If you’re a horror fan and you grew up in the ’90s, most likely you found yourself glued to the TV on Saturday night waiting for SNICK to drop the newest episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. The beloved ’90s classic returned in 2018 as an all-new re-imagining for a new generation of horror fans and now the long-awaited second season is here with, ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?: CURSE OF THE SHADOWS.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings was lucky enough to talk with the new Midnight Society in preparation for the Season 2 premiere. In part one of our two-part interview series, we spoke with actors Bryce Gheisar, Malia Baker, and Arjun Athalye about joining the Midnight Society, encountering the Shadowman, and more.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to speak with me today! To start things off, can you each tell us a little bit about your character?
Bryce Gheisar: I play Luke. He’s a member of the Midnight Society and the three words that I used to describe him usually are spirited, imaginative, and tentative. He’s kind of an underdog in this big school and the way that he gets away from all that is by being in the Midnight Society; his friends are his outlet to express himself and his imagination.
Malia Baker: I play Gabby. She is the sporty, smiley, town sweetheart, but she’s so over this town. She even has a job on the weekends so she can save money for college so she can escape. She has a lot of high standards from her parents, so she’s a recovering perfectionist. And like Luke, the Midnight Society is kind of her escape from reality.
Arjun Athalye: My character, Jai, is Luke’s best friend and he’s the voice of reason in the Midnight Society. He thinks he’s really smart, but he just parrots what he hears older people say and stuff he hears on the internet when he’s actually not that smart. He loves comic books and things like that and he’s not afraid to admit it. The Midnight Society is an outlet for him to express those interests and hang out with his friends and tell scary stories. But the idea of actually going on a scary story or being on an adventure terrifies him.
How familiar were you all with ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? Did any of you watch any of the old episodes from the 90s series or the newly re-imagined series?
Arjun Athalye: Yeah, I watched the first season, I think there were like three episodes to it and it was really cool. I watched it as a team: my brother watched it, he’s like 4 years younger than me, and my parents watched it and we all enjoyed it and connected to it in a different way. I think the ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? series has a timeless quality to it where people of all ages can find something that they identify and enjoy.
Malia Baker: I remember watching the original ’90s series when I was younger, so that was really fun to go back to. I feel very honored to now be a part of the Midnight Society.
Bryce Gheisar: When I heard I got the part I definitely went and watched some episodes, some old episodes. I watched The Tail of the Magic Train, which was recommended to me. I also watched the first season of this reimagination. One of my good friends is in it so it was really cool to see that and to see how they’re bringing it to a new generation.
How was the vibe on set and were there any funny or scary moments?
Bryce Gheisar: There was a lot of stuff that was pretty scary on set, but it was really fun because the guy who played the Shadowman, underneath was like one of the most funny and happy-go-lucky guys that I’ve ever met. He was dancing and having a great time throughout – in his scary suit breakdancing (laughs). There were a lot of times where we broke character because it was so much fun and it was such a great time. There were lots of times where we just found ourselves laughing after we go scared by the Shadowman.
Arjun Athalye: I also think it did get pretty scary at times, you’ll see in the show. There’s like some really cool set pieces that they did a great job of making very spooky. So the scenes that take place in those, like as actors I felt pretty scared.
Malia Baker: I feel like the one thing that always reassured me that this wasn’t real is the script supervisor who did all the dialogue that went ‘whoosh’, ‘the door slam shut’, ‘bang bang bang the windows’. That was one thing that didn’t make me scared, which was very nice (laughs).
This season is focusing on an entity known as the Shadowman. What can you tell us about him and should we expect each of you to have your own encounter with him?
Bryce Gheisar: Of course, throughout the six episodes there’s definitely a large amount of encountering with the Shadowman. I think even whenever he’s not on screen, he holds just as much power and strength. The basic story of who he is is like an old story that we all just think is an old tale but, when we actually find out that he’s real, it’s definitely very scary for us.
Arjun Athalye: You’ll see with each of the characters, the way they interact with the Shadowman is very like true to who they are. He’ll spook them in ways that he knows will scare them specifically. You’ll see every character has a very different type of confrontation with him. It’s really cool.
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? really helped form my love for horror. Was there a similar show that had the same effect on all of you, especially in terms of acting within the horror genre?
Bryce Gheisar: I think I’ve never been too good with scary movies (laughs). I think it’s been recently where I’ve actually been getting into it. Like after I saw 2017’s IT, I started realizing how cool of a genre it was and then I started seeing more and more after that and now I’m pretty into it.
Arjun Athalye: Stranger Things for me. I wasn’t that young when the first season came out, but I didn’t get into acting until I was a little older. But with Stranger Things, I would love to play a part like that, it seems so much fun, like playing a real kid going through all these scary experiences.
Malia Baker: I had this one show, it was Goosebumps when I was younger. I think it has the same effect as ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? for me. Cry of the Cat – I still remember that episode, it’s very ingrained into my brain. I think that was one show that definitely had a toll on where I am now.
The Season Two premiere episode of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?: CURSE OF THE SHADOWS debuts Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 pm (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.