Syfy’s new fantasy series OLYMPUS takes viewers into the world of where Greek gods exist and the amazing stories of the mortals who fought them and banished them. It shows the rise of a young man destined to conquer the Greek gods and save mankind from their tyrannical rule. There are ambitious motivations, political alliances, and there are some of noble heart that just want to help overthrow the yoke of the unforgiving Greek gods.
In an exclusive interview, star Levi Meaden talked about his role as a young scribe who serves the royal family and the fun he had playing the character of Kimon. (He also give a shout-out to his short-lived role on the CW series THE 100 and an upcoming appearance on iZOMBIE.)
What initially drew you to the role of Kimon?
LEVI: I grew up loving those kinds of shows and loving Greek mythology. So I thought the idea of doing a historical action-adventure seemed like a bit of fun. Then there’s the relationship aspect that I found interesting, in pushing me out of my comfort-zone and I’ve never really had the chance to explore that on screen before.
How would you describe Kimon in his role of serving the Olympus gods?
LEVI: He is just a lowly page to the prince. The gods are only mentioned as they do not actually show up in OLYMPUS. We have Cyclops and several other things that come into play, but the gods themselves have yet to show up. Kimon initially comes from a lower end family. But he’s smart, so he’s managed to climb his way up into the upper echelon of Athens and overcome his lower place. He is not in power, but he is right next to power and happy to serve them. So he is, at heart, a servant and he is someone who takes a lot of pride in that. He takes a lot of pride to being a confidante to those around him.
Is that genuine or does he have an ulterior motive?
LEVI: It’s a pretty fun drama, so everybody has an ulterior motive. But when his motives get called into question, he has to figure out who he can align himself with.
Who would you say Kimon is closest to? Who does he care about?
LEVI: That’s a good question because it comes into play between a few people. He is raised by the brother to the king, Pallas (John Emmet Tracy), who is to him like a father-figure. So Kimon grew up admiring someone who taught him all the things that he takes pride in. There’s a lot there. But as he comes up in the palace, he becomes close to Prince Lykos (Wayne Burns) and they form a unique and close bond. It is something that Kimon has never had the opportunity to have before. So I think that is something that challenges him a lot and he kind of has a crisis between those two people.
What was it like working with your co-stars Wayne Burns and Graham Shiels as Prince Lykos and King Aegeus?
LEVI: It was great. Graham is such a power-house when he is on screen. He is so fun to watch. He has a booming voice and it just echoes through chambers from across the set. It was so cool to see. Then Wayne and I hit it off really well, right off the bat. He’s super sweet and plays this role just so likable and so wonderfully. Working with him and getting to hang out with him and compare notes on characters was really awesome. It is something you don’t always get on sets. So it’s nice when you do, especially if you have that relationship on screen.
What is something you learned while playing Kimon on OLYMPUS?
LEVI: There’s a lot of scenes that I’m not actively involved in, but I have a pre-existing relationship or a pre-existing dialogue established between my and Wayne’s characters that we portray on screen, so there were a lot of times where I got to make-up our characters’ story outside of what was being shown. I think I really learned a lot about how to round out a world outside of what you are given to really develop a full-fledged character and really flesh out your character relationships with some improvisation and ideas about where the characters come from when we are not on screen.
For you, what was exciting to do on the show?
LEVI: A lot of it was fun for me. I loved the idea of doing a period piece and then on top of everything else the one thing I haven’t gotten to do before this show was work on a predominantly green-screen driven stage. So there was obviously a stage that was a foam room that was physically there and then there was a stage that was all green-screen. Doing that was a whole new set that had to be developed because there is a lot of imagination in hitting cues and trying to figure out where you are in a space. That was actually a lot of fun to explore and figure out and make up. You got to imagine your own world and how the show would be. Just seeing from the trailers what they developed is really, really cool.
That has to be interesting as a young actor working with a green-screen where there is a lot of imagination and fantasy involved, and then you see it and you think, “Where did they come up with all these crazy things?!”
LEVI: I know! I was just looking at the cyclops, and I had seen different renderings of the cyclops over the years, but now what they have on screen is super cool. I was like, “That’s awesome!” Watching it now as the show comes together, I’m like, “Wow, that’s really great.” It’s just going to be a ton of fun to watch.
What was the most surprising thing to do working on the show?
LEVI: I guess because I didn’t know where all the characters were exactly going to go, by the time we come to the end of the season and we see how everyone develops and who is getting close and who is what to each other — it’s a surprise. Like you have all these theories as you read the scripts about who is going to be aligned with who and who is what character in Greek mythology — and the show does a great job of taking characters from Greek mythology, but not always naming them outright — so there is a lot of moments where you’d find out some stuff or you’d read a script and you’d be like, “Oh my god, that’s where that is going to go!” So there was a really fun sense of discovery while working with all the other actors as the show progressed.
So there’s a bit of a mystery then.
Who would you say are characters that viewers should keep an eye on then?
LEVI: The main character is Hero (Tom York), so obviously he is someone that is a big draw and someone to watch. Then there’s Prince Lykos, who is going to be super interesting. And Cas [Anvar] plays a guy by the name of Xerxes, and I think he is a really interesting behind-the-scenes puppet master, as well as a really great actor who is Kimon’s mentor at the palace. He and Xerxes are kind of behind the scenes trying to grab ahold of as much power as they possibly can and a lot of people are going to find it interesting of their power dynamic within the throne room.
With the Greek mythology of the monsters and gods with power grabs, is this a show that you would describe as a romance as well?
LEVI: Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of moments of romance. A lot of love triangles pop up and unrequited love runs as theme throughout the show. So you will see a lot of people getting close and then not being able to talk to each other. That is one of the biggest things in the show: the amount of trust people may or may not have for each other. So there is a lot of yearning behind a lot of movements and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.
For Kimon, does he have a yearning as well?
LEVI: Yeah, he does. There is some romance for him in the show, but it’s unexpected.
If you could offer some advice to Kimon, what would you tell him?
LEVI: I would say, “Listen to your heart, realize what you’re doing and try to find the best way to be honest.”
As the show unfolds, what kinds of teasers can you share?
LEVI: I think of regardless of what you think at the end of each episode nothing is quite as it seems and everything can change in a second.
You also worked on the CW series THE 100 last year in the episode “We Are Grounders, Part 1” where your character Drew dies after being hit by an ax in his face. Can you talk about bringing Drew to life when you knew he was going to die so quickly and iconically?
LEVI: I didn’t realize that his death was going to be such a big thing ’til a friend of mine Richard Harmon mentioned, “So people really loved that death scene” — which is great. I didn’t realize it was getting that much play. It was interesting doing that. You just try to round out the character as much as you possibly can. I love the dialogue I had right before I was hit by this ax. It was the classic dialogue in which you are talking about plans for the future and your hopes and your happiness and your dreams — and you know when that is happening on screen something bad is right around the corner. So it was really fun to play and play it so innocently, not knowing what is about to happen and letting it happen. I just thought, “Oh, this is just classic!”
You took an ax through the face. How did they actually accomplish that? What was it like to film that?
LEVI: I was really hoping they were going to get a fake ax and throw it, but they just kind of had a tracking dot on my head and I then react to violent chopping action to my face. They showed me how it was going to hit as an example, and then I snapped back and fall to the ground as violently as possible. It was a lot of whiplash that kind of follows that death scene. That was pretty much it.
There has been so many deaths in THE 100 that it has to feel pretty good that your character is remembered well for dying so memorably.
LEVI: I’m pretty happy about it. I remember getting the script and being like, “Okay, there we go.” Then I was like, “Hey, this isn’t a bad place to die.” It was the finale and it felt pretty good. I thought it was an awesome, really cool death. It’s the best one I’ve had so far, for sure.
Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
LEVI: I just finished an episode of iZOMBIE, which just started on the CW. Great, fun show. It was kind of the first time I got to step into comedy on screen opposed to on stage. So that was a ton of fun and it was physical comedy. So I got to play a stoner, which is kind of a take-off of a character from “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” type, and I got to work with Reese Ward and Bex Taylor-Klaus — they were in my troupe that my character kind of rolled around with. I also got to work with Rose [McIver] and Malcolm [Goodwin] and Rahul [Kohli], which was cool. Other than that, there’s a feature I made that should be making the festival rounds soon called “Alice in the Attic,” which I’m really proud of. I play a university student who lost his way that returns to his estranged aunt’s house who he hasn’t seen in a number of years. You will find out that he locked his cousin in a trunk in the attic because he believes she is evil, and then he meets up with these Catholic girls that my character ends up in a love triangle with. It is a super interesting psychological thriller — almost gothic in tone. I can’t wait to see it finally all finished and polished up. I’m actually really happy with what I have seen. That was a starring role and it was a really intense, tight schedule — which I loved because for about three weeks straight I got to stay in character and be on set every day and hammering away at it hard. I love that kind of long form immersion in a character where I can explore different avenues and try to understand plot patterns and stay in that world for along as possible. That is not sustainable in most shows because you have to go home and have a private life. But if you’re forgoing a private life for three weeks, then you can kind of do that and that was really interesting exercise and it really helped me grow a lot as an actor.
To find out just where Kimon’s allegiance lies and what trouble he is bound to get into on OLYMPUS, be sure to tune in for all new episodes on Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Syfy. Then be on the look out for his role in iZOMBIE this season and his new film “Alice in the Attic” as it makes the festival rounds.