Marvel’s Echo releases on Disney+ Hotstar on January 10th as a part of MCU’s new slate of self-contained Spotlight series. Following the aftermath of events in Hawkeye (2021), Echo follows the journey of Maya (Alaqua Cox), as she seeks to reconnect with her legacy and family back home, and shed the bequest she had adopted under the shadow of Kingpin/Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio).
The first three episodes that we’ve seen are closer to the former Netflix corner of the MCU (Daredevil, Punisher etc.) in terms of tone, action and storytelling — a refreshing change in pace from MCU’s recent outings. We spoke to actors Chaske Spencer (of The Twilight Saga fame), and Devery Jacobs (who was heard in Marvel’s What if…?), to know more about Echo.
Here are the edited excerpts from the interview:
Film Companion (FC): Congratulations on the show, Chaske and Devery. I've seen the first few episodes. They are a lot of fun, and are very different, and refreshing. Family runs as a primary theme in Maya's journey in Echo. In that context, how did you both approach your character in the story?
Devery Jacobs (DJ): For me, approaching Bonnie, who is Maya's cousin, but more so a sister, was really rooted in establishing the connection they had and making sure that all the history they had between them could be felt.
There was a language aspect to navigate. I'm a hearing person. So, making sure that I was able to learn enough ASL (American Sign Language), and work with the help of the interpreters we had was important in approaching Bonnie’s role, and Alaqua Cox was just an incredible actor.
I think being able to bridge that barrier, and really be able to understand each other was huge in making sure that the relationship between Bonnie and Maya felt real.
FC: What about you, Chaske?
Chaske Spencer (CS): I work internally. So, a lot of the time I had the headphones in my ears to be able to set the tone of the scene the way I wanted it. Plus, it helped me practise my ASL too. I was off on my own a lot.
I think for Uncle Henry, he is a sort of a reactor to Maya, and he's not in control of anything. So, I knew that coming into the story that it's going to be a lot of reacting, because Maya controls that whole situation when she comes in. That made it a challenge, but I found how to fall into those beats with the scene. I found it to be very comfortable with Alaqua — working with the ASL, and doing those scenes with her.
Sometimes they (scenes) get emotional, and it was just fun working with her. She's phenomenal, a really good actor! I'm really looking forward to everyone else seeing how she commands the screen. You know, she is Maya. She really does that character such justice that it's a beautiful thing to see. I think the fans are going to be really blown away by her.
FC: Speaking of Maya, there's a lot of action that goes into that portrayal, right? There's a lot of violence and action in those first few episodes. Do you both get to be part of all of that, as her family?
DJ: I don't know if we can say how much we get involved…
CS: We're physical. But I don't know how far we want to go into that.
DJ: You get to see the practical effects so often in marvel projects, there is so much CGI everywhere – and it's incredible to watch as an audience member. But I would imagine it would be really challenging as an actor to have to imagine all of that. Getting to see the action sequences play out in real life and see the choreography that's involved in that was something that was really, really cool.
CS: Props to the stunt team of Echo!
FC: My final question. You see a substantial amount of Native American heritage, history and mythology represented in the first three episodes. What was it like bringing that heritage to life?
DJ: I think it was really important for us because there were Choctaw folks who were involved creatively and made sure that all of the history, stories and the culture from the community was accurately represented. There were indigenous people behind the camera, above the camera, in front of the camera, which was incredible. But I'm Mohawk, and which nation are you from? (Devery put this question to Chaske.)
CS: I'm Sioux.
DJ: Yeah, you're Sioux! To be able to come from these different nations and portray Choctaw…A lot of people don't realise, but there's over 562 federally recognised tribes in North America, so people think that it's like a Native American umbrella. However, there's so many different types of Native folks with different stories, cultures and languages.
So, to be able to step foot into a Choctaw experience and portray that nation and that culture was an honour, and one that I hope that we have done justice to.
CS: It also shows the relationship of family, which is very important for everyone. But on reserves and reservations, family is extremely important in indigenous communities. I'm glad that they were able to show that in this series.