We’re another day closer to the premiere of the CW’s newest show, The Messengers. As we announced yesterday, we’ll be bringing you the inside scoop from our WonderCon interviews with the cast, including four of the Messengers themselves–Shantel VanSanten (One Tree Hill), Jon Fletcher (City of Dreams), JD Pardo (Revolution), and Joel Courtney (Super 8)–as well as their co-stars Diogo Morgado (Son of God), Craig Frank (Mixology), and Anna Diop (Everybody Hates Chris); Executive Producer Trey Callaway (Revolution); and Co-Executive Producer and Creator Eoghan O’Donnell (Teen Wolf) throughout the week, leading up to the series premiere (and our pilot review) on Friday (April 17).
We chatted with Shantel VanSanten and Craig Frank, who are hilarious partners in crime on- and off-screen as Vera and Alan, scientists investigating some mysterious readings in the New Mexico desert. Vera is one of the Messengers, although “she has prior commitments,” Shantel explained. “She’s a scientist. There’s life still happening, even though responsibilities were thrown upon her and a gift was given to her.” Here’s a video that sets the scene for their characters:
— CWTheMessengers (@CWTheMessengers) April 8, 2015
Though things get pretty intense for Vera in that clip, rest assured that there is plenty of humor where these two are concerned. Shantel and Craig spent hours together studying science facts and watching a 24-hour feed from space to prepare for their roles. “When you work together for five months, you become close, and luckily none of our cast hated each other. I have to say, there was no drama. Honest to God, everyone enjoyed working with each other. Such a fun show!” Shantel said.
Of course, since Alan isn’t one of the title Messengers, we did wonder if we’ll be seeing Craig throughout the series and how much he was able to interact with the other cast members. “I had to work with only [Shantel] for quite come time,” Craig said. “And the cast would be around, but when you don’t work with them, you don’t really build anything, although we did hang out at times. But it wasn’t until we actually started working together that things clicked.” “I told you you could make friends,” Shantel teased.
While we see hints of several of the Messengers’ new gifts manifesting during the pilot, Vera’s is more ambiguous. Shantel, like us, was eager to find out what it is–she sat down with Executive Producers Eoghan O’Donnell and Trey Callaway before the show started and said, “What’s my gift?” At that point, they were still deciding between two potential gifts for Vera, so they didn’t give Shantel an answer. However, she teased this about their ultimate decision: “It plays on the fact that Vera’s an atheist, a scientist, and she approaches from the standpoint of ‘What is the answer? I am going to theorize and test until I can prove.’ And, as a scientist, you search for answers. When it comes to faith and the unknown, there aren’t answers, and that’s not really part of her belief system. So I will tell you that the gift she is given will challenge her more than anything in her life thus far.”
Speaking of challenges, Vera’s life has certainly not been free of them. We find out in the pilot that she has a young son who was apparently abducted years earlier–though a mysterious man may be able to help her get him back (for a price, naturally). So what will take priority–taking on her role as a Messenger or reuniting with her son? “There’s such a personal story for everybody in the pilot. You can see it. They are each on a journey. And we’ve said it, life doesn’t end just because life might end,” Shantel said. “There is an impending apocalypse, but if I have a child out there I am just finding out about, in my mind… In Vera’s mind… there’s nothing [that’s] going to stop me from seeing him if I am going to die.”
Vera’s dilemma is not going to be an easy one, especially since–as Shantel sees it–finding the son who was kidnapped from her has been her driving force for a long time. “That’s why I think she became a scientist,” she said. “You are on a quest for answers. There is no answer and she needs to know, and that comes from the fact that she has never known who her son is.”
So how will Alan, Vera’s science buddy, react to learning about Vera’s gift? “He’s going to be so mad. So mad,” Craig said. “And he’s going to be like, ‘How do you get a gift and I don’t get one? That’s not cool.’ She’ll be like, ‘It’s a gift to work with me.’ And I’ll be like, ‘No way, it’s a curse. Working with you is a curse!'” he laughed. On a slightly more serious note, Craig added, “My character is a scientist, but he’s a scientist who believes in aliens. So from his perspective, it would lean more towards awesome than confusing. This is his UFO, his gray area, and he’s like, ‘Wow! I am in on this and I know what is happening.'”
As enthusiastic as Alan may be about Vera’s mysterious new talents, Craig did not want in on the Messenger gift action. He and Shantel talked about how the practical side of filming the gifts can feel a little ridiculous. However, Shantel teased that she has gotten to take part in a lot of stunts for her role. “We start off as scientists, and honest to God, Vera ends up as an action hero. Not a superhero, but an action star. I didn’t even know I was capable of doing some of the stuff I did, which was interesting,” she said. “But that’s the fun part of our job–[to] push ourselves to the limits and try new things.”
Finally, Shantel and Craig teased a little of what we can expect from their characters going forward. The meteor site that Vera and Alan are investigating in the pilot “is aligned throughout the season,” Craig said. “We still have this meteorite site or whatever it is that we’re following,” Shantel said. “It’s a pot of gold for us. It’s everything that scientists dream of in front of us. A supposed meteor landing. And we get to excavate it and figure it out.” And as we presumably prepare for all the Messengers to come together, how will Alan fit in? “I think I am going to be a part in conjunction with [Vera],” Craig said. “It’s getting in with the others that’s going to be hard.”
We look forward to seeing Vera and Alan continue to investigate the mysterious meteor site and meet up with the other Messengers in The Messengers, premiering this Friday, April 17.
If you missed our interview with Jon Fletcher and Joel Courtney, you can find it here. Check back every day this week for a new interview with the cast and creators of The Messengers.