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Tom Austen and Sydney Lemmon on Marvel, the future of Helstrom, and more - Exclusive interview

Helstrom may be independent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that doesn't mean the stars of the Hulu series are unaware of its comic book roots. Tom Austen (The Royals) and Sydney Lemmon (Fear the Walking Dead) play Daimon and Ana Helstrom, modern TV versions of characters first conceived in the pages of Marvel Comics in 1973. Daimon Hellstrom a.k.a. "Son of Satan" was the creation of writer Roy Thomas and artist Gary Friedrich. Thomas came up with Daimon's sister Satana, with artist John Romita Sr. Both characters capitalized on the success of occult-themed Marvel hits like Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night

In this exclusive interview with Looper, Austen and Lemmon talked about what makes Helstrom different from other supernaturally-themed TV shows; the bond they shared offscreen; working with an Emmy-nominated director; the show's relationship with Marvel; the other Marvel characters Austen might want to play; and the possibility of a future for Helstrom beyond season one, which is available to stream on Hulu now. 

What makes Helstrom different from other shows

What would each of you say this show gives us that we haven't seen in a supernaturally themed TV series before?

Tom Austen: I think this show is not afraid to go to some really, really dark places. I think that a lot of shows will flirt with the idea of those dark places but never really fully commit to them, whereas this show jumps right in. It's a show that is about the results of an incredibly traumatic childhood on two people who have these extraordinary abilities. And it's about them dealing with it together, as well as alone. And I think that's something that I've certainly not seen before.

What work did the two of you do, as actors, to show the bond as siblings on screen?

Sydney Lemmon: We were really fortunate because from the day that we met it was really, really easy for Tom and I to sort of just get on. I mean we clicked as friends really, really quickly and so we actually struggled to keep from breaking up as we were shooting a scene. That was actually more difficult, was to keep a straight face and not laugh between takes, because we do... Yeah, it was sort of just natural and the chemistry was there. And because of that, there was so much trust, we were able to go further and deeper with the harder things that we had to face in the acting, like the vitriol, hate, disdain. What else comes to mind? Abhorrence.

Woking with an Emmy-nominated director on episode one

Daina Reid was nominated for an Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale. What was it like working with her on the pilot?

Tom Austen: I mean it was incredible. I think both of us... It was so nice that Sydney and I had each other at the beginning because it felt like we were kind of... We had each other's backs and we were in this show together. But the funny thing is, for the pilot, we only shot one scene together and it's a really, really quick scene. So Daina kind of became our sort of like running mate, if you like, throughout the pilot for each other. And she was so supportive, and she's so cool, and she knows so what she wants. And she used to be an actor, so the way that she talks to actors is really incredible and we were super, super lucky to get to work with her, I think.

Sydney Lemmon: Yeah, we were so lucky to have Daina with us for that first episode. And yeah, Tom, I so agree, it was because of that... I mean, she's a fantastic director and she has that history with acting as well, so we got to go into her office space, and just sit sort of alone, and discuss the foundation of who these people are. And I think of that often and would harken back to it every single day that we were shooting for the rest of the season, because she took the time to lay a foundation with us that would end up being completely invaluable for the rest of the series. We were so lucky to begin with her.

Helstrom's relationship with the Marvel and future possibilities

If given the opportunity, which Marvel Cinematic Universe characters would you love to see the Helstrom siblings interact with onscreen?

Sydney Lemmon: We are not actually part of the MCU. Helstrom is not actually a part of the MCU.

So, it's officially been broken off? Because initially, it was going to be, right? Or kind of MCU adjacent? 

Sydney Lemmon: So we certainly have our origins in the comics, and no matter what, Helstrom will always be a Marvel comic, but our show has taken on a life of its own.

While on the comic book theme, Tom you voiced the Tim Drake Robin in Batman: Arkham VR. Are there any other comic characters that you would love to play in that universe, or this one, or any other?

Tom Austen: I've always loved the X-Men comics, I've always loved them, and I love that when you watch the movies, there are characters who all appear with these abilities for just maybe one or two scenes and you never see them again. I feel like that world, for me, is so vast and so huge, and it's so limitless what characters can do in that, that I feel like it would be awesome to be involved in something like that. But I think they've probably done them all now, haven't they?

Well with the X-Men characters they're starting over since they've been absorbed by Disney.

Tom Austen: Right. Perfect. Bring them in.

How optimistic are you that we might see a Helstrom season two, in some shape or form?

Tom Austen: Very.

Sydney Lemmon: Absolutely optimistic. We are excited for our show to get out there in the world and hope that it's loved. And we've poured our heart and soul into it.

Helstrom is now streaming on Hulu

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