ALEX RIDER Season 2 is now streaming in its entirety (as is Season 1) on IMDb TV, the free service of Prime Video.
ALEX RIDER is based Anthony Horowitz’s globally-popular best-selling novels about Alex (played in the series by Otto Farrant), a British teen, who becomes a spy for the government.
In Season 1, Alex crossed paths and became allies with Kyra, played by Marli Siu. Kyra is Alex’s age, and already an expert computer hacker. Although she is not a recurring character in the books, Kyra reappears in Season 2 to help Alex.
The reason Alex needs help in Season 2 is because of a new iteration of a popular computer game, Feathered Serpent. The game comes from the company of Damian Cray, played by Toby Stephens. Publicly, Cray is all about helping people. Privately, it could be said that Cray is still all about helping people, but his methodology is questionable.
Siu, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, has film credits including ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, RUN, and OUR LADIES. She was also a regular in the U.K. series DIXI.
Stephens currently stars in Netflix’s revival of LOST IN SPACE. The London-born actor previously starred in the pirate drama BLACK SAILS, and a large number of other TV series and films, including playing the villain in the James Bond film DIE ANOTHER DAY. Stephens voices Bond himself in the James Bond videogames and radio plays. He costarred in the horror comedy SEVERANCE, which was directed by Christopher Smith, who helms a number of ALEX RIDER episodes.
Speaking from separate locations on a Zoom call, Stephens and Siu join together to talk about their roles on ALEX RIDER.
ASSIGNMENT X: Did you know that you and Kyra were going to be back in Season 2 when you started on ALEX RIDER Season 1?
MARLI SIU: I didn’t know. I started when [Season 2] wasn’t adapted – towards the end, there was chat. Because they left it a very open end to Series 1, that she could come back perhaps, depending on what they wanted to do. But it was when they commissioned Series 2 that I got told they would like Kyra to come back, and I was very excited.
AX: Mr. Stephens, you do a lot of voicing James Bond for videogames, and you’ve played a Bond villain in an actual Bond film. Do you see a Bondian aspect to Damian Cray in ALEX RIDER?
TOBY STEPHENS: Yeah. I think the ALEX RIDER universe is modeled, in a way, on a slightly Bondian framework, in that there are these larger-than-life villains, who have larger-than-life ambitions, and [Alex is] pitted against them. And really, he’s working for himself, but under the auspices of a kind of a British Secret Service. And he’s this nascent James Bond type. And it’s such a great idea, because I think since ALEX RIDER, there have been a number of iterations of the same kind of [premise], but ALEX RIDER is the one that came along [first], and it’s a great creation.
AX: Do you think Cray actually knows how to play videogames? It seems like he’s laid all the work off on his programmer …
STEPHENS: I think he’s not so much into the playing. I think he’s very involved in the design and the look of it, the aesthetic. I’m not sure how much he plays himself, but I think he wants to create something that is a whole world, but is also very challenging for kids. I think he loves the fact that it’s the most popular game in the world, and he’s constantly trying to up the game, make it better, but make it more complicated, make it more fun for kids.
AX: For both of you, was there anything you had to learn in order to play your ALEX RIDER characters?
SIU: I Googled a lot of tech words, tech-speak [laughs]. I don’t think I could learn coding, because I’m not as smart as Kyra, but obviously, I looked into what she’s saying to understand it. I had a look at videogames, but I’m not good at videogames. I’ve tried to play them. I can’t figure out how to make yourself walk forward, so I was out after that.
AX: I’ve had that problem with videogames. I walked straight into a wall and got shot. Do we know where Kyra is supposed to be from, what sort of accent she has?
SIU: [laughs] Who knows? I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Kyra’s father is from Ukraine, and her mother is from China, so she’s mixed-race. At the start, one of the references I was given during the auditions was THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, so that’s why I went with a sort of Eastern European vibe. But she was very traveled and I think she’s pretty international, because the parents used to be in banking, so she was kind of from all over the world, and has that appeal about her. Also, when I was doing accent work, a lot of what she’s saying is very complicated, so it couldn’t be too strong an accent. So, it is just that sense that she’s very international and has traveled a lot.
STEPHENS: [Cray] was sort of in my wheelhouse, but rather like Marli, I had a lot of tech-speak to say, which I really didn’t understand, and so I had to ask a lot about that, just so I knew what I was talking about. But, yeah, what I like about it is, it’s really, the game is, yes, that’s his world, but the back story that’s revealed about Cray is really what’s driving him.
AX: Do you enjoy roles where you’re playing somebody who’s in charge, or playing somebody who’s following somebody who’s in charge, or somebody who’s off on their own? Do you have a preference between those three types of characters?
STEPHENS: Well, I like playing characters who seem like they’re in charge, but actually, they’re not at all. I think that’s quite interesting. The perception, certainly, with Cray is that he’s in control, and he is this uber-successful guy, and super-positive, very creative, and all that. But actually, underneath, this is somebody who is completely different. And I love playing that duality, I think it’s really great, and I love the way you can reveal it to an audience. And so, they have all these preconceptions about you, which are then flipped at some point.
AX: Cray is on what he sees as a righteous mission …
STEPHENS: Yeah. He doesn’t see himself as somebody who is the bad guy. He’s the good guy, and he’s utterly convinced, a hundred percent, of it. I think we live in a world where there are people with mindsets that you just can’t understand, and we’re going like this [makes gesture of disconnection] with each other, where it’s two totally radically different mindsets, or many, many different mindsets. And I think that that’s his thing, of like, “No, what I’m doing is absolutely right.” And I really like that. He’s convinced that he’s right.
AX: This season particularly, Kyra is a very physical role, where there’s a lot of running, and getting punched, and falling down. So, I know you have a stunt double at some point, but how is it doing the stuff that you have to do?
SIU: Well, first of all, the stunt doubles are amazing. They’re so good. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a stunt double, and they’re fantastic at what they do. And then the stuff that I had to do, honestly, I found it really hard [laughs]. I didn’t really do much of it in Series 1, and Otto is so good at it. I think if I’d been doing a lot of the running stuff alone, I’d have handled it, but being next to Otto, he’s so fast, there’s a take where I think I’m genuinely almost crying [laughs], because I’m struggling so much to keep up. But yeah, the punching and the fight stuff I think is very fun. I quite like getting hit or hitting, but the running is hard. You can’t fake that, you just have to run. And there was a take where they were like, “Run faster,” and I was like, “I actually can’t, that’s as fast as I can go.”
STEPHENS: [laughs] “That’s all I got.”
AX: How was doing the scenes where the two of you are working together?
SIU: Yeah. We’re not really allowed to talk about our scenes, because they’re so in the thick of it, aren’t they, but I was really excited to work with Toby, and to get to meet Damian Cray, because I think his world is very intriguing to Kyra, and something that she would be very interested in. I think she’s in her element to an extent when she gets to meet him.
AX: And what would you both like people to know about ALEX RIDER Season 2?
STEPHENS: It’s just a great ride. I think it continues the whole larger narrative of the story of Alex, and I just think it’s a really, really fun series, and I really love the way that it’s not too patronizing to kids. I think it’s dark enough to give them something that will really excite them, and that they’ll really enjoy.
SIU: Yeah, exactly, what Toby says [laughs]. I’m excited for audiences to continue on from Series 1, and there’s more action, there’s more suspense, it’s a bit darker. So, I’m excited to see all of those elements, and see all the brilliant actors in it giving really great performances.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with ALEX RIDER actors Marli Siu and Toby Stephens on Season 2