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SYFY WIRE National Treasure

'National Treasure: Edge of History' cast on working with movie veterans and the season secrets

We circled up with some of the new cast to get their intel about standout moments and what's to come later in the season.

By Tara Bennett

In the two-episode series premiere of the new Disney+ series National Treasure: Edge of History, audiences got to experience the thrilling collision of two generations of treasure hunters and cryptographers as they made historical secrets and mysteries cool again. There's the new guard, led by Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera) and her posse of smart and loyal friends, including bestie Tasha Rivers (Zuri Reed), Oren Bradley (Antonio Cipriano) and Ethan (Jordan Rodrigues). But, we also got to spend some quality time with National Treasure franchise veterans Agent Peter Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) and FBI Special Agent Hendricks (Armando Riesco). 

SYFY WIRE circled up with some of the new cast to get their intel about the standout moments for them, and what's to come later in the season.

Episode 1: "I'm a Ghost"


On the bond between Jess and Tasha:

Zuri Reed (Tasha): It's so, so, so important. They have a fabulous almost sisterhood. They live together and they've been friends for years. And it just so happens that Tasha has the perfect set of skills that they'll need to go on this journey. They're both puzzle solvers in their own ways. And even though Tasha has a lot of thoughts about the FBI and the government — she's not a fan — when it comes to the bigger picture, she's always willing to do what it takes. And I admire her.

On working with Harvey Keitel as Agent Peter Sadusky:

Lisette Olivera (Jess): Harvey is just a genius. I genuinely had the best time working with him. He gave me all the space and really just encouraged me when we were working together. He genuinely is such a sweet man. Our director of the pilot was Mira Nair, who is an incredible director. And it was so interesting that after we'd hear "Cut!" from Mira, Harvey would be like, "Mira, how was that? Can I go again?" I thought was cool because he's frickin' Harvey Keitel, you know what I mean? Like, anything you do is amazing. But he was just so adamant about wanting to stay true to his process and always really intrigued with how he can do a scene differently and always willing to give it another try if it means that the quality of his scene is going to be better. And I really respect that.

On the toughest scene to film:

Reed: In the first episode towards the end, when Jess pulls Tasha from her live stream and they hop on the bus. They realize that they're being followed and chased and that was so, so cool for me. It was very challenging, though. It's a long scene where they run through restaurants with action, action, action. But to have that very early on was definitely a challenge, but in a great way.

On what Ethan and Liam represent for Jess this season:

Jake Austin Walker (Liam): I think Liam gets Jess to indulge in the wild side of things and to not worry about the outcomes if you believe that the pursuit is necessary. He doesn't force her into dangerous territory, because he doesn't tell a woman what to do. Jess is a strong, independent woman. He just has her back if she feels like she needs to jump in the danger zone. He's kind of that bad boy. [Laughs.]

Jordan Rodrigues (Ethan): I think for Ethan, he's her childhood best friend and knows her better than anyone. He has this emotional connection and he really doesn't want her to do this treasure hunt because it means she could get in trouble. She could get deported and I'll lose her forever. The growth within my character is the letting go of that and realizing that she has to do that for herself. They're both valid [guys], but love!

Episode 2: "The Treasure Map"


On playing the FBI stiff, Agent Ross:

Lyndon Smith (Agent Ross): I grew up watching The X-Files and Agent Scully. When I got this job, I was like, "I'm gonna have my pantsuit moment!" [Laughs.] At first glance, Agent Ross is that by-the-book, hard-boiled detective brain; very dogged. But what she does so well, and I thought was really interesting on the page, is she can see the facts. Yes, she's gonna hear the words coming out of your mouth, but she sees the people behind them as well. She picks up on the nuance and she understands the layers in life. When they walk into her office and pitch this crazy story of a treasure hunt and a kidnapping, she does swat them away. But she also has the emotional intelligence to go, "Maybe, I'm wrong. And maybe there's more to this?'"And then goes on a whole journey of her own to become an ally, so that type of arc was something that I haven't seen that very often. 

On the big kidnap exchange in the gift shop with Catherine Zeta-Jones:

Olivera: When you watch the show, you see Catherine brings so much of her charm to Billie and I think that's really special. One of my favorite things from the original movies were that I actually kind of liked the villains of the storyline. I was fascinated by why they decided to go after the treasure and why they think their perspective is right. I think that's a really big theme in National Treasure, in itself, is that everyone has their own perspective. Everyone comes from somewhere. And it's all about the history. 

Antonio Cipriano (Oren): Just working with Catherine, she does it with such grace and handles herself so well on set that you just learn so much by working with her. Also, getting to work with a stunt double and getting tape over my mouth, and all of that crazy stuff. It was like, "Oh, my gosh, this is really crazy. Like, we're in it!' It was so exciting. And it's pretty scary in the show. 

On stories actor Armando Riesco shared:

Smith: He had a lot of stories. I asked a lot about Harvey because I've looked up to Harvey my whole career. He said his first day on set, I think someone was gonna give Armando a note. And Harvey goes, "No, no, no! He's a good actor. I'm a good actor. He's gonna do his job. I'm gonna do my job." And I was like, 'Wow, Harvey Keitel just walked up to bat for you!" Armando had a ton of great stories and he's such an interesting Easter egg for OG fans. You have to really know your National Treasure to know who he is. And then when you know who he is, that storyline gets good

On how Oren goes all in with helping Jess:

Cipriano: He does go through a very traumatic thing and he is not turned away. Instead, he's on fire and so excited about it. I think it motivates Jess a little bit to continue. He's gonna be there for her and he's gonna be the cheerleader. He's gonna make it happen. He'll have the right answer every once in a while. But he's in the entourage, and he's gonna help them in whatever way he can. 

On the big cliffhanger reveal about Jess' mom:

Olivera: That question just gave me the chills! It takes me back to the time when we were filming that episode. I actually didn't know how it was going to unfold in the story. When I first read the Episode 2 script, my jaw just dropped because for me, prior to filming anything and as I was building Jess' story, her relationship with her mother is everything. To her, it was always about the honesty that they had with one another, but also her knowing that there was a boundary between her asking about her father. And so finally, life is pushing her in the direction of trying to figure it out. And when she finally figures out her mother's involved with it, of all people, she starts to say, "Hmm, maybe my perspective and her perspective of life was completely different. I don't know what I know. So let's just go ahead and uncover the truth!"

On the episodes to look forward to this season:

Rodrigues: It's gonna be Episode 3 ["Graceland Gambit"] for me. I think that's when Ethan really joins the ship just before it leaves the dock. And then he's going zero to 100. I think that's such a great episode.

Walker: Episode 6

Cipriano:  I was gonna say Episode 6 for a different reason. Tasha and Oren start out in a rough spot and you see that progression as the show goes on. There's a moment in six that I really loved doing with Zuri. She's amazing. 

New episodes of National Treasure: Edge of History premiere on Thursdays on Disney+.

Stream tons of great action and adventure movies, including the history-filled Night at the Museumon Peacock right now.