‘Legends of Tomorrow’: Caity Lotz on Avalance’s Reunion & Directing the Very Animated Episode
For her second stint directing the show — her first was the action-packed “Mortal Khanbat” — Lotz was given an even bigger toy box to pull from in “The Satanist’s Apprentice” as an Earthly annoyed Astra (Olivia Swann) struck a deal with the enchanted portrait of famed spiritualist Aleister Crowley (voiced by Little Britain‘s Matt Lucas) that led to all sorts of demented Disney-like animation and musical numbers. Not to mention a ton of static for Crowley’s foe, John Constantine (Matt Ryan).
Up in space, Lotz’s Sara Lance had technical issues of her own when she came face-to-face with Bishop (Rafi Barsoumian), the big bad keeping her hostage amid the stars. Thankfully, she had one of the Ava clones (Jes Macallan) to keep her company and Rafi’s video-projector explanation of his master plan to get her heroic wheels turning. In fact, it could very well be this show-and-tell session that lays the groundwork for Sara’s escape and long-awaited reunion with her team…and true love.
Here, the so chill Lotz lets us in on how she managed to helm this tricky episode from one of Sara’s strangest spots, as well as the #Avalance of it all.
This episode is so great. How did you end up directing it?
Caity Lotz: Thank you! They give me what they want to give me and they’ve been really sweet about giving me what they think fits. They actually do that a lot with the directors, giving them something that they think they’d be good at. My first one was like “It’s fighting! John Woo…that’ll be great.” But I don’t know why they were like, “Caity for the animation! episode!” [Laughs]
This must have been a real challenge.
Well, our actors are so good, like working with Rafi who plays Bishop…and of course, Olivia just knocked this episode out of the park. She’s such a joy to work with. Like, she was so down. That opening scene where she gets splashed [by the car]? That was not supposed to happen in the original script. It was supposed to be raining or something like that. And I was like, “No, I want us to drench her on the street, I want like, a waterfall to hit her.” And she was so down. She was like “One-hundred percent! More water! Make it a bigger splash!” All, of course, in this fabulous silk outfit. [Laughs]
How much did the animation and music recording add to your schedule?
We started prep early for this episode because the animation takes quite a bit of time. It’s a long process because each one of the characters needs to be designed from their outfits to their coloring and the way they look. So that has to get done, then they do a moving storyboard called an animatic and then from there, you have to get all the actors recording the voiceovers so that they can animate to the voices. Then they start the full animation, the coloring and producing the music. They sent me a video from when they were recording the score with all the live musicians in the room, and you know, that was just so cool. It was fun.
Directing and acting is really hard, though! That was a unique challenge for sure. Being chained to a bed while I’m trying to also direct it and act. That made it a bit difficult. [Laughs]
How much did you direct from that actual bed?
A lot! I had an iPad and there was this app — of course I didn’t even know about this app until the second day of directing and acting! — so I was able to watch the camera feed going to my iPad while I’m in the bed. And then I could screen-record the feed so I could see the rehearsals without having to get all unchained from the bed. I could just watch it and direct from that little hospital cot as they wheeled me through the hallway.
That is insane. I guess with directing a show like this, you’re always going to get new challenges because no episode is ever the same.
Yeah. This is what makes it so exciting. Combining the two storylines was a bit difficult too because they’re so separate, right? I really wanted Astra’s storyline to feel different. The whole beginning was almost like a music video, the way it [was edited] together. So first we’re, like, in this ’80s music video and then we’re on a spaceship…oh, and that projector screen was really fun to design, too. Originally it was supposed to just be CG, but I love projectors and stuff like that so I worked with the playback team and they designed a really cool kind of video show. And then Rafi even came in to rehearse it so that he could [interact with it] like a live show where he would stand in front of the projector and figure out where to stand to line it all up. And we had to use two projectors so that it would be bright enough because I wanted it to all be practical.
OK, now everyone is asking: When do we get Sara back?!
[Laughs] Um…soon enough. She’s got some more of this crucible that she has to go through, but I promise you, when she gets reunited with Ava, it’s worth it.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Sundays, 8/7c, The CW