Sean Teale On Playing a Spanish-Speaking Mutant in Marvel’s ‘The Gifted’

Sean Teale as Eclipse/Marcos Diaz in 'The Gifted.' Photo by Ryan Green. Courtesy of FOX

Never mind how many hours you’ve invested in watching Marvel TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil and Jessica Jones, or the countless cinematic remakes, reboots and sequels that have hit the theater in the last 20 years. The new Fox TV series The Gifted is doing its own superhero thing and playing by its own rules.

Producers of The Gifted took a huge first step in making the show stand out from the rest of the comic-book themed content out there when they cast Venezuelan-British actor Sean Teale for a lead role. With little Latino representation in the superhero universe from big players like Marvel and D.C. Comics, Teale’s inclusion in the diverse cast is not only welcomed, but very-much needed.

In The Gifted, which is technically part of Marvel’s X-Men franchise, Teale plays a young Colombian man named Marcos Diaz, a rebellious mutant who has the power to manipulate and absorb protons. Joining a mutant-resistance known as the Underground Network, Marcos (aka Eclipse) helps other mutants seek refuge from a corrupt government that is set to destroy them. This includes teenage mutants Lauren and Andy Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White), a brother and sister who join the fight to survive.

Teale said he was drawn to the character because of his complexity. He describes Marcos as “someone who has gone through some unspeakable things” and who is “erratic and angry,” but at the same time can be “sarcastic and lighthearted in even the most daunting situations.” Plus, he said, getting the opportunity to speak Spanish on a TV show is something he has never done before.

During an interview with Remezcla, Teale talked about his history with superheroes, whether he thinks there is too much comic book-related content today and explains exactly how Eclipse’s superpowers work on the show. He also discusses his Venezuelan background and how he’s learned to embrace his heritage more as he’s gotten older.

The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

On his knowledge of the comic-book world growing up

“When I open my mouth and speak, no one believes that I am anything but British. So, when I speak Spanish, they are very surprised.”

I grew up in London, so we didn’t have as many comics as you guys did [in the U.S.]. My experience with comics was maybe reading a few that my brother had and watching all the movies. I’m a big movie lover. The superhero genre was definitely something I was aware of. You have to appreciate the films. They’re great stories and great characters. There is just so much content out there. I grew up watching countless Batman movies. I didn’t know there were going to be so many Batman movies in my lifetime! But, admittedly, I didn’t follow the comics, so I don’t have that literary background.

On the thought that too much superhero content might make fans fatigued

I try to be as pragmatic a person as possible. I always thought it would be natural that at some point the bubble would burst. You’re always going to find fatigue in any genre that might get overworked. But at the same time, shows are continuing to reinvent themselves and fans keep responding. The real way you prevent [fatigue] is by not reusing and recycling the same tropes. The Gifted is very much its own entity and looks its own way. We’ve never seen the X-Men like this before. Although there might be some fatigue, I’m hoping that our show isn’t the reason there is any.

On his Venezuelan background and very British accent

Both my parents are part Venezuelan. My mother has Spanish blood as well. My father has Welch blood. After the riots [in Venezuela] in 1989 (Caracazo), my father and mother moved to London two years before I was born. My mother’s whole family is still in Puerto la Cruz and Valencia and Caracas and Margarita [Island]. When I open my mouth and speak, no one believes that I am anything but British. So, when I speak Spanish, they are very surprised.

‘The Gifted’ Photo by Ryan Green. Courtesy of FOX
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On embracing his Latino heritage

Growing up, I wanted to speak English. I didn’t like to speak Spanish because kids don’t like to learn another language. My parents spoke to me in English, so that’s what I wanted to speak. When I was a child, I guess I embraced it less, but the older I get, the more I love the fact that I’m from South America and can speak the language and have experienced the beautiful country and understand the hardships (the major socioeconomic crisis) happening there now. I feel for that country more than I have ever felt for it before. I’m glad on [The Gifted], I can show a side that I haven’t been able to show in a role before because I get to speak Spanish.

On the diversity of The Gifted

We’re crossing so many demographics, ages, genders, and sexualities in just the cast alone. It’s so diverse. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to have a South American superhero. But the point of the show isn’t that they are superheroes. They are mutants. They are human beings that just happen to have an X gene. Anyone from across the globe – from Kenya to Australia – can have this gene. That’s what we’re trying to show. But I am glad there is more Hispanic representation on TV.

Sean Teale as Eclipse/Marcos Diaz in ‘The Gifted.’ Courtesy of FOX
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On Eclipse’s superpowers

He has the ability to manipulate protons. Eclipse has the power to mess with anything to do with light. For example, if you wanted all the light in a room to be sucked out of the air, Eclipse could pull all the light into his body and keep it completely black until he needed to release it again. He can do anything from creating blinding light like a flashbang grenade to focusing light into laser form, which can burn through things. If his power grows, he can become even more dangerous. If he can do it on a molecular level, he can create the biggest bomb of all time.

On why manipulating protons would be a cool power to have for everyday use

You could heat up popcorn with your hands. Blair [Redford] (the actor who plays the mutant character Thunderbird in The Gifted) is adamant that there has to be a scene on the show where I heat up his popcorn with my hands. And another scene where someone uses superhuman strength to open a jar of pickles.

On the possibility of an Eclipse action figure

If there ever was one, it would be an honor. My mom would probably buy all of them off the shelves before anyone else.