Exclusive: TOWER PREP Star Drew Van Acker Interview

TOWER PREP, Cartoon Network’s second live-action series, is an intriguing new show about Ian Archer (Drew Van Acker), a sensitive but rebellious teen who is sent to a mysterious school that specializes in teaching students with “unique potential.” Isolated and trapped, Ian quickly bonds with fellow students Gabe Forrest (Ryan Pinkston), C.J. Ward (Elise Gatien), and Suki Sato (Dyana Liu) and they investigate the school’s mysteries while trying to escape.

Daemon’s TV talked to talented star Drew Van Acker about what to expect from the show and his character, and about what it’s like shooting some of the action scenes.

Make sure to tune in the premiere of Tower Prep on Cartoon Network on Tuesday, October 19 at 8pm/7 central. Until then, enjoy the interview with Drew.

The students at Tower Prep each have what Headmaster calls “unique potential.” What is Ian’s particular talent?

Drew Van Acker: Ian has what they’re calling preflex. He can see something a split second or two before it actually happens. It’s not necessarily a superpower. He can actually react to things and see them maybe just a split second or two before the average human being.

And what about the other powers for CJ, Gabe and Suki?

Drew Van Acker: Gabe. He has what we call hypersuasion. Basically he can pretty much talk his way in and out of anything he wants. He can talk anyone into doing pretty much, for the most part whatever he wants them to do. CJ can read facial ticks and emotions and people’s expressions and eye twitches and jaw clenches to truly understand how they feel. And Suki has what we call mimicry. So she can imitate anyone’s voice just by hearing it once. So they’re all different, all very unique and I think they all come into play throughout the season.

Obviously there are a lot of big mysteries; what is Tower Prep, how did you all get there, why doesn’t CJ remember anything before that and where on the planet are you. How will those be handled on the show?

Drew Van Acker: Without giving away too much the thing about Tower Prep is that you find out all these little clues as you go through the series, through the season. You get there and at first you don’t anything, but it’s really interesting because the viewer finds out what Ian’s finding out. He’s looking for all these answers and he’s looking for where he is and what this place is. He doesn’t want to just escape. He wants answers. He wants to know what’s going on and I think you find out as the show continues. You find out more and more about where they are and what their lives were like before Tower Prep.

Will there also be stories within each episode, a smaller mystery or a friend relate or school related story?

Drew Van Acker: There is, yes. There is which is great. There are little side stories and things that happen throughout each episode. I think the main thing is about finding answers and about escape for these four, at least for Ian, for sure. Each episode gives you something new, some new twist or some new turn that they have to deal with and maybe put their plans on hold or vice versa.

I find the faculty – Math, Coach, Headmaster – fascinating. Will they be integrated more into the show as it develops?

Drew Van Acker: They are. Coach is a pretty central part in the show and Headmaster. As the season continues you find out more about them, they’re characters and what part they play in Tower Prep.

The gnomes you had to escape from were freaky. What was it like shooting that kind of scene?

Drew Van Acker: To be honest with you it was a little freaky. We were out in the woods and you see these creatures with green eyes. You can’t really see much. It’s dark out there and at first it kind of throws you for a loop, like, ‘This is kind of creepy, these green things chasing me through the woods.’ But it was fun and different. It was different than anything I’ve ever done before. So it was exciting.

Have you had to do much green screen work?

Drew Van Acker: Not a lot, no. Not a whole lot. We have but nothing over the top, nothing too crazy.

Is it at hard to work with a green screen as it seems like it’d be?

Drew Van Acker: It is. I don’t think it’s as hard as people think. The biggest thing is just throwing yourself into that atmosphere and what’s supposed to be there and what you’re supposed to be seeing. Once you get the hang of that it comes in time. Once you get the hang of that it’s fun actually. It’s fun to pretend.

You mentioned a romance. Can you tease that?

Drew Van Acker: Ian gets to school and instantly he sees CJ. Ian’s a guy. Come on. She’s a good looking girl and I think he’s attracted to her but he senses that there’s a little more to her than just you’re average, pretty high school popular girl. He sees there’s more under the surface and I think he’s intrigued her, intrigued by her personality and her past. Throughout the season he wants to know more about her and maybe they connect. Maybe they don’t. We’ll see.

I’m rooting for Gabe and Suki, too. Any hope there?

Drew Van Acker: There might be. Unfortunately I can’t dive into that without giving too much away but there’s a good couple of surprises along the way. I’ll say that.

Are we going to find out more about Whisper? Is that central to the theme or is it a red herring?

Drew Van Acker: Whisper is actually pretty central. It plays a big part through each episode. You find out more about what Whisper is and why it was created and why it does the things that it does. It’s interesting. At first glance you would think that Whisper is bad and that everything about it is bad but as the show goes on you find out more about Whisper and maybe it’s not bad or maybe it’s pretending to be good. But it is a very central part of the school.

Are you all done shooting the first season?

Drew Van Acker: Yes, we are.

Are you working on anything in the off season?

Drew Van Acker: I will be. Not at the moment, but I will be doing a feature film coming up and maybe do a couple of episodics here and there. I will be in about a week and a half but not at the moment.

Are there any TV shows that you’d love to guest star on?

Drew Van Acker: There is. I’m a big fan of ‘True Blood’. I’ve kind of always been a fan and I think that’d be a lot of fun, throwing yourself into that world for a little bit. I just started watching a new show on HBO. ‘Boardwalk Empire’. I love it. I think it’d be so much fun to do an episode or two. I don’t know what kind of part I could play in there, what kind of opportunity would be available in that but since I started watching it I was telling my roommate that it’d be a blast to work with all those people and the directors and producers.

Congratulations on Tower Prep. I think it’s great that Cartoon Network is reaching out to that demographic in a new and interesting way –

Drew Van Acker: It’s going to be good. People will give it a chance on Cartoon Network. I know people love their cartoons but if they give it a chance they’re going to love it. It’s different and it’ll keep you hooked.

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