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In less than a decade since her acting debut on a 2012 episode of the CW’s Gossip Girl, Elena Kampouris has shifted effortlessly from the small screen to the Broadway stage and on movie screens. She appeared in nine episodes of the television show American Odyssey and was a regular on Sacred Lies.
She is heading to her biggest project to date in the form of Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy, playing the super-powered Chloe Sampson, daughter to The Union’s lead couple, The Utopian and Lady Liberty. Endowed with many of the powers of her famous parents, she rebels against the whole concept of capes and tights fighting for justice. She’s on a quest to find herself, and in this interview, Kampouris brings us along on the journey.
Who is Chloe Sampson?
NAME: Chloe Sampson
POWERS AND ABILITIES: Super speed, strength, durability, stamina and senses; flight; telekinesis; sonic scream
NEED TO KNOW: Daughter of Sheldon and Grace, sister of Brandon. She’s immensely powerful, but rejects everything her parents stand for. Chloe has forged her own path to fame; a path that threatens to go against everything her parents have sworn to protect.
Den of Geek: How tough was the casting process as far as you’re concerned?
Elena Kampouris: Going out for parts is a lot of auditioning and then there’s the waiting process. Sometimes the waiting can be really short. Most of the time, it’s a slow burn. So what you try to do amidst all of the nervousness and the excitement, is sometimes auditioning—and it’s all obviously virtual at the moment—but you just try and kind of forget about it. It was hard to do that with this one, because it had such a fan base behind it and such a legacy, no pun intended.
And this is such a juicy character. I didn’t want to read the comic book yet. I had done whatever research I could online, but for me, I don’t like to read the books or whatever until I know I’ve got it, because you get even more attached to it. So after I auditioned, it was just waiting and waiting, and I’m, like, “Forget about it, don’t think about it.”
And then, you finally find out you got the part and then the relief and the excitement, the elation, is there. But then it comes to a point where it’s, like, “Okay, now you’ve got to actually shoot the thing and make sure you don’t blow it. You’ve got to live up to the expectation, especially being the fact that this is a character that many people have envisioned in their heads and she’s got a really distinct personality.” Chloe packs a lot of punch, so you go to set and try to shoot the thing. You hope that it comes out well and you do it justice.
Now you’ve read the scripts and shot the episodes, what is your view of Chloe? Who is she as a person, as far as you’re concerned?
The thing I loved about her is that she has so many layers and a lot of depth. And there’s so much to unpack, because, on one end, she’s unfiltered, quite brash, and her powers are tethered to her emotions, which is fun, because it makes her quite unpredictable.
Chloe’s emotions are pretty heightened…
Yes, but it comes from a place of just feeling deeply and being so sensitive. She’s very deep feeling and that’s why she’s so hurt. She’s in a major place of pain and navigating all of these feelings of guilt and dysfunction with her family dynamic at the moment. She’s got a lot of baggage, but that’s what made her so much fun to play, because it’s not the kind of character that you come across all the time. You never know what she’s going to say or what she’s going to do, but I love her fiery spirit and exploring the layers.
You had the opportunity to pull back her layers?
Exactly! You get to see what makes her tick, what’s driving her to act out or rebel against the family code and family dynamic. We explore the dysfunction of the super beings and the idea of perfection versus imperfection. Order versus disorder. She embodies chaos and disorder versus The Utopian’s order and the code and perfection. He’s so caught up in trying to be the symbol and represent invincibility, and she’s so clearly “vincible” and so clearly imperfect.
Very human. In fact, her love of “likes” is such a great reflection of today’s society with the whole thing about social media and being an influencer.
Yes, she has that whole model influencer thing going on… but being under the spotlight, the Hollywood glamor and then the ugly truth underneath. I like that this is a superhero story that looks at the “Kryptonite” of these super beings that have very human conditions. It’s fun that it’s through that lens and through that kind of world and we explore that even deeper in the show, which is cool.
What’s her journey like over the course of the season?
In the span of this season, there’s a lot of surprises coming. We maintain the DNA and the integrity of the genius that Mark Millar wrote in the books. She definitely has a journey. All the characters have a journey of discovery. She’ll have had some epiphanies, stuff is going to go down and you’ll feel that from the first episode.
These truly are strong characters, and their arcs of reacting and changing over the decades, as society goes through its own changes, is just fascinating.
What attracted me when I read the comic books initially was there’s a Shakespearean element here, familial discourse, you’ve got tragedy, you’ve got some King Lear, you’ve got some Romeo and Juliet. You can go on and on making the parallels here, but there’s a lot of political and moral perspectives.
As we were saying, Chloe does not appear in a superhero costume…
But there are some other costumes, some crazy costumes. There’s one scene in particular, she’s wearing an interesting getup and it’s some hilarious, crazy stuff that goes down. You’ll see the odes to the book and then some new stuff they injected in there. I think they did a really great job with capturing the spirit of the story and I’m super excited to see what people think about it and the direction it took.
The clothes were very fun. And again, Chloe is in the fashion model world. So it’s like crazy shoes and very exaggerated and cool pieces. They emulate that, which I think is really clever, too, because it is a different form of cape and costume and suit. Chloe resents that, because she’s about the soul… she sees beyond the cape and the mask and all of that, which in a way is a disguise and this kind of poser thing that people put up. That’s how she sees it.
What has it been like working with all of that green screen?
I did a show in Vancouver, Sacred Lies, where I played a double amputee. It was a modernized Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Handless Maiden, so that was my first experience with green screen, or at least green gloves, because I had to puppeteer these stubs—she has no hands. I did sometimes wear a glove and they would delete part of my arms. So that was my first foray. However, this is a whole other animal because of the skill of the stunts, flying, the this, the that, the action sequences. It takes more time, but we had so many wonderful experts dealing with all this stuff. I was blown away because it was like clockwork—they know what they’re doing. But it’s unlike anything I had ever encountered before and it’s a learning process.
How about flying around on wires?
Do you like heights? Are you into things like rock climbing?
No, not particularly.
I am afraid of heights, too, so I was initially quite scared, but, again, we have a great stunt team and they make you feel so calm. They do the building blocks, they baby step you into the process and then once they get you in that harness… but, man, that thing is tight and it rides up in all the different places. You’ve got to have a lot of padding, but you’re in the harness and then you have to practice doing these flips. Everybody made it look really good, really quick. I felt so awkward, because you have to flip back a few times and you don’t look very elegant. But once you get the hang of it, you’re going to be okay.
Are you prepared for the response from the superhero fan community?
Well, first of all, I hope that the fans are going to be happy with it. I am excited to just hear the feedback, because of the fact we shot this in 2019. It feels so long ago. Hopefully it will be embraced and enjoyed and people will feel we did it justice. I feel like what’s so special about Jupiter’s Legacy is that you’ve got the saga aspect that’s like a Game of Thrones scale kind of thing as far as the gravity of this and the span. Then you’ve got the moral aspects, the power struggles… the action, you have the humor that’s sprinkled in like The Incredibles. But it mashes all together into its own unique thing, and it explores the dysfunction of superheroes in a way that I don’t think anybody’s done before.
Jupiter’s Legacy premieres on Netflix on May 7. Read more about the series in our special edition magazine!