Live-Action Knights of the Zodiac's Madison Iseman & Diego Tinoco
Actors Madison Iseman (Sienna) and Diego Tinoco (Nero) gave hints of what fans could expect for their characters and spoke fondly of their time together filming Knights of the Zodiac. Iseman previously starred as Bethany Walker in the recent Jumanji movies and Tinoco played César Díaz in Netflix’s On My Block. During the interview, Iseman expressed her character’s desire to be a normal person despite the heavy responsibility on her shoulders as the reincarnation of Athena. On the other hand, Tinoco spoke to the underhandedness of Nero and how he’s willing to do whatever necessary to get what he wants.
Can you talk about the chemistry between your two characters and Seiya?
Madison Iseman: It’s definitely hard to not give too much away.
Diego Tinoco: But we didn’t get too many interactions on set that didn’t involve screaming and a bit of pain.
Madison Iseman: Seiya is very much at the forefront of this whole film. I would say we very much balance around Seiya in this whole story without saying too much.
Do we find out that Sienna is Athena early on in the movie?
Madison Iseman: These are all the questions I knew we were going to get, and we have been sworn to secrecy on so much. Until there’s a trailer that will come out, I will say Sienna is there and Athena is there as well.
Diego Tinoco: It’s known in the comic books that she holds the power. She holds the power of the goddess of war. It’ll be there in the film.
Madison Iseman: It’s fulfilling. I feel like the fans are definitely going to get the story that they want from it, and I think everyone will be very satisfied.
What can you tell us about your characters and how do you prepare yourself for these roles?
Diego Tinoco: I would describe Nero as a deviously intelligent young man with a very strong point of view in life and the way he does things. That could be misinterpreted as a very cold and heartless person. But in his own mind, he is doing everything for a reason. He’s doing it because he truly believes it’s the best possible way to do things for himself, for the people around him, and for all of humanity. In the third act of the movie, we’re really going to see how dirty Nero is willing to play to get what he wants. I think my approach to taking on this role, and any other role, is just to read the script. Do your homework, obviously, and try to justify your character’s actions. Not try to make him a villain or a hero, but just make him a person with motivations and behavioral patterns.
Madison Iseman: Sienna is a young woman, who’s in hiding, and living under the care of Alman. Because she is the coming reincarnation of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, she’s a little stubborn and hard-headed. But I think all of that comes from struggling with an identity crisis and imposter syndrome of her true destiny and where her path is supposed to take her. Part of her would rather just be a young girl and run away, and be a normal teenager for a couple hours. But as far as research, we were the last to be cast.
Diego Tinoco: They saved the best for last.
Madison Iseman: That’s true. We had a short amount of time to do a lot of research and there was a lot, as you know. The universe is massive, so thank god there were specialists on set to answer anytime we had any questions about anything. I think they hated us probably by the end of filming with all the questions we had. But we did a lot of research on Greek mythology, specifically because I didn’t know much about it. I feel like it was information, at least for me, I want to know as much as I can. There’s a huge responsibility that the comes with being part of this universe because the fans have been a part of it for decades. This is for them, and we want to give them the best movie possible. I feel like that really comes from understanding what we’re doing here.
Could you talk a little bit about Tomek and his style and personality as a director?
Diego Tinoco: Tomek is obviously very experienced in this world. He’s coming off The Witcher, which is a pretty great established show with Henry Cavill. Working with him was a blast. You always knew when you were doing a good job or when you weren’t because he’d always do like this happy dance when he got the take that he liked.
Madison Iseman: He’s a very serious guy, but if you could get Tomek to dance, you have to bring it up to him.
Diego Tinoco: You knew when you didn’t get a take that was good because he would flat out just tell you. He’d be like, “You could do better.” I enjoyed that honesty. It wasn’t an ego trip with him. It’s either good or it wasn’t and there was a vision to be captured and we think we certainly captured it.
Can you tell us about the action we can expect in the movie? The original series was more sci-fi and magical but tell us about the action scenes in the movie.
Madison Iseman: I’m sure Andy will probably be able to tell you more about this, but what’s so cool is that they really created their own thing. All of the action sequences are very specific. They feel like they come straight from the manga or the anime, and they just have a specific quality to them that I haven’t seen done before. I think Andy is so great at creating his own style. Diego and Mackenyu both were so good and take on a lot of the fighting.
Diego Tinoco: I gotta admit I was pretty nervous working with such an icon and legend like Andy. He worked on several movies with Jackie Chan and my personal favorite Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. So this isn’t a rookie choreographer. This is somebody who knows what he’s doing since he’s been doing it for so many years. Adding on to what Madison said, each of his projects has its own style. I think we’re going to see something that’s new and exciting.
Madison Iseman: In the panel you guys will see. There’s a sneak peek and it’s a stunt team and it is shot by shot impressive. He’s just the coolest man.
Diego Tinoco: They really took us under their wing.
How would you say Knights of the Zodiac is different from other live-action adaptations of manga and anime?
Madison Iseman: I think we’re gonna start seeing this trend come to life and happen. Saints Seiya has been around for so long and we’re doing this with Toei Animation. They’ve been a part of this and I don’t think they would put out something that they think is distasteful to the original anime. I’ve heard from many people inside that they love it too. We have the right team behind it, and that’s what is going to be important in the end.
Diego Tinoco: We’ve seen DC and Marvel do it with their films. I think we’re entering a new stage in cinema where anime is transitioning over to make more debuts in movie theaters as live-action adaptations. We’re seeing it with One Piece and you’re gonna see with our film. I’m sure our film and One Piece are gonna be the gate openers in this whole new storm of anime live-action adaptations.
Toei Animation has talked about this film as being the basis for future films. This film hasn’t been released yet, but having done your research and acted in this in this project, how much more potential for more stories and more films do you see here?
Madison Iseman: So much.
Diego Tinoco: There’s so many stories within the anime and so many different characters.
Madison Iseman: We barely scratched the surface.
Diego Tinoco: I will say that we focused very thoroughly on that surface, so it didn’t feel like it was all over the place.
Madison Iseman: It’s an easy introduction, so if you have no idea what Knights of the Zodiac is or the entire universe, it’s spoon-fed in a way where I think die-hard fans will get everything they want. But if you have no idea, you’re not going to be completely lost. It’s a really great introduction film to a lot of the main characters that you’ll see throughout the movie. Of course, if there are sequels, that would be awesome. People need to go watch it so that we can make sequels, but it’s a great opportunity to have more fresh faces.
Diego Tinoco: I keep saying that Sienna and Nero need their own spin-offs. Maybe we see that after this one.
Did you both do a chemistry read together?
Diego Tinoco: Our first interaction was, believe or not, we flew on a 13-hour flight next to each other. I had no idea. The first time we all read the script out loud was in Budapest. It was me, Madison, Tomek, Mackenyu, and our producers. Famke was not there because she was shooting something else at the time. But everybody else there, it was just electric. You instantly felt the chemistry.
Madison Iseman: We never read together. I met a lot with Tomek before, just talking about everything that they wanted to accomplish, too. They just always had such a clear image of what they wanted right from the beginning. I didn’t meet with Mackenyu either until we got out of Budapest. They had a lot of trust in us.
If they could adapt any anime for you to play in, what would it be?
Madison Iseman: I’m a baby to anime. I have so much catch-up to do.
Diego Tinoco: It’s been done but hasn’t been done right but…Dragon Ball Z as Gohan. I’m just not sure what chapter, but maybe the Cell saga? We’ll see.