Burkely Duffield is the star of the highly-anticipated new Freeform series Beyond, and he could not be more ready to take this journey with fans.
Duffield recently spoke with Enstars exclusively about his role as Holden Matthews in Beyond, a bold new sci-fi series in which Duffield's character wakes up after a 12-year coma only to discover brand new powers and finds himself getting wrapped up in a huge conspiracy.
The actor was excited to speak with us about why the show was so appealing to him, and why it will appeal to fans both young and old, male and female.
Enstars: On Beyond you play Holden Matthews, who wakes up from a 12-year coma and suddenly has all these new powers that he doesn't understand. Can you tell me a little more about your character?
Burkely Duffield: So Holden is in a coma for a dozen years and on top of gaining these supernatural abilities it's really grounded in this character waking up and not understanding this world. He's missed so much of his adolescence and really those years that define who a person is and who they grow up into. So a big part of the show is him stumbling a lot - falling when he's trying to come in contact with new experiences. But it's him growing up as a person and sort of transitioning from a boy to a man.
You're probably most known for your role as Eddie Miller in House of Anubis - how would you compare and contrast Eddie vs. Holden?
That's a good question. I would say right off the bat that Eddie was much more confident in himself, and knew who he was. He was definitely the person to create problems, rather than Holden who likes to take more of a backseat and who's still figuring who he is. For similarities, I think they both have that curious nature to them, which, they're sort of first to look into something a little further and it definitely would both get them into trouble [Laughs].
What was it about this concept of Beyond that appealed to you?
I think a lot of things appealed to me. It's really, really well-written. As a piece of writing goes, to be able to have such flow and such a cool storyline with these different elements of drama and relationships and sci-fi and action - so many cool parts of shows that I've already loved, so that immediately drew the project to me as well as, this character's journey is really fun to play onscreen. It's a discovery of the world around him and it's really fun to have that wonderment - we see Holden growing up, which as an actor is a challenge to be able to do onscreen.
This show has a very sci-fi feeling to it and there's sure to be plenty of crazy twists and mind-bending moments, but can you speak on the show's emotional core?
Exactly, we do have these sci-fi elements that are very cool and sort of intense, but it really is grounded in these relationships and drama pieces that the characters interact with each other. Holden's getting to know himself as well as his family and we have some really intimate, very real family drama like real families do. There's relationships of love and hate and friendship, so it's a very cool story where all these characters are being connected at certain points and it really drives the story forward, is how these characters interact with each other.
You've been in the business for about a decade now but this looks to be one of your first real lead roles. Was there any nervousness in being the true lead of a show?
I would say there were nerves in there, and there are nerves - it's a responsibility, but I love it, and it's something that I feel is a privilege. To be the head of a show that revolves around my character, it's something I've always dreamed of and it's an honor to be sitting here talking about the show right now, especially after we've completed such a cool first season that we're really excited about showing.
On that same track, since this show deals in science fiction and has a relatively young cast, it has the potential to attract a big cult following. Do you have any thoughts on getting ready to go on this big journey with fans?
It's gonna be an exciting journey. It's something that is still sort of new to me, but it's cool project and we're excited about it so I just can't wait for our fans to be able to hop on the train with us, and we lived through the show as we filmed it and I think it's going to be a very exciting ride for everyone and I'm even more excited to see everyone's response because it's something that I'm proud of, and myself as well as my co-stars - very talented actors I played across from - are really going to give all that we can to make everyone come back for each episode.
Beyond feels like an interesting departure from Freeform's usual programming in that it doesn't seem targeted mainly at teen girls and young women. What would you say to men or people of an older generation who might be skeptical about watching a show on Freeform?
It's funny because there are certain networks that have a stigma attached to them, but I would just say, 'give it a shot.' Freeform is a new network, it's really rebranding and it's throwing out some cool shows, so give the network, let alone 'Beyond' a chance. And I think you're gonna be surprised by not only our show but the entire network and all the cool shows they're going to be offering on their channel.
Also Beyond is Freeform's first experimenting with making all the episodes available to binge-watch right after the premiere airs on TV. I know it's also going to keep airing weekly, but do you think there's a benefit to this show in particular being watched through binging rather than just having traditional weekly episodes?
I personally love being able to watch my shows like that. I like immersing myself in characters or a show and taking a night, a weekend, a day or whatever it is to really dive in and be in that life of the show. So to be able to give audiences the opportunity to sit down and really be in Beyond and watch the show and not just be left with the cliffhanger - you gotta watch the next one, sometimes you just have to! To give the audiences the opportunity to do that, I'm excited for them to watch more than one and because that's the way I would wanna watch it I think it's a show that will really pull you back and you're going to want to see the next episode.
Are there any shows on the air right now or movies that you could compare it to?
I think, with my understanding of what our show's about, I think it's something different. I don't know if I could do a comparison to anything on TV right now. It's going to offer something new, and you're gonna be able to see that story, and down to the cinematography and how it's filmed, we really tried to make it look different, be different, and I'm hoping people are going to take a look at the show and it's going to be something that's compared to us as opposed to us being compared to something else and I think we truly have that opportunity to have that.
So speaking on that, are there any shows on the air you're loving right now?
I just finished watching Westworld. I was very into that show, I thought that was a very cool psychological journey. That would be the last show I was super into.
And Westworld does share a few similarities with Beyond - characters questioning what's happening, and you're not really sure of reality.
In that sense, exactly. The questioning of what's beyond the reality that most people take at face value, so it does actually have a couple similarities.
You also had a minor role in this year's Warcraft movie, which went on to gross over $400 million worldwide. What was that whole experience like?
That was amazing. To be part of a film on that scale is really an honor and it was a really fun experience. The immense size of the shoot was crazy, to be in studios and working with different actors, and the stage of the combat training, amazing sets and stuff like that. To be able to see how it all came together and all the animation factors that went into it after we were done filming, it was really cool.
You're all wrapped up with the first season of Beyond, so do you have any other projects lined up that people might be interested in?
We finished season 1 and my job is sort of continuing in the Beyond fashion - to be able to do press and stuff like this right now, it's a cool part to be able to be excited about a project and take the time to be able to tell fans about it. I'd say just right now look for me in Beyond!
Beyond premieres Jan. 2 at 9/8c with a two-hour premiere on Freeform. All 10 episodes of Beyond will be available via digital platforms including the Freeform App, Freeform.com, On Demand and Hulu simultaneous with the two-hour TV premiere.