Meet The Pride of 'Runaways': Annie Wersching and Kip Pardue

Compassionate and composed, Leslie Dean sits at the head of an increasingly popular and [...]

Compassionate and composed, Leslie Dean sits at the head of an increasingly popular and unconventional religion – some might say cult – The Church of the Gibborim, with her telegenic ex-teen idol husband Frank at her side – if not entirely in the loop of the church's agenda – and their daughter Karolina unaware of the growing fissures between her parents.

Having previously been cast as a married couple in the film Below the Beltway, Wersching (24, The Vampire Diaries) and Pardue (ER, Ray Donovan) bring an sense of a well-established relationship their dynamic while also revealing how it's fraying at the corners, as the actors explained during a press visit to the new Hulu series' Los Angeles set.

On playing a couple who seem on the brink of coming apart:

Annie Wersching: We've played husband and wife in a film before, so it was really fun. And then, once we got to the dynamic that these two people actually have together, we knew it was gonna be really fun. I feel like they're definitely different than the rest of the parents, especially with the creepy church in there, Frank being on the outskirts, and Leslie being so powerful.

Kip Pardue: One of the things with this show that's really fun is how power shifts, how things ebb and flow, and how certain people who are clearly evil maybe become a little bit less, and I think our relationship mirrors that, in a really fun way. It's a thing to have to deal with a woman like Leslie, and our daughter feels it, too. She's a powerful, amazing, dedicated CEO, for lack of a better term, and that comes with some costs.

On finding their way into their roles:

Pardue: It stinks being an actor who's perfect to play the role of being an out-of-work actor! I don't like that aspect of it, but I do know what it's like to not work sometimes, and I do know what it's like to question what you're doing for a living. I think everyone does, whether you're an actor or not.

Frank happens to be an actor, and there's a lot of baggage that comes along with that, but at the core of that, he's struggling with trying to figure out what he wants to do, how he wants to do it, and who he wants to do it with. That's a fun person to play and a fun character to find, to go from being lost to hopefully being found.

Wersching: It's always fun to play someone who's different from you, but you have to try to find you in there somewhere.

Pardue: We've all been in that situation where you're driving down the highway and you look up and you're like, "Oh, my God, I'm five exits past where I live! What was I doing?!" I think Frank has been on that ride for a long time. It might not show, but I think the Deans have a really special, important love, and they have a wonderful daughter. There's a whole series of events that wake Frank up, and unfortunately, we all need that sometimes.

There are some things in this show that are just impossible to ignore. He's never been pushed before. Sometimes it's really important, as people and as actors, to get outside of your comfort zone. This whole first season is putting Frank outside of his comfort zone, to say the least.

Wersching: Leslie's obviously very powerful and does a lot of things that aren't so good. A character like Lady Macbeth or Claire Underwood would do those same things and not break down and cry about it, whereas Leslie does. That's what makes her interesting, different, and unique. The fun part is trying to balance making her likeable, even though she may not appear likeable, in the beginning. That's why you do this. You don't want to be cookie-cutter, so I love it.

Pardue: If we don't feel for these parents, and especially Leslie, the show really has a hard time working. The whole point of this show is what's good and what's evil. We know – but do we know?!

Wersching: In the comics, the parents are pretty straightforward bad. Josh [Schwartz] and Stephanie [Savage], having come from The O.C. and Gossip Girl, they know how to do an adults/parents-kids merge of a show, where sometimes the villains turn into the heroes. It's fun! They know how to tell both sides successfully and keep the storylines together. We're in good hands.

Pardue: It's very real and grounded. It's a superhero show, in the same way that Daredevil is a superhero show, but the New York shows on Netflix feel like they're about someone who has superpowers. Yeah, you get to know them and go on this ride with them, but it doesn't feel like you could ever be them. With this, while all of the characters are going through their own relationship with powers, you feel like you could be these people – or if you're not them, than you know someone who's like them.

You've been through all of the same painful, happy and wonderful things that they're going through. We've all had fights with our parents. It's a little bit more rooted than any of the other Marvel shows on the air right now.

On their characters' quasi-religious affiliations:

Wersching: Right off the bat, this has been compared to Scientology, and Josh and Steph were very quick to say that's not the case. We have a whole packet about the church's ideals and everything they believe in, and it's all very science-based.

Pardue: From day one, it was pitched in a way that's very different from what you described. Imagine if even if the most fringe group was actually real and you could change the world. I know that's the same pitch that Scientology or LDS would give you, and it sounds very cultish, but it's not, and because of that, it separates itself from what we associate with the shysters and scammers. The Church of Gibborim is not that. It's something more, and you'll find out what that is. It's not all good.

Wersching: Everything that drives Leslie, in particular, is the bigger stuff that you'll find out about the church.

Pardue: The belief in it has never been in question. All of those other things that you see in L.A., you question, you scratch your head, and you wonder what's going on.

Wersching: As far as Leslie is concerned, it's very much like, "If you knew what I knew and you'd seen what I'd seen, you'd feel like this, too, and you'd believe in this, too." That's her job in the world, from Karolina to someone she finds on the street and tries to help. She wants to help them believe because it's for good.