NEW YORK, April 26 (UPI) — Jayden Elijah and West Duchovny say their characters, Edwin and Alison, view the correlation between money and happiness quite differently when they meet in the Hulu mystery series, Saint X.
Set to premiere Wednesday, the eight-episode adaptation of Alexis Schaitkin’s novel follows Ivy League university student Alison as she vacations with her wealthy parents Mia and Bill (Betsy Brandt and Michael Park) and younger sister Claire (Kenlee Townsend) at the luxurious island resort where Edwin works.
Shortly after they strike up a flirtation, Alison goes missing and Edwin and his lifelong best friend Gogo (Josh Bonzie) are called in for questioning.
“Edwin is a hustler. He’s someone who gets things by any means necessary,” Elijah told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
“He probably is someone, to some extent, who thinks money can buy happiness and, in his material reality, I think it’s kind of true,” he added. “When you are struggling to have a roof over your head and you can’t fill up your car to go to work, so you have to walk that day, it does buy a little comfort and he is very much aware of that.”
Edwin and Gogo grow resentful as they spend most of their days around rich, hard-to-please guests.
“He sees how they treat the money so willy-nilly that could change his life, his family’s life, his island’s life,” Elijah said.
“That creates a righteous indignation in him. I think that is a beautiful thing to explore about money buying happiness with Edwin and the island as a whole.”
Alison exists on the other end of this spectrum.
“She feels suffocated by her family’s wealth and feels like that brings about all these expectations, but also is very unaware of how helpful [money] is,” Duchovny said.
In a scene in which Alison and Edwin discuss myths from their respective cultures, the well-meaning Alison comes off as spoiled and clueless.
“Alison brings up the Tooth Fairy and Edwin’s like, ‘The person that leaves money under your pillow?’ They are coming from totally different backgrounds and Alison, because she is used to it, I don’t think she thinks about it very often,” Duchovny said.
“She had it in her head that she wants to make a difference in the world, which is a very privileged thing to want to do.”
When she arrives on the island, 19-year-old Alison feels guilty about her wealth and admonishes her parents for having jobs that pay for her expensive education and trips.
“She has decided that this vacation is going to be a moment where she breaks out of that and experiences things she hasn’t before and she lays eyes on Edwin and she thinks, ‘That’s my ticket,’ and she is fascinated by him and enamored by him and she’s curious and she wants to explore that with him,” Duchovny said.
Edwin isn’t much older than Alison but has seen a lot due to his lack of money and opportunity.
“He has grown up with a certain cynicism that is necessary to survive in the environment he survives in,” Elijah said. “When he encounters Alison, he’s not quite sold yet.”
While Edwin is charming and charismatic, his best friend Gogo has always struggled to fit in. He works hard to support his baby and tries to keep Edwin out of trouble.
Elijah calls Gogo “the yang to Edwin’s ying” and says they have a dynamic that many viewers will recognize.
“It was just great to work with Josh, who was always down and so committed to just go for it,” Elijah said. “We got to know each other. [The friendship] was in the script, but it was very much me and Josh, as well.”
Duchovny, likewise, bonded with Kenlee, who plays her little sister Claire.
“Right off the bat, really, we were playing ninja and doing all these bomb dances, which she is amazing at, and I’m horrible at,” Duchovny said.
“We got close right away, which made it so easy because we were comfortable with each other and we felt like we were really connected.”
As a real-life older sister to Kyd Duchovny, the second child of TV stars Tea Leoni and David Duchovny, West Duchovny understood the family dynamics at play in Saint X.
“Those kinds of innate feelings of protectiveness, but also annoyance, but also just this unconditional love, I have experienced that for — my brother is about to be 21, so for 21 years — that was kind of an easy window into my feelings for Kenlee,” Duchovny said.
Alycia Debnam-Carey plays Claire as an adult documentary filmmaker trying to unravel the mystery of what happened to her sister on that fateful holiday 15 years earlier.