High school can be difficult. But high school with aliens? That’s a whole new ballgame.
The CW is set to premiere Star-Crossed Season 1 tonight, and I recently spoke with star Matt Lanter about what to expect from the show, which includes social issues, love triangles and lots of action.
According to Lanter, the freshman series is a “futuristic ‘Romeo and Juliet’ meets District 9 meets Brown vs. the Board of Education.”
Read on for excerpts from the interview…
What is Star-Crossed?
Star-Crossed is kind of a Romeo and Juliet tale set in the future in 2024. We’ve got major elements of social issues: segregation and equality are major players in our story. Aliens [known as Atrians] crash landed 10 years ago, and they’ve been on Earth for a while now. It’s not a hiding thing. They’re out. It’s about how to deal with aliens and coexist as a society.
And that’s where the [Star-Crossed Season 1 Episode 1] picks up, in a government program where alien kids are put into an American high school to see how that goes as possibly a model for society. It’s a really interesting dynamic and of course, all the craziness and drama that happens, too.
What was it about the pilot that attracted you to join Star-Crossed?
I think it was a bit of everything, but first and foremost, what jumped off the page, was that it was different from 90210, what I had been doing for the past five years. 90210 was kind of a soap opera pretty much about rich kids in Beverly Hills and could not be more different from [Star-Crossed].
The sci-fi thing was a lot of fun. It was a cool thought to think that maybe I could be working on a sci-fi show for a number of years. I am a sci-fi fan, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it. I just saw so much potential in the script, the characters and the whole sci-fi element. It just seemed really fun. And the show has a bit of a darker tone, kind of a grittier show than we’ve seen on the CW yet, especially bringing in those social elements.
There’s a lot of racial injustice happening, a power struggle, a political struggle happening. There’s a lot of deception. There’s a lot to take in, but I guess because of all that was why I wanted to be a part of that.
And what about your character, Roman?
Roman is majorly conflicted. Roman is an alien and Emery [portrayed by Aimee Teegarden] is a human girl, so that's where the Romeo and Juliet factor comes in. It’s a forbidden romance, a romance that has to be but can’t be. These two young people are fighting against what the world around them is saying and directing them to do.
All the aliens have some cool tattoos, but do they have any powers or abilities?
I think that as we go on, we will learn more about them. There are powers. Some are physical, some are mental. I don’t want to give too much away but more stuff like that will come out. One thing I can tell you because I know our producer has already said it is that the tattoos that you see all over the Atrians, they actually do have a special function, and one of those functions that we know of is they can breathe through those markings. They are more like birthmarks than they are tattoos. Each alien has unique individual markings.
What do you think stands out about the relationship of Roman and Emery?
I think the obvious is that he’s alien and she’s human. It’s never really been done before and it’s completely taboo. … There’s a lot of dangers that come along with having this relationship between these two. Again, it harkens back to things that we’re happening 50 years ago like interracial relationships, and especially in some parts of the country 50 years ago, that could get you killed. And we kind of explore that.
Will there also be some CW love triangles as well?
Absolutely. We’re talking about all the social issues, but it’s still the CW. It’s still a fun sexy show. We’ve got a lot of cool stuff happening too. That’s why I’m generally so excited for this show and hope people feel the same way. On top of that, you can take a lot of intellectual story if you want, but we have stuff that’s just cool. There’s action, lot of blowing things up in the first three episodes. We’ve done some underwater work where we were being fed the breathing tube with scuba divers, so we’ve got just cool different stuff.
Of course, love triangles happen, primarily with a student who is a human named Grayson. You’ll find out that Emery starts high school in the pilot because she’s been in out of the hospital her entire life. They kind of explain that. She’s new. Roman’s new. And then in comes Grayson who is kind of a representation of “normal” to Emery. She just wants to be a normal girl, and I think Grayson offers that. They don’t have the obstacles keeping them apart like Roman and Emery do. So it’s a much easier choice to be with Grayson, and that’s a much more tempting thing for Emery.
What surprised you the most about working on Star-Crossed?
You know, I don’t know if it surprised me the most, but I was really impressed with the writing team. Every single episode I would get, there’s so much going on. This show moves so quickly. The first couple episodes you need to give the show a shot and understand who the people are, and there’s so many layers happening.
But every week, our writers would put out scripts with so much going on and follow ups and ramifications that have happened in scripts before. I was surprised how relevant they kept the scripts. I mean, in episode 4 I’m thinking "where are they going to go with this," but sure enough, amazing scripts that answer that. Our finale, episode 13, is pretty epic.
And why should viewers tune in?
First and foremost, it’s fun and entertaining. It has something for everyone. It’s got social injustice and social issues. It’s action packed. There’s some hot and heavy romance. Whatever you want out of the show, you’re going to be able to get it.
Star-Crossed airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on the CW.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.