Runaways Leslie Jonah

Runaways: Annie Wersching Breaks Down 'Gross Flaky Guy' Reveal, Previews 'Traumatizing' Flashback

One of Marvel’s Runaways‘ biggest mysteries has gotten a nip and tuck.

For much of five episodes (new every Tuesday), viewers of the Hulu series eavesdropped as Church of Gibborim leader Leslie Dean (played by Annie Wersching) slipped inside her uprivate meditation chamber to tend to (and sometimes, ahem, tend to) a man covered with white, flaky skin and hooked up to a Darth Vader-like respirator. But he who Hadrian been officially dubbed “Gross Flaky Guy” at long last was rejuvenated by PRIDE via the sacrifice of a young hood and revealed to be Jonah, the strapping mystery man (played by Julian McMahon) who made a deal with then-con Geoffrey Wilder some 18 years ago.

TVLine spoke with 24 vet/Timeless baddie Wersching about why the big reveal has Leslie thrilled/concerned, PRIDE infighting and more.

TVLINE | Knock me over with a feather — Gross Flaky Guy is not Leslie’s dead father.
I know! [Laughs] Thank goodness, right?

TVLINE | It does make Episode 4’s “glowy nether regions” 100-percent less icky.
It does. Yeah, I wasn’t sure that everyone was going to think that he was Leslie’s father, but that seemed to be the general consensus. But it’s definitely not. And it gives even more reason for her to be so weepy — for a few episodes, all I did was sit there and cry over Gross Flaky Guy. There is a very, very deep connection between the two of them.

TVLINE | Jonah promptly shared with Leslie his excitement about getting to see “her,” presumably meaning Karolina. Is there a paternity twist ahead?
That’s the way that things are leaning…. There were a bunch of different questions as far as what exactly he was in terms of what he has been in the comic books — whether or not he was a Gibborim, which were these giant things, or an alien, which could be a cool twist, because that’s what the Deans were in the comic books…. So yeah, paternity being a question would definitely explain some of Karolina’s abilities.

TVLINE | Because Leslie had this worried look when she was over his shoulder like, “I’m happy to see you, but… dot, dot dot.”
And a lot of that plays out in this week’s episode. This is the closest it’s ever been to Jonah not coming out of it his “crusty” state [Laughs], so he awakens with this drive. He really wants to live life to the fullest and meet “her.” And this is the first time Leslie is dealing with that, because in general they usually keep things pretty separate. Leslie is able to carry on with the church and Frank (Kip Pardue) and Karolina (Virginia Gardner), and Jonah is this separate thing. So this is the first time he’s coming out like, “Let’s bring that stuff together!” and she’s like, “Wait a minute.”

TVLINE | All of which is yet another, long way of saying, “Poor Frank….”
Another reason to go, “Aww, poor Frank….”

TVLINE | He’s patronized by Leslie, he’s locked out of her secret room, he isn’t going Ultra… and now Gross Flaky Guy looks like Julian McMahon.
But you know what — in this week’s episode, along with Frank the audience gets a few answers to some of the reasons he isn’t in PRIDE, and why he has been in the dark about a lot of stuff. A few things become clearer to him, which is sad, but in the end knowledge is… good?

TVLINE | That was never Julian McMahon beneath all the flaky stuff, but I had to wonder: Did that stand-in’s makeup/prosthetics have a funky, rubbery smell?
More than anything, because I actually did have to touch him a quite a bit, the problem was that it would come off. Like, “Ugh, you got some of you on me, man!” [Laughs] It was truly flaking off, and they would have to come in and touch things up. But he was such a trouper, Rick. A little side note: he actually makes a cameo in a future episode, with his own face and stuff. And he’s not flaky!

TVLINE | As far as the larger PRIDE agenda: Will last week’s improvised sacrifice start to splinter the group? We saw Catherine and Tina have some tense words….
One-hundred percent — especially with Jonah back into the mix. Again, in the past he has always stayed hidden. He didn’t really venture out into the world very often, or have many interactions with PRIDE, but he is all of a sudden woken up and like, “We’re kicking things up a notch!” That, combined with the way this improvised sacrifice went… well, pretty much everybody in PRIDE is upset about something and wants things to be going in a different direction. Leslie does her best to hold things together.

TVLINE | How do the others react to him being up and around? Is there a lot of, “Hey Jonah, come sit by me!”?
As we saw in [Episode] 5, he was someone who just appeared to the Wilders, 18 years ago. He came to everybody a long time ago and offered them something—

TVLINE | So maybe we’ll get more flashbacks to those interactions?
Yes. We get a flashback of Jonah and Leslie that is a bit traumatizing. And there might be some more glowy nether regions [Laughs], that Frank may be witness to. You definitely start to see piece by piece how Jonah fits into everybody’s lives. He appears and gives you things and says, “Someday I’ll ask for something in return.”

TVLINE | Who among the adults still has some surprises in store for us?
I’d actually say Frank. There are some interesting things coming up that give him and a whole new confidence and a whole new way that he deals with Leslie… that she is not a fan of. It’s not something you’d expect from little ol’ Frank!

TVLINE | I read on a couple different Wikis that some comic book iterations of Leslie and Frank were hiding out as actors on no less than General Hospital. [In 2007, Wersching played GH’s Amelia Joffe, a TV producer.]
Yes! [Laughs] And I love that. Because in the comic books they’re aliens and their whole “disguise” on Earth was being GH actors! [With a wink] Which is pretty much why I got the role.

TVLINE | Runways has received such positive reviews. What’s that feel like, in a climate where there are 400-plus scripted shows clamoring for eyeballs?
It feels good, for sure. I mean, it’s still hard to really know how much it’s being seen and stuff, being on Hulu. But I feel like people are finding it more than I thought they were going to. All we can do is put out good quality, and the reviewers seem to be loving it. It’s awesome!

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