Meet The Pride of Marvel’s 'Runaways': James Marsters and Ever Carradine

As Chase Stein’s parents Victor and Janet on Runaways, James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, [...]

As Chase Stein's parents Victor and Janet on Runaways, James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood) and Ever Carradine (Shameless, Code Black) provide both a wealth of television experience and a study in contrasts: where Victor, a brilliant, driven scientist and engineer, is frequently demanding and insistent that his son lives up the potential greatness Victor expects of him, Janet, whose contribution to The Pride is ambiguous, presents a picture-perfect vision of their dysfunctional family to the outside world while offering Chase a supportive maternal shoulder to lean on.

During a press visit to the set of the Hulu series, Marsters and Carradine opened up about exactly who they believe their characters to be.

On whether their characters qualify as villains:

James Marsters: I don't think that there are such things as villains. I think that there are just people who are hurting other people, sometimes for the best of intentions and sometimes for the worst. I think that in different times in my life, I've been the hero, and I've been the villain. Another way to answer that is, I think that we're all evil sometimes. How many people are wearing tennis shoes, and where were they made? I think that I'm hurting people, but I think that I'm very well understood. I don't know if I'm misunderstood at all. I think people know exactly where Victor is coming from.

Self-doubt is a little painful. Victor does not suffer from that. Victor is convinced that "My way is best, and I know the best way forward." That kind of thinking has built an empire for me. At work, I am trying to save the world, and I'm primarily concerned that the human species will survive for at least two generations.

Once the human race is going to survive, then the nice people can have the reins again. That's fine. You guys can give yourself back rubs and do whatever nice people do. But until we survive, someone has gotta be ruthless about this. Someone has gotta move that ball. Someone's gotta break the eggs necessary to change society that dramatically. If I'm remembered as the mean guy, fine.

Ever Carradine: Janet doesn't seem to be offering anything to The Pride. She's not building something, and she's not the brains behind any operation, but she is the rock behind Victor Stein. In some of the flashbacks, you'll see that Janet is pretty smart, in her own right, and was going places in school, and then gave a lot of that up to be Mrs. Stein and support Victor. The Pride is glued together. They've painted themselves into a corner, and they're stuck, and they've gotta work it out and stick together.

They've all entered Pride together, and once you're in, you're in, whether you are inventing something or not. She knows the secrets of The Pride, she shows up at Pride meetings, and she participates in whatever it is that Pride does. She's an active member – she just doesn't actively create things, like some of the other people in Pride.

On their contrasting relationships with their son Chase – his demanding, hers comforting:

Marsters: I think Victor's kind of thinking, he's taken that into the home. That may not be the wisest thing to do, especially with a child. I'm a dad, and I know how easy it is to tell my kids at all times that they're perfect and every single thing they do is great, even when I know that they're not doing their best. Then I'm liked, and that feels good.

Maybe the better thing to do is to say, "That's not your best. You're capable of more than that. That's not enough." Maybe that's a better parent. I think that's definitely Victor. He may be going a little too far in that direction, but which is worse? Going too far in that direction, or in always telling your kid that second best is good enough?

Carradine: She's a great mother. I think that she protects and loves her son. I think that mothers who stay at home to parent and run the house are heroes. Sometimes not going to work is a lot harder than going to work, and I love that about her. Throughout the course of the series, she takes one for the team, a little bit.

Chase has a complicated relationship with his father, so she's much more of a rock for him, and a consistent source of love and support. A lot of the show is very emotionally grounded. You don't get to see a lot of it, but I hope there are little moments where you see that this is a mother that loves her son and he can confide in her, even if you haven't seen that.

The interesting thing for me about Janet is that her job is trying to keep her family together. She can't leave Victor, and she's not gonna leave her son, so it's a constant battle of making the best out of sometimes a really complicated or terrible situation.

I think that every parent's job is to prepare your children to be able to go off into the world. As a parent, you want to have faith that you did a good job and that your kids can make good decisions and go off on their own, but right as that's happening, these children are looking differently at their parents. I think all children idolize their parents, and these children are learning that their parents aren't exactly everything that they thought they were. That makes for really good television.

On their entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Marsters: Having been a fan of Marvel for a long time, I'm excited to actually start producing entertainment based on this stuff. Marvel has always, for me, had well-rounded characters, like three-dimensional characters. Spider-Man is a real teenager. He's got real stuff going on. Wolverine's got some real stuff going on. He went through enough pain early on that you understand why he acts the way he does. All of them are like that.

I think it's a perfect opportunity for an actor to come in and maybe layer that more. It's very hard to take a one-dimensional or two-dimensional character and flesh it out. But if the characters are already three-dimensional, you have a much larger playing field. That's very exciting.

Carradine: The biggest challenge is trying to learn how to put the Marvel email on my iPad, with the password and the passcodes! There's a lovely man at Marvel I.T. who all of Pride has to call, while all the kids are like, "Here, let me fix it for you!" That was super challenging. I also learned very quickly that I can keep my mouth shut.

It feels very much like a family. It doesn't feel like you're going to your big, scary friend's house. You feel like you're invited over and should be there.