Stars Camron Jones and Ray Nicholson chat about friendships torn asunder and stunts performed in the high stakes game of Panic, the new Amazon series.
Amazon takes a stab at the teen drama genre in Panic, a new series that explores how high the stakes can get when kids fight for their future. Premiering through the streaming service on May 28, the show is based on the 2014 YA novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver – who also serves as showrunner.
The story revolves around a group of teens in a small Texan town that play a dangerous game called “Panic” every year to escape a cycle of poverty and hopelessness. When series protagonist Heather Nill (Olivia Welch, Fear Street trilogy) joins the fray, everyone around her is thrown for a loop – including childhood best friend Bishop (Camron Jones, The Purge series) and the town bad boy Ray (Ray Nicholson, Promising Young Woman).
Jones and Nicholson spoke to Screen Rant about the friendships at the heart of the story, as well as how scary the stunts they witnessed or participated in can get.
Bishop is so interesting because he’s in a privileged position thanks to his father, and yet his father is the main source of tension in his life. Can you talk about that difficult dynamic and the balance of those things?
Camron Jones: Yeah, that was such a fun dynamic to work with. I was on a phone call with Lauren for a long time talking to her about that, and even working with Ben [Cain Jr.], he’s such an amazing actor that it was really easy to flesh out the little nuances between the two of us. He gave me a lot to work with, and I would bounce stuff off him and vice versa. It was really fun to discover that together as a group, and I’m glad that you noticed that throughout the TV show as we worked on it together.
We were introduced to Ray as something of the resident jerk, but as the episodes go on, we peel back certain layer. What was it like to discover the more loyal side of him?
Ray Nicholson: Yeah, I think part of the fun thing about it is just trusting that it’s there. We had some idea of where the characters were going, and to try to make that track – where he’s a dick from the beginning but you kind of have to be somewhat redeemable – was an interesting thing to try to navigate. Just motivationally, why a person would be that way.
And I think that Ray is just somebody that, because of who his family is in the show, the world thinks one way about him, and he thinks that’s the way that he has to be. And I think in his relationship with Heather and with the games, like he looks at them as an opportunity to prove that he’s something different. That’s just the way that I looked at it.
Speaking of Heather, she and Natalie, Bishops is a pillar of support for both of them, but they’re at odds with each other in the game. How does he manage that as the center of the friend group?
Camron Jones: I think Bishop knows Natalie, and Heather very well, and he knows their true intentions and what they really want out of each other and out of life. So, I think he’s really good at navigating and pulling between the two of them to get them to work with each other and work together.
Ray, you have a bit of that spark with Heather. What was it like working with Olivia and having that cat and mouse dynamic?
Ray Nicholson: Olivia was great to work with; she was down to work. That’s what you always want in your coworker. And it was fun that she loves acting, and she loves movies; I love acting, and I love movies – just to be able to bond on that.
It was always cool to know that whatever the scene was, we tried to make the story track. It just felt like you had a partner, you know what I mean? That’s really important. You don’t want to feel like you’re out on a leaf, and I tried to do that. Cam is another great one; I love doing my scenes with Cam, with Cosme, with everybody. It was just a really beautiful experience.
But she was the leader of the show. She set the tone and, and we followed in line. So, it was really cool to be working with her.
Before every episode, it says “Don’t try this at home” because of all the stunts. How much did you guys have to try and how much is stunt doubles? How do you get into the mindset before a character’s action moment comes?
Ray Nicholson: Yeah, it’s funny. There’s some stuff that we did, like there was one scene where I was jumping from a tree, and I actually jumped from a tree. It was crazy! It didn’t end up being in the show, and I was kind of bummed.
But I think that even though you’re attached to a harness, it doesn’t really compute in your brain, you know what I mean? You still have that [fear] – at least when we were going across the tightrope, I was like, “I’m actually kind of scared now.” Even if I’m maybe not supposed to be. It was just an interesting thing. Sometimes you would be scared, sometimes you shouldn’t have been scared. It was always an interesting thing.
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Panic‘s first season premieres May 28 on Amazon Prime Video.
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