Hailey Kilgore and London Brown are tackling topics even tougher than drugs, money, and power on Power Book III: Raising Kanan. As father-daughter duo LaVerne “Jukebox” Ganner and Marvin Thomas, the actors examine a tense relationship whose roots hit home for many casual viewers of STARZ’ hit crime drama.
Though not one of the show’s main plotpoints, Jukebox and Marvin’s tension was impactful during a pivotal scene toward the end of the first season. Kilgore says that isolation between the actors made it a bit easier to tap into the distance and resentment they each had to express for one another on-screen.
“London and I, we didn’t really speak when we were filming most of season one,” Kilgore said. “It made that kind of tension very easy to have, because we didn’t really know each other and didn’t really have each other figured out.”
For Brown, his naturally secluded nature helped foster the environment the actors needed to make their arc come alive.
“The running joke with me is that I’m antisocial,” Brown laughed. “But that ultimately helped create that tension – but not in a negative way, because there is still trust. Even though we don’t necessarily rehearse all our scenes together, everyone can rest assured that the other actors are going to bring something great to the table.”
For the unfamiliar, Jukebox goes through a double dose of trauma toward the end of season one. Not only does her girlfriend Nicole die abruptly of a drug overdose, but her father Marvin discovers her sexuality and brutally berates and attacks her because of it. Though it may seem like an extreme response by modern standards, Marvin’s response to Jukebox’s identity was a common reality in the time period of the show.
“Sascha [Penn, creator of Raising Kanan] and I had a lot of conversations about how to portray Jukebox’s sexuality,” Kilgore revealed. “I think that we are so fortunate to live in a time when people can be so loud and proud and live their truth. We have to remember that in ’91, you didn’t let anybody know – not your parents, not your friends, nobody.”
“It’s been really moving to hear from a lot of people that were teenagers during that time and had trouble coming out to their families, or did and got kicked out. I hope somebody was able to connect with [Jukebox’s story].”
Marvin’s character is a complicated one, whose motivations aren’t always entirely clear and colored by a checkered past and criminal present. It may seem like a bit of a departure for Brown, who started off in standup and more comedic roles on shows like The Hustle and Ballers. But as Brown tells it, all of his professional experiences prepared him for this role.
“For me, I also come from theater,” Brown clarified. “I feel like they’re both a part of me. The timing and the vulnerability that comes from standup works well with a piece like this. I’m glad I come from standup, because it just helps me to add more layers to a character like Marvin.”
“So, when Marvin does get a laugh, all of that stems from standup. I just try to find subtle ways so that Marvin isn’t so serious, but also very endearing, even with all the chaos that he has going on.”
Power Book III: Raising Kanan airs Sundays on STARZ.