‘The Stand’s Jovan Adepo Spills on What It Was Like Acting in an Apocalyptic New York

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We’re only in The Stand‘s second episode, and already it’s brought one of our worst fears to life. Centered around Jovan Adepo‘s Larry Underwood, “Pocket Savior” revolves around Larry’s trip to Boulder and more importantly what it took for him to escape a plague-ridden New York. In an interview with Amber Heard that included Decider, Adepo spilled on what it was like turning the former epicenter of COVID-19 into a full apocalypse.

“When we do meet Larry this is that kind of turn, where we start to see that all of the modern technology and things like that start to fail,” Adepo explained. “Without spoiling anything in Larry’s New York journey, he definitely wasn’t equipped — as none of us are when times like these are happening. You kind of just have to roll with the punches. It’s really this story as a whole about survival of the fittest.”

As Larry tries to navigate his way out of the city all of the luxuries he used to rely on fail him one by one. The roads he took for granted are covered in immovable cars, and within hours his cell phone becomes useless as a navigation device. But it’s not the failure of technology that’s the most interesting part of Adepo’s big episode. No, that distinction goes to the sewer and its rats.

Like in the original novel, Larry escapes New York alongside the rich Rita Blakemoor. Rita was cut in the 1994 adaptation of the novel, but in this version Heather Graham’s character is instrumental in keeping Larry sane as he escapes these unrelenting horrors. One of those horrors involves escaping the city that never sleeps by crawling through its sewage.

“I’ve done stuff like that before. We all have… Going into these special set pieces, you know it’s going to look cool and as they’re building it and as the director and set designers are talking about it. They’re like ‘The audience is going to think this is so awesome.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah! But that water is cold and I’m supposed to pretend I’m drowning and all this other stuff,’” Adepo said. “I’m not afraid of the dark but I have my moments. Even if you’re on a set you can forget and not see how things are happening when it’s supposed to be all pretend.”

That stunt work was made even more difficult by the rats. The rats you see in The Stand Episode 2 are all real. “I made with the rats OK. Heather, not to throw her under the bus but she wasn’t,” Adepo revealed. “After we got acquainted with the rats she was like ‘Oh, they’re my best friends.’ But those first couple of days they were rough. We spent all day with those animals. Beautiful creatures. They were more professional than we were a lot of the time.”

Larry Underwood is The Stand’s resident irresponsible musician who got too famous too fast. To portray Larry’s stage presence, Adepo took inspiration from blues, rock, and soul musician Gary Clark Jr. Both Larry’s look and his “swagger as an artist” were inspired by Clark.

“I definitely wanted to jack his style a bit. But as far as Larry’s personality, his attitude, the way that he carries himself, his morals or lack of morality, I absolutely wanted to stay true to how he was portrayed in the book because I think that’s why people have come to like Larry over the years,” Adepo said.

New episodes of The Stand premiere on CBS All Access Thursdays at 3/2c a.m.

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