When you think of mermaids, you might have images of a singing Ariel pop into your head, but you’d better put that out of your mind when you watch the Freeform series Siren. In it, a mysterious woman, Ryn (Eline Powell), appears in the small fishing town of Bristol Cove, where she immediately starts wreaking havoc in search of something. Ben (Alex Roe), a marine biologist, discovers that she’s a mermaid and that there are more like her — and they are not out of a Disney movie.

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(Photo Credit: Freeform)

“Ryn,” the London born actress, who, among other things, has also appeared on Game of Thrones, relates to us, “is a mermaid who has never been on land before, but her sister gets taken and so she’s forced to do so and look for her. In the ocean she’s a top-level predator, but on land she is not quite as top dog as she thinks. She has a new body and there are all of these brand new things she’s trying to figure out. Because of circumstances, she is forced to find some sort of trust in these humans in order to find and be reunited with her sister.”

One of those humans is Ben, whose doorstep she arrives on. “His family is kind of the businessmen of this small town,” Alex explains. “They own everything, and he’s a little bit of a rebel and more of a conservationist, trying to figure out different ways they can fish. That can inform part of his character — that altruistic view of the world.” He glances at Eline, adding, “I think it’s very lucky that you end up running into him.”

Her smile conveys that she agrees. “He’s a good guy,” she offers, almost continuing a private conversation. “When you’re faced with this awesome bad situation, and therefore we are, I shut you out and you’re the enemy.” She looks back to us, “And this guy actually takes the time to try and understand what this is.”

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(Photo Credit: Freeform)

“Then we share some… strange moments with each other,” says Alex, “and they end up driving my character a little bit loopy trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t. It’s an interesting dynamic between us.”

Eline has to learn to go fish.

Just as interesting is the process and challenges of turning Eline into a mermaid. Unlike the previously mentioned Ariel, she doesn’t have animators bringing that part of her to life, the actress having to handle much of the heavy-lifting.

“The pilot was intense,” she explains. “They made a whole outfit for me — a head, body, and they made the tail. The tail was really intense. That tail made me, in total, seven feet tall. It was beautifully made, but so heavy. There were three guys needed to lift me up and put me in the tank.”

Alex, most recently seen in the feature film Forever My Girl, barely suppresses a laugh as he adds, “They roll her in. They put the tail on her and then kind of roll her in.”

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(Photo Credit)

“It was really fun going to the toilet,” she adds, and it’s obvious it was anything but.

Alex notes that he felt kind of bad over what she had to go through in transforming into a mermaid, commenting, “I had an easy job. I’d show up to work and she’d already been in the makeup trailer for hours.” Looking at her sympathetically, he comments, “I don’t know how you did it.”

Well, one way she has managed to continue doing it is that the process was extremely streamlined once the green light was given for Siren to go to series. “To be more efficient and productive and to actually get these episodes shot,” Eline says, “when we started shooting the episodes, we cut all that and it was just me in a skin suit. And they put dots on me [for motion capture effects to be added later] and I had a monofin, so it took 10 minutes to get ready. And it was fantastic, because with the monofin I could actually still move in the water and be free, but not sit in the chair for seven hours beforehand.”

With Alex commenting that the movement of the mermaid is very much Eline at work and not effects, she explains that when she got the job while in London, she had already begun training with a “top level free diver” who had appropriate monofins, including really broad ones which are used in swimming competitions.

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(Photo Credit: Freeform)

“It was insane,” Eline laughs. “We played around with improvising scenes of turning, making quick turns, and the speed you get — it’s quite a difficult technique, because in order to go really fast, your head has to be level with your spine and you’re looking down. But obviously with the camera, you have to look up, but what that does is force your body up and you go to the surface. So sometimes it’s a bit hard, but it’s amazing. The whip you get once you get going, and the speed, is phenomenal.”

Enthuses Alex, “It’s so cool to watch. Now I take my little nephew, who’s eight, to swimming classes and he’s wearing a monofin, which he does his lessons in. It turns out to be a really nice way to go swimming like a fish instead of a human.”

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(Photo Credit: Freeform)

“It’s also such good exercise,” Elina closes. “You feel so fluid; you feel so different.”

Seems appropriate for a show like Siren, which premieres on Freeform March 29th.

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