Exclusive Interview with Warehouse 13’s Joanne Kelly (Myka)

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Oh. Well, thank you for taking the time tonight to sit and talk with us. I appreciate it.

 No, of course. Thanks. Thanks for talking to me.

 We love the show and know the season finale’s coming up and you guys have already been renewed for season four, which is great. What drew you to the role of Myka Bering? Was it something that you wanted to do? Or was it something you had only heard about once you got the script?

I read the whole thing before I went in for my first audition, which actually was now almost four years ago. Maybe even a little over four years ago. I mean I’m always looking, as an actor you always look for strong, dynamic female characters and she certainly is that. She’s a character on the cut. She’s not a sister, a mother, or a friend, a woman. Generally there tends to be a lot of those roles, but this one was a strong, interesting, dynamic individual in her own right. And I thought she was very interesting. I thought that her, you know, how uptight she was, how controlled, how definitive. I was really excited by her.

Yeah. She’s a very by-the-books, smart, focused Secret Service Agent; finds herself butting heads with Pete quite often because their personalities are very opposite of each other. Do you find that you’re more like Myka or you’re more like Pete in real life?

Oh, I don’t think I’m like either one in real life. I’m like me.

You’re like you. Hey, that’s a great answer.

Yeah.

Warehouse 13 is a very unique show. It focuses on a secret branch of the government whose sole purpose is to protect people from artifacts and from getting them into the wrong hands. When you saw the script and the whole plot, what were your first thoughts?

Well, as I said, this was a while ago. This was almost five years ago, so take it as you will, I’ve never been a huge… what I was drawn to was the character over any sci-fi content. Put it that way. I thought it was a really interesting story about this woman. That mystical stuff was secondary to me.  I mean obviously I’m a huge fan of Indiana Jones, so I thought of that when I read that about the Warehouse. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that or not, but it’s true. So that was something that I think I was more drawn… I mean I’m a very practical actor, and all that stuff, that’s not up to me. The only stuff that I can have any control over is how to play the character. So that’s the stuff that I tend to care… to focus on when I’m picking a role.

And speaking of female roles that really have a presence on the screen, overall, the show has a fifty percent female viewership, which is huge for any kind of sci-fi show. And it’s due largely in part to your character Myka, Claudia, Mrs. Frederic and in more recent seasons, H.G. Wells. Were you shocked to hear of such a high female viewership for a sci-fi show?

No. If you build it they will come. I think that women…I think what draws people to shows… I think that what people want to see, they want to be able to identify with what’s on screen. And I think that if you write strong, interesting, fallible characters that people want to watch that because they can identify with that. They don’t identify with caricatures so much, and I think that these characters are written so humanly and so flawed. I mean Myka has a lot of flaws and I really love how the progression of her character and how she’s kind of dealt with them and overcome them, as has Pete, as has H.G. Wells, as has Mrs. Frederick this season. We see a more human side to her and I think that that’s what women want to see. They want to see a representation of something that looks like them on screen.

Yeah. Exactly. And they do, like you said, a really great job creating these characters that we can all feel like we know this person or we can relate to that person because they’re not so far-fetched as to their whole background.

I think that in order to make the sci-fi stuff work in our show, I think what they’ve done, they’ve been very smart about it – our writers and our wonderful creative staff – is to put these very human moments in an otherwise very extra fantasy world and that’s what people connect to, I think, are those human moments. There’s real character moments, than the whole melee of this fantastical stuff that’s happening and I think that that…I mean I have no idea, but I think that that’s why…why I like the show and I hope why other people like it.

Yeah and that’s part of what draws us in and then like you said, the artifacts stuff is a very cool setup for the show, but it also kind of goes secondary because we’re all very drawn in to the individual stories of each group of two. You have Claudia and her partner at this time. I’m sorry I’m drawing a blank on his name right now.

That’s okay. His name is Steve.

Yes and the two of them and they’re going back and forth and learning of each other and you and Pete going deeper into both of your backgrounds. At the beginning of this season we weren’t sure that you were coming back because you had left after everything that had happened with H.G. Wells. When you’re character was struggling with either this failure in her judgment of H.G. Wells or feeling that she didn’t do her job, do you think that her motivation was more of her failure in judgment with H.G. Wells or that she was more just felt that it was too much danger for her to continue?

I think this…I think that the reason Myka left and the reason that how I really came to understand it was part had to do with her evolution as a character. We’ve seen her at the beginning, I mean the reason that she was so uptight and so rigid, I guess, at the beginning of the series was because she had lost her partner before and I think that has been her greatest fear. That she would not be enough. That she couldn’t be enough to keep everyone safe. I think that’s her greatest…why she became a Secret Service Agent and why she does this job and I think the fear of not being enough. That she couldn’t do it. That her mistake would ultimately end the world was just too much for her to handle. She’s not somebody that likes to feel out of control and I think that when she realized that her error in judgment was going to cause yet more death. I think that she just …that put her on overload. She couldn’t handle it and she had to walk away. I think that without the family that she had formed in Warehouse 13, without Pete, without Artie, without Claudia, I don’t think she could have overcome that and I think that that’s something that they did very beautifully in Trials, the second episode. That you see her being drawn back in, because of these people because… and ultimately I think that’s a very honest reflection of how we are in life, when we – excuse my language – fuck off, I think it’s the people around us who love us that ultimately reel us back in and give us the confidence to keep going.

And I can say we were all very excited when we saw your character was returning because we were all very shocked at the end of the previous season to think that you might not be coming back. And they did a very realistic, “Oops! We bumped into you outside of the Warehouse.” And then end up drawing you back in because she realized that she really could still continue to make a difference and help people doing that.

Yeah and she’s really good at it. I think it’s like anything. I know to draw a parallel, I really love acting and sometimes you feel like a bad actor, unfortunately. Sometimes you feel like you fail or you didn’t do a good job that day or you didn’t do your best and that I think is very scary for somebody who loves it that much. It’s scary to give your all at something and still come up short. I think that’s kind of how she felt. She did her best and yet still didn’t get the outcome she wanted and unfortunately life is scary sometimes. It’s a measure of a person. How they deal with that; if they’re victimized by it or if they’re activated by it. You see her, I think it was a very heroic decision to come back and I was really glad that they wrote it that way.

Yeah and we are very glad too!

Ha ha. Thank you. Thank you. That’s very kind of you.

Now the artifact, did you like the way the writers wove in classic characters, legends – H.G. Wells, for example – Shakespeare and all of this historical fact into a world that is not real but because of using that realistic fact that it made people believe in the story even more?

I think that any opportunity to learn is a good one and I think that any opportunity to instill a hunger in people to know something about, to peak an interest I think should be taken. Especially with – I don’t mean to speak badly about it – but especially when we have television shows like the Kardashians and Jersey Shore. I think that any opportunity that our show may have to peak a kid’s interest about something intellectual, I say, “Well, done.” I think that as television becomes more bombarded by reality programming and by kinds of – I don’t want to sound too judgmental, but screw it – by this kind of mindless vapidness. Well, I mean what kind of a little… you want little girls to look up to … like what happens to the little girls who want to be astronauts or teachers or the President of the United States? That’s something that we should instill in our children. Not to be rich or pretty. Those are…and that’s what I feel that kind of television has gone in that kind of direction; the celebration of celebrity, the celebration of dumb.

Yes! I know. I agree completely. That’s what makes the show so likable in such a broad audience, including those that aren’t strictly sci-fi people; people who may never watch sci-fi otherwise. And they like it because not every episode is the main story arc, but even the ones that are their own little subplots have neat little stories for people of all ages to kind of enjoy and understand and feel the heartache of the character, what H.G. Wells went through throughout the decades of her life, or any of the other characters. And I think that it adds, definitely, a much higher quality TV out there than what we’ve got with a lot of the shows that are out there.  

Yeah. I think that the writers and Jack Kenny, who’s our show runner – who’s so, so, very wonderful – I think that they really try and do their best. I think they really try and write, as we talked about, interesting character moments, interesting characters, really human moments and I think that they try and really find… try adding bits of real historic narrative which some of it’s true, some of it’s not. You can use Wikipedia to find out, but it’s so interesting like the zombie episode starring Artie. You know, just the little, fun factoids that kind of go, “Oh! I wonder if that was real? Oh. It is real! Oh my goodness! Look what happened there!” And there’s a little piece of American history there and I really…it makes me proud to be on a show that, most of the time, strives to do that.

Yeah and I remember watching that episode last week or the week before and it was, we all thought, “Ooh! Zombies!” But I like the way that they took it instead of the normal way that we see zombies. But what’s nice, like you said, at the end of each episode there’s some sort of history lesson. Before that episode it was the binoculars from the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, the Enola Gay, and the name is there, they give you kind of the history and you can go and look it up and research it and it just makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger story and it is really cool.

I think that you just hit the nail on the head. It’s the invitation to the bigger story. That’s something that I really, like I said, that I’m very proud to be a part of and I think it’s a tribute to our writers and to our show runners because they’re the ones that rack their brains to come up with this stuff.

Yeah, they did a good job. Now Warehouse 13 has done several crossovers with Eureka characters in the past seasons as well as characters from Warehouse 13 crossing over into Alphas. Did you enjoy the mixing of these different worlds into one?

I think it’s fun and cool. I like Neil [Grayston] a lot. He came and played with us a couple times. We also had Sasha Roiz from Caprica, who I adore, and we also had Alessandra Toressani, who was very lovely. I enjoy…I mean I really think that as the show goes on, we’ve really gotten a strong ensemble. Jaime Murray being, of course for me, I just love her so much and I love her work so much. I’m always really happy to see her come to set and I just think it keeps everybody… we just have a really good bunch of actors, a good bunch of people. It makes going to work fun.

Yeah. I was going to say it seems that your group is very close, very loose, kind of a funny group that really get along with one another even off set.

 Well, I think that most of the actors’ downfalls comes when they’re interacting as people, they tend to be very competitive with each other. We don’t really have that on our set. We don’t compete and I think that it comes across in what people label as chemistry. When Eddie and I started on the show, it’s just not who we are. He’s a good Midwestern boy and I’m from Newfoundland and you have to be generous on screen, but that’s part of the…part of the creative process, to really… to share moments. To have them together and not compete for screen time and I think that out of that really grew a very inclusive environment. I think that people really relax when they come to the show. I think that they see that nobody’s preening or competing and I think that’s where we get such a nice tone that we do and that’s also, of course, part of Jack Kenny’s kind of role as our dad. He keeps everybody on the high road. 

Yeah, so Monday is the season finale and we finally get to see what Sykes is ultimately trying to do. What can you tell us about the upcoming finale, if anything?

It’s crazy. The finale is emotional and gut wrenching and a shock, definitely a shock. I really enjoyed filming it. It was perhaps a favorite, my favorite part of the season this year, except Trials. I think Trials was my favorite episode, but I’m really proud of it. I hope everybody enjoys it as much as I did enjoy making it, I guess.

Yeah, we’re all very excited to see it and like I said earlier, the good thing is we know that it has been renewed for a fourth season. Do you know when you guys are going to be starting filming on that?

They’re talking January, so not that far away.

 No, that is right around the corner.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, so that’s yeah, back in the land of the Warehouse, I suppose, right in the dead of winter.

Where do you guys actually film it at?

We film in Toronto.

Toronto. Okay.

Yeah, so it’s quite cold in January and I’m wondering how they’re going to do that, but these paths are not for me. I am but a lowly actor.

Yeah, but we’ve been talking with a couple people up in Toronto and they say it is very cold up there from another show and they’re actually moving to Vancouver this year which is equally as cold during that time of the year.

Well, Vancouver it just rains more. I don’t know which is worse, being in the cold or the rain, to be perfectly honest. Yeah, I mean I love Toronto. It’s my home. Our crew’s there and I live there. I have a house there, so it’s good for me.  For Eddie not so much, because his kids are in LA and he desperately misses them when he’s out there.

 I’m sure, yeah.

 

Yeah, he has a hard time with that, but you know, so it goes, right?

 Yeah. Well, I appreciate you taking the time tonight. That was all the questions I had for now and we’ll be looking forward to the season finale and then of course, anxiously waiting for next summer when we get to see season four.

 I’m glad I got to speak with you. Thank you for it once more.

Me too. I appreciate it very much, Joanne and good luck with filming and hopefully when you guys are finished filming we will get back in touch with you to talk about the upcoming fourth season.  

Sounds wonderful. Have a lovely weekend.

You too, Joanne!

Robert Prentice