NBC’s Quantum Leap burst onto the TV landscape carrying the double responsibility of serving a LARGE nostalgic fanbase while at the same time drawing in newcomers with modern narratives and fabulous guest stars.
As spotted at the end of Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 3, Anastasia Antonia plays Eva Sandoval in the upcoming adventure, Dr. Ben Song’s newest “leapee” and the first woman he’s landed in since his time-traveling body-jumping began.
Speaking with TV Fanatic from Zoom from Los Angeles, Anastasia describes the unique experience of playing someone inhabited by someone else as well as sharing some of the many projects she uses to express herself creatively.
With the new Quantum Leap being a continuation of the 1990s Scott Bakula/Dean Stockwell series, Anastasia did due diligence in familiarizing herself with the concept before joining the show.
“It was before my time, actually. I missed that Quantum Leap: Original Series [era]. However, when I first got the audition, I was asking people close to me, and I had people in my life, in my family, where that was their favorite show.
“That got me excited, and I did some digging. I found the original series, and I did watch it prior to shooting. It was really fun. It was [such a risky show then]… it feels risky now, watching it. I enjoyed it.
“From episode to episode, there’s such good chemistry and charisma on-screen. And for him to go back and right wrongs and do all these amazing things… I mean, that’s something we all would like; we all fantasize from time to time about.”
While the new Quantum Leap has introduced a long-arc plot regarding the purpose of Ben’s leap, it has retained the episodic weekly adventure of the original series.
This means we have only one week to spend with Anastasia’s Eva Sandoval. What is she like?
“Eva is a bounty hunter. She’s committed to her family’s business. Her father’s a bondsman, so she’s an off-shoot of that. She’s tough. She’s independent.
“Justin Hartley [plays] my partner and also love interest in the episode. And he’s ready to take the relationship to the next level.
“[Eva is] very career-first. I can’t give too much away, but let’s say Raymond comes through on that when he leaps into my body. He makes sure life is a lot better for me.”
Being the “leapee” is an unusual acting exercise as your character is actually being played by two actors with different motivations.
“It was interesting because it was definitely a first for me. I’ve never shared a role with [another] person before or [had] their input to that degree. My input’s normally just my director.
“On set, Raymond was really accommodating. He’s super accommodating. He’s extremely sweet, very present, and he actually would go through things with me and make sure I got to see everything that I needed.
“That made me instantly comfortable, and I was free to then blend what Raymond was doing with Dr. Ben Song with what I had prepared with Eva. It was really cool. On the fly, which is a little nerve-wracking, but we did it.”
Without spoiling anything, Anastasia mentions that Eva’s major dilemma is choosing between her career and her work partner’s proposal of something more.
Did Anastasia have any issues identifying with that internal conflict?
“That was so easy for me because that was me at a time in my life. I had blinders up, walls up. Nothing was going to stop me from my career. So when I read that in the script, I was like, ‘Oh, this is easy for me. [laughs] I remember that girl.’
“I connected a lot with Justin Hartley and Sofia Pernas. That’s his wife. She’s in my episode. Sofia, funny enough, I knew from years and years ago, but I had no idea she was married to Justin.
“So, the first day, me and Justin are getting to know each other, and he mentions he’s got a really great wife that’s amazing, and he loves her a lot. And I was like, ‘That’s so sweet.’
“Then Day Two comes, and I meet Sofia in the make-up trailer, and I’m all, ‘Oh my god! How are you? How’ve you been?’
“From there, it created a nice intimacy between the three of us, and we were laughing and catching up and talking the whole time.
“They were probably one of my favorite parts of set because they’re just hysterical people. It really lent to all of the chemistry on screen, I would say.”
Besides the clear camaraderie between Anastasia and Sofia, there is a bit of a physical resemblance that drew some of the production’s attention.
“The director, Rachel Talalay – she was really cool and very sweet – she pulled me aside because there was a bit of concern that me and Sofia looked similar, and they wanted to make sure we looked different.
“And I was like, ‘That’s so interesting that they would even cast someone that looked similar.’ That’s kind of a thing to make sure everyone looks different enough. Distinctive.
“And Rachel pulled me aside. She’s like, ‘Y’know, I asked them if they were going for anything with the casting. They said no, so I just picked the best actress. And that’s always the right choice anyway.’
“It just felt so nice to hear that, and it gave me a big confidence boost to perform. That was another favorite moment on set.’
Besides being a Quantum Leaped individual, Eva Sandoval is a female bounty hunter, an uncommon career choice in and of itself. Anastasia loves that she had the chance to play Eva as a strong, exceptional woman doing a tough job.
“That would be like a fantasy job for me. That could’ve been something that my younger self would’ve wanted to do. I definitely have had an adrenaline-junky streak in my life. Just pushing the limits.
“I think most artists do, right? We put ourselves in crazy situations to experience life from a different perspective. I did feel empowered. In the 80s, when things were pretty rough, for her to be a bounty hunter and be a support system for her father and vice versa. It spoke to me, for sure.”
The pandemic forced many actors to slow down as productions and studios shut down. Anastasia had none of that.
“I did, I believe, four projects during the pandemic prior [to Quantum Leap]. Two were my own, actually. One I wrote and directed, which is fun. It was called ‘My Dear Neighbor.’ It was a short. When you couldn’t leave at all, that’s when I did a project inside my own place. It was actually in a film festival.
“And then I was also an executive producer on a music video for an artist named Lonr. He has a song out with H.E.R. With Lonr., we did the video ‘WORLD,’ and that actually streamed on the TV in Times Square. It was crazy.”
“It was really fun when things were super locked down that first year, that you could take things into your own hands and get things done. And try on different hats, y’know?
“Following [that], I did a project called Lotus Land. It’s a short that’s a concept for a series where I play a femme fatale. I drug the two main characters with peyote and rob them.
“It’s a fun follow-along where they try to figure out what the hell just happened.
“Bun B — he’s a hip-hop artist from the 90s — is the uncle in that. He’s such a fun flavor to add. I am a fan of his, so that was exciting.
“And then another project I have coming out is something I can’t talk too much about because it’s not even on IMDB yet, but it’s in post. It was a drama that really challenged my acting, and that was amazing.”
Anastasia came to film and television through the gateway experience of live theater at a young age.
“That’s how I fell in love with acting. I did my first theater performance when I was eleven or twelve. I got involved in summer theater locally. I was in love! I come from a family of artists, musicians, but nobody was doing acting or film. And I felt like I had my own lane.
“Not that I couldn’t have gone in that direction, but this was something that I resonated with so deeply, and it was cool that it was my own. Actually, I was that old when I decided privately that I wanted to be an actress.
“[I thought] ‘I’m not going to tell anybody. I’m just gonna spring it on everybody when I was of age.’ I have a special place in my heart for theater.
Even though she’s establishing herself in acting, Anastasia has no intention of letting go of the many passions that drive her.
“When you say passion, my first thing is music. I love to dance. I’ve performed in dance shows. I’m always tinkering around on my keyboard. Playing guitar. Or learning, I should say. My great-grandmother’s a flamenco guitarist, so I’m into learning some of that music right now.
“I just love to create. I feel best when I’m expressing something emotionally in any kind of art form. Communicating.
“My friendships are really important. I like to support my girlfriends. Balance relationships and find ways to create and change, make a difference, small or large, in people’s lives.
“I’m really into having a spiritual practice, centering myself. I feel like my purpose in life is to be the best version of myself. It’s the best thing you can do. And hold yourself accountable to that. By proxy, you make a difference.”
In seeking to be the best version of herself, Anastasia looks to buoy up those around her too.
“Women. Everyone, really, but there are certain experiences you know personally as a woman. I extend myself to support women going through certain experiences that are specific to them.”
Every artist has a vision of where their journey may lead them. What type of role does Anastasia dream of playing one day?
“It changes depending on life circumstances or what I feel like expressing. Growing up, my go-to answer used to be Girl, Interrupted, something dark and meaty like that. Very layered. Expressing chaos.
“I still would love a role like that. What other roles would I love? Christina Vicky Barcelona. Milla Jovovich in Fifth Element is a go-to role for me. [laughs] Sci-fi/fantasy would be amazing. Either that or heavy and dark. One of the two. Or both.”
Joining the world of Quantum Leap is just the most recent development for Anastasia’s artistic and professional landscape. And it was a whirlwind experience, to say the least.
“It was really fast. I would say I booked mid-August and was shooting by the end of August. [We shot for] maybe twelve days.”
For a stunt-rich, high-octane action-adventure, that must’ve been twelve days of hard work.
“I mean, can’t complain. Can’t be too hard when you’re passionate about it. It’s never too hard when you love what you’re doing.”
Be sure to tune in and catch Anastasia Antonia as bounty hunter Eva Sandoval on Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 4, “A Decent Proposal.” New episodes of Quantum Leap air Mondays at 10/9c on NBC and stream the next day on Peacock.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.