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Actress Anastasia Antonia walks us through the life of a 'leapee' on 'Quantum Leap'
What's it like being the person Ben leaps into on Quantum Leap?
In this week's new episode of Quantum Leap, "A Decent Proposal," Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) leaps into Eva Sandoval, a Los Angeles bounty hunter in 1981 chasing a bail skipper who is more than meets the eye. While Eva is the fourth leap of Ben's, she represents one of hundreds of people who Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and now Ben leap into across time as they try to remedy problems that happen in time. In every instance, audiences get a glimpse at the person being inhabited, but we basically see the leaper as a stand-in for the person, unless we catch a glimpse in a mirror.
It's such a singular experience for the person booked to be the body swap, and we at SYFY WIRE got curious about what it's like to help bring the story to life. Actress Anastasia Antonia established Eva Sandoval's "real" look in the opening bar sequence and then she showed up again in several mirrors, including when Eva's getting proposed to by her bounty hunter boyfriend, Jake (Justin Hartley), and when they're chasing their bail jumper, Tammy Jean Jessup/Carla (Sofia Pernas). We got on the phone with Antonia to get the perspective of the person who gets leaped into, and how she worked alongside Lee in their double role.
Let's start from the top, was the Quantum Leap audition different from other roles because of how uniquely the actor is used in the episode?
That's a great question. The audition did not specify at all about being "leapt into," actually. It was a scene but I was to do it as Eva. I had no idea that I was going to be leapt into or that I would be taking into account a completely other person's perspective on my role, which is a whole new experience. They just wanted to see what my skill level was and then they took it from there.
Did you know the previous series before getting cast?
I did not know what Quantum Leap was. It was before my time. But I let some of my family and people close to me know with some responding like, "Oh, that was my favorite show back in the day!" I was like, "Really?"
A big part of establishing the "leap of the week" character is how we (and Ben) see them for the first time in the episode. Your outfit is pure '80s. Did they costume you taking into account both Eva and Ben?
Absolutely everybody in account. They are so meticulous with continuity for a show, especially like this. When I went to costume, there was three sets of my outfit. One for me, Ben, and then the stunt double. There were three of us walking around on set all dressed in female attire. [Laughs.]
Did what Eva wear help you get into the headspace of the character?
They threw me in a leather jacket and cowboy boots and that definitely added to the physicality off the top. As far as her mindset, there's been parts of my life where I've only been career oriented. No one was gonna throw me off. I had times in my life where I was a tough girl, so the seeds were already living in me. It was just about growing them in an exaggerated way.
She was an easy one for me to get into. I've had that thrill seeking part of my personality lead the way for me at times in my life, so a bounty hunter isn't a far stretch for me. It's a stretch, but not so far off. Like that would have been something that I would have fantasized of doing at one point, if not acting. It's a job that makes you alive and in the action.
What was your process with Raymond? He's essentially playing you playing Eva.
It's more about his perspective of me actually because Ben just got there and is not fully losing himself. Now, as the episode progresses, he starts to take on more of the characteristics of Eva. However, when he first gets there, he's just a man that looks completely different than everybody else.
But he was great to work with. He's very accommodating and very thoughtful. He's a kind person as well on top of it, so he was a joy to work with. The process was I prepared what I could for my role when I got to set and then we would just do his takes first. I would watch him. He would rehearse with me. And he'd even make sure I was watching all the right playbacks because I needed to match him. I needed to bring my essence to the performance of when he's catching himself in the mirror, but also embodying him.
When you had a scene, was it really choreographed or more about following Raymond's performance choices?
I think it was pretty much on the fly. There needed to be the mix up of it all. For me, I would meditate to get into her. Exaggerate the expressions that I had of her already inside of me. And then I would go to set and have to be completely open. We all have our take immediately when we see something but then I have to be completely open that it's just not going to go that way. I have to bring in Ray into all of that.
Did you have a best day on set?
I would say one of my favorite days was hanging out with Justin and Sophia. It's a funny story. I was acquainted with Sophia many, many years ago. I hadn't kept up with her and nor do I pay attention to any gossip or what's going on in that kind of world. On set, I kept hearing whispers of, "Make sure Eva doesn't look like Tammy Jean." In my mind, I'm like, 'How could I look like a Tammy Jean?' The next day, I go to get my makeup done and Tammy Jean is in the chair, and it was Sophia. [Laughs.] She's North African and Spanish and I'm Middle Eastern and Latin, so we both have like a similar mix. And now it all makes sense.
I caught up with her and it definitely added to the intimacy between the three of us. Her and Justin kept me laughing the whole time behind the scenes. They're just really hysterical people. The day before [seeing Sophia] I was talking to Justin, and we're getting to know each other because he's proposing to me, so we have to have some sort of chemistry. I asked him if he was married, and he was going on about how much he loved his wife, so it was really sweet and cute to meet his wife, and it's actually somebody I knew from way back when.
Last but not least, Ben ended up playing cupid for the two. Was that the ending you hoped for Eva?
That is the secret! A loving relationship makes it all worth it, in my opinion. Love is all you need.
New episodes of Quantum Leap air Mondays on NBC, and stream next-day on Peacock.