In the thrilling eight-episode anthology series, JUST BEYOND, comes the astonishing and thought-provoking stories of a reality just beyond the one we know. Each episode of JUST BEYOND introduces viewers to a new cast of characters who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world of witches, aliens, ghosts, and parallel universes.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings had the chance to speak with actors Lexi Underwood, who plays Ella, a 14-year-old who finds herself trapped in the legendary Fox Theatre in Episode 6 – We’ve Got Spirits, Yes We Do; and Cedric Joe, who plays Sam, a teenager who finds himself in an alternate universe where he has to make an excruciating decision in Episode 8 – The Treehouse. During our chat, we discussed everything from their familiarity with R.L. Stine’s work to the exploration of their characters and wrapping with
Prior to being cast in JUST BEYOND, how familiar were you both with the work of R.L. Stine?
Lexi Underwood: Very familiar. I grew up on his work. He was a big, fundamental part of my introduction to the genre of horror and then also just me learning how to read. I mean, his books got me all through elementary school, so he was a major part of my childhood. So, now to be a part of one of his projects, especially JUST BEYOND, is such a full-circle moment. It’s a dream come true, honestly.
Cedric Joe: I was a big fan of R.L. Stine and I loved his “Goosebumps” books and his shows, so to be able to be a part of this and to be able to make kids feel how I felt when I watched his shows and I read his stories, it’s an honor, and it’s really fun.
What did you both enjoy most about exploring your characters? Were there elements of them that you could see yourself in?
Lexi Underwood: Yeah, Ella’s character arc is so complex. There’s so much that she’s going through and I feel like her story, all the character’s stories are just so incredibly relatable, especially for young kids and teens. I feel like each story has a hint of coming-of-age and they all kind of involve change, in a sense. For Ella, she’s struggling with the change with her friends. She’s going through the grief of losing a friend which is something that I think all of us go through or all of us will endure at least one point during our lives. What’s so cool about Ella that I think that everybody can take away is just kind of her healing process. I feel like she did hold on to Zoe just a little bit longer than she should have, but at the same time, I feel like we can all learn to have heart and compassion for each other while also making sure that we’re not becoming victims of our circumstances. When somebody does hurt us, it may sting, it may hurt, but we have to accept it, we have to heal, and we have to move on in order to ultimately grow into the people that we want to become.
Cedric Joe: For me, it was more of a grief thing and getting over a death. As far as my character, he has to stop living in the past. As painful as it is, you have to get over things and live in the present.
On a lighter note, the production design that went into all these episodes is incredible. How was it working within this environment and did anything spooky happen on set?
Lexi Underwood: We were actually filming in the Fox Theater, which was really cool because I had never been in it before. But it’s not that cool then when you have to imagine a demon or haunted ghoul chasing you. So, when the lights are all dim and you have the fog and you’re getting ready to do a scene and everything starts feeling a little bit too real, that definitely got to me a couple of times.
Cedric Joe: Sadly, there were a lot of scary moments on set but it was fun getting to shoot. Where I was staying in Atlanta was right across the street from the Fox Hotel, which was really cool.
Would you both say that you’re fans of the horror genre?
Lexi Underwood: Yes, absolutely. Growing up, my first couple of years, I was a big scaredy-cat. I was like, just give me the basic level stuff of horror [Laughs]. And then when I got to about eight or nine, I was like, okay, I’m ready for all the hardcore stuff. I’m [also] a big fan of the old classics. This is my favorite time of the year. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so I’m getting ready to start binging all the horror movies soon.
Cedric Joe: I loved horror films growing up. I loved a lot of scary things. It’s a good adrenaline rush for me. But personally, I love Christmas and Thanksgiving. Those are my favorite holidays.
Before we wrap up, is there anything you hope kids/teens take away from your characters in the show?
Lexi Underwood: Every character is going through something that is so relatable to the coming-of-age experience whether it’s dealing with the loss of a friend, the loss of a parent, or dealing with just anything. I feel like all of these kids, all of these characters go through things that everybody goes through in their day-to-day lives. Whatever lesson that the characters learn or whatever actionable tools a show or episode gives, audience members can hopefully look at whatever our characters are going through and learn something or find an actionable tool that can help them apply that to their actual situation that they’re going through in their everyday life.
Cedric Joe: Something I want my viewers to take away is that it’s okay to grieve and deal with pain. But you have to get over it at some point.
All episodes of JUST BEYOND are now available to stream, exclusively on Disney+.
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