Beyond (Freeform/Katie Yu) BURKELY DUFFIELD

Tim Kring created Heroes and brought it back last year for Heroes Reborn. Now he’s telling the story of another young hero with special powers in Freeform’s original series Beyond.

Adam Nussdorf, creator of Beyond, had applied for a writing job on Heroes Reborn, but didn’t get the job.

“It was probably for the best because he went off and wrote a spec pilot and brought it to me,” Kring said.

When Beyond came to Kring’s company Imperative Entertainment, it had all the elements that made Kring want to see it through. Beyond stars Burkely Duffield as Holden, a boy who falls into a coma as a teenager and wakes up 12 years later with special abilities. While people like Willa (Dilan Gwyn) come forward to help him make sense of his powers, other mysterious figures chase Holden with little explanation. Meanwhile, Holden tries to put his life back together, including starting to date Jamie (Emilija Baranac), a girl he met at a party.

When Beyond premieres January 2, Freeform will also release the entire 10-episode first season online at and with streaming services like Hulu and the Freeform app. If you watch through episode three, Beyond introduces The Realm, another world to which Holden now has access.

Kring spoke with Rotten Tomatoes before the holidays about Beyond and revealed one thing it has in common with Netflix’s breakthrough series Stranger Things.

Beyond executive producer Tim Kring (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Can you help but see a little connection to Heroes that Beyond is a young person dealing with special powers?

Tim Kring: Sure, but I guess it’s always hard to see where you’re influence is. Yes, I see that it’s again a grounded depiction of super powers if you will, or powers. In that respect it shares some DNA with Heroes.

RT: Is one big difference that in Beyond viewers focus on Holden and not a larger cast of heroes?

Kring: Yeah, and Adam was clearly going for a kind of nostalgic feel to the kind of Amblin movies we all loved in the ’80s and really wanted to explore the whole idea of a family dynamic, of what happens when someone literally gets a second chance and comes back to the land of the living so to speak. How does the Rip Van Winkle aspect of his life play out in his relationships at home and his sense of being a young man all of a sudden? He went into a coma as a boy and came out as a man, missed all of those years in between.

I think that was the part that was the most alluring to me, the character study of what happens to someone while they are discovering they have these other abilities? That was always the interesting part to me about Heroes as well: How do you juggle actual life with these kinds of extra special abilities?

RT: Given that Amblin was such a strong influence, were you surprised when Stranger Things came out last summer and was so Amblin, Amblin, Amblin?

Kring: Kind of amazing. You know how these things work where there’s something in the zeitgeist. Clearly Stranger Things came out of nowhere. We had been long in development, even in production on Beyond when that showed up, and it kind of came out of nowhere. Nobody even heard of it before and suddenly it was on Netflix. We all definitely noticed how there was something in the water there.

RT: It must be that all the writers who grew up in the ’80s are now of age to be producing pilots and series.

Kring: And I think these things go in cycles where nostalgia has a long lead time. Then suddenly things start showing up from our childhood.


RT: What are the science-fiction films you most admire?

Kring: There were things from when I was very young I think that made huge impressions on me. Everything from Planet of the Apes, I guess, to 2001 — those kind of movies were big events when I was younger. In similar fashion, I would imagine Star Wars, but I would say the earlier films made a bigger impression on me. Although I have to say Close Encounters [pictured] was one that I connected with, and I love the character analysis.

Some of my stuff has kind of borrowed that idea of being drawn to something that is mystical and almost a spiritual connection to something that leads a character to go on incredible adventures. That’s something I explored in Heroes, and I would say that Close Encounters had some connection to that.

RT: We first get to visit The Realm in episode three of Beyond. How often will we visit The Realm in the series?

Kring: Well, now that we’ve busted down that wall, I think we’re going to have to go back. We leave things in a precarious state at the end of the season so you’ll see that it paves the road for having to go back.

RT: Was the look of The Realm part of Adam’s original concept?

Kring: There was a lot of discussion about what it looked like. I know that some of it came out of the writers room and some of it came out of long discussions with [showrunner] David Eick and Adam. Adam had a very clear sense of what this show was from the very beginning. For a kind of first-time creator of a show, he was very involved in all those decisions. Adam had a lot of it worked out in his head but any show that has a deep mythology usually takes a pretty substantial writers room to run it through. There are multiple seasons of mythology to dive into. It’s a whole deep backstory with the history of The Realm and the history of the rivalry between various factions. It’s got a pretty deep mythology already worked out, a pretty big bible.

RT: Does it continue to balance the Rip van Winkle story you mentioned with his broken family, learning how to date and have a life, with The Realm and the supernatural?

Kring: The bread and butter of it was how a character balances these extraordinary events that are happening with his desire and his need to live a normal life. Holden will continue to try and catch up on all those years that he lost. When you think about the formative years between 14 and 24 or so he spent in a coma, those are all the years where you really learn how to be a young man. Suddenly that whole time is missing. He still has catching up to do.


RT: Will there be a love triangle between Jamie and Willa?

Kring: I think you can see that one coming.

RT: Who is the guy Holden keeps seeing sitting next to him in his visions?

Kring: Obviously there’s lots of questions about what’s in The Realm and what he is being called to do, what his calling is. That character is a messenger of what that is all about.

RT: Should we binge all of Beyond on January 2 or watch it week by week?

Kring: It’s certainly designed to ask questions at the end of every episode. I think people are going to want to try to find the answers to these questions faster than waiting for a week. My guess is it will be watched in both ways. There’s something satisfying I guess about waiting a week for answers but there’s also something satisfying about just clicking on the next episode and watching it. This is certainly an acknowledgement that this is how people are watching TV. I don’t think there was any way to avoid putting it all out at once.

Beyond debuts January 2 at 9 p.m. with a two-hour premiere on Freeform. The entire first season will be available on the Freeform app,, On Demand, and Hulu.

Imagine waking up with 12 years of your life missing, including the best parts of your teenage years, and oh yeah, you also have super powers. That’s what happens to Holden Matthews in Freeform’s new original series Beyond. Burkely Duffield plays Holden, now 25 and trying to put his life back together, while discovering telekinetic powers he needs to learn to control and evading some shady characters who have presumably nefarious plans for him.

Duffield is no stranger to supernatural mysteries. He joined the cast of Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis, in which boarding-school teens explore underground tunnels for a mask to prevent a ghost’s curse.

Duffield spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about the series, which also stars Romy Rosemont (Glee), Michael McGrady (Ray Donovan), Jonathan Whitesell (Once Upon a Time), Dilan Gwyn (Da Vinci’s Demons), and Jeff Pierre (Shameless) and debuts in early January.

Beyond (Freeform/Katie Yu) BURKELY DUFFIELD

Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Do you ever wish you could wake up with no knowledge of technology and social media like Holden does?

Burkeley Duffield: [Laughs] I think it would be an interesting time. I think sometimes there are so many updates that being blind and just learning one of them as opposed to being confused by all of them would be quite handy. But at the same time, week to week, once my phone gets updated, I don’t know how to survive so I don’t know if I could take not knowing 12 years’ worth of technology and trying to function in today’s society.

RT: Filming the rain scene in the pilot, did you feel powerful seeing stuntmen fly up in the air behind you?

Duffield: It was an amazing sequence and was really captured beautifully by our art director and cinematographer. It was really cool to be able to do. We loved it. Once you’re shooting in the rain and you’re doing all that sort of hard labor outside, it takes a toll, but once you get a product that looks action-based, and you throw ’em here and you see all this happening, it makes the entire scene work. So it was a very fun sequence.

RT: How much did you know about his powers at the beginning?

Duffield: In the pilot, I had talks with Adam [Nussdorf, creator] and our directors and our creative staff, so I had inklings. It’s been a very fun journey to see this character grow as well as see where these powers take him and where the boundaries to his abilities really lie. In the pilot, he really doesn’t know what they are or what they can do.


RT: Does he go back to school? Holden isn’t really equipped for high school at this point.

Duffield: Once again, another one of the things he has missed being unfortunately in a coma for so long. There definitely is a school element to the show that Holden tries to re-immerse himself in. Whether or not that goes too well for him I will not say, but he does definitely try to put himself back in education.

RT: Can he jump back into high school at his age?

Duffield: He tries. He sort of goes in to see where his brain power is at. He takes an equivalency test to see what grade or possibly out of high school he would fit in mind and in body. So that’s sort of a way that he starts to go into exactly where to pick up, because Diane, his mom played by our very talented Romy in the show, is very keen on getting her son back in school. As any mom would.

RT: Sure, but he can’t very well go back where he left off and be an adult in middle school.

Duffield: Exactly, and he’s 25 so going back to anything is a little bit odd. He has to try to find for this very specific instance would exactly might be right. Would it be going back to high school, middle school, home school, a private school? It’s something we explore on the show.

Beyond (Freeform/Katie Yu) BURKELY DUFFIELD

RT: If you just woke up this year, looking back at the past 12 years in movies and TV shows you missed, what would be the ones you’d want to binge-watch?

Duffield: Star Wars would be the one that came to my head. Having watched throughout my childhood as they were all being released, I’d say that that would be a huge franchise that I’d want to see. Let alone, I’m still living that now having more movies come out. So that would be the first I’d go, “I need to watch all of those right now.”

RT: Yeah, imagine if you woke up and there was a new Star Wars movie.

Duffield: I know, right? And answered all the questions that I wondered as a kid. I’d be first in line.

RT: So many famous superheroes have their own show now. Is it fun to get to introduce a brand new superhero?

Duffield: It’s sort of a spin on taking a boy who is granted these superhuman abilities. He really is just a normal kid who was given these abilities and unfortunately had all this time in a coma. It’s sort of a fun story to live and say what if these unbelievable abilities were given to a small town everyday kid and how would he learn to use them? It’s a very cool spin on a traditional story that’s been told a lot, and I think we’ve got a fun side to be able to explore.

RT: Do they let you do a lot of the action yourself?

Duffield: They do. I try as much as I can. I’m like, “Get me in there.” I love doing stunts. I love doing action sequences so as long as it’s safe and they think that I can do it, I love jumping in there. If it’s not and they’re pulling me back, I had a very talented double, Brennan, who would jump in and help me out and get that done. Being such an action-based pilot, I took it upon myself as well as after, before we shot the first season, to make sure that I was physically able to perform any trials or physical demands that the show would throw at me. I’ve always tried to stay fit whether it be for sports or just for my own pleasure. It’s also a social thing. I go to the gym with my friends. It’s nice. It’s fun.


RT: Do you still hear from your Nickelodeon fans?

Duffield: I do. I sure do. They’re great and it’s a great fan base that I have always enjoyed. It was a great time. I look back at my career and I have loved everything that I’ve had the privilege to be able to portray. So I love my fans no matter where they come from. The Nickelodeon fan base is something that stayed strong with me so far. I foresee them sticking with me ’til whenever because I think they’re great and they always pop up to support me and I love that. There’s fans that have watched it when it was airing and there’s fans that are newcomers to the show. It’s a cool place to be where people remember me coming on to the show or people go, “Oh my gosh I saw you in this and I watched you in something else.” The social media aspect of it and the internet itself has really allowed for not only fans of any show, but really of any movie or any actor ever to be able to look back at their past and see what else they’ve been in.

RT: Who do you still keep in touch with from Anubis?

Duffield: Still quite a few of the cast that I know. They’re either primarily in England still. Some of them come down to L.A. England’s a bit more of a trek to come out to, but I always try whenever I’m in L.A. or if they’re down there, I try to make a point to see a lot of them. I made a lot of great friends, as I have on Beyond. I try to keep in touch with them as much as I can.

Beyond debuts January 2 at 9 p.m. with a two-hour premiere on Freeform. The entire first season will be available on the Freeform app,, On Demand, and Hulu.