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Cloak & Dagger stars explain why the show is a 'game changer'

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Jun 4, 2018, 3:00 PM EDT

The Marvel heroes known as Cloak (Tyrone 'Ty' Johnson) and Dagger (Tandy Bowen) can trace their roots back to the early '80s, when they first appeared in 1984's Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #64 by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan. Nearly 40 years later, the crime-fighting duo that utilize the physical incarnations of light and darkness are getting their own TV show on ABC's Freeform network.

Created by Heroes and Daredevil writer Joe Pokaski, Cloak & Dagger will explore the origins of its characters, who start off as troubled teenagers, played by Olivia Holt (Tandy) and Aubrey Joseph (Tyrone). Despite their totally opposite backgrounds, the two come together after discovering they have powers that work best in tandem. Tandy can turn light into daggers while Tyrone can draw power from the Darkforce Dimension, which drives him to consume human life. At the end of the day, however, it's about the dynamic of Tyrone and Tandy and how they learn to trust one another while honing their newfound abilities.

"It’s really a relationship between two teenagers from totally different backgrounds," Joseph told SYFY WIRE during a phone interview. "Their whole live[s] [have] been set up by fate, that no matter what, the universe is gonna pull them together, no matter how much they’re pulled apart, they’ll always come back together."

"I feel very lucky and grateful to be a part of the Marvel Universe now and to be able to tell these two kids’ stories, it was a really awesome experience," Holt told SYFY WIRE during a separate phone interview. "The cast and the crew and everybody just really created something special and I’m really excited for the world to see it."

Holt and Joseph needed to do a little background research before principal shooting took place in New Orleans. How did they prepare? The answer is simply: they read a bunch of Cloak & Dagger comic books.

"I actually did read a couple of the comics, just to sort of understand the tone and where the characters came from and their story and the relationship they had with each other before going in," Holt said.

And while Joseph grew up on a steady diet of Marvel properties like the Hulk, Wolverine, and Spider-Man, he insists that he knew next to nothing about these heroes when he landed his first major leading role. Nevertheless, he grew to understand just how important these characters were once he took a deep dive into their origin comics.

"It was cool to be introduced to such a huge and legendary comic that translates well to this day," he recalls.

There was also a lot of physically demanding scenes that required Holt and Joseph to do their own stunts. Olivia remembered the day on set when she and Aubrey were strapped into harnesses for the scene where the two teenagers touch and are blasted backward.

"We got to do a lot of that fun 'harness-y' flying stuff, which was sort of uncomfortable, but once you were up in the air, it was a lot of fun and I remember having a good time on days like that," she said.

Joseph brought up a similar sequence where Ty teleports for the very first time:

"I was just like running and jumping all day. It was exhausting, but it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on set. That’s a day I’ll never forget."

Both 20-year-old actors come from entertainment backgrounds: Holt is also a musician while Joseph began his career on Broadway as Simba in The Lion King. Their experiences in music and theatre helped them prepare for Cloak & Dagger, which gives them their meatiest roles to date.

"I never felt pressured or unprepared, so I’m just glad that I was ready to take on the challenge," Joseph said of his confidence gained while on Broadway. He also explained how Holt was invaluable to him on set, as he could always pick her brain whenever he had a question about acting.

"I make music from a very personal headspace and the things that Tandy goes through is from a very personal headspace as well," stated Holt. "Everything she goes through is because of personal reasons. I think not taking it so seriously and sort of going with it and having fun is ultimately what’s most important and what keeps you most sane in life is to just do what feels right and to not take everything to heart or too heavily, to just sort of do you in that moment and I think that’s sort of what Tandy does."

As for the impact the show will have on viewers, Holt and Joseph hope that audiences will take more away than just entertainment. That shouldn't be hard because Cloak and Dagger have been exploring difficult topics since their 1982 inception. For one thing, they are an interracial couple, which was groundbreaking in the early '80s and Tyrone, an African American male, must watch his best friend be wrongly shot by a policeman in the comics. The themes could not be more timely and Holt believes in not only broaching them, but starting a dialogue.

"There are a lot of little truths throughout this show, so many important little truths: honest and inspiring and it’s moving and I hope that they [the audience] feel all of those things that we’ve put into this show," he said. "And I hope that they can relate to it and I hope that there will be a movement after watching this show in a very positive way, not in any sort of negative way.

"I feel like this show is a game changer and I hope that the audience feels that in one way or another," continued. "We tackle so many important things that are happening in 2018 in this show and I hope that they recognize that and they’re with us on it and I just hope that they are entertained, but moved at the same time. That’s ultimately the goal."

The first season of Cloak & Dagger premieres on Freeform on June 7 with two episodes (written by Joe Pokaski), "First Light" and "Suicide Sprints."