Star of Disney XD’s mega-hit series “MECH-X4”, Nathaniel Potvin takes a look at his character’s journey from season one to season two and what fans can expect when the series returns on Saturday, September 9th.
The bright sunshine that looms overhead the morning of Teenplicity’s phone interview with Nathaniel Potvin cannot begin to compare to the enthusiasm and passion he holds for “MECH-X4”. The show, which had been renewed for a second season last year prior to the series even premiering, holds a special quality to it that leaves no question as to Disney’s faith.
“MECH-X4” follows Nathaniel’s character Ryan Walker, a newly realized technopath who recruits his friends and brother to help him pilot a robot and defeat the monsters terrorizing their town. What sets this series apart is how it handles its characters, the way situations affect them, and the appropriate mix of humor, action, drama, and most importantly, the humanity at the core.
Introducing himself as Nate, the actor reflects on their one-of-a-kind situation. “Being renewed to season two when season one hadn’t even aired yet is basically unheard of in the TV industry,” begins Nate. “Usually what production wants to do is they want to air season one, see how the fans respond to it, then start season two. That not being the case at all [for “MECH-X4”] was really exciting because it shows you that Disney put a lot of faith in us and they knew this show was going to be a hit.”
The return to set to begin filming season two had been exciting for Nate as well. “I just want to tell the fans about it but I can’t!” he says about that time. “Then when [the fans] saw season one, they responded so greatly, and I was so excited for them to see season two. I really can’t wait.”
There’s always a limit to how far a person can go, right? So in this season, you definitely see Ryan push his limits, push his power for sure.
With only a week until the second season premieres on Disney XD, fans are excited to learn more about Ryan’s past, his birth parents, and why the season one super villain Seth Harper could be the reason they went into hiding. The excitement in Nate’s voice builds as he explains what fans can expect when the series returns.
“Wow, you guys can expect a lot more,” he begins. “If you like season one, it’s going to be even better. Season two is going to have bigger and badder villains, going to have a new character added – [played by] Alyssa Jirrels – to the robot. It’s going to have huge stunts, huge special effects, and it’s going to have a lot of plot twists and it’s going to have a lot of characters figuring out themselves.”
Nate uses his character Ryan as an example, considering the incredible revelations about himself and his past that came to light in season one and the repercussions that will have in season two.
“He learned a lot about himself and how he grows up as he turns from a boy into a hero. He understands more about his family and where he came from and how he actually got his powers.”
It is his powers that brought the MECH-X4 robot into his life as it can only be piloted by a technopath.
Throughout season one, fans caught glimpses of what marks the battles in MECH-X4 have left on Ryan, as he’s seen suffering from traumatic memories of the fights as well as exhausting himself in his push to do more.
“There’s always a limit to how far a person can go, right? So in this season, you definitely see Ryan push his limits, push his power for sure,” the talented young actor says of his character experiencing more of this. “But, he also learns how to cope with that and control what he’s got. He learns new things about his powers and he learns new ways to use them.”
Viewers saw towards the end of season one just how far Ryan will go to use his powers to protect his friends and just how much energy it can drain out of him. However, there’s not too much downtime to relax for him or the team.
“When you resume into season two, it starts right off the bat [with] action. First thing, the kids fighting the rest of the monsters and then when they finish fighting the rest of the monsters, they see a new villain and have to combat that. It’s honestly non-stop adventure for the boys and they just have to keep coping with it and keep being heroes.”
For Nate’s character Ryan, coping and adventuring will go hand in hand as he strives to learn more about his past. “Yes!” he answers when asked if Ryan will discover more about his parents and their disappearance. “I don’t want to divulge too much because it’s a lot of storyline and it’s awesome,” he continues, sounding thrilled at the fact this part of his character will get explored further. “You do get to see a lot of, as I said before, where Ryan came from. He definitely looks into his past and talks to Leo about it.”
It’s just brotherly love all around but with brothers, there’s always times where they second-guess themselves and they think about ‘What if the other was better off without me?’
The actor thinks for a moment, laughing as he explains that he wants to find a good way to word his thoughts without spilling any secrets. “Yeah, he learns a lot about his past, about where his powers came from, and a lot about why his parents went into hiding and where they are now.” Talking about the storyline, he can’t help but enthuse, “It’s a good one!”
A key factor to finding out those aspects of his past is Leo [Ryan Beil, Anxious Oswald Greene], the creator of the MECH-X4 robot and the man who experimented with volunteers to create technopaths, two of those volunteers having been Ryan’s birth parents.
“Leo is kind of like the funny uncle to Ryan,” Nate describes with a laugh. “Leo is a complete goodball – working with [Ryan Beil] on set is really great. When it comes to characters, Leo has all this information that he wants to give Ryan but sometimes he’s withholding. He doesn’t do it on purpose,” explains Nate, “he’s just a goofy guy like, ‘Oh, that was important? I didn’t know that.’ So Ryan has to milk a lot of information from Leo. Even though Leo wants to help – utterly wants to help so much – he’s got a troubled past that it’s sometimes hard for him to open up.”
Leo’s troubled past had been hinted throughout season one to include his former close friendship with Seth Harper. However, he isn’t the only one who has struggled to open up as Ryan’s own repressed feelings regarding his adoption and his family put a strain on his relationship with his brother Mark [Raymond Alexander Cham, Jr., Teen Beach 2].
“Sometimes there are points where it’s wavering,” he says of the dynamic between the two siblings in season two. “I mean, they’re always going to be brothers and they’re always going to love each other because they have that brother mentality,” reassures Nate. “It’s just brotherly love all around but with brothers, there’s always times where they second-guess themselves and they think about ‘What if the other was better off without me?’” Though he confirms that this will definitely be seen in season two, he consoles the idea with the fact that they will also come together and always love each other at the end. “They always do, no matter how bad.”
To participate in that relationship with such a push and pull that continually comes together is something that Nate cannot help but label as “awesome”. There is absolutely no hesitation as he says, “Raymond’s the best TV brother I ever had.” He laughs, his voice quieting as he admits that Raymond is his only TV brother. “Me, myself, growing up with two older brothers, [it] was easier to jump right into the brother role of younger brother because that’s what I’ve been playing for my whole life.”
The joy and adoration Nate holds for his television brother is clear as he continues, “Raymond is so awesome. He actually has that big brother mentality and being on set, he’s like a big brother to me. It was just easy and flawless to do on- and off-screen. So when you see the both of us on-screen and on the same page or we’re arguing, that’s just how brothers are and I feel like me and Raymond bring that to set so effortlessly that it just looks amazing. He’s honestly – [a] great guy, he’s a great older brother if I was his younger brother. I like to think of it like that sometimes.”
While things are great between the two off-screen, Nate finds his character struggling a bit on-screen as he tries to understand and cope with all the new revelations about his life.
“It does affect him quite a bit,” he reveals. “He learns more about his parents so he’s conflicted about what world he belongs to, sometimes. Or he thinks about how his actual powers came to be. You see a lot of emotion from Ryan in this whole season because it’s a choice between his real parents and his heroism with the robot. It’s just a difficult time for Ryan and it’s a lot of choices he has to make – he has to make the tough choices as the leader of the robot.”
The good news is that some stress may be alleviated with the addition of Veracity [Alyssa Jirrels, “Girl Meets World”, The Art of Escape], the confident and commanding character briefly glimpsed at in season one when she went against Harris in the science competition to win a Harper Grant.
“Oh my goodness,” Nate begins, fondness returning to his voice full force as he begins to discuss the actress behind this incredible character. “Okay, first of all, Alyssa Jirrels is one amazing human being. She’s the best, honestly. I couldn’t have picked a better person to be in the show with us. Honestly, being on set with her, she just clicked [with] everybody.” He explains, “You know when it might be hard to have a new person come in to your house and it’s going to be awkward? It wasn’t like that at all. She literally jumped on set and we all became a family.” Nate goes on and gushes, “It was fantastic and so seamless when she came into the robot and everyone works with her perfectly.”
We definitely needed that girl aspect. But she brings so much more than just a girl aspect.
Thinking of her portrayal of Veracity, he expresses, “Her dynamic as the tough, smart, amazing woman presence is so great because it plays off of all of us, cause we’re all what? Dumb, four boys.” He laughs at his statement and one can just imagine the grin on his face. “It’s a good person to have because she kind of cracks the whip around and she whips us into shape, I will say.”
However, he’s hesitant to go much deeper into her presence on the show. “I can definitely say that when she does become part of the show and she does become part of the robot, stuff starts going down – actually, stuff is already going down so that’s why we need her.”
Nate stops himself from saying more. “So that’s all I will say,” he concludes with a laugh. “If I went any further, I would give away the whole second season.”
Teenplicity does manage to get him to reveal where Veracity’s story with the boys in the second season begins. Much like Cassie Park had been throughout season one, Veracity picks up on the same suspicions the school reporter had regarding the boys and how the robot works. “That’s where it kind of starts off,” he says.
Season two promises more action in the MECH-X4 robot, something that is extremely fun for viewers to see as they watch each episode. Nate is able to completely immerse the audience in his actions as the pilot of MECH-X4 and when each episode is over, there is no denying that there’s an overwhelming desire be able to do what he does daily.
“I think this is the perfect question,” Nate says with amusement and excitement flowing through his voice, thinking over what the best and worst things are when it comes to those action-packed and intensely fun scenes.
“The best thing about being hooked up to the harness and doing all those stunts is that there’s a lot of free reign, you know what I mean?” he reveals. “Whenever the director is like, ‘I need this to happen and this to happen and this to happen,’ he literally sits down with me [and] the stunt team and we just literally work out how we can get from this point to this point to this point in the story.” Being so involved with what happens as his character pilots MECH-X4 allows Nate to put in a lot of suggestions to the stunt coordination. “Like ‘Oh, maybe we can do something cool here like I run all the way from one side of the stage to the other!’ or ‘We can jump here and then we can have sparks in the back!’ and it’s just all fun,” he says of how those suggestions usually go down.
The worst part of those scenes and essentially being hooked up to the harness the entire time?
“I would say the worst part about being in the harness is the fantastic wedgie I get.” He keeps his serious tone for a moment before chuckling. “It’s pretty bad.”
While these scenes are so much fun for fans to watch at home, Nate confesses that he’s most excited for fans to see more of the robot and also Alyssa’s character Veracity in season two.
“Well, there’s four boys in a robot – obviously there’s a lot of testosterone,” he says goodheartedly, a small laugh making itself known. “We definitely needed that girl aspect. But she brings so much more than just a girl aspect. Her character’s name is Veracity – she brings veraciousness to the robot, determination, toughness. She brings more toughness to the robot than all the boys,” Nate isn’t afraid to admit. “Her character’s so witty that she thinks of things that the boys couldn’t even think of on the spot. It’s something really needed.”
He recalls an upcoming scene in season two where Veracity is introduced to the robot. “It’s actually just a sweet, wholesome moment,” describes Nate.
“So adding in the character was really needed and I loved that it could have been Alyssa.”
Asked to describe the second season in three words or phrases, Nate’s confidence is high, exclaiming yes and immediately picks exciting. He laughs as he thinks before choosing to use a phrase. “Nail-biting.” His last descriptor word happens to be explosive.
With great promises for a tremendous season two of “MECH-X4”, fans are sure to want to see Nate in anything else he may be working on.
“I’m working on a new Netflix sitcom that I can’t really divulge what the name is and how long I’ve been working on it but I will say that it involves Paris Berelc [“Might Med”, “Lab Rats: Elite Force”]. That’s all I will say.”
“MECH-X4” returns to Disney XD for its second season on Saturday, September 9th.