WARNING: Impulse Spoilers
A show that should be on your binge-watching radar: YouTube Red’s Impulse. It’s a sci-fi and character-driven series based on the Steven Gould book of the same name.
Impulse is one of the sequels to Gould’s best-selling 1992 novel, Jumper, which was made into a movie starring Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell and Rachel Bilson in 2008.
Being a part of the Jumper universe means teleportation is an element of the new drama, along with dark themes like sexual assault, murder and drug trafficking.
At the heart of it all is Henry (Maddie Hasson), a troubled high school student plagued by raging seizures. It’s during a traumatic event she discovers she has the power to teleport. What’s left in the wake of these sudden disappearances doesn’t only affect her but the people in its vicinity. There’s sometimes collateral damage.
Impulse explores the spectacularly profound effect Henry’s newfound ability has on her life, her family and the town where she and her mother recently moved. This journey takes her to some pretty dark, intense places physically and psychologically.
At one point, Henry faces each male member of the powerful Boone family: Bill Boone (David James Elliott) and his sons Lucas (Craig Arnold) and Clay (Tanner Stine). They end up being a source of pain and angst for the teen, who’s already dealing with so many issues of her own.
Needless to say, Impulse turns out to be wildly entertaining and addictive. We recently talked to Craig Arnold, who plays Lucas. He’s happy to be a part of the YouTube Red family where the streaming service “is really good at trusting their creators and letting them do what they do best which is tell great story.”
In the following Q&A, Arnold talks about why Impulse is a bingeable show, a couple of the biggest moments from season one, working with this amazing cast of regulars and guest stars, and he even reflects on his Degrassi: The Next Generation days when he played another Lucas â€” Lucas “Luke” Baker.
And no, we didn’t get to ask Arnold what he thought about Drake’s music video that reunited the actor turned rapper with some of his Degrassi co-stars. The interview happened right before the video dropped. Boo.
TV Goodness: How did Impulse come into your life?
Craig Arnold: I was living in Los Angeles and I sent in a self-tape audition and I didn’t hear anything for a few months. And then I was back in Toronto and they said they had rewritten the whole thing, everything had changed and I was asked to come in for an audition with the casting director here.
So I went in and did that. And then about a week or two later, Doug Liman and Dave Bartis and Gene Klein were in Toronto and they were holding screen tests so I got to go in and work with them. We had a long session. It was pretty intense. It was a couple weeks after that that I found out I got it.
I found out I was put on hold, and that they were interested but I had to get approved by the network. So I was waiting by the phone for a couple weeks. I tried to put my mind on other things but that was impossible. At the end of that, it was a big relief. I would have been so sad if I couldn’t have been a part of this.
TV Goodness: Impulse is a dark show. Were you prepared for how dark it was really going to get?
Arnold: Not completely because we did the pilot and then had to wait until the series was picked up. We would get the scripts one at a time basically every two weeks while we were shooting. So, no, I wasn’t really prepared for how far it was going to go.
And, actually, after we shot the pilot, Lauren LeFranc â€” our showrunner â€” came on board and redid the sexual assault scene a lot more realistic and dark and a lot more truthful and uncomfortable.
When she came on board and as I started to get the scripts for the further episodes, for four, five, six…and so on…It definitely got a lot darker than I expected. But I really liked it because it was truthful and told good stories about the characters and gave them real depth.
TV Goodness: What are some of the reasons people should binge season one of Impulse sooner rather than later?
Arnold: I think a lot of people are attracted to the Jumper universe and Steven Gould‘s work. The sci-fi thriller aspect of it. But what draws me is the character aspect of it. How human and heartfelt every character is…dealing with deep emotional issues.
Everyone has a secret. Everyone is going through some kind of pain or harboring guilt or regret. And it’s just written very truthfully. And on top of that it’s a realistic look at life for an assault survivor and the struggles associated with that. I don’t have firsthand experience with that so I can’t say a hundred percent or sure, but we’ve been getting good feedback about that so I think it’s a big draw as well.
TV Goodness: What’s the most surprising aspect about your character, Lucas?
Arnold: Seeing how sensitive he is underneath his dark exterior. When you first meet him, he comes across kind of as a tough guy or a goon. And he seems kind of shady. But as the series progresses, you see that he really does care about the people around him. And he really wants to do what’s right. So I think just seeing that he really does have a heart. And he really wants to do well for the people that he cares about.
TV Goodness: In particular, let’s talk about the seventh episode. The one with the dinner. Lucas ended up praying at the table â€” I thought that was pretty surprising. What did you think about that bit of character development?
Arnold: It made sense to me after what happens in episode five. Because he’s feeling very conflicted over what he had to do. So he’s trying to find ways of dealing with the guilt of what’s he’s done.
At that point in episode seven, he’s starting to wonder that maybe it wasn’t the right idea to do what he did. So I think it’s his attempt at trying to find some solace and something to hang on to in a really uncertain time where he’s really really conflicted.
TV Goodness: Can you talk about what shooting that dinner experience was like? It’s one of the only times almost the entire cast is together.
Arnold: Honestly, it was a lot of fun. I remember on the day doing it. It was just so out of control fun. Everyone was having such a great time. And then we kind of had to reel it back in and remember what the scene was and what was happening. And Maggie Kiley our director in that episode was great about helping out with that.
So, honestly, it was a lot of fun. I mean everyone’s so good and supportive and just working with those people is a good time no matter what, so it was great. It’s sort of funny to watch it back and to see how serious it is and then remember on the day we were having a good time. We were definitely happy with how it turned out.
TV Goodness: There’s a moment in that episode involving Lucas and Henry that I thought was great. Lucas let Henry know he believed that his brother hurt her. Can you talk about filming that scene?
Arnold: I really liked that one because that’s the first time you really see Lucas make a choice that he’s gonna find out what the truth was. And he needs to know this both for himself and to move forward in his life, what he’s going to do next.
I enjoyed the vulnerability of Lucas at that point. And trying to tell Henry he’s sorry and he really wants to help her after he’s already put her in the trunk of his car and done some pretty terrible, mean things. So it was a nice turn for him to see him be so open and wanting to apologize and help her and seek the truth. I really love that scene and I think it’s a great scene for Lucas.
TV Goodness: Can you talk about the cast on this show? I mean, there’s the awesome regular cast. Plus, there are so many familiar faces in guest star roles from Keegan-Michael Key to Danny Pudi to the Orphan Black actors Kristian Bruun and Kevin Hanchard…
Arnold: It’s an amazing group of people. I think we got really lucky. Every single person is just an amazing actor and great people all around too.
Getting Keegan-Michael Key and Danny Pudi to come on and do an episode each was really lucky. And we’re so happy they were passionate enough to come on and it’s just an amazing group through and through. I felt so supportive and so excited to come in and work every single day.
TV Goodness: Talk specifically about working with David James Elliott who plays Lucas’ dad. What was it like working with him?
Arnold: He’s the man. He was so nice to me and always gave me advice and tips on acting and the lifestyle, and if I’m ever wondering about anything I can just ask him and he’ll always help me out. He’s an incredible actor, too. Some of his scenes in the series I think are the best in the whole thing.
I kind of had this idea of him that he was going to be this really intimidating guy just because of how much he’s done and how good he is. He’s just a really warm-hearted guy. We got along really well. We’re great friends now and we talk all the time. I’m happy I got to meet him and work with him.
TV Goodness: Talk about working with Maddie Hasson. She has to lead the show and she does a great job doing it.
Arnold: She does an incredible job. She has so much that she has to do. It really amazed me that she was just ready to go every day, every scene. She had to do the most out of anyone in the cast and really intense, emotional work, too.
I really learned a lot from watching her and working her. And on top of it she’s really polite and kind to everyone. It was amazing to me. She was a great scene partner, really generous. Fantastic. It was a pleasure working with her.
TV Goodness: What did you enjoy most from your Degrassi days?
Arnold: My favorite thing about Degrassi was being a part of that family. And it really is a family. The executive producers, Linda SchuylerÂ and Steven Sohn welcomed you in right off the bat and make sure you know everyone and you feel comfortable.
Everyone was so supportive. It was a huge cast, I think there were 20 main characters when I started and it usually stays around that. Everyone has a lot of fun. For a lot of people, myself included, it’s the first regular role they have so everyone wants to do a good job and put their best foot forward. No one’s jaded or anything. It’s refreshing. It taught me how to work on a TV series and how to conduct yourself. I’m grateful I got the experience.
TV Goodness: What’s next for you?
Arnold: After I finished Impulse in January, I went to Budapest and shot an episode of CBS’ Ransom. And then after I finished that, I shot a horror movie called Stranded directed by Jordan Barker. It’s about a group of college students going on a snowboarding trip in Massachusetts. They get stuck along way and they end up stranded. And that should be coming out this year.
TV Goodness: Have you heard anything about a second season?
Arnold: No, I haven’t heard anything yet. Fingers crossed. I’d love to shoot many seasons.
TV Goodness: What current show â€” other than your own â€” would you love to be a part of whether as a guest star or series regular and why.
Arnold: Big Little Lies. That really blew me away. I thought it was incredible. I don’t know what I would play. I’ve love to be the guy even sitting at the coffee shop. Such amazing work. So well done. And so truthful. And really on top of current issues. So I really connected with that.
TV Goodness: Patrick J. Adams, formerly of Suits, tweeted support for your show. How does that make you feel?
â€” Patrick J Adams (@halfadams) June 3, 2018
Arnold: Yeah, that was amazing. I’m a huge fan of Suits. I’m a huge fan of his. The fact that he even watched the show blew me away. I couldn’t be happier about it. I love everything that he does, too. That was pretty amazing.
TV Goodness: You live in Toronto. You work for Suits executive producer Gene Klein. Did you fanboy over Suits with him at all?
Arnold: (laughs) I tried to keep everything in check because I didn’t want to be that guy. I just wanted to show up and do good work. Hopefully he knows I’m a big fan of Suits and I love everything that he and Dave and Doug have worked on.
TV Goodness: Well, Suits is still around. You can talk to Gene. You could totally appear on that show at some point.
Arnold: I know! I’ve got to get him to bring me in as some kind ofâ€¦I don’t know who I’d be.
TV Goodness: A lawyer!
Arnold: I could be a lawyer or the person on trial. I’d prefer that.
The entire first season of Impulse is currently streaming on YouTube Red.
Interview edited for space and content.
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