Q&A: ‘Sweet Tooth’s’ Aliza Vellani Talks Life on Set and the Impact of the Show

Sweet Tooth” introduced audiences to a show about a world swept away by a pandemic and a society afraid of change. Yet, a glimmer of hope and optimism remained on the horizon. Sound familiar?

Based on the comic book of the same name written by Jeff Lemire, “Sweet Tooth” was adapted into a series and premiered on Netflix in 2021. The story is set in a fictional world where a virus has wiped away a majority of the human population. All the while,the emergence of hybrid babies, part human, part animal, were being born. We follow Gus (Christian Convery), a half-human, half-deer child as he ventures out into the post-apocalyptic landscape in search of his mother.

With season two of “Sweet Tooth” now streaming on Netflix, Character Media sat down with Aliza Vellani, who plays Rani Singh on the show. She details moments she’s shared on set with the cast, the bond they’ve built together during filming, and what it means to her to see more South Asian and Muslim creatives in the industry.


Character Media: We end season one on a pretty big cliffhanger and last see Rani desperately hanging onto her life. Because your character is a new addition to the show and not in the comics, what was going through your head with the uncertainty of your character’s fate?

Aliza Vellani: What’s been so interesting about the character of Rani is that her fate on the show has always been hanging in the balance from the very first episode. Rani wasn’t originally meant to go past the pilot episode. It wasn’t until after season one had been picked up that I was told they wanted to expand the character of Rani which was a lovely surprise. I would say I became very used to the uncertainty of Rani’s fate. Even going into this season, I wasn’t quite sure what Jim Mickle would have up his sleeve, but it was such an incredible journey for her and I absolutely love what the writing team created this season.

Sweet Tooth. Aliza Vellani as Rani in episode 208 of Sweet Tooth. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

CM: Those familiar with the comics understand the series is pretty dark with its themes. In this adaptation, we begin quite light-hearted, but slowly tap into the darker tones as we progress further into the show. How would you say season two compares in how much darker it is to the first season?

AV: What I love about the first season is the huge sense of hope and wonder about the “Sweet Tooth” universe. It feels like it pulls you into this beautiful world before they show you the other side, which is much darker. Given where we all were in 2020 and 2021, I love the fact that Team Downey wanted to ensure a sense of love and hope during times that felt so frightening. For season two, they definitely lift the curtain a little to reveal the realities of this world after “The Sick.” It almost balances out the first season in a way and grows with its younger audience as they learn more about the world. Gus very much has a coming-of-age journey this season. Unfortunately, Rani’s fate has always been on the darker side of this series but I love the silver lining that shines at the end of this season.

CM: The first season was released two years ago and I’m sure filming became a challenge at some points throughout production. I think the relationship you and the cast have built throughout the process is very heartfelt. If you could sum up your experience of your time on set in one word, what would it be and why?

AV: Family. At the time of filming both seasons in New Zealand, my husband wasn’t able to visit and I wasn’t able to return home to Vancouver in between. So being away from family for up to six months was hard for a lot of us, especially during the pandemic. But the cast and the crew, we all leaned on each other. We always tried to make meaningful memories together off-set and check in with one another during filming. Being an actor who grew up on sets, it was wonderful to see how we all wanted to create a beautiful experience for the kids we had working on the show. That became so important for all of us, and we really became a family over these last couple of years. It’s been a truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Sweet Tooth. (L to R) Adeel Akhtar as Singh and Aliza Vellani as Rani in episode 205 of Sweet Tooth. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

CM: In the show, Adi ultimately succumbs to conducting experiments on hybrids in hopes of finding a cure for the virus, but more importantly saving Rani. With it being mentioned that these experiments go beyond their beliefs, how would you say the relationship between Rani and Adi changes heading into season two?

AV: You definitely see a change in each of their moral compasses and certainly not in the same direction. For two people who have been together for over a decade, being separated starts to fracture their united front. Rani has to grapple with the fact that she may have led her husband down a path that he can’t turn back from. Rani has to decide to either stick by her husband or change course in the hopes that their love is enough to keep them together. You’ll have to watch Season 2 to find out what happens to them but Rani becomes a person I believe a lot of people can relate to when faced with the challenge of admitting one’s faults.


CM: “Sweet Tooth” is about hope and finding a way. With May marking the beginning of APAHM (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month), what has it meant to you being a part of and seeing more South Asian and Muslim representation appear in pop media? What next steps would you like to see in the space?

AV: It’s been so wonderful to celebrate so many AAPI and Muslim creatives in the industry in the last few years. We still have a long way to go but the more stories we see, the better. Something Sweet Tooth does so well with the Singhs, is showing their faith and culture in the background without it being a major plot point. The symbolism and parallels between Ganesha and the Hybrids are so incredibly beautiful and having this impact Rani’s choices without having it said outright meant a lot as a South Asian performer. It’s something that I hope we see more of in South Asian storytelling because it should not be limited to our marginalized experiences. We have the same complexities and multitudes of character flaws and stakes that any other human beings have, we just have to make space for those stories to shine.

CM: For our last question, with the “Sweet Tooth” world centering around hybrids, what type of hybrid would you want to be born as?

AV: Probably some kind of big cat, like a cheetah. If I’ve learned anything this season, I think it would be useful to be fast in a world where hybrids are hunted.