The newest Hulu series Saint X, based on the 2020 novel by Alexis Schaitkin, has finally been released. We got to sit down with the cast to speak about their challenges, preparation, and overall thoughts.
Off Colour: So, I enjoyed both of your performances. I thought they were really great. Um, so I’m curious to know, what was preparation like going into the role? And did either do you read Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin?
Josh Bonzie: I got the role on a Tuesday and flew out to shoot Saturday. So it’s a very quick process. So, first thing I did when I got the role was read Saint X to see if I could soak up anything useful. And then working on finding the character’s voice, the physicality, and he moves in the world was next on the list. So it was definitely a deep, immersive process.
Alycia Debnam-Carey: Similar to Josh, it was a very quick induction into the job. When I started, I actually chose to focus on the scripts first. I heard from our showrunner and our directors that there were different changes in Saint X, especially for Emily.
In my head, I didn’t want to cross-pollinate what was happening in the book and what was happening on the script. It was easier for me to focus just on the scripts and make sure I was getting that right. When we finished, I read the book and saw what was happening on the page versus on screen. So, it’s definitely a case-by-case basis, but I think this one says to be better to just focus on the scripts first.
Off Colour: Did either of you experience any challenges during your preparation, as quick as they were?
Josh Bonzie: Getting the dialect getting a grasp on it was a lot of hours, minutes, days, went into sort of figuring out how we were going to sound together in relation to each other, that was probably the biggest challenge.
Alycia Debnam-Carey: I think, for me, it’s such a nuanced insight into a character’s sort of emotional, mental, downward spiral. And for me, it was really important to make sure to hit these different layers that character went through. You know, in so many ways, this is a reconciliation of two different parts of a person. This child-like version that experienced one thing. And then this adult who had to adapt to a world and given a narrative about someone that she’s now having to sort of, reconcile in real-time, and, in turn, figure out actually then, who she is, and, not just what really happened, but who Emily is. So for me, it became a lot more of a deep dive into, like, a nuanced character study.
I do have a deeper question for you both. So, as a viewer of Saint X, I did like how the show depicted the ugly parts of tourism. I also thought the series focused more on the Black male characters as suspects than the white male characters who were also suspects in Alison’s death. How do you expect that to come across as viewers, especially Black viewers when the show releases?
Josh Bonzie: Absolutely. Well, I think Saint X, what we tend to watch, is sort of a sleight of hand, right? You think that it’s these black gravity curves, you know? Time and time again, we’ve seen the false accusations against Black people. And so, and I think this show kind of throws it in your face a little bit, to where you’re like, Oh, my thoughts were here. I assumed it was these guys. And now look what’s happened. And it kind of kind of turns the mirror back on you a little bit, I think.
Alycia Debnam-Carey: Well, I think Saint X does serve to try and uncover a lot of about the experiences that have happened around this incident, you know. Especially what an event like this does to a community, or in a foreign country. How that’s depicted in the media and how we’re so fast to grab onto that kind of narrative. It kind of tries to bring up those questions of race and inequality and injustice. You know that even the deeper questions of colonization and how that’s embedded in our society, so I, you know, I hope as viewers that it’s, you know, it does feel layered.
Want to read more from Portia? Check out Chatting with the Cast of ‘A Thousand One.’