Interview: Ryan Sands Discusses the Pride of 'Runaways'

Marvel's debut on Hulu is one week away, finally bringing the cult favorite comic book by Brian K. [...]

Marvel's debut on Hulu is one week away, finally bringing the cult favorite comic book by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona to life on the screen.

But Marvel's Runaways will see major changes when the first three episodes premiere on November 21st, shining a brighter spotlight on the villainous cabal of parents known as the Pride.

Actor Ryan Sands plays Geoffrey Wilder on the series, bringing a new dimension and depth to the character that wasn't explored in the source material. spoke with Sands ahead of the series debut, who spoke about his love of Marvel, his time on the series, and teased some major storylines for the show's future. First of all, are you getting excited for the show's premiere?

Ryan Sands: Excited is an understatement. I can't wait man, I can't wait. I'm turning into a big kid, when it comes to the whole Marvel thing, and to be a part of it is just still kind of surreal. Seeing it on screen is gonna be incredible, I can't wait.

The show was under wraps until its big debut at New York Comic Con, when they premiered the first episode for the fans in attendance, and the cast were there. I noticed that none of the parents were there, unfortunately, do you feel bummed that the kids got their moment in the spotlight?

No, man. First of all, the Runaways are amazing, and they always represent well, but we got a huge cast, so it's like 17 of us, with the Pride and the Runaways. I get it, we would take over the whole day if we all went together. I'm sure that there'll be some opportunities for people to see the Pride up close and personal soon.

Were you a fan of Runaways at all, did you ever read the comic, or did you go back and read them when you got the script?

Yeah, I went back. My comic book reading subsided around the very early '90s. I was playing basketball every chance I got, preparing to go to college, then I didn't really pick back up until I guess the mid-2000s. I was playing catch up with a lot of stuff, with Marvel's Unlimited App, and I really started where I left off, in the late '80s and '90s, and playing catch up. But I knew about the Runaways, friends of mine were still reading and they were just so popular.

When I got the audition ... There's not a lot of information there, it was an untitled Marvel project, but when I read the breakdown, it was a multicultural group of teens, and their parents, I'm like, "Wait a minute, that sounds like that Runaways thing." I went back and opened that app up and started reading, and I really just started laughing when I saw what Geoffrey looked like -- I think the character I was reading for was Gregory Williams, or something like that, the initials were the same but the name wasn't the same. I just started laughing, I'm like, "OK, I think I can pull that look off."

Yeah, I was engrossed, I get why it was so popular, I just poured through everything in one sitting. It was really, really cool.

(Photo: Hulu)

What was your favorite comic growing up?

Spider-Man, not even close, it was definitely Spider-Man. I think Spider-Man, Hulk, Cap, Luke Cage, well Power Man back then, and Black Panther were my pantheon of great heroes back then.

As a fan now, are you excited for all the big movies that have come out and are going to come out?

It's crazy, especially of course I was there opening day watching the Avengers, and I've seen all of the solo movies leading up, and it was just like a culmination of those childhood dreams of seeing these characters realized so faithfully, and just so well. The technology has gotten us to a place where you could see what you imagined, it's not Lou Ferrigno running in slow motion anymore, that's what we had back in the day, and it was great. But now, we've got the Hulk doing exactly what we imagined he was doing in the cartoons.

But especially, I'm also an illustrator too, and my childhood was really spent just drawing these characters over and over and over again, and there came a time when I realized I wasn't drawing any characters that looked like me. I went to an older cousin, and I specifically asked him, "Man, are there any black superheroes?" I knew of Storm at the time, but my cousin introduced me to T'Challa, he introduced me to Power Man back then. So now, seeing these, the Black Panther about to have his own solo movie, but to have these characters on screen now is just really amazing.

I'm excited that kids today, African American kids today won't be in the same position that I was in, having to search for these characters, and they do a great job bringing these guys to life.

Is there anything specifically that you're excited for fans to see?

I'm excited for fans to see the Pride fleshed out. Yeah, that sounds like I'm biased because I'm a Pride member, but the truth of the matter, we really expose and display who these people are a lot more than they were presented in the book. There's only so much you can do in those pages, and in those volumes. The story undoubtedly, it's about this group of kids, but in the show, there's a lot of time spent with the Pride. And you see why certain decisions were made, you really see the effect of those decisions, the toll that the decisions make on us.

So we're a lot more fleshed out, we're definitely not one-dimensional villains. I'm really excited because I think that's what I love the most about seeing the characters that I love come to life, is seeing what remains faithful, what's familiar, that's always fun. But seeing how these new artists, the new writers, the new production designers, the new costume designers interpret these characters and their worlds, and bring them into present day. I don't really get why some people want these stories to stay so faithful to the source material, because then you know what's coming, you don't leave any room to be surprised. I'm just really excited to see how people receive this version of the Pride.

(Photo: Hulu)

Did you find yourself drawn to this certain aspect of the character where he will do whatever it takes? And does that get fleshed out further along the lines? Because it seems like he's a family man, but it also seems like he'll cross a few lines if he has to.

Absolutely, Geoffrey is so fun to play. I have to be honest with you, when I auditioned for the role, I had no idea that Geoffrey was gonna be, any of the Pride members, were gonna be as fleshed out as we were. All I really had to go on was what I'd read in the first volume of the Runaways. As an actor, you don't really want to, you just want to read the source material, just so you're familiar, but you don't really want it to influence your take on the audition material. You just want to have it basically as information.

When I auditioned with a lot of Geoffrey, that side of Geoffrey where he is a family man, and he does truly care for his family, cares about his community, I had no idea that those were aspects of this character. I really was excited, even if Geoffrey was just that maniacal kind of guy that he is in the books, I was actually excited to even play that, because I'd never gotten a chance to do anything like that. I play a lot of cops, a lot of law enforcement, a lot of military guys, so being presented with a "bad guy" role was exciting.

But then, as we get going, and I see there are other dimensions to this guy, then it became much more fun, it became much more challenging. Because Geoffrey has to protect his family, he has to protect his -- I'll say investment in the Pride, and all of the sacrifices, all of those tough decisions, all of those secrets that he's had to hold for all of these years, he can't let anything derail that. So Geoffrey knows that there's a lot at stake, but he's still a guy with a conscious. It was really, he's challenging but extremely fun to play.

What do you think the show benefits from being on Hulu, how does that affect the show?

I think it's one of the major things is, one of the fun things for me, is seeing the tonal changes of the different networks. There's the Netflix universe that has a very distinct tone on those shows, which is very different from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which was different from Agent Carter. So with Hulu, this is a new thing and it's very different, so it's tonally kind of in between of those other shows with a perfect mix that I think is gonna suit the younger demographic, those viewers who are around our Runaways age now, as well as people who love the material and still have a love for that material that was over a decade ago.

I think it's going to serve a broad audience, because it's not a part of, of course everything's connected, but it doesn't have a direct correlation to another show right now. We can be distinct, we can be unique, it's not like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, very much playing in the same sandbox, in terms of geography, but also just tonally, and that world and a part of that bigger Defenders' storyline. We're totally different, we present a totally new world, and I think Hulu allows us the opportunity to do that.

(Photo: Hulu)

I don't know if you've read beyond the first volume or not, but some strange things happen to Geoffrey Wilder in the comic book. I have to ask you, if they were to kill off Geoffrey and then reincarnate him as a younger version of himself, would you want to play a CGI version? Or would you be okay with them recasting the role?

Man, I'm gonna pull for CGI, I'm gonna play in this world as long as I possibly can. It's crazy when you look at what they're able to do, especially like with Kurt Russell and Michael Douglas, even Hayley Atwell with aging her. I honestly did not realize when I saw her in the bed talking to Steve, I did not realize that was Hayley Atwell. That was digital effects there, I had no idea. Yeah, it's crazy, so I'm gonna vote for that, I'm gonna get the petition started for that if we have to get rid of this current incarnation of Geoffrey.

Can you maybe hint, I know you can't spoil anything, but where does the first season leave off? Does it give us the complete Runaways story, does it give us a little more ground that we could cover, or does it deviate in any way that people will surprised at what to expect? What can you say about it?

Well, definitely deviates, there are gonna be a lot of surprises, but it's a loving deviation. It shows respect to what people fell in love with. People fell in love with it for a reason, because it works, it worked and it was good, it was well thought out. What our showrunners and our writers have done a masterful job of is pacing this thing, and the suspense and the questions. There's some shows that I watch, and the questions frustrate me. But I'm really, I know this is gonna sound like because I work on the show I'm gonna say everything's great and wonderful, but I honestly have to admit I enjoy getting these scripts because I love to see where the story is going.

They're doing an excellent job of pacing these things out, so at season's end we're just beginning. You don't know where we're going, and even though that can sound like it's a slow season, trust me it is not. These things take time to be revealed, and you might think we're going somewhere, then there's a U-turn, then there's a sharp right turn where we go somewhere else, but it all makes sense and it's all very well paced. I think at the end of season one, we're definitely gonna be leaving fans wanting to see what comes next.

(Photo: Hulu)

You mentioned you wanted to play a maniacal villain, if you could play any maniacal villain, what character would it be? Doesn't have to be Marvel or DC, doesn't even have to be comic books, it could be a Star Wars baddie. What villain would you want to sink your teeth into?

I definitely was thinking Marvel first, but as soon as you said Star Wars Boba Fett came to mind. Star Wars is the reason why I'm in California acting right now, when I saw Star Wars as a kid I knew that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to get a lightsaber and be on the big screen. Boba Fett, I was just like hypnotized anytime that dude was on screen for a second.

I think I would like to, but honestly when I was thinking Marvel, I was thinking about the Hobgoblin. I've always loved his design, I used to look at Hobgoblin and his entry in the Marvel Handbook, and open it up next to the Green Goblin entry, and compare them and take note about what I liked about the Hobgoblin, just that look with those boots and his hood, I liked his colors better, his glider. So yeah, I think I've always been partial to Hobgoblin.

Those boots man, when I first saw Taskmaster, I was like, "Okay, wait a minute, wait a minute now. This dude is looking kind of crazy, this dude is sick," with the skull and the shield and those boots, but what it comes down to is he's got a great skill set. But man, it was just the Hobgoblin was just scary, so the Taskmaster didn't quite edge him out, design maybe, but not in overall character dynamics. Hobgoblin's the best.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I have to tell you, when we got together, we shot the pilot and took some time off, when we all came back, and we saw episode two, we were all surprised, we were all really surprised. There was a general excitement in the room, and on the set. It's just a really cool set, and I don't take it for granted being able to work with some really great material, with a really great cast. I love my TV family, and I love working with them, but the beautiful thing about this show is with this big cast, I know whoever I work with I'm gonna have a good day. This is a crazy opportunity, and I'm just really glad to hear from you that episode two is good and compelling. Good stuff.

The first three episodes of Marvel's Runaways premiere Tuesday, November 21st on Hulu.