Vampire Academy: Stringer, Nieves & Liner on Approaching Their Roles

With season one of Vampire Academy wrapping on Peacock, stars Sisi Stringer, Daniela Nieves, and Andrew Liner all had their different approaches when it came to their characters Rose Hathaway, Lissa Dragomir, and Mason Ashford. The trio spoke with Bleeding Cool about if they read the Richelle Mead novels and/or Mark Waters' 2014 feature of the same name and what the type of opportunity becoming part of such a franchise means for their careers.

Vampire Academy
VAMPIRE ACADEMY — "Darkness" Episode 109 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Jose Haro/Peacock)

Did Cast Read Novels or See Film Before Taking on Vampire Academy?

Bleeding Cool: When you guys were cast in your roles going in, did you read the novels or see the movie beforehand as a reference?

Stringer: As far as production, Julie [Plec] and Marguerite [MacIntyre], they never told us that we had to read the books, watch the movie, or anything like that. I know that J August [Richards] didn't because, as an actor, I think it was better for him to approach it with a clean slate and build his character from the scripts. That is a valid approach. I like to consume all of the information and content about whatever character I'm playing as much as I can because that helps me build something. I guess it's up to the individual actor, but I read all the books as a kid, loved them, reread them when we were shooting, loved the movie, and watched that obsessively through the entire seven months that we shot this TV show. So this is a long time coming for me [laughs].

Nieves: I honestly didn't even know they were books. Julie and Marguerite never…I was asking so many questions in the callback that I would have known if I even knew anything about the books. I was just like, "Is Dimitri like Lissa's brother or something? What's going on?" They were just so sweet and answered every question. They were never like, "Do you know the books, right? They were super patient and answered all these questions. I realized after the fact, doing more digging and researching, the closer I got to the role, and I was like, "Oh my God! These are books!" I ordered the books, and I think for J, too, it makes so much sense that he wouldn't read the books because Victor's books are so influenced. Victor in the series is so different that that makes so much sense. All of us took it upon ourselves that cared about the project and about doing it justice in whatever way we could. Most of us did read and watch the movie.

Liner: I read the first three books, and I saw the movie. When I got the offer from Julia and Marguerite, I got on the phone with them, and I was like, "Hey, guys. It seems like Mason is written a little bit differently here. So are we going to keep him kind of how the movie is and how the books are? He's not what I was bringing" I thought it was very interesting they cast me and Margaret was like, "He's going to be a bit different here than in anything else we've seen before, which was cool and very interesting to me. That's what got me jazzed about the part is that I have my take and spin on him.

Stringer: Everyone was like that in a way. They were supportive of helping everybody build their character that was separate from the books, which was cool.

Vampire Academy: Stringer, Nieves & Liner on Approaching Their Roles
VAMPIRE ACADEMY — "Benchmark" Episode 104 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Jose Haro/Peacock)

What did 'Vampire Academy' allow you to do in your careers you weren't able to before?

Liner: It's very interesting. I didn't come into the project thinking that Mason would be as emotional as he was. I hadn't tested myself and challenged myself in that way, just wearing my heart on my sleeve, being as vulnerable and emotionally available as he is. That's something I learned and came into. As the process went along, I'm sure Dani can speak to that as well. This is very emotional as well. So it's an interesting thing, crying all day on set.

Stringer: Drew's a player. We always talk about Dani being a crier, but Drew is a fucking crier.

Nieves: This is an incredible experience in general. You rarely get a role or a part in a show that's number one, based on books. Number two, it's this fantasy world. When there's so much that's possible, it could be so much fun but also such a challenge because so many things are placed in front of you. You're like, "I don't know that this would ever happen in real life because it's all fantasy." I have to pull from what I can pull to make it as grounded as possible. That's always the challenge whenever you book anything and [find] a way to make it feel real to you, but feel true to the character. Doing that over ten episodes can also be a challenge because you have to think about the arc of your character and how they change from the beginning to the end. If they're learning all these things and going through these things…acting is hard [laughs]. You learn as you go and get better every day. It's also a lot easier to do it when you have such amazing actors like them next to you, learning from them and stuff.

Stringer: We all have so much to learn from each other because we're from all different parts of the world and a lot of different ages. It's good to be learning from the actors that are a little bit older. J. August has so much to teach us as young people in acting, but also in like dealing with the industry and dealing with a life where you go to film for 10 hours a day, five days a week, and then how you relax and unload from that of an emotional scene. We were all like really learning from each other, and we built a nice environment. Because there are so many people in the cast as well, there are just so many people there to support you the entire way through. I've never been a part of a project that has had such a huge ensemble cast before. That's one aspect of it that's different from any other project I've done. Like Dani said, "We get to do fantasy! We're doing vampires! People have fangs, there's blood, fighting, romance, politics, passion, all kinds of amazing stuff, and some pretty people to watch as well. I'm looking at you, Drew. I'm looking at you, Dani. As far as my career goes and my personal experience, this has been the biggest, most positive, and influential thing I've ever done.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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