Between Teen Wolf and Gotham, actress Crystal Reed has established herself with characters who hold their own against monstrous men. And as Abby Arcane, the lead on the DC Universe’s new horror series Swamp Thing, Reed trades in werewolves, a penguin, and future Batman for the guardian of the Green.
Along with humanoid superhero Swamp Thing, and his human counterpart Alec Holland, Abby Arcane was created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson for DC Comics. While her comic origins have her as a Romanian empath who becomes a nurse, the live-action Abby portrayed by Reed has a different backstory.
In this version, produced by James Wan, Abby is a CDC doctor who returns to her Louisiana hometown after a long absence when a swamp-borne virus breaks out.
“The core character values and traits are the same in Alan Moore’s run as they are in our series,” said Reed. “But the circumstances are different.”
“She is a woman who had a very traumatic experience as a child that left her feeling she could trust no one, and had nothing, so she decided to go be a doctor because science is black and white, and that is comforting to her.”
As Arcane investigates the nefarious forces behind the virus, strange happenings occur. She becomes close with scientist Alec Holland (Andy Bean), while also encountering characters from her past, including the prominent Sunderland family.
“The outbreak inspires her to go back and deal with these ghosts that have been haunting her her entire life,” said Reed, who added that her homecoming will unsettle what she has accepted as fact from her past.
“Throughout the series we see her question what she has come to believe her entire life.”
But while Reed said she is proud of her character’s emotional journey, the series also puts horror front and center, with practical monster effects evocative of John Carpenter’s The Thing. And the titular character is portrayed by actor Derek Mears as a hulking elemental monster-hero in a practical suit.
And Reed is down for all of it.
“One of the reasons I love my job is it’s about going to work, and being free to play,” she said “So whether it’s a heavy emotional scene, or being in front of this monster, it’s been a lot of fun.”
However, the actress admits it can be a challenge acting opposite “a man in a suit with contacts.”
“I had moments where I had sink into the circumstances Abby was going through, and had to remind myself who she was,” she said. “But in general it was easy because Derek Mears is so giving, and wanting to be there for me, and give his all to the character so it made it quite easy to fall in love with him.”
As for whether this version of Abby will develop the same powers as her comic book counterpart, Reed won’t exactly say.
“I don’t know how to answer that,” she said. “We might. Maybe. Question mark?”
Swamp Thing premieres on DC Universe on May 31.