Mario Van Peebles, Superstition, Syfy

(Courtesy of Mitchell Galin/Xlrator Media/Syfy)

Villain Media has an exclusive interview with the iconic actor/filmmaker Mario Van Peebles about his upcoming Syfy drama, Superstition. In the highly anticipated premiere on October 20th, 2017, audiences will meet the Hastings, a mysterious family who uses their arcane weaponry and mystical skills to battle evil.

Superstition centers around the Hastings family, who happen to be owners of the only funeral home. In the mysterious town of La Rochelle, Georgia,  the Hastings family also acts as the keepers of the town’s dark secrets and history. Known for its haunted houses, elevated graveyards, odd townsfolk, and rich history of unusual phenomena, the town of La Rochelle is also a “landing patch” for the world’s darkest manifestations of fear. These dark manifestations are being guided into the world by an ancient, mysterious malefactor.

Before Superstition premieres Friday, October 20 at 10pm, on the Syfy channel, Villain Media discusses with the New Jack City writer/director about wearing many hats on his different projects. Not only is the Damages actor the star of the Syfy original, he also contributes to the show as the executive producer, director, and writer.

Mario Van Peebles, Superstition,
SUPERSTITION — Pictured: (l-r) Demetria McKinney as May Westbrook, Mario Van Peebles as Isaac Hastings — (Photo by: Mitchell Galin/Xlrator Media/Syfy)

VM: When you sat in the director’s chair, such as in New Jack City and Baadasssss!, how does that experience help you direct the pilot for Superstition?

Mario Van Peebles: Oh, good question! Well, you know, I’ve had the honor and I’ve directed a lot. And I’ve often done it with my own money. And I think when you do things with the family dough and suddenly your dad’s going, “Hey, you better not go over, you know, I’m shot.” So then, okay.

It gives you a different set of consciousness about the whole thing because, you know, as my dad would say when I was growing up, he said, “Look son, some dads might teach you to play ball. Hopefully, I can teach you how to own the team, how to understand the business side of show business.”

VM: Tell me about juggling your creative side with the business aspects. 

MVP: I went to Columbia. And he pushed me to get a degree in economics, which I did. And later on, I realized that speaking the language of finance freed me up as an artist. So now I realized, “Oh well, if I can make this in this many days and save this money over here, then I can use it for the ending, and not be reactive artistically without understanding the business part of the show.”

And so, I think that experience, the experience I’ve had early on directing film, but also theater and also TV and I started out doing  my first directing job, which was my own show, Sonny Spoon, back when Brandon Tartikoff was over at NBC and I was working with Stephen Cannell. And so I directed that show. And then I directed Jump Street with Johnny Depp and Wiseguy with Ken Wahl. And then I directed New Jack City. So I got a lot of experience!

VM: With all those projects you were in, from Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song to Damages, they share something in common.

MVP: One of the things that I also think is very helpful is to keep pushing the envelope. I just did a new film coming out called Armed. It’s a thriller that takes place with a guy that’s dangerously armed in a kind of world of the climate of lax gun control or lax gun sense. That comes out February 2. And I produced it, and wrote it, and directed it. And Bill Fichtner’s in it, and Ryan Guzman is in it, and a bunch of folks.

VM: Not only are you directing Superstition, you are also acting with your costars.

MVP: Part of what I do is I put projects together a lot. So it allows me to cast people from film and television, to take great techniques I’ve learned in television and move them over to film.

I directed a bunch of Bloodlines and acted in those. So it all mixes up and it gets very natural. So people, you know, you say, left hand, right hand, which do you like more? I sort of find that they worked really well together.

And again, like I said earlier, it allows me to get in there with the actors and really have a dialogue with them as one of them. And that’s super helpful when you want to get that great performance.

Mario Van Peebles, Superstition,
SUPERSTITION — Pictured: (l-r) Mario Van Peebles as Isaac Hastings, Robinne Lee as Bea Hastings — (Photo by: Mitchell Galin/Xlrator Media/Syfy)

VM: Tell me about working with your daughter, Morgana Van Peebles, who plays Garvey on Superstition.

MVP: Yes, she’s a smart cookie. She’s at Columbia. She’s taking a semester off to do the show. And, you know, she’s old enough to get her own place. And I said, “Honey, you’ve got money. You don’t have to live with Dad.” And she said, “Nope, I want to live with you, Dad.”

And so we’ve been playing house. And she’s vegan. And she’s trying to keep me healthy. So we have our little vegetarian meals and we work out together at the gym. And it’s been fun. It’s been bring your daughter to work week for a couple of months and it’s great.

VM: How many episodes are there in the first season of Superstition?

MVP: There are going to be 12 episodes. And we’re filming them right now. And I’m going to have to run back to set because I’m directing, working on episode 9 right now. And it’s exciting! Oh, man, it’s just getting better and better.!

But yes, you’ll see some of the themes that started out in number 1 are weaved throughout the season and finish, or culminate if you will, by episode 12.

VM: Is there an arc throughout the first season of Superstition?

MVP: So there’s things that definitely pay off so, you know, that are like building blocks that build one to another, which is kind of exciting! So you sort of figure out your story, your narrative to some degree in long form.

And then each one has its own particular, you know, signature and, you know, characters that they deal with in each episode that are different but some that line up all the way. Now I can’t tell you too much more than that without giving stuff away. So there’s some exciting stuff coming up!

VM: Thank you so much.

MVP: You’re welcome!

Superstition premieres Friday, October 20th, on the Syfy channel at 10pm.

– By Jorge Solis

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