Spoiler Alert! Minor spoilers ahead!
What's a teen to do when you find out your parents are evil? And what if you discover that you have superhuman strength but you can't talk to your parents about it because you're adopted? Talk about teen angst. That's the dilemma that Allegra Acosta's character Molly Hernandez finds herself in in Marvel's Runaways, Acosta said during an exclusive interview with SYFY WIRE.
In the new series, which premieres the first three episodes today on Hulu, Molly and her five friends discover their parents are part of an evil organization known as the Pride, which seems to be doing some very bad things for very mysterious reasons. The teens set about trying to discover the truth, all the while learning they have different powers and gifts that are starting to develop. The series was created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and is based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name. Hulu will release new episodes of the 10-episode first season on Tuesdays.
Fourteen-year-old Acosta plays the youngest member of the Runaways, Molly Hernandez, who in the comics was Molly Hayes. Acosta chatted with SYFY WIRE yesterday about playing a "badass" teen superhero, about balancing school and acting, and about why she's "shooting for the stars" when it comes to her future.
Marvel's Runaways ... What a great premise to have teens find out their parents are evil and have to deal with that reality.
Allegra Acosta: Yeah, it was so much fun. The shoot was fast ... I'm all anxious and ready to see all the episodes.
I wasn't familiar with the comics. It had some real surprising things and some really fun elements.
Yeah, that's what a lot of people who haven't read the comics think. They worked really, really hard on it ... It was super cool to work with Marvel.
Of all the characters, Molly is really the most action-packed of the group. She's pushing cars and ripping out windows and battling a dinosaur.
It kind of sounds like so fantasy. It is a fantasy, but [creators] Josh [Schwartz] and Stephanie [Savage] really have elevated the genre by not making it just a teen show. They brought it down and made it relatable and grounded with the plus side of Marvel entertainment and fun of it. [And Molly is] growing with her character. I'm the same age as her. We're both 14. It was really fun to play a character who is my age so I can grow in her footsteps and evolve with her.
It's great they hired someone to play Molly who's not 27.
One of my castmates was like, "I don't think they found anyone else who was as believable as a 14-year-old." And that just made my day. I was like, "Oh, my God! They chose me!" That's insane, and I'm so excited to play Molly!
Tell me about Runaways from Molly's POV.
Throughout the season you'll see Molly wanting to know more about herself. Obviously because she's adopted and she has these super elements, these super abilities, that [drives her] curiosity about her past and her future. She is like the detective of the group. She's very determined, and she's very intelligent and aware ... And she's definitely the muscle of the group, as you can see.
She wants to know more about her biological parents because she lives with the Yorkes ... She doesn't have a real family to fall back on. And so she's just more curious and more determined to find out what she's all about. That's kind of the whole arc. She really wants to help the group, but then again she really wants to help herself because it's important to her. What would a kid do if she didn't know anything about her parents and she had these fantasy powers? So that's her whole story, and you get to see what kind of dilemma she has to go through.
I think that's really interesting, because we're just getting a hint in the first few episodes about some of the powers of the others. But Molly, who's the youngest, seems to be coming into her powers quickly.
That's what makes Molly so badass. She's so young and she has this strength to her that's unbelievable and undeniable, because she's growing and they're just going to kick in more and more and more, and that's what makes for great TV, I think. It's so cool. That's what I fell in love about her when I read the comics. She was so young, but yet she could take down any man who walked in her way. The female empowerment, just to play her character, it was so amazing.
As an actress, what does Marvel's Runaways mean to you?
When I booked it I looked up Molly Hayes and I thought she was so beyond amazing. And I read the comic books and I fell in love with it. Molly was like the optimist, but then again she was so powerful beyond her years. She was so mature, and a lot of people didn't know that ... In the comic books she was 12, and now she's 14. It makes more sense because we see her live in this environment with these older characters.
It meant so much for me to play a 14-year-old girl, a girl who was my age, and who is strong and empowering. And I feel like hopefully she'll be a role model for girls out there, because we really haven't had someone who really showed how powerful and strong the girls my age were, which is kind of amazing. And also I'm going to this place I've never been. I've always had a big family. We've always loved each other and cared for each other. I've always had that bond with them. And having a character who lost that side of her was really interesting and fun for me to play. It was liberating. And Molly is just amazing. I just love playing with her and learning more about her.
What's it been like to balance school and working on Runaways?
I'm the only minor on this show, so I have to do five hours of school or three hours of school ... Like not having a break after I do a scene is kind of exhilarating, but also really demanding. But I love it. It's worth it.
I'm getting to learn and also do my character, and that's what made going into my character really fun and exciting for me. Because Molly and I are very, very similar. We do have some differences, but overall I wanted to put a lot of myself into her to make her really believable and genuine as a 14-year-old girl who's going through this [point] in her life. Walking into someone's shoes is always difficult, but I was up for the challenge just to play someone who was very similar to me. It felt as if I was right at home.
So you have three to five hours of school and the rest of the day on the set. You've got two full-time jobs, really.
Yeah, that's true (laughs) ... This is what I've been wanting to do since I was 4. I've always loved this industry. I've always loved singing, acting, and dancing. I was really passionate once that was ignited in me, I was like, "I'm not stopping. I'm going to get from point A to point B, like it or not." Having two jobs is amazing. It's all I could ask for.
Still, it has to be hard for you having to delve into school subjects when you've got the exciting stuff happening with filming Runaways. What's it like to go from school mode to acting mode?
Yeah, it's hard. Because you finish a scene and you're like so with the cast and you're vibing and connecting, 'cause they're really like my best friends. And then afterwards you go to a break and you want to play with them and talk to them, and you can't because you have to go off to school and I have to do biology and stuff like that. So you have to put on your game face with both of them and know at the end of the day you're doing something that will help you in the long run. It is really hard, because I really want to play with them and have a good time with them, but then I have to go into biology.
What does your future look like to you?
I'm shooting for the stars right now. I would love to start doing movies. I would love to start doing music, when I'm much older. I want more seasons. I want to be an advocate and a philanthropist when I grow up for gender and race equality and making young girls feel worthy and beautiful, and then giving back to the foundations that I really like. Like helping elephants that are getting killed right now, which is horrible and disgusting, because they're my favorite animals. I want to do a lot. It sounds crazy, but I've always loved proving people wrong [about] what I could do, going to my limits. I have the most amazing parents, who are so supportive. And now that I'm here, knock on wood, it's going to go onward and upward.
How is Runaways unique compared to the other superhero shows out there right now?
It's different from a lot of Marvel's shows because this focuses really on kids and these teenagers' lives, and also on the parent's lives ... Then again, the way everything's going right now, 2017 was really a testing-our-faith type of year. And now that we are here, this is a show about being your own hero and how you can fight for what you believe in. This is exactly the representation we need right now. We are very ethnically diverse, [and the show is] just growing along these really relatable stories ... But it's also fun and exhilarating and it will leave you on the edge of your seat.
It might be based on a comic book, but it's so modernized and based on reality with the fantasy of Marvel ... it's exhilarating for me to play, and hopefully it will be exhilarating for people to watch. We have really strong story lines, and hopefully you'll fall in love with all of us (laughs) ... You can fall in love with the parents or the kid's dilemma. Who will you choose at the end of the day, the parents or the kids? There are a lot of things going on with our show, but I think it's going to be so much fun to tune in to.
And it's got a dinosaur.
And it's got a dinosaur! With an amazing nose ring. Watch it!