Interview with ‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Stars Yuyu Kitamura and Jenn Lyon

The duo discuss their roles in the new supernatural YA series plus how familiar they were with the source material.

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Yuyu Kitamura And Jenn Lyon Discuss Dead Boy Detectives Netflix

Pictures via Netflix

Netflix’s new ‘Sandman Universe’ show, Dead Boy Detectives, had a wonderful debut season. The supernatural series has enthralled fans with its spooky cases, and its fun characters. In this huge interview, we chat with two of our fan-favorites from the cast: Yuyu Kitamura, who plays Niko, and Jenn Lyon, who plays Esther. 

Dead Boy Detectives follows deceased duo Edwin Paine (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), who refuse to enter the afterlife and instead remain on Earth as ghosts, devoting their time to solving all sorts of supernatural mysteries. And on many of their investigations, they’re joined by clairvoyant friend Crystal Palace and fun, manga-loving Niko.

Read ahead for our interviews with Yuyu and Jenn!

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Yuyu Kitamura

Yuyu Kitamura Kassius Nelson Dead Boy Detectives 66278aad9d2c6

Credit: Netflix

WoN: Could you tell us a little about your character and the role she plays in the show?

Niko is the light in the group. She’s a young woman who moved from Osaka to Port Townsend to attend Grey Wake which was her late father’s boarding school. We find her as Crystal’s neighbour, and she needs a little detective work on herself as she’s experiencing some super natural tendencies. Niko represents love. She’s obsessed with love, romantic love, platonic love, the idea of being in love and with that, it is her contribution to the foursome of the detective agency. She brings light, levity and humanity to the darkness of this group and her connections with each character remind them the importance of owning their own identity. 

How did you research your role? Did you read any of the comics?

I was introduced to the Sandman universe 10 years ago in my high school English literature class, where we studied chapter 6. Little did I know that in Chapter 4, Edwin and Charles were introduced. I found my copy of the graphic novel recently, and it’s wild to look back at think, that I had met the characters 10 years ago. 

What was your favourite thing about playing Niko? And what challenges came with the role?

I am proud to get to play a character who represents Japanese culture in a modern way. Like Niko, I’m Japanese who went to school in the States, and have a love for my Japanese culture while acknowledging I grew up in a westernised environment. She holds space for her people, and her love of love exudes and spreads into those around her. I wanted to create a layered character who didn’t come across just ditzy. She’s smart, loyal and holds quiet confidence. It was important to portray Niko as a person where being Asian wasn’t the most interesting thing about her, and her sensitivity is her superpower.

Neil Gaiman is an executive producer on the show — how did it feel to work on a project set in his Sandman Universe? Did you get to talk to him?

We got to meet Neil Gaiman on a Zoom panel for this show, and it was such a surreal experience. He is so prolific and created universes for people to find themselves immersed in that I felt like I was living in a dream. Because Niko doesn’t exist in the comic books, there wasn’t much to dig about her origins. But, hearing his thoughts on this adaptation of DBD, and his ideas across his other works, was such an inspiring moment. Above all else, his years of wisdom, creativity, and kindness was an absolute joy to just sit and listen to him speak. 

What’s your favourite memory from your experience working on Dead Boy Detectives?

Every day was an absolute gift of an experience. My favorite memory will be all my firsts. The first day on set, the first stunt day, the first fitting, the first night shoot, the list goes on. 

Your character is an excellent addition to the Dead Boy Detectives team — what was it like working alongside George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri and Kassius Nelson?

Those three are all class acts. Aside from being absolute hoots to hang out with, and trust me, there were many belly laughs through the months, they were a joy to work with. We all meshed in and got to know one another in such an organic way where I feel like what you seen on screen was quite reflective off screen. I’m excited for our characters journeys to blossom. 

Jenn Lyon

Jenn Lyon as Esther in Dead Boy Detectives

Credit: Netflix

WoN: Could you tell us about your character Esther Finch and the role she plays in the show?

Esther Finch is a wildly misunderstood witch. Everyone is pointing fingers at her for kidnapping and murdering young girls in order to keep her beauty but honestly, what is she supposed to do? Not kidnap and murder young girls?

What’s your favourite memory from your experience working on Dead Boy Detectives?

It’s so hard to just choose one because there are so many different special moments. I really loved being on set with George, Jayden and Kass in the woods and conjuring the giant mushroom that wanted to devour them. It was like 2 in the morning and so cold and it really makes me laugh to think of 200 people also cold and tired working so hard together and having to watch the 4 of us wince, scream, crawl around, fight, etc.

What was the most challenging part of playing a character as complex as Esther?

For me the most challenging part was dealing with my own ideas around beauty. She is supposed to be this sort of inevitably aging but immortal but other worldly beauty and my own low self-esteem would get in the way of Esther’s fabulousness.

Esther is brilliant, she’s chaotic and eccentric and dangerous. How much fun was it to play her?

The most fun! The social contract we all live under teaches us to be mostly patient and kind, and it is decidedly freeing to be neither and to revel in it.

Were you aware of Dead Boy Detectives before taking on the project?

I had read many Neil Gaiman books but I had never read that particular series.

What was the first thing you did to research and approach the role?

I gobbled up the graphic novels on which the series was based, and I also procured a very large snake so that I could practice feeding children to it.

Outside of Dead Boy Detectives, what are your plans for the year ahead — can we expect to see you in anything else soon?

Oh, I’ll be popping up in some different series on your television, hopefully. Also, you might want to hide your girl children if we get a season 2. I’ll need to do more “research.”

All 8 episodes in Dead Boy Detectives season 1 are now streaming on Netflix! You can read our review here.

Written by

An expert in all things geek with a particular emphasis on DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. On Netflix, Ashley is an expert on The Sandman, Dead Boy Detectives and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Bylines at Winter is Coming and Comic Book Resources and notably runs a fan page social account for Netflix's The Sandman.

 Poster Rating: TV-MA
Language: English
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Cast: George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, Kassius Nelson, Briana Cuoco, Jenn Lyon, Ruth Connell
Season Additions:
  • - Season 1 was added to Netflix on April 25th, 2024
Read Our Review for Dead Boy Detectives View Viewing Statistics