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Andrea Roth Delves into the Bowen Psyche on 'Marvel's Cloak & Dagger'

The 'Marvel's Cloak & Dagger' star discusses Melissa Bowen's struggles and unrelenting hope.

***SPOILER ALERT: Don’t proceed any further if you haven’t seen the most recent episode of “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger”!***

 

Despite her struggles and addictions, and much to her daughter Tandy’s annoyance, Melissa Bowen is an eternal optimist. Melissa’s complex and compromised, weathering the storms (which there have been many), to the best of her ability. In the latest episode of “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger,” titled “Call/Response,” Melissa’s lawyer boyfriend, Greg, may be on to something with their case against Roxxon.

The Bowen women are beginning to mend some of their relationship, and we even see Tandy making efforts to get to know Greg and give him a chance. After getting a glimpse of Greg’s hope and dreams involving both Bowen women, Tandy couldn’t help but yearn for any semblance of normalcy and stability. However, the feel good feelings and hopes for both Tandy and Melissa were short-lived following the shocking murder of Greg at the end of the episode.

Speaking to Marvel.com, Andrea Roth, who plays Melissa Bowen, gave us a deeper look at the Bowen matriarch’s survivor’s guilt and her deep need to reconcile with Tandy, as well as her reactions to last week’s shocking episode reveal.

Marvel.com: It’s easy to dismiss Melissa for her shortcomings and her strained relationship with her daughter, but what do you think are her redeeming character traits that we’ve also been able to witness in just the first few episodes? 

Andrea Roth: Underneath her addiction, who she once was before survivor’s guilt and the grief from her husband, dealing with her daughter’s survivor’s guilt, all that stuff, Melissa was an innocent, hopeful, headstrong woman much like how Tandy is now. It’s just unfortunate we both have addictions and pain and anger and this cloud of complex, messed up mother-daughter relationship swimming around us.

Marvel.com: We do see a lot of glimmers of this hopefulness and this optimism. How does Melissa maintain all the optimism despite the loss and despite the pain?

Andrea Roth: The only thing that is holding her up is her belief that she is going to, at some point, vindicate her husband. If she actually gave up on it, or if she was eventually told that all of her obsessiveness about it was all in vain, she probably would collapse into a way deeper abyss. I think it’s actually the thing that is propping her up. The part of her that is hopeful has found its mooring in trying to vindicate her husband.

Marvel.com: Marvel and Freeform believe in the power of flawed protagonists, and this show navigates these real-world hardships and emotions and complexities delicately but still head-on. How do you think Melissa views her fragility, her depression, and her reliance on drugs? Does she push it aside or does she understand that this is part of who she is?

Andrea Roth: No, she sadly is just caught in a hamster wheel. Each day, she thinks she’s not going to drink later that night. She can go through periods of not as much and I think sometimes she drinks a little less. She’s incredibly self-hating because of it. She knows exactly what it is and she knows that she is just too weak to overcome it. It makes her feel terrible about herself and therefore, she sometimes lashes out or pushes back at her daughter. She doesn’t think that she deserves the love of her daughter. She’s unable to love herself at times—she’s disappointed in herself and she just doesn’t have the skills to get out of it, to stop drinking, to find some help and health.

Marvel.com: In this episode, we witness for the first time an interaction between Melissa and Tandy that wasn’t prickly or tense. How does she view her relationship with Tandy? Will she finally have all her ducks in a row with Greg, with Tandy, and the Roxxon case?

Andrea Roth: Happily for her, she’s finally found a relationship that is healthy and has potential. And Tandy, during their fight, understandably lets it be known that her mother could never—no man wants her for anything good. She’s hurt by that and that she secretly also believes it about herself. She has such low self-esteem from drinking way too long and not having the strength to stop it.

Then, when they start teaming up, this is a moment where her daughter actually maybe respects her a bit for what she always thought was Melissa deluding myself, trying to figure out this Roxxon stuff, trying to vindicate her husband’s name. All of a sudden, there’s some hope in that relationship that we’re actually going to be on the same page, that we’re actually seeing something with the same eyes and I think it’s very hopeful and that she’s going to find some respect for me and that I will find some respect for her. I think it’s going to give us a new chance at a relationship.

Marvel.com: One of Tandy’s powers is that she can see people’s hopes. What would Melissa’s hopes be if Tandy were able to see it?

Andrea Roth: She lives so much in the past that her hopes would be having a wonderful family back together again. Most importantly, she’d have to stop drinking so that she could then have a real, caring, mother-daughter relationship, and be able to be the mother that deep inside she wants to be. She just can’t get out of her own way.

Marvel.com: How did you feel when you were shooting the scenes for Greg’s hopes where he sees himself really integrated with the family, they’re cooking together, you’re supporting —

Andrea Roth: Oh yes, you’re absolutely right. At the beginning, I have a hope that this might be my path to healthiness to some happiness, to a good, loving relationship, maybe even a good male figure in my daughter’s life. This could be the early signs of something really, really wonderful. That is also, of course a hope.

Marvel.com: The devastating reveal at the end of the episode is that Tandy witnesses someone murdering Gregg and destroying all of his case files and research on Roxxon. Do you think this turning point will drive Melissa further or closer to Tandy. How will this emotionally and mentally impact her?

Andrea Roth: With Melissa, she is surprising sometimes, but it can only go one of two ways. One, she could spiral down into her abyss of addiction and pain and grief and wallowing. Or, it may spark her to have hope again because obviously it shows they’re on to something. All of these years, she wasn’t delusional.

It could be a catalyst for a turning point—a healing moment between Tandy and her mom that they both are seeing the same thing with the same eyes and that there really was something wrong. They want to vindicate her father, my husband together. I think it’s going to allow Tandy to forgive me and respect me a little more that I’ve held onto this and I want to do right by his name. It’s also going to give me a chance to see that my little girl is not a little girl but a young, powerful, forthright—she takes action, she goes out there and tries to do things—all those things are going to possibly change our relationship.

Marvel.com: Is there anything you can tease for what else is to come for your character the remainder of the season?

Andrea Roth: Well, it’s safe to say that with Melissa Bowen, you just never know how she’s going to react to things. Joe Pokaski has said my character, he felt, had the greatest arc in the show. We’ll be wondering what that arc will or will not be, or who I am or am not. Don’t completely give up on Melissa.

Brand new episodes of “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” air exclusively on Freeform Thursdays at 8p/7c! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the latest on “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” and Marvel Television! Be sure to follow @CloakandDagger on Twitter and like the official “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” Facebook page!