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26 Apr 2023

A moment with the cast of Hulu’s original series ‘Saint X’

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April 26, 2023 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

By Kharisma McIlwaine

The world has opened back up and travel is on the minds of a lot of people. A relaxing vacation on a beach at a tropical location is one of life’s greatest gifts. But what happens when a trip to paradise transforms into an extended stay in purgatory? Hulu’s original series “Saint X” explores some of those concepts. 

Adapted from Alexis Schaitkin’s novel of the same name, and written and executive produced by Leila Gerstein, the eight-episode series explores the mysterious death of a young teen named Alison (West Duchovny)that occurs during a family vacation in the Caribbean. Told through multiple timelines, the story unfolds offering the audience a window into the minds of the people closest to Alison, and how they were impacted by her death. Several members of the “Saint X” cast including, Alycia Debnam-Carey (Emily Thomas), West Duchovny (Alison Thomas), Josh Bonzie (Clive “Gogo” Richardson) and Jayden Elijah (Edwin) spoke with the SUN about their experience on the show.

When Alison finds herself face to face with Edwin,  one of the workers at the resort, the two quickly become enamored with one another. Duchovny and Elijah shared what it was like working together.

“West is great — I love working with West,” Elijah said. “It was just so easy and so natural. We would get to a point where we’d be having a hot and heavy make-out scene, cut would be shouted and then we’d just go back to talking about what we saw on Twitter. Working with West and exploring our characters, in the moment, in front of the camera was sick.”

“I agree! Jayden is the dream to work with just because he’s down for anything and he’s so present,” Duchovny said.  “Sometimes you work with actors and you see them seeing you — it helps you be in the moment so much.  We do have some intimate scenes and he always made me feel comfortable. We were both just trying to play and with Alison and Edwin, that’s what they’re doing. They’re flirting and playing, and we got to do what they were doing.”

In addition to their playfulness, Alison and Edwin’s characters are not who they appear to be on the surface. Alison comes from a wealthy family of privilege, but she is outspoken and attempts to use her privilege for good.  Edwin appears to be kind and sweet but has a dark side and hidden motives.

“The challenge with Alison is that she’s not entirely sure who she is yet, so she’s full of these contradictions,” Duchovny explained. “On the one hand, she’s trying to educate herself and be more aware to recognize her privilege, but on the other hand, she’s still extremely ignorant and unaware in many ways. Exploring those contradictions was so fun.”.

“The way Edwin treats women as disposable is horrible, and I don’t cosign that in any way,” Elijah said. “I think Edwin is a complicated man and a lot of his behavior and cynicism [toward] the tourists, citizens and girls that he encounters is necessary, because he is in a service industry position with people who think of him as disposable.  So, the only way he knows how to react to that and get any semblance of power and dignity back is to do a similar thing.”

Throughout “Saint X”, there is also an obvious power dynamic between Edwin and his best friend Clive (Bonzie). Like Edwin, the perception of Clive is very different from who he actually is.

“We share that with each other, as someone who is tall at 6’3,” Bonzie said. “People have a certain idea of me and most other Black men I know when we walk into a room. Then we open our mouths and we’re seen as something totally different. I think this idea and this truth that everyone contains multitudes, and no one is any one thing that you might think… I was really blessed to put that on the screen with Clive.”

In addition to Clive having to manage other people’s perceptions of him, he is also dealing with betrayal from a number of people around him — Edwin, Sara (Bre Francis), his child’s mother and his new “friend” Emily (Debnam-Carey).

“To have to deal with heartbreak over and over again, then you finally meet someone in New York that becomes a friend and realize they’re using and betraying you as well — the psyche of that was hard,” Bonzie said. “Playing that was difficult in a certain way because to play the truth of character I really wanted to feel these things and go through it with him. It was a doozy!”

New York and the island both act as characters in “Saint X.” Gentrification and the idea of belonging are also at the forefront of the concepts explored in the show.

“It’s art imitating life,” Bonzie said. “It’s happening as we’re talking right now. That’s what’s so wonderful about the kind of work that we get to do, and any artist that works in a way where they can shine the mirror back on the human condition. It’s really something that I value and would like to bring it to everything I do. It’s really interesting the idea of gentrification and how the show plays into that and displays that. Sometimes in our rush to understand something or place blame, we fail to see things as they are and what’s really happening with us. So, I would hope that the takeaway here is there’s a pause that happens for a brief second of thoughtfulness before we all jump to our own conclusions and judgments”

With Emily’s character, we see her struggle with bypassing her own preconceived notions of Clive as she seeks to uncover the truth about her sister’s unsolved murder.

“I think it’s one of the things that drew me to the role,” Debnam-Carey said. “This exploration of someone’s psychological downward spiral, not just to figure out obviously what happened to her sister and find some sort of justice–but at the same time it really is, at its very core, trying to figure out who she is after such a,you know, traumatic event that happened when [she] was a child. She sort of became two different people — it fractured her. A lot of what Josh and I talked about is that when trauma happens, it often freezes your development at the age the trauma happens. We see that in the way that Claire becomes Emily and adopts a lot of traits like her sister and tries to fill the void of what her sister left behind for her parents and herself.”

“Saint X” does not shy away from the role that race plays in who was held responsible for the death of Alison — two young Black men, Edwin and Clive, with very little evidence. Emily, who now lives in a gentrified Caribbean neighborhood in New York, struggles to find out the truth at all costs.

“Josh (Clive) and I talked about this sort of invisible thread that the two of them have,” Debnam-Carey said. This “push and pull” because of an event that has changed the course of their lives that keeps bringing up more questions than answers. She (Emily) will never be able to fully surrender or feel like herself until she feels like she’s found some truth for her, for who she is, and what’s happened. This story has so many complicated layers to it, and I hope it does shine light and a mirror on the way that these sorts of narratives — that are all too common in the media — are fetishized and warped. It showcases the way that when a tragedy happens to a community, how much it impacts that community and how little we see of the impact. It shows the way that racial injustice and biases play a huge part in all of this. It even explores the deeper roots of colonialism going back to the resort island dynamic that is so insidious. I thought it was [such] a very complex nuanced portrayal that I want to see more.”

“Saint X” premieres on Hulu on April 26. Tune in to find out all the unanswered questions.

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