Panic is set to make its debut on Amazon Prime this weekend, showcasing an unpredictable and character-driven take on a unique YA world. The series, which is based on Lauren Oliver's 2014 novel of the same name, takes place in a small Texas town, where every summer the graduating seniors compete in a series of challenges, winner takes all, which they believe is their one and only chance to escape their circumstances and make their lives better. But this year, the rules have changed — the pot of money is larger than ever and the game has become even more dangerous. The players will come face to face with their deepest, darkest fears and be forced to decide how much they are willing to risk in order to win.
While the cast is filled with memorable performances, fans will surely be fascinated by Ray Hall (Ray Nicholson), a "bad boy" in town who is unashamed of his family of crooks and defiant of everyone's belief he is a failure, and Bishop Moore (Camron Jones) plays Bishop Moore, the son of the county court's chief justice, a top scholar, and athlete, who is perceived in a positive light by all — which wears on him. The two characters have wildly different roles to play within the world of Panic, but are undeniably fascinating components of the series.
In anticipation of Panic's debut, ComicBook.com got a chance to chat with both Nicholson and Jones about their work on the series. We spoke about the collaborative process on set, the changes that the series underwent from the page to the screen, the unexpected parts of filming in Texas, and more!
ComicBook.com: What drew both of you to your characters? With the book as the source material, and then how the show builds on top of it, it feels like there is so much to go off of.
Ray Nicholson: Originally, in the position that we're in, I really wanted to get a job, and that's how it started. Then I read the book and I read the pilot, and — at least the way that this works is that we had an idea where our character was going, but as we were getting each episode, it was like, "What's going on? What's going to happen?" But certainly with Ray, just knowing where the character was going — Lauren Oliver made a joke that Ray was originally the character that didn't have an arc, he was just the d-ck through and through all the way. She gave me an opportunity to do something different with that, which was really fun.
I latched onto the idea that we see very limited parts of people. In school, Ray is seen as a d-ck, but behind the curtain, he's been abandoned by his parents. He's had to take care of his family and be the father of a household. So there's a lot of rage and responsibility and love that comes from Ray that maybe he's afraid of showing, and the games give him an opportunity to change from what the world perceives him.
Camron Jones: Something that really drew me in was — at least after I booked the job — my conversations with Lauren about Bishop and his relationships, not only with Heather and Natalie, but also with his family. It was really interesting to sit down — I think we must have talked for an hour — and really dive into the character of Bishop and figure him out together, and really figure out where he's going, and all the possibilities that are open to him in this world of Carp, Texas. It was really eye-opening, and I loved every second of that conversation. It drew me into it.prevnext
Ray, as you mentioned, your character is developed a little bit more than he was in the books. How did it feel for you, to have that responsibility of being true to the character, but also knowing that people who are familiar with the book might have a completely different preconceived notion of him?
Nicholson: You just focus on the text that's at hand. I think that that's ultimately what you're doing. Really, what I try to do is — even when he is a d-ck, plant something that perhaps makes him redeemable in some way so that you can believe the shift as it goes on.prevnext
Camron, Bishop has a big secret that reveals itself over the course of the season. What was it like to play that and have that fuel your character?
Jones: Oh, it's very tough. It's fun, because you don't want to reveal too much, but you don't want to do anything that's over the top either. So it was very fun to tiptoe the line between the two. Talking to Lauren, and working with all of the amazing directors that we got to work with, really made it an easy process to go along and do. But it was super fun and challenging and interesting to tackle that and take that on.prevnext
You both touched on it, but when I spoke to Lauren earlier, she talked about the collaborative process of making the show and how much everything evolved. What was it like for you both to have a hand in that collaborative process and really make the show your own as you went along?
Nicholson: I was there from the pilot. We shot it in New York, which was fun, and it was going to be a show that was going to be in New York. We had a year in between the pilot and knowing whether the show was going to get picked up. When it finally did, it was nice to be able to meet and talk with Lauren, and have her take in who we were as people. I think that that's ultimately what you want. You want to be seen. And hopefully, for me, I just wanted to be of service to the show as much as I could, and I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity.
And being able to go to Texas. I've lived in LA my whole life, and to go to Texas — there was a debate whether we were going to shoot Texas for Texas, or Texas for New York, and then a couple of weeks before we started shooting, it was like, "It's going to be Texas, Texas." So that was exciting, and being able to work with Cam and Olivia and Jess. And living in Texas, being inspired by whatever came across. I went to a Mac DeMarco show and I was like, "Ray does that," you know? There are certain things, so whatever you can find [for inspiration].
Jones: It was great. To me, the way I like to look at it — it's like I'm a big piece of clay, and I come into work, and somebody helps me chip at Bishop's persona. I come in with a vision for how I think Bishop's persona is going to be, and then I talk to Lauren, and she chips away at it. And then I work with Ray and he helps me find a chip here and there. When you're finally in the thick of it all, you really figure out who this character is, and what he looks like, because there's so much influence from every which way direction that helps you create the character that you're ultimately transforming into, and ultimately creating and sometimes recreating. It was really fun.prevnext
What surprised you the most while working on the show?
Jones: I think you said it best earlier. Something that was super surprising was how cold Texas can be.
Nicholson: That was surprising... Really surprising. I was like, "Oh, I'm going to f-cking Texas! Shorts and cowboy boots!" and it was raining and cold. The scene that Olivia and I did on the hood of the car, it was like 18 degrees. Then I see poor Olivia, she has goosebumps going on, and I'm like, "I'm so sorry. This is f-cking cruel." But it was fun.
Oh my gosh. What part of Texas did you film in?
Nicholson: We were all around. We were all based in Austin, but most days we were going an hour or two hours, outside of Austin.
Texas definitely does get cold, and it's always surprising. Nobody's prepared.
Nicholson: It snowed. It snowed one day.
I totally believe that.
Nicholson: It was crazy. We went to the Alamo Drafthouse, and we went outside and it was fully snowing. I was like, "This is beautiful, but I am also freezing."prevnext
What do you both hope that fans take away from this season?
Nicholson: For me, whenever I engage in any kind of media — and right now, I guess the book is the clearest example. But when I read a book and there's a line in there that may be, by anybody's standards, is crazy, and I read it and I'm like, "Oh my god, I've felt that before." It's like, "Oh, I'm not alone." Maybe that's the best thing you can take from something, "Oh, I identify with this." I think that if a couple of people identify with my character, I'd be really, really happy.
Jones: I would hope that people take away from this show that it's important to tackle your fears head-on. Maybe not so much the challenges, per se, but I think it's important to — Olivia said it best earlier — to persevere and continue fighting on for what you want and what you believe in. To make a plan for what you want to do, and execute on it, and go for it no matter what anybody says.prevnext
When I spoke to Lauren, she hinted that you guys don't know if you're going to get a second season yet. But if you do get a second season, where would you both want your characters to go? And even if there isn't a second season, where would you see your characters ending up?
Nicholson: The fun thing is, the nature of the way that this story is told is it would be a year later, so so many things can happen. I was joking around that maybe Ray was a stay-at-home dad and has a kid, and whatever that might be. But it could really be anything.
Jones: I definitely agree. I think something I'm looking forward to, if we do get a season two, I would hope I would get to work alongside Ray a little bit more often. I think that would be really dope, and really sick. I'd be really excited to really explore all of the story arcs, because there are some seeds that Lauren drops here and there. I'd love to follow through on all of those.prevnext
Being from ComicBook.com, I feel like I have to ask — is there a superhero character, or any sort of franchise that either of you would love to be in?
Jones: I would love to be Static Shock. I want to be Static Shock one day, and I also want to be The Joker one day. I think that'd be cool. I could actually go on for hours on that.
Nicholson: He would go on for hours. I'm more of a "We'll see what comes."0comments