May 25, 2022

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 2 finale of The Wilds, “Exodus.”]It doesn’t matter how much experience one’s had. Tackling the storylines Nicholas Coombe and Miles Gutierrez-Riley face in The Wilds Season 2 have got to be major performance challenges, and both navigate them with the utmost grace, sincerity, and nuance.

Season 2 of the show unveils the other half of Gretchen’s (Rachel Griffith) warped experiment, the control group of The Dawn of Eve, The Twilight of Adam. Just like the girls in Season 1, the boys of Twilight of Adam think they’re heading to Hawaii for a retreat. Little do they know, their plane is rigged to “crash” and strand them on a deserted island so that Gretchen can monitor their attempts to survive and compare their efforts to how the girls did.

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At this point, Coombe has already amassed quite the filmography, but you’ve likely only seen him in more comedy-based projects like Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Not only did The Wilds mark a drastic tonal shift for him, but his character, Josh, experiences one of the most heartbreaking narratives on the island. In Episode 4, Josh is a victim of sexual assault. Here’s what Coombe said about tackling that particular scene:

“We had so much time in prep, because I feel like Amy and Sarah really wanted to give us that space to have a conversation about how the scene was gonna go and how we could best tell that story. There was a lot of prep we did. We met with them a bunch of times, we discussed it, we met with the director, the [director of photography], we had the stunt person there to make sure that the mechanics of the scene were all good to go so that we could really focus on the truth of the moment when we were shooting the scene. In regards to what it was like shooting, you do all this prep, but even when you show up on the night, it’s still 2am, it’s still dark and windy, and you’re still in this tiny tent and you really have to throw yourself into that moment. And it was quite intimidating in a way, because you’re kind of going in blind, so one of the important things was the trust that we had. We’d been working with the crew for months at that point so being able to trust all of them, Alex and I had a lot of trust within each other in regards to that scene, so I think that all of that came into play when telling the story. And after seeing the final product, it was a relief to see that the story had come across the way that everyone had planned. It was powerful and it was gut-wrenching, and I left feeling something after watching it, and I think that it’s a really important story to tell.”

In Gutierrez-Riley’s case, The Wilds marks his very first starring role in a series. But you’d never know it. Gutierrez-Riley navigates Ivan’s evolution exploring cancel culture with an exceptional amount of tenderness. Here’s what Gutierrez-Riley said about jumping into the role:

“Cancel culture is so complicated, right? Ivan’s relationship to online is a bit different than mine, but we share a lot of identities. We share a lot of understandings of the world and understandings of ourselves. I think that Ivan being so uncomfortable in this space adds to the stakes constantly and that those defense mechanisms and those guards that he has up are pushed to the extreme more quickly than they would be in another space, especially since he’s around so many boys that he wouldn’t normally trust or want to be around. So at the beginning, it’s a lot about pushing that fight as soon as it feels like it’s coming up so that you give yourself a softer place to land at the end of the season.”

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Clearly a lot has happened over the course of Season 2 of The Wilds, but there’s no doubt the boys will continue to face great challenges together as Gretchen’s operation continues to unfold. However, now they’ll be fighting through it with a bigger team of people. We’ve now spent two full seasons watching the girls help each other grow, so how could they do the same for the boys now that the Dawn of Eve and Twilight of Adam experiments have merged? Here’s what Gutierrez-Riley said when asked which Dawn of Eve subject he thinks Ivan would benefit from spending time with the most:

“I think for mine the answer may be obvious, maybe not, but Ivan and Fatin I think would just be a stylish, funny, and very intelligent duo. They have a lot of brainpower that they could give to each other.”

As for Coombe, he thinks Josh needs to hone his survival skills, and fortunately, Dawn of Eve has the perfect person to help make that happen!

“I think Josh and Dot. I think Dot would have a lot to teach Josh. I think in theory, he thinks that he could maybe survive an island, but she actually can. So I think he’d enjoy a lot having those discussions with her about, how does this actually work? [Laughs] In theory, it should be this, but she’d be like, ‘No, Josh. You’re gonna die if you do that.’”

Looking for more from Coombe and Gutierrez-Riley? You can watch our full conversation in the video interview at the top of this article!


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