Deadly Class: Luke Tennie teases what’s next for Willie with Gabrielle and Kings Dominion

DEADLY CLASS -- Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY -- Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS -- Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY -- Acquired via NBC Media Village /

Luke Tennie is Willie, the leader of the New World Order in Deadly Class. But he harbors a secret that’s slowly getting out. Now he speaks about that, Gabrielle, and what’s to come in the final three episodes.

Deadly Class fans have come to know and love Willie. Luke Tennie gets the chance to take on a role that isn’t a stereotypical gang leader, showing a deeper side to the character from Rick Remender’s graphic novels of the same name. He spoke with Hidden Remote exclusively about Willie now that his secret is out and he’s met Gabrielle.

What’s up next for his character and is there hope for him and Gabrielle? Will he leave Kings Dominion and go his own way? Tennie teases (no spoilers!) what’s to come in the final three episodes.

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Hidden Remote: I love how Willie isn’t a stereotypical gang leader and I remember at NYCC you mentioned the same thing. Is this still something that you love about this character?

Luke Tennie: Absolutely! I think this young man, his standards are so high and moral code is outside my understanding. If someone hit me in the face, I would hit them back. Willie isn’t Superman, Spider-Man, or Batman where they have a code for their violence and punish people without killing them. Willie doesn’t even punish them.

I don’t truly understand him.

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HR: I don’t think we’ve seen enough development on Willie yet. We’ve just scratched the surface but there’s more to delve into. Gabrielle [guest star Kelcey Mawema] gives us the chance to do that. Can you tease what’s to come with her?

Tennie: Yes, I can! Gabrielle isn’t in the comic. The way that Rick [Remender] has explained it is that the extra time allows him to unpack the characters. We get to expand the stories, looking between the pillars and chapters we have. Gabrielle is in the middle of this. She’s a very real person and comes into Willie’s life and exposes him to truth and honesty. That can really set someone free.

As far as Willie is concerned, he’s trapped. The only thing that makes sense to him is survival at any cost. I do think this route of her encouraging him to continue in his pacifist ways and him struggling to survive, I think it will cause discourse in the future.

I don’t know if [the relationship] is sustainable in the future, but I’ve got a lot of hope. They do really seem to fit.

DEADLY CLASS — Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS — Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village /

HR: The only thing that seems to hold them back is Kings Dominion. Is there ever a chance he’d turn away from the school and go his own way, like Gabrielle wants him to?

Tennie: Willie is someone who finds comfort in his status. I don’t think he wants to not be at the school. He’s respected on campus. Willie doesn’t wake up thinking “Oh, I have to be Willie Lewis today.” He has it good and he’s respected. People have to be nice to him.

I do think he has found a home at Kings Dominion. It’s going to be tough for Gabrielle to get him to leave but we’ll see.

light. Related Story. Michel Duval shares what's next at Kings Dominion after Chico's death in Deadly Class

HR: Something that I’ve been waiting to see how it plays out is how Willie is going to react now that everyone knows he couldn’t pull the trigger and kill Chico. What’s going on in Willie’s head now he knows Saya, Maria, and Billy know that his rep is a lie?

Tennie: Shame. He feels ashamed and exposed. He didn’t have his lines memorized. Everything is out.

But at the same time, when you’re exposed to something, there’s a level of intimacy. Willie is a part of this pentagon with [the core five] and now we have these people locked in the entire circle together. They have to deal with each other.

Willie has accidentally become loyal to people who have accidentally become loyal to him with this secret. They’re in this together now. Even though he feels the shame, they’re not going to tell anyone. They have no reason to and he won’t tell anyone what happened in Vegas.

HR: So, he feels like he can trust them?

Tennie: Yes. At the very least he feels like he can trust them.

DEADLY CLASS — Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS — Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village /

HR: How is he coping after everything with Chico. We’ve seen the love triangle between Maria, Saya, and Marcus, but not how Willie is coping fully.

Tennie: I don’t think he’s doing too hot. I feel like everything is coming to a head. At this point, I don’t think Willie is doing well holding everything in. The more people he shares his burden with, the more people he has to be responsible for. He has to be loyal.

In Episode 6, we see him in the comic book shop just lost until a ray of light comes and opens his eyes. Gabrielle provides an escape, but I don’t think he’s coping well.

HR: This is all going to come out in some way, and he needs to talk to someone.

Tennie: Yes, absolutely. That’s what Marcus suggested.

HR: Otherwise it’ll come out in some way he really doesn’t want to and cause trouble. So, as you said Gabrielle isn’t in the comics and we’re delving into this world in a way the comics never have been able to. What’s it been like putting your take on this character but still keep it relatable to the comic fans?

Tennie: Oh, that’s an acting question! Wow!

I still feel pretty new. I graduated from school in 2016 and, before that, I didn’t grow up doing plays or anything. I caught on recently and I loved it.

One thing I looked at is what a script is. It’s words. The first concept of any story is words, so that’s what’s most important. The script is what people are saying and doing, so I focus on what I’m saying and what I’m doing while saying it.

I don’t try to read between the lines or recreate too much. I’m passionate about trusting the audience. They understand people, that’s why they’re watching. For me to get into Willie’s head for something that isn’t in the source material and manufacture it feels false.

Liam James talks about post-Vegas in Deadly Class. light. Related Story

I became a fan first. I’ve read the books five times. I learned why people became excited about them and I’m excited myself. Then I’m just one of the fans that’s blessed enough to play the part. I just say the words inside the story. Getting in his frame of mind just comes from the source material and saying the words the writers put on the page.

Aside from that, the fans do the work. They put on the “I’m excited to see this” lens and they’re the filter. What you bring to the set/stage/screen, they’re ready and open to receive. They don’t want you to fail.

HR: What’s it been like for Rick to be there with you running the show?

Tennie: That’s awesome. It’s like having a fortune teller and a history buff. It’s like having an omnipresent, Deadly Class force on the set for you to chat with, have dialogue with. What’s awesome is this guy is immensely brilliant. His words are like poetry in a conversation.

When you talk to him, all he wants to know is what you think. He’s an open heart and is ready to receive what you have and any questions he’ll answer. Any suggestions, he listens to. It’s fascinating and I’m truly impressed. I don’t know of many artists who are such a great combination of artists and humility.

DEADLY CLASS — Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village
DEADLY CLASS — Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village /

HR: He’s also not afraid to touch on some deep, dark, tricky subjects. You’ve had some meaty material. How do you go about preparing for those scenes?

Tennie: For me, preparation comes back to, again, the words, understanding what the character is saying. But it’s also honesty, which is important for me in the make-believe job. We’re pretending to be other people but they’re still people, so it has to be true to how people communicate and react.

I pay attention, make sure my eyes are open. When you have a cast that’s focused like on Deadly Class, it’s chemistry. When I have scenes with Ben [Wadsworth], he’s my friend and I respect him as a performer, but he’s also a comrade and was my roommate in Vancouver. We share stories. A lot of what you see between Willie and Marcus is me and Ben with the costumes, the hair, and the makeup.

When the meaty subjects come through, it’s about honesty. People will tell if it’s manufactured.

HR: It definitely feels like you’ve all been at the school for years.

Tennie: Oh, that’s really good to hear!

HR: For my final question, we’ve got three episodes left of the season. Can you tease anything that you can’t wait for fans to see in these final episodes?

Tennie: Oh yeah! I know they all can’t wait to see what’s happening with Chester, and neither can I! We’ve shot the scenes but we haven’t seen them, so I’m just as excited as the fans to see it on screen. Chester is an interesting guy.

Next. Benedict Wong talks about why he's so excited for Deadly Class. dark

What are you excited to see in the final three episodes? What do you love the most about Willie? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Deadly Class airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on SYFY.