Seamlessly transitioning into an exhilarating new environment you know little about can be a harrowing challenge for many people. But when they have a powerful support system that willingly helps them adapt to their new lifestyle, they can commendably achieve their goals. That intriguing evolution is compellingly showcased not only between the cast and crew who traveled to Toronto to film the new action fantasy television series, ‘Shadowhunters,’ but also the young protagonist who’s unexpectedly brought into the supernatural world. Toronto-based actor Jade Hassoune happily welcomed his fellow castmates and the crew when they gathered in the Canadian city to film the current freshman season of the drama series. Not only did the performer relish collaborating with everyone on the set, but also appreciated how his character, a faerie knight, formed a protective bond over his allies.

The best-selling young adult novel series ‘The Mortal Instruments’ by Cassandra Clare serves as the inspiration for ‘Shadowhunters,’ which airs on Tuesday nights at 9/8c. The 13-episode initial season of the action drama marks the debut property of the newly launched Freeform basic cable network, which replaced ABC Family last month. The fantasy series’ first shows are adapting the first novel in the franchise, ‘City of Bones,’ and are also featuring events from the other five ‘Mortal Instruments’ books.

‘Shadowhunters’ follows Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara), a high school student who lives in Brooklyn with her mother, Jocelyn (Maxim Roy), who runs an antiquities store. She’s friends with Simon (Alberto Rosende), who’s secretly in love with her, and she has just been accepted into a prestigious art program. But her life, which she has called mundane, suddenly and unexpectedly changes on her 18th birthday when she bumps into Jace (Dominic Sherwood).

The two are equally surprised that Clary can see Jace, as he’s a Shadowhunter, a supernatural demon-killer who’s supposed to be invisible to ordinary mortals, or “mundanes.” Clary discovers that she, too, is a Shadowhunter, just like her mother. The teen has been completely unaware of her ability to kill the demons who are intent on destroying humanity, as Jocelyn has kept her daughter’s abilities hidden from her since she was born.

While trying to save Jocelyn, who was kidnapped on her daughter’s 18th birthday, Clary is also introduced to other Shadowhunters, including Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia). The latter demon hunter relies on Meliorn (Hassoune), one of her faerie acquaintances who serves on the Seelie court, to help her navigate challenging obstacles she and her fellow Shadowhunters face as they strive to protect humans.

Hassoune generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Shadowhunters’ during an exclusive interview over the phone. Among other things, the actor discussed how he didn’t initially know much about ‘The Mortal Instrument’ book series when he first began his audition process for the action series, but he immediately grew to appreciate the Shadowhunter world that Clare had created. Hassoune also mentioned that he began following the drama’s casting news on social media before he was notified that he was chosen to play Meliorn. But he was ultimately happy he knew of everyone as they arrived in Toronto and they began working on the show, as it helped them immediately bond with each other as they stated showing Clary’s transition into the Shadowhunter world.

ShockYa (SY): You play Meliorn in the new Freeform action fantasy television series, ‘Shadowhunters.’ What was it about the character of Meliorn, as well as the show’s overall story, that convinced you to take on the role?

Jade Hassoune (JH): Well, at the end of pilot season last year, I received a call from my agent, who mentioned there was this new project. So I sent in a self tape for the role of Alaric. I didn’t really know about the project that much, but I still did the audition and sent in the tape.

A week later, I received a call back to come back and read for Raphael. By that point, I found information on the internet, so I started to delve into the world. I read some parts of the story, and realized what kind of world it was, which I was excited about.

About a week later, I was called back to read for the role of Meliorn. From there, I got my final call-back. What’s cool is that a really close friend of mine was my reader for my final audition, which really helped me connect to the character. Things moved really fast after that. When I read for Meliorn, I knew that was it-I could feel myself wanting to be part of that world, and I was already becoming a fanboy.

SY: The series is based on the popular young adult fantasy book series, ‘The Mortal Instruments,’ by Cassandra Clare. How familiar were you with the book series’ story before you signed onto the show? How does having source material like the six books influence the way you approached playing Meliorn?

JH: Well, I did know about the books, because I had seen them in stores. But I never knew all the details about the story. I also knew of the movie (the 2013 action-adventure sci-fi movie, ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’) when it was released in theaters. But I didn’t watch it until I auditioned for the show, so that I could become familiar with the world. The whole audition process lasted for a month, so it really gave me time to delve into the world. The casting process was very present online, and it was all very exciting.

I really wanted to be on the show and feel as though I was part of the series. So as soon as I got the part of Meliorn, I started reading the books. I have since claimed the name of total fanboy. It’s been a really cool experience to read and love the books so much. Being able to act in this world is also pretty incredible.

SY: In ‘The Mortal Instruments,’ Meliorn isn’t introduced until the second installment, ‘City of Ashes.’ What was the experience of further delving into his story, and filming scenes for the show that weren’t featured in the books, like as you worked on the current first season?

JH: It’s so incredible to have the source material. It’s such an honor to be able to bring him to life, since it’s such an epic story, and there’s such an incredible fanbase that was already very active and alive when we started filming the show.

It’s also cool that we’re seeing some things in the first season that aren’t part of the story in the first book. I think the writers have fun giving Meliorn a voice, and it has been really fun to be able to say the things they write.

SY: ‘Shadowhunters’ features a diverse ensemble cast of actors, including Katherine McNamara, Dominic Sherwood, Stephanie Bennett and Alberto Rosende, whose characters are also Shadowhunters. What have your working relationships been like with your co-stars?

JH: Everyone who works on the show is so great, and we have such fun. We became a family right away, and everyone was so open and happy to begin with when we first signed onto the series. We were all so excited to start filming.

It was cool that a lot of the actors were already cast and announced on social media when I signed onto the show. So I was able to check out who was going to be starring on the show, even more I was officially cast. I knew they were great people as soon as I met them, and they’re also so funny. We had so much fun on the set together, and I’m so glad I met everyone. I really hope the show continues after this season, because it’s a beautiful thing that’s happening.

SY: What has the process of building Meliorn’s relationship with Isabelle, who’s portrayed by Emeraude Toubia on the series, beyond what’s presented in the books?

JH: I really love how they introduced Meliorn into the story. It’s cool that the fans can see how his relationship with Isabelle unfolds. When you work with an actor who you haven’t worked with before, you have to break the ice and make the environment comfortable, as well as build a trust with each other. We established a good friendship really early on, which made it easy to work with Emeraude.

In the books, there’s a relationship between Isabelle and Simon, which everyone loves, including me. The Meliorn and Isabelle relationship appears in the books as a past thing, but on the show, we get to be in it in the present. So it will be cool to see that bond continue to develop throughout the season. It’s also cool that Meliorn is involved in other things, as well. So you’ll get to see both sides-his relationship with Isabelle, as well as his representation on the Seelie Court.

SY: Speaking of Meliorn’s involvement on the Seelie Court, which is a division of the good faeries and their land, is there any information you can discuss about his part on the court during rest of the season?

JH: (laughs) That’s a really cool question, and I know everyone wants to know about it! I think viewers have gotten a great taste of it so far, and they’ll continue to get a taste of it. I think the timeline of the show might follow the books in that effect. You will see some parts of it, and that’s all I can say. We’ve already been inside Meliorn’s lounge. (laughs) So keep watching!

SY: Since Meliorn is a faerie on ‘Shadowhunters,’ what’s the process of transforming into the character with your make-up? How does the overall look of the character influence the way you approach playing him?

JH: The make-up is one of my favorite parts of the show. It’s super cool to see everyone design the look of the various characters on the show, including the humans and warlocks. They use so many different and unique prosthetics.

There are so many elements that go into making the overall show, which is so exciting. So I feel so blessed to go through that process every time I shoot an episode. It’s great to put on his elf ears and clothes. Some of the clothing was built specifically for the characters, like Magnus (who’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn) and Meliorn’s jackets.

So the make-up and costumes that the characters wear are a very valuable part of the show. Showing their looks is very important to an actor. So much of an actor’s job is created through their imagination, so when you get to actually see something that’s part of their character’s life, it’s so enriching.

SY: How do you approach the physicality of the role of Meliorn? Do you prefer to perform your own stunts?

JH: Yes, I definitely enjoy doing stunts-they’re so much fun! The cool thing about the show is that it’s moving closer to the combat and war areas of the book series’ story. I’m so glad that I get to do some of that, because the lead actors are constantly training for it and performing their own choreography. The stunt team is also amazing and great.

I also come from a dance background, and I love hip-hop and choreography. Performing stunts is like doing choreography, in a way.

Sets can sometimes be fast and unexpected, so there are certain things that you have to figure out as you go. But there’s always a designated time for the actors to rehearse the stunts.

SY: With Meliorn being a faerie-knight who is equal parts angel and demon, and having a connection with Isabelle, do you feel that he’s drawn to helping or stopping the Shadowhunters and their work?

JH: Well, Valentine (Clary’s father and Jocelyn’s estranged husband, who’s an advocate against Downworlders and led the Circle with the main goal of ridding the world of them) is a big threat. People who don’t know too much about the show don’t understand why he’s a big threat, or why everyone cares so much about the mortal cup. But that will be revealed as the show continues.

It’s a good thing if the characters are allied with the faeries. They’re very powerful beings, especially depending on who’s fighting for what. But I can’t reveal too much without spoiling anything.

SY: While the show’s story is based in New York, ‘Shadowhunters’ was actually filmed in Toronto. As an actress, what’s the process of filming on location, particularly when one city is standing in for another city, like for you?

JH: I’m so glad that the show shot in Toronto, because I’m Canadian, and have been living in Canada since I was four-years-old. I grew up in Montreal, and then moved to Toronto, where I lived for three-and-a-half years before I was cast on the show. So it was perfect for me when the show came up, since I was already living in the city.

We would go to a studio a lot of times to film places like the Institute. It was really amazing what they could build in the space, and they could make settings look like they’re outdoors, if they have to. But we also do go on location. You’ll see some outdoor locations that we actually shot on a street and in a park. So it was great to have our home base at the studio, as well as film on location.

It was great to be able to work with the rest of the cast in Toronto. Since they all had their apartments, we could all get together. It’s cool to go away and shoot somewhere else, so I also understood what everyone who doesn’t live in the city was going through.

SY: Besides having dance background, which you mentioned earlier, you’re a graduate of the professional theatre program at John Abbott College and a 2012 CFC Actors Conservatory alumnus. You have also starred in various Centaur Theatre and Geordie Productions plays in Montreal, as well as the world premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s ‘A Woman Is a Secret’ in Toronto. How does the process of performing in theater and dancing prepare you to star in an action television series like ‘Shadowhunters?’

JH: I have found that everything that I have done and trained in has been so valuable to apply to my other skills. Everything that I have done has felt so natural, but I didn’t understand what other things they could lead to at first. So it’s really nice to see those skills develop.

I feel like theater is the source of my skills, even though it’s a very different medium from films and television. You channel the creativity in a very different way. But my experience really helped me enter the skin for this character, and find his movement.

No one knows what it’s like to be an elf-faerie being. (laughs) So having those different skills was helpful in relating to Meliorn. Viewers will get to see all the cool stuff about him. As an actor, discovering all of his powers, and seeing how the CGI brings everything together, was a lot of fun. On the set, you can only imagine what comes out of his hands.

SY: Besides ‘Shadowhunters,’ do you have any other projects lined up that you can discuss?

JH: I recently finished the third season of a web series called ‘That’s My DJ,’ and it’s a cross between ‘Skins’ and ‘Shameless.’ It’s cool that I was able to shoot Seasons 2 and 3 with an incredible team of creators. They’re incredible professionals who are great friends of mine. We shot two seasons in an incredibly short amount of time; we shot Season 3 for 10 days straight.

Every season follows a different character. This season follows my character, Sam, and is told from his perspective. I joined the show for the second season, and it was a big turning point in my life. I’m so excited to share the show with the rest of the world.

The show features great work from everyone involved, including the technical creators and the creative talent. It was a true filmmaking experience that I’m so excited to share with everyone. My castmates on the web series are also incredible.

I’m so excited about the show, especially since it will be premiering the pilot within the next couple of months. I’ll update everyone about the web series on social media within the next couple of months. It’s great to be part of this new wave of acting!

Interview: Jade Hassoune Talks Shadowhunters (Exclusive)

Written by: Karen Benardello

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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