Burkely Duffield stars in Beyond, an all-new original series coming to Freeform on Jan. 2, 2017. We caught up with Burkely to find out more about the premise of the show, his character Holden, his favorite shows to binge-watch and more! Read on for our interview with Burkely Duffield.
First, tell us about your Beyond character Holden and what drew you to the role!
Burkely Duffield: Holden is the character we center around in Beyond as he miraculously wakes up from being in a coma after 12 long years, and he’s having to come to terms with a whole new life. He doesn’t recognize anything around him and it’s really something that takes a toll on him and his family. And on top of that, he now has these unbelievable powers and abilities that he also needs to get a handle on.
As an actor, being able to portray such a diverse character who is going on such a cool journey in front of the audience’s eyes is something that immediately drew me to the role. It’s such a well-written project – Adam Nussdorf [creator, writer, and EP of Beyond] really is a very, very talented man to be able to create this project. To see so many cool aspects of character development and relationships as well as some really cool action/sci-fi bits in it as well were all drawing factors that I loved the idea of being able to portray.
As you mentioned, Holden was in a coma for 12 years. Those years encompassed all of high school, all of college, and the post-college transition into being a working professional. Would you say that losing one specific time period has been particularly damaging to him and his development, or was there more of a cumulative impact?
I think it’s a combination of both. In everyone’s life in this world that we live in, those years of adolescence that he missed from 13 to 25 are such important building blocks that really shape the way young adults see the world, perceive situations, and react to one another. To take those years away from someone – as we see in Holden’s case – is something that really sets him back. He doesn’t know who he is when he wakes up. He thinks he’s that 13-year-old kid who fell into a coma and he’s having to come into a world where he’s treated as an adult and needs to figure out how he’s going to see the world and move forward. It’s definitely something that we dive into and see what environmental changes are going to push Holden in certain directions.
Holden wakes up to a lot of changes in his life. In the same vein as the previous question, would you say there’s one specific change that he finds particularly unsettling, or is it more that everything’s different?
I think all of the changes in themselves are unsettling in their entirety, but one of the hardest parts for him is really that home life. If the world is different and he accepts that, when he walks into his house for the first time, he wants to at least have his family there. He was close to them growing up, so he at least wants that core home life to be the same and just to be able to be himself. He’s really trying to connect with his parents and hoping it’s going to get off to a good start. I think one of the biggest parts was seeing his brother grown up and that his family has changed. I think that was something that definitely affected him – just realizing that everything has changed.
If you knew or encountered Holden in real life, what’s be the first thing you’d want to show him or teach him about that wasn’t around 12 years ago?
Wow! I think I would just try to show him what there is. Seeing everything from a step back is really tough, but as [his brother] Luke and his parents try to do, they just try to incorporate him back in. It’s not such a big, scary world even though it looks like it is. You can still find happiness, you can still have friends, you can still have everything that you want – it’s just changed a little bit. I think Holden is a bit scared to get back into society and try some new things, so if I met him, I’d try to sort of help him with trying to form a new life.
All 10 episodes of Beyond will be available via digital platforms following the two-hour premiere on Freeform. What would you say to encourage viewers who saw the first two episodes on TV to watch the rest of the season digitally?
It’s really a show that builds momentum. If you’re drawn in by the first two episodes – whether it be by the drama, the action, the intensity, or any of those factors – you can expect more and even better in the later episodes. I think [digital viewing] is a really addicting way to watch new shows these days. A lot of platforms are allowing shows to be binged, and Beyond is one of those shows that really tries to take you in, put you in the lives of these characters, and immerse you in this new world that we’re creating in front of your eyes. I’m excited! I think that this is a cool opportunity to give our audience, to keep them on the edge of their seats but then offer more for them to watch. That’s how I’d love to watch it. When I watch it, I’ll probably be bingeing it too!
Speaking of binge-watching, do you have any go-to shows?
Good question! I do love TV, and I make my way through a lot of different shows. I just finished Westworld – I was watching religiously week to week, but I did jump on the bandwagon a little late, so I had the first three episodes to watch. It’s really just what I can get my hands on. With a lot of shows, if I’m a little bit late to the game, I’ll try to roll through as many as I can to get caught up. If season 2 is airing, I love smashing through season 1 to get to it! It really just depends on what genre I’m into at the time and what sort of shows that I’m bouncing to.
Lastly, Beyond premieres on Jan. 2, so the new year is starting off on an exciting note for you. Do you have any other projects coming up, and what are your hopes for 2017?
Right now is a really exciting time because we’re getting very close to the premiere. I don’t have anything right on the horizon for 2017, but that’s because I’m excited to be able to promote our show! Once it gets released, we’re hoping people are gonna watch it and then we’re going to be able to promote it even more to be able to get that traction with the audience. That’s a fun part of 2017 that I’m already looking forward to. For the rest of the year, I can only hope that we will have the opportunity to give the audience more Beyond!
So you want to go beyond the Beyond?
Yes! Go beyond the Beyond, exactly!
Thanks to Burkely Duffield for giving us the 411 on Beyond! Tune in to Freeform on Monday, Jan. 2, at 9/8c for the two-hour Beyond season premiere, then access the entire first season via the Freeform website and app, On Demand, and Hulu. Don’t forget to follow the Beyond Twitter account, plus Burkely Duffield’s personal Twitter and Instagram!