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Exclusive: We Talked to 'Beyond’s Burkely Duffield & Now We Legit Can't Wait for Season 2

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Have you ever seen one of those movies where a kid wishes he was an adult and wakes up the next morning as one? The Freeform series Beyond, starring Burkely Duffield, is a sci-fi variation of that idea. Burkely, who had previously starred in House of Anubis, plays Holden Matthew, who, as a child, was plunged into a coma. Awakening 12 years later, and having grown up without the normal life experiences, he also must deal with the fact that he has acquired bizarre powers, and that he finds himself the bridge between Earth and the otherwordly Realm, which in itself serves as a bridge between life and death.

As Beyond returns for its second season on January 18th, we sat down with Burkely for this exclusive one-on-one interview to take an inside look at the new year, and the impact the series has had on his life.

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J-14: How would you say the character of Holden has evolved from when we met him to where he is in season two?

Burkely Duffield: “I think that Holden is really continuing to grow up, and season one you see him sort of very outwardly not knowing how to react to things, whereas, season two, having that foundation laid, you see him at least being able to make a lot more decisions for himself, and having a little bit more confidence in who he is. Whether or not he's making the right decisions, at least he is putting down the foundation to be able to rely more on himself to make decisions with his life, with his relationships.”

J-14: Given what Holden went through, it would seem that in playing the character, you’d really have to tap into a sense of innocence.

Burkely: “Innocence is a perfect word for it. It took a very different sort of analytical sense, when I was reading the scripts, to want to contain this character who hadn't really experienced almost anything for the past 12 years. It was a different way for me to read it. To think, “Okay, maybe he hasn't encountered this before, how would someone encounter that?” Besides innocence, the word we used a lot in describing him — the director and I — is wonderment. When a child or a baby is looking at the world for the first time, that awe and that sort of inspiration they have in their eyes is something we really wanted to bring to this character. So it definitely did take a little bit more preparation and a different sort of analytical sense of me reading the scripts, but we wanted to preserve that innocence of the character, which is sort of progressing through, and trying to grow him into a man. But at the beginning he doesn't have any context.”

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J-14: In season two, how would you say the relationships between Holden and the people around him are changing?

Burkely: “Two of those relationships immediately come to mind. First, there’s Holden and Willa [Dilan Gwyn]. In season two they finally have a chance to sort of breathe. They've always been either on the run, or had some sort of danger behind them, or something sort of imminently that they have to deal with. It's interesting finding them with, finally, a chance to get to know each other. The relationship is sort of changing in that it seems harder for them to connect with each other than they thought was possible. What it means to really connect with someone is something that’s changing. I would also say the brother dynamic between Holden and Luke [Jonathan Whitesell] would be the second one, in that now that they're finally on the same page and they do have this love for each other. They also really do have different views on these abilities that Holden has. You know, Luke sees them as a little bit more of a superpower, wondering why Holden isn’t saving people from burning buildings or lifting cars when there's someone trapped under them. Whereas Holden sees his powers as this burden that he possesses. So, how he chooses to use them when they're in danger can definitely cause the boys to butt heads. You see that loving, brotherly relationship, but almost the progression to a brotherly rage at some points.”

J-14: As things go on, do you feel that Holden will reach a point where he starts to view himself as something of a superhero?

Burkely: “These powers are so fresh and new that I would hope, for Holden’s sake, that he’s able to embrace them a little bit more. I can definitely understand his feelings, though. From his perspective, at least at this point, they haven't brought him anything but trouble. They've brought him into this world of danger and, as we'll see this season, continue to put him in a state of peril. Not only him, but the ones that he loves as well. So, I would hope that he’ll have some moments to himself to embrace them as something helpful, that he could choose to use to help himself and others. But at the moment he seems to only use them when there’s a dire situation. You can’t really blame him for not liking them when they keep putting his life in danger.”

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J-14: What kind of impact has the success of the show had on you?

Burkely: “What’s so amazing is the opportunities I’ve had. Attending conventions, the live tweets when the episodes air, and the interactions with my fans — I love the idea that I’m able to share the show and talk to them about it. It's been an amazing ride. I've always been excited to meet the people that are as excited as I am.”

J-14: Is the science fiction genre something you’re a fan of?

Burkely: “As an actor it's really fun to stretch your boundaries, and I love to take on all kinds of different projects from dramatic to melancholy, to sci-fi, to anything action that comes my way. But, for me personally, I find it really cool to be in a genre that I've always loved. Sci-fi is such a cool place that is getting explored so much these days, whether it be in a dramatic sense or a very sort of nostalgic sense in Stranger Things, or in a very dark sense like Black Mirror. There's a whole bunch of cool ways that sci-fi is evolving in this generation, and to be a part of a show that's taking it in an interesting way is really cool. It’s a passion of mine, so it's really neat to be able to see myself playing it on screen.”

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J-14: What kind of feeling was it to go from being a guest star or a supporting player to the leading man on a television series?

Burkely: “It is a phenomenal, really cool experience after so much time aspiring for it. To look at a call sheet, to see everyone sort of numbered here and there, and then to see yourself as the lead and the number one on the call sheet is really, really cool. It puts you in a place where you're working a lot, and you're working ... I can't say the hardest, but you're working very, very hard at the job that you love. I've strived for a position like this, and I'm hopefully going to keep it.”

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J-14: When you decided to become an actor, how tough was the journey to get there?

Burkely: “It was a very slow process. I mean, it wasn't something where you get to wake up one morning and you're the lead of a huge film. I started doing commercials, and then I did some stand-in work, and then I was a background player, and I did some extra stuff, and then it was a little commercial role, and then, you know, oh, my gosh, you got a small part in a TV movie. Then a guest star. So it was very much a progression for me. Sometimes it's been steady work, sometimes I've had gaps in my career where I didn't work. So I don't take any of it for granted. Every step that I've taken has led me to where I am now, so I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be able to have an amazing show and to be talking to you right now about it. It's been a really fun ride.”

Beyond airs Thursday nights on Freeform.

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