interview | kassius nelson

jacket. Munthe
top. LESET
shirt + trousers. Tibi
boxers. AKNVAS
shoes. St. Agni
eyewear. Illesteva
earrings + bangles. Dinosaur Designs
top. Yigal Azrouel

Inhabiting a role that straddles the line between the mundane and the mystical, Kassius Nelson is the perfect clairvoyant in Dead Boy Detectives. It’s a stark departure from her previous roles in projects like Last Night in Soho or A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it’s a testament to her versatility and undeniable screen presence. Drawing inspiration from the original DC comics by Neil Gaiman, the British actress breathes new life into Crystal Palace, the notorious psychic medium part of the Dead Boy Detectives’ world. Tormented by a demon, Crystal is finally freed by the charming ghost duo composed by Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine, albeit at the cost of her memories. Together, they form an agency dedicated to aiding fellow spirits in their journey to the afterlife, all while piecing together the fragments of Crystal’s forgotten past. 

Who is Crystal Palace, you ask? Picture her as the ultimate bridge between worlds. But beneath her enigmatic facade lies a young woman wrestling with her own demons — both figuratively and quite literally. Trust issues? Check. Pent-up emotions? Absolutely. Nelson captures every nuance of Crystal’s complex inner world, inviting audiences to join her on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as she navigates the murky waters of identity and belonging. 

Speaking to Schön! the actress discusses her experience on the set of Dead Boy Detectives, becoming Crystal Palace, her search for diversity in the roles she plays and much more. 

all clothing. PROCODE_ DRESS
earrings. Alexis Bittar
bracelet. LaRuicci
dress. Naeem Khan
earrings. Paula Mendoza
bangle. Alexis Bittar
cuffs. Jovana Djuric

As an actress, are you more attracted to stories and characters that lay in the reality space or would you go straight into the fantastical?  

I would say usually I’m more attracted to roles that lay in reality. I’ve never played a role like Crystal where I’ve been a psychic or there’s been supernatural elements to the show. But with this role, even though it’s about magic and about witches and ghosts and other weird creatures, there’s still a lot of realism in it, in the emotions and the things that the characters go through. 

Dead Boy Detectives. How did you know about the story? Why were you interested in the role?  

I wasn’t aware of the comics before. I was a fan of The Sandman and I had watched that series. The process was like most shows where you go for an audition stage. The only difference was this was during the pandemic, so a lot of the auditioning happened over Zoom like the chemistry read, which was interesting. Once I got the role, I then read the original comics by Neil Gaiman and I rewatched The Sandman as well just to get a feel of what that world visually might look like because I really had no idea where the show was heading or what would happen to Crystal’s character. I only had the scenes that I auditioned with and I didn’t know what would even happen in episode one let alone the rest of the show. So as it developed, I’ve got more of an understanding of who Crystal was, or where she might end up. I’s only really when watching the show that I understood what was going on in Steve [Yockey]’s head because a lot of the things that we’re acting against aren’t there. So we really don’t know how things are going to turn out until we’re seeing the end result. 

You play Crystal Palace in the story, a psychic medium that joins the duo of ghost detectives to help solve mysteries and investigate crimes within the supernatural world. For the role, I thought she was very reminiscent of Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) from Ghost Whisperer. Was that something that you looked at, like other representations of mediums in media?  

It wasn’t, but I did use to watch that show back in the day, and I really liked it. It wasn’t so much that I took inspiration from those types of shows, I really tried to look at the comics and get an understanding of who Krystal was, how she was introduced, and her relationship with her parents. The rest was discussed with Steve [Yockey] and Beth [Schwartz], the showrunners, and then with hair, makeup and costume it really helped to tie the character together. The thing is that we met Crystal at a time when she didn’t really know who she was, so it benefited that I didn’t have a preconceived idea about how I should play her as a psychic because she doesn’t know who she is or where she fits. Crystal was one of the few characters that I’ve created as I’m playing her. Usually, I try and map out someone completely beforehand, but she’s unravelling herself or revealing parts of herself as the series goes on and as the scripts are being written. 

dress. Bibhu Mohapatra
shoes. Sebastian Milano
earrings. Paula Mendoza
bangles. Alexis Bittar
dress. Yigal Azrouel
earrings + bangle. Dinosaur Designs

For those who haven’t watched it yet, how would you describe her?  

I’ve always imagined her as the bridge between the world that we know, the real world, and this mystical, supernatural world that the Dead Boy Detectives live in, and she kind of goes between the two and allows us an insight into that world. She’s also very guarded; she has a lot of trust issues, and a lot of, not really pent-up rage, but internalised rage maybe towards herself and the experiences that she’s had, and they come out sideways in ways that probably aren’t the best way to process emotions. She’s figuring out who she is and where she fits in the world and coming to terms with this new sense of self, while also accepting past versions of herself that aren’t ideal or have been very kind. 

Is there a favourite scene that you particularly enjoyed shooting or a favourite episode you enjoyed being a part of?  

It’s funny because my favourite episode is one that I was actually in the least, and it was episode seven. But it’s because you really get an understanding of the friendship between Edwin and Charles and there’s a really beautiful moment on the staircase between both of them and I just think it’s exquisite acting and it feels really raw and true. Most of the scenes I enjoy watching are the ones that I’m not in because I’m overanalysing a lot of the performance or the accent. Episode five was really fun to film. We had a lot of fun, George [Rexstrew], Jayden [Revri] and I. We worked together a lot, but in episode five we had a lot of freedom to really play around with the characters and kind of push the boundaries, which was quite enjoyable. 

I could really tell from just those scenes that there was a deep chemistry between you guys. All the characters have such distinct personalities so how do they get along so well in your opinion? How was working with the rest of the cast?  

It just naturally happened. Some of my most fun days on set were those when it was all of us because there were not many scenes where all of the cast was in. We all have a lot of banter and fun, and a lot of them understand the British sense of humour which is good. The closeness between everyone just sort of evolved as we were filming because it’s a show that we’ve worked on for a long time. It’s nearly three years in the making in total, so we’ve been in each other’s lives for a while. I think the chemistry between everyone just evolved and grew, which was quite nice, and it wasn’t forced. We all understood each other’s boundaries, we got on really well, and then we could push the limits of the characters in the scene, and hang out sometimes if we had any time in between filming. 

jacket. Yigal Azrouel
earrings. Paula Mendoza
top. Dynamite
skirt. Romeo Hunte
stockings. Wolford
necklace. AGMES
bangles + belt. Patricia Von Musulin

Whilst the show is mostly centred on the supernatural, there are deep themes that encompass each character. With Crystal, there’s an ongoing search for identity; there’s homophobia being dealt with and more. Why do you think it’s important to shed light on these topics?  

I think it’s incredibly important for people to feel seen and represented on screen, to see people who look like them or have a shared experience to them. And I think the great thing about our show is that it exists outside of any type of binary ideas or really any type of judgment. It’s a very accepting show. Even in terms of sexuality, there are characters in which it’s very ambiguous and there are others where it’s more obvious or it’s said or spoken about, but it’s never met with any type of negativity or judgment. I think the only judgment that really happens on the show is about the people as people and how they treat each other. It’s never about their race or their ability or their sexuality, which I think is key and to have that in a show that also has this magical element to put it through those deeper moments or the comic relief or the horror aspect of it, I think is really cool to have in this whirlwind of a mixture crazy show. 

What also struck me was the powerful female friendship between Crystal and Niko, the only two living members of the group. How was the bond between them explored within the series?  

Crystal and Niko are very opposite. Nico is very expressive and unapologetically herself, and not afraid to be seen, a wholesome character; and Crystal is very guarded, she can be quite cold, she can be quite explosive in her emotions, she’s not trusting of people, and she very rarely opens up. So they kind of make up for what the other lacks and sometimes I imagine that Crystal is the boundary for Niko. She is, in her own way, a protector and looks after her because Niko is quite trusting of everyone whereas Crystal is the opposite. I think they’re learning from each other and Crystal definitely admires how open Niko’s character is and how loving she is and lovable at the same time.

Sometimes as well it’s quite funny to play the love-hate relationship in the scene because Niko can say things that you’re just like, ‘What, where does that come from?’ and it’s fun to play with that, but she’s so lovable at the same time that you can’t really be mad at her. I do like the episode where they get to team up and kind of become Edwin and Charles. I spoke to Kelli Dunsmore, the costume designer, and we wanted to try and do a weird spin on Edwin’s outfit. That was a really fun scene to play with Yuyu [Kitamura] because we got to be the detectives for the show and we approach things completely differently to Edwin and Charles, but it somehow manages to work, which I think is great.  

We get to know more about Crystal by the end of the season and it was all so unexpected. Half of Twitter is also discussing this. We want to see how evil she actually was. What ventures would you see her head to in a possible season 2?  

She’s got so much unfinished business with her family and that whole setup is going to be a key area for her to have to explore. I think it would be nice to see her learn more about her past self and come to terms with that. I want to see just how horrible she actually was because we get some flashbacks of it, but I remember even saying to Steve [Yockey] that I don’t think it’s enough. I think she needs to be nastier and meaner. I’m hoping that we get to really see that and understand why she’s so uncomfortable with who she used to be. Also, what happens to David the Demon? I guess he’s buried in her head. So what happens there? How does she actually get rid of him? Does she get rid of him? What happens with that? 

Are there any dream roles you’re hoping to get in the future?  

It would depend on what the role is. I like to pick roles that are challenging and different and impact the audience in some type of way. I’m really open to whatever. I’m still early on in my career and I want to learn and make mistakes and get better and then make a mistake again and learn even more. So, a role that really challenges me and is completely different to this one. Each time, I want to play characters who are very different and be malleable and flexible and adapt to different roles and be seen differently. I think that’s my main goal: the diversity of roles. 

jacket. Munthe
top. LESET
shirt + trousers. Tibi
boxers. AKNVAS
earrings. Dinosaur Designs
top. Yigal Azrouel
trousers. LESET
belt. Adeam
bangles. Patricia Von Musulin

Dead Boy Detectives is now streaming on Netflix.

photography. Matallana
fashion. Anthony Pedraza
talent. Kassius Nelson
make up. Charlie Riddle @ The Wall Group
hair. Nai’ vasha @ The Wall Group
make up assistant. Jayden Ho Pham
post production. Brooklyn Story Studio
interview. Gennaro Costanzo


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