IMDb TV’s Alex Rider is Amazon’s free streaming service’s new original series. We sat down with two of its stars, Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo and Brenock O’Connor.
Ruth Johnson: Ronkẹ, what drew you to the Alex Rider series? And were you familiar with the books?
Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo: What drew me to the series was my brother, actually, he read all of the Alex Rider books. When I had my meeting, I told him about it, even though it was top secret. He’s the only person I tell my secrets to anyway, and he was so excited. He was like, you have to get this. I went and read some of the books after. And I get why he loves it. It’s a great, great series of books.
Johnson: I’ve read them too. And I really enjoyed them when I was younger, too. They’re pretty great. Brenock, I have the same question. What drew you to the series? Did you read the books ahead of time?
Brenock O’Connor: Yeah, I read them in school. I’ve known of Alex Rider for a long time. And that said, it’s a ridiculous thing to say that I’m a part of it. Why I’m drawn to this project, in particular, is just the idea of giving this book series the life it deserves on screen. And making sure that we tell the story, the way that the books will tell the story, and for it to be told. I feel like we’ve managed to do that, and it’s a large part down to the incredible portrayal of Alex from Otto [Farrant].
Johnson: Definitely. I watched the first five episodes, and I was just blown away by everyone. So Brenock, what was it like creating a character that was only in later source material? He’s not in the second book, which is what I’ve been told is what the first season is based on?
O’Connor: It was really interesting because obviously, Tom is in the books. And I believe he’s a very different character in the series; in the books, he is fairly similar to Alex: blond, sporty, into those sorts of things. And the idea that I could just come in and take this foundation of the existing character and twist it and have some fun with it and make on my own–that was really exciting. The idea that I lived with this character since I was about 789. And then just being given the reins by the writer to go make it your own was a joy. So yeah, that was a really fun experience.
Johnson: And Ronkẹ, the character of Jack is a little different in the books. How did you kind of bring your own spin to her because she’s a really interesting character: American, former student?
Adékoluẹjo: I think what I tried to do was bring myself as much as possible in terms of her relationship with Alex and her reasons as for not staying in the States and being in London and taking up this job and being a part of this family. Those are the questions I really started to try and figure out like, “Who is she? And why would she do these things?” And it’s because her empathy seeps from her pores. She’s so involved with Alex and the family and London at this point. She can’t go anywhere else.
Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. I felt that connection between Jack and Alex very strongly. Brenock, what were the stunts like for you? Because I’ve heard you talk about some funny stories in other interviews.
O’Connor: Yeah, I didn’t have many stunts, but the ones I did have went a little bit wrong on the first try. First of all, Otto is a great actor and a great stunt performer. But when he’s tired, little things can slip. And there was one take where he managed to punch a stunt double in the nose and caused his nose to bleed. He punched me in the nose–elbowed me in the nose, in the same swing. It was impressive, actually, looking back on it. I’ve got the footage on my phone. That was a was painful, but it was fine. I bled a little bit, but you know, it’s a perk of the job that is bound to happen. If you get into enough fights on set, it’s going to happen.
Johnson: I know there have been so many actors who’ve had accidents on set and they seem to walk it off. So, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
O’Connor: The main takeaway was that I was absolutely fine.
Johnson: That’s good! Ronkẹ, Jack just gets so used to Alex’s spy life–she takes him shopping and gets him his haircut. So, talk to me about that and their dynamic?
Adékoluẹjo: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think she gets when she gets into the spy stuff, she’s done the research enough to know what Alex is and his new circle. But once Alex says this is exactly what he wants to do, Jack gets into the mode of “Okay, how can I support you?” I think, you know, there’s also that thing about spending money that isn’t yours. You know, this is a bank card. And she’s like, “This is amazing!” I don’t even know if Alex is involved in the thing that she goes to do, because she leaves him and then goes shopping as well, you know. I think, actually, when it comes to Jack, she gets caught up in the flow. I think it’s the equivalent of like Macy’s, we have like Selfridges. And I imagine that’s where she goes, and you know, when you just go and buy the most expensive thing, and the cashier is looking at you like, “Oh, you’re rich. It’s fine.”
Johnson: Brenock, what’s your favorite scene, and what was your favorite scene to shoot? Because you have a lot of great ones, I feel.
O’Connor: There were a lot of favorite scenes if that makes sense. Because every scene that I got to shoot with Otto had its own new challenges and ideas and ways to go. So, we found those scenes out together, and it was really gorgeous, working on scenes. The days leading up to shooting them with Otto was gorgeous. I think there’s a really lovely, soft moment between these two boys in one of the early episodes that I think is just a really lovely, honest scene of two boys just opening up and being vulnerable around each other. And I’d have to say that that was one of my favorites to shoot and also watching. It’s really lovely to see.
Johnson: Yeah, the vulnerability shown by everyone in the cast really sets it apart from a lot of action series, I think. Ronkẹ I’m going to ask the same question, what were your favorite scenes to shoot?
Adékoluẹjo: Yeah, a favorite is when we were shooting on the South Bank, which is along the River Thames, it’s a very wonderful place where you’ve got a lot of artists just doing things and we’ve got Shakespeare’s Globe and the National and we’ve got the Tate. And it was fun, because, you know, people would just come along and they’re just like, okay, setting up bubbles here. I just love interacting with the outside world. So that was one of my favorite scenes to shoot, but also the very, very last thing with Otto and Brenock I laughed so much. I just had such a good time. That was so much fun.
O’Connor: It was fun.
Johnson: I’m also interested in Jack’s relationship, Ronkẹ, with Uncle Ian. Obviously, we don’t see a lot of it, or I haven’t seen a lot of it yet. I don’t know if he comes back because I’m on the fifth episode. But do you know how they met? How do you imagine they met?
Adékoluẹjo: I imagine what happened is that Uncle Ian realized that he needed someone to be around for this very intelligent, very spontaneous young man. And a lot of nannies and housekeepers, and people who are really professional came along to the job. And I think Jack was just at school and she saw, like a note, and she just was like, “I’m going,” she showed up probably a little bit late, who walked in, “Like, sorry, what do you need? I’m gonna do it.” And Ian was like, “You, it’s going to be you.” Because she’s present. Present, in the moment. And especially when you’re taking care of boys of Alex’s age. You need to be present in the moment with those things because of who teenagers are. Also, at Otto’s age they could get up to trouble. I think that’s how I got the job. “Like, don’t worry. I got this.”
Johnson: “Give me the job.” I love that. Brenock, how did Tom and Alex meet?
O’Connor: You know, they were school chumps from a very young age. I think it’s the typical thing that if you live close to another kid your age, you will wind up hanging out with them and find out that they’re not your vibe, and you step back, or they’re very much your vibe and it’s an instant connection. I think that’s how it was it was: two boys who live two streets away from each other who had bikes. And that’s all there is to say: just go on bike rides with the boys and bond that way. I think that’s the way that I remember making mates, at younger ages. And I think that’s how it started for Alex and Tom.
Johnson: Is there anything more about the series you want to say, or why the audience should be excited about this new show?
O’Connor: Because it’s class, it’s just great. It’s good. And the people are pretty and great and talented and it’s nice.
Adékoluẹjo: Nothing but goodness, I think.
Alex Rider will arrive on Amazon’s free streaming platform, IDMb TV on November 13th, 2020. Check out the trailer below!