Deadly Class interview: Luke Tennie and Liam James tease Willie and Billy

DEADLY CLASS -- "Reagan Youth" Episode 100 -- Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy -- Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS -- "Reagan Youth" Episode 100 -- Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy -- Acquired via NBC Media Village /

Luke Tennie and Liam James talked to Hidden Remote exclusively about Deadly Class while at NYCC. With the premiere tonight, it’s time to share their words and excitement for the series.

If you’ve already watched the Deadly Class pilot online, you know what’s to come for Luke Tennie’s Willie and Liam James’ Billy. Fans who read the graphic novels will also have an idea of what to expect. The two talked about their characters, what’s to come, and why this adaptation is so awesome during an exclusive interview with Hidden Remote.

For those who haven’t watched anything yet, there are no spoilers. All you’ll get is a few teases of what’s to come for the characters. I don’t even share spoilers from the pilot episode, mainly because I didn’t know it would be available online from SYFY before it premiered.

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So, if you’re waiting to watch it tonight, you can still read this. And you’ll want to!

Hidden Remote: A lot of people will be checking this out for the first time, so I’ll start with a simple one: can you tell me a bit about your characters?

Luke Tennie: Willie is the leader of the Final World Order, which is a gang out of California, almost completely African American. He’s perceived as the campus badass not to be messed with. Everyone looks at him as a threat and there’s no reason to start anything with him. He likes the facade but the truth is there’s a cost at putting that facade up.

We’ll see the cost of the facade in his relationship with Marcus.

HR: He’s a teddy bear

Tennie: Yes.

Liam James: Yeah, he is a teddy bear.

Tennie: Which is one of the reasons I think I got the part.

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HR: You’re a teddy bear?

Tennie: Yeah.

James: He literally bought honey to my house one time.

Tennie: I left it there, didn’t I?

DEADLY CLASS — “Pilot” Episode 100 — Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy — Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS — “Pilot” Episode 100 — Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy — Acquired via NBC Media Village /

James: Yeah, you left it at my house. So Billy, unlike Willie, is not part of a Legacy, one of those who generation after generation has been training at this school. He is just kind of been thrown into this entire world. He may not be as proficient at killing as those who have been there their whole lives, but he has nothing to lose.

Billy knows that, in a lot of ways, he’s outmatched. His whole purpose is to stay human while living at this school. His whole thing is trying to make people laugh and have fun in the face of the brutality. His sanity, and I think he cares about the sanity of others…

Tennie: He does.

James: This show wouldn’t work if everyone was onboard and brainwashed. Billy is like “this is so F****d up! You see that guy over there. His head is gone” and things like that. It’s a smart decision to just tell it like it is.

HR: What was it about the characters that made you want those parts?

Tennie: Flat-out, there are a lot of stereotypes of people who look like me. I’m not even about telling other people what we should make and then judge them for doing it anyway. I was excited because some people I didn’t ask made a character I thought was for me.

This guy is someone in the midst of the stereotypes, the violence, the drugs, the hate, bitterness, and violence and chooses not to partake. Absolutely I wanted to play that character. As soon as I found out he had a moral center, even those he’s an a-hole to some people, he’s a character near and dear to my heart because he knew what was right and didn’t want to compromise that.

DEADLY CLASS — “Reagan Youth” Episode 100 — Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy — Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS — “Reagan Youth” Episode 100 — Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy — Acquired via NBC Media Village /

James: It’s hard to describe that feeling of that the part couldn’t come at a better time for you in your life. I guess for me, it’s the transformative power of comedy that Billy always embodies and is much more powerful than I ever imagined.

It’s not just about laughing and having a chuckle. It’s about using it as a survival tool has been important to me. Just having to compartmentalize. I couldn’t have asked for a better role. Lana [Candor] mentioned [on stage at NYCC] about taking a character and bringing it into her life. [With Billy] it’s taking that comedy into my own life and thinking “yeah, I can get through this.”

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HR: How much character development will we get to see for your characters, because the comics can be a little more focused on Marcus and a few others.

Tennie: More than the comic as we have more time. Anything you know about us in the comic, I would say that it’s safe to assume it could be explored more in the series. Since we have the time, we’ll get to know the people very well.

James: We get to humanize the characters more than there’s time to in the comic. Their story isn’t necessarily about super heroes but about people. I’m super excited about telling the story of who Billy is, because I think it’s a powerful one.

Their stories are certainly powerful. Willie’s story is one of those that comes out in the pilot episode, but Billy’s takes a little longer. What I can say is you’ll enjoy the time being spent on developing these two different and complex characters.

Next. Deadly Class pilot review [Spoiler-free]. dark

What do you hope to see in Deadly Class? Have you been a fan of the comic coming to the TV series? What makes you excited about the characters hearing more about them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Deadly Class premieres tonight at 10/9c on SYFY.