After making us believe in romance again in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lana Condor is stepping to the bad side for her latest role. Based on a graphic novel from Rick Remender and Wes Craig, the ’80s-set Deadly Class (premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on Syfy) follows the students at Kings Dominion, an elite private academy that trains assassins from the world’s top crime families. Condor stars as the katana-wielding Saya, who is unlike human firework Jubilee (X-Men: Apocalypse) or Before‘s sweet Lara Jean.
“It’s the polar opposite of the roles that I have played,” says Condor. “I love her fearlessness. I love how action-heavy the role is. I got really lucky with Saya because all she does is run around and fight and get beat and all these things.”
Despite Saya’s difference from Jubilee, though, Condor does believe that her brief time as one of Professor Xavier’s mutant students did set her up for success for her latest comic book role.
“My experience on X-Men really did prepare me for shooting Deadly Class because I just had that knowledge of what it’s like to work on a project that already has a pre-existing source material and a fan base,” she says. “Because of X-Men, I was able to understand [that] because the fans are the most important part I have to be true to this character, [and] we have to be true to this story as much as possible because that really makes a difference to the fans.”
Furthermore, there are actually some similarities between the worlds of Deadly Class and X-Men. “In X-Men we are at the mansion, and in Deadly Class, we’re at Kings Dominion. It’s kind of the same-ish story where there’s a group of kids that have a special kind of ability, or a special skill-set. The difference is that Kings Dominion is just way darker than the mansion that we go to in X-Men.”
She’s definitely right that Kings is darker than Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Whereas threats are mostly confined to the latter’s appropriately named Danger Room, where the mutants go through battle simulations, Kings Dominion is itself a Danger Room, except the danger is very real and survival isn’t guaranteed because you’re surrounded by murderers. Plus, the classes taken by the students at Kings are far more deadly, like a blow darts workshop and AP Black Arts.
“There’s a hostage class that I really liked because we do these simulations where it’s very real; that was very exciting and horrifying at the same time,” says Condor.
These unusual classes and fights are part of Deadly Class‘ allure, but Remender, who serves as EP/co-showrunner, is primarily interested in exploring how the students’ interpersonal relationships help them survive the ethically questionable meat grinder of Kings Dominion.
“They all sort of see that there’s something wrong, and they find a family amongst each other,” says Remender.
For Saya, this means depending on her best friend Maria (Maria Gabriela de Faria), who is from a rival gang, and protagonist/her charge Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth), who develops feelings for Saya.
“We kind of like to joke about it that, yes, there’s the love triangle between Maria, Saya, and Marcus, but there’s also a huge relationship between Maria and Saya, and that’s what I think is so beautiful about the show,” says Condor, who developed a real friendship with Faria off screen. “The chemistry came so easily, and she makes it so easy and she’s a wonderful human. It was truly a blessing to be able to work with her because she’s so not selfish. She gives everything and it’s amazing, and you’ll see as the show progresses.”
Overall, Condor hopes the audience learns “there’s strength in numbers, and your friends can be your family.”
Deadly Class airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Syfy.