Connecting with Miles Mussenden on Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger was a wonderful experience, as the British-born American actor brings with him a certain light and energy. It’s hard to describe, but the way that he speaks about the show, his co-stars, his career to date, and especially about the city of New Orleans, is electric in an otherworldly way. Mussenden also suggests that he knows that his character (Otis Johnson, the father of Tyrone/Cloak (Aubrey Joseph)), will begin to reveal his true presence, but he was kind enough to let the viewers of this special show discover it for themselves.
Here is a condensed and edited version of our discussion with the fascinating Miles Mussenden.
Brief Take: Why is this show so different than the Marvel shows we have seen before?
Miles Mussenden: With Cloak & Dagger, they’re not jumping out of the gate with superheroes, they’re discovering it and let’s see what happens when they’re dealing with life, because they’re still people! So they’re still making decisions that a lot of us may not agree with, but if you look at a guy like Malcolm X, because in some regard, to some people, he was hero championing their struggle. But look where he came from, who would have expect someone like that to be a hero, we would think that he would be a bad guy. Sometimes from dark places, we get light.
BT: Do you feel like a mentor to your co-stars Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt?
MM: Interesting… Aubrey’s been on Broadway and Olivia has been doing her thing on Disney for some time, so, you know, they are, in their own way, carry a lot of knowledge with them already. The things that we were talking about, they weren’t really related to their characters, I mean there were small things, like I would say Aubrey, I saw him posting something sometime, and I was “hey man, you might want to keep the things about your character kind of guarded, like how a magician does what he does and protects it”. In terms of the job, they did a great job of casting, I don’t know if it was like voodoo, the casting itself, but they knew what they are doing, and they got the right people for these roles, so they didn’t need any help from me. [laughs]
BT: What effect did shooting in New Orleans make a difference on the show?
MM: As we go along, we see it more and more infusing itself into the fabric of the show and I know that for me personally, living there has had an effect. I don’t know, *pauses* I was living there and I was out in the French Quarter, and there was a very nice place where I was staying. What was interesting is that you live in this interesting building, with a rooftop pool and such, but you look out the window of my apartment there, and there are a bunch of homeless people living out in the street and I would see them, and I would stand in the window and just kind of…that alone has an effect. I have seen plenty of homeless people in my life, but there was something a little bit different here, because I’ve never seen women and children on the street, personally and that was something that had another effect. The things that happen in Katrina had a long term effect on people there and the living conditions there, because the pain is tangible.
But at the same time, I go out and when I’m walking around, you have these smells and it’s a very old city, that are not so great and then you have these smells of food that lights your taste buds up, and then you hear the music and it lifts your spirits, and you see the people dancing and it gives you life. These duelling issues that are going on there, this is a very resilient people and we had no choice but to let that affect us and it just affects you from being there and living there, and it will just affect you as it unfolds. For me personally, I really understood my character, Otis Johnson, at the beginning. I feel like I went from understanding the character to becoming the character, throughout the season, in large part due to living there, and I see that it has a spiritual impact on me through the character.
BT: There are a number of Canadians on the show as well.
MM: I have episodes 1 & 2 of Cloak & Dagger here, and I watched them for the first time at Marvel Studios last Thursday, with people around and tweeting, so it was really hard for me to get a good watch myself. So now I have a computer out, I have my mouse out, I can watch, but Andrea Roth and Gloria Reuben are just masterful, off the cuff coming out the gate. What they did, I’m just in awe of their work and their connection to their characters. I have nothing but respect and homage to what’s coming out of Canada, because whatever they brought with them…man, we needed it!
BT: What was the best part about being in I, Tonya?
MM: One of the best parts about that is that Margot Robbie, I got to hang out with her a little bit, at the pre-party and stuff like that, and she was a really cool person, just down-to-earth. I didn’t know what to expect and she was very warm and open and the regular girl next door, which was awesome. I actually had a challenge with that film because they wanted me to shave originally for that role, and I agreed to that ahead of time, but I had just gotten Cloak & Dagger and my character is supposed to have a beard. So that required a little bit of a conflict, but we worked it out and we kept the beard, but they made the scene very dark, so they couldn’t tell if the character had a beard or not. *laughs*
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger airs Thursdays at 8 pm / 7c on Freeform and ABC Spark