to take to the sewer tunnels to get out of New York?
Jovan: It was claustrophobic. We filmed that scene for 4 days. We worked really hard on the choreography to make sure that everyone was safe and felt comfortable in the surroundings. I don't think I would have been able to get through it without the director, Tucker (Gates), doing a brilliant job and everybody on the crew.
Amber, how would you describe your character?
Amber: Nadine is a tortured character in her circumstances. She is a complicated woman with a dark, complicated past and a very complex relationship with Flagg (Randall Flagg). And she pays the ultimate price for being his target… his ultimate target.
He was almost grooming her, which ties in with several issues being spotlighted at the moment.
Amber: He comes into her life when she is at her most vulnerable and offers a measure of protection. Well, what she perceives as protection and guidance and care. What we later learn, and come to understand about Nadine, is that the world has never given her an example of love or somebody she can trust. So she has no relationship with trust. She doesn’t even know what that should look like. She cannot falter, and she makes the decisions that she does based on the idea that she cannot trust that the world is worth saving or is good and that people are as good as they seem to be.
She has never had a relationship with that. Then she meets Larry and that starts to get challenged, but it's almost too late because from the time she was a kid, Flagg was training her and using her vulnerability to position himself in her life where he could get the most from her.
In both Nadine and Larry’s cases, weakness is an unfortunate fact of life… but evil is a choice.
Watch The Stand finale on Monday, 8 March, on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 22:30, or binge on the entire show as a box set on Catch Up from Monday, 22 March, until Monday, 19 April (DStv Premium and Compact Plus)