I haven’t made much a secret of the fact that Killjoys is my favorite new show of the summer. While the three main stars are all terrific, I’ve been completely taken by the depth and interest of the supporting cast. Nora McLellan (Bellus), Thom Allison (Pree), Tamsen McDonough (voice of Lucy) and Sean Baek (Fancy Lee) have been active on Twitter, involved in fan groups, and have been open and friendly with anyone who wanted to chat. As we wait for news about a renewal (and if it happens, we will all say Thank the Trees), I had some fun opportunities to chat with Nora, Thom and Sean.
TIBS: Were the producers looking for something specific in casting?
Thom: I think they were looking for personality. Whatever personality it would be depended on the individual who walked into the room.
Nora: I love that Michelle wrote a part for somebody of my age who can get into a fight. It was established straight from the get-go that I was a Killjoy, that when I had to hang up my shield, I became a Broker. Twenty years ago, you know, I would have been Dutch. So I’m so appreciative of the fact that she wrote a character who’s a woman of my age who can kick some ass and be rough. And protective.
TIBS: You definitely get that from your part, that this is your background. That you’re a woman who has not had a conventional background.
Nora: I’m so glad that it comes across! I always get the impression that if the chips are down, she could do anything that the rest of them could do.
Sean: No, not really. All I knew from the beginning was that Fancy was/is a Top-Level Reclamation Agent, a.k.a., Killjoy, in the R.A.C. As it probably was for the viewers, with regards to Fancy’s first appearance (in that scene w/ Dutch), it was quite mysterious for me, too. That’s what I love about Killjoys, the series – the story just takes you, the viewers, along the story-line, without too much “exposition.”
TIBS: Did you know any of the cast previously?
Sean: Nora – I met her a few years back at this theatre company in Canada called the Stratford Festival (Shakespeare).
Nora: Sean and I were in the same company together – Stratford, but we’re not together on the set, of course, I’m contained usually. One of the best things (the producers) did was hire stage actors who know how to act on film. You know how actors who work on stage translate so well on film, so there’s a lot of theater actors on the show. In Canada, there’s a lot of theater actors working on film anyway. I was usually confined to dealing with just the three (main actors).
TIBS: Which is too bad, because it would be fun to see Bellus interacting with Pree, and with Pawter, some backstories, stories centering on your characters. Nora, you weren’t in the hospital scene…
Nora: No, and Tamsen and I were privately texting, “I’m dying to get on Lucy,” I just realized how inappropriate that sounded (laughing), but Tamsen and I have never met actually, she was never at the table reads (Tamsen did all of her work solo). But they did not let that happen for me, which was terribly disappointing, because for the first episode, they were still building Lucy. It was great. I can’t say enough about the set – can’t say enough about Westerly – Westerly is where I sit, I keep waiting to go on to Leith, it’s such an astonishing set.
Thom: Me too. :).
TIBS: Do you have any input now into your look? And did you get any insight into your character’s backstory?
Thom: I actually did have some input into the design of Pree’s look but the vision was created by our amazing costume designer, Trysha Bakker. Our first costume meeting was 5 hours long. She literally creates the looks on me. I love playing Pree & I feel like Pree is still developing. There is so much unknown about Pree that I feel like he could still go in lots of directions.
Sean: What I would say is that from reading the scene, I knew that Fancy was a sort of an “antagonistic” character, either to Dutch alone, or her “Team,” as in, her “coalition” or “partnership” with John. You read what’s on the page and you instantly get a sense of “history” between the characters. Like my 1st scene with Dutch. I say: “We’ve never gone head to head, have we? Should be fun.” Within that ONE single line, you get the feeling that there’s some sort of “competition” or even “rivalry.” It showed that Fancy was sort of a very confident (read: “cocky”) Killjoy, who wasn’t afraid of getting his job done. “The Warrant Is All.”
Did I have any input into Fancy Lee’s look? Well, costumes are all designed by Trysha Bakker, a fantastically wonderful woman, who is funny, and thoughtful, and just a very fun person to be around. She has done some BEAUTIFUL work on Killjoys, but she’s done a LOT of amazing stuff in the past. Hair, however – I did have a very SMALL input. The hair stylists, Ryan Reed & Cheryl Ross, and I had a brief chat, and we ended up getting what both parties, as well as the Exec. roducers/Producers/Director(s) liked.
TIBS: It’s a great look – in your headshots, you’re handsome and charming; as Fancy, you’re more angular, and much more threatening.
Sean: HAHAHAHA!!! My headshot is too dolled up, is what you’re saying? LOL… 🙂 But, thank you. Also, I don’t have any facial hair in my current head-shots, so if/when I shave, I pretty much look like that. The beard makes me look older. SLIGHTLY older.
TIBS: Experienced. A little scary. Just what Fancy should be.
Sean: HAHAHAHA!!! “Experienced,” I quite like. 😉 LOL…
TIBS: The introduction to Fancy was a little… abrupt.
Sean: Maybe a bit “abrupt,” but I, as the actor portraying the character, didn’t mind that. It all felt mysterious, and I like mystery…it draws you in, makes you pay attention and focus. Yeah, among those who know – OR can feel it – Fancy is (clearly) a lone wolf figure in the RAC. So, different, Fancy is. And he does believe in what he does, for sure. Ep #106 “One Blood” was VERY interesting because we got to see the dynamics of those “Killjoys” more. Their lives were more fleshed out, not only individually, but as an organization as a whole. I think Annmarie Morais who wrote the episode did a fantastic job. I really love her work. Annmarie and I became really good friends after working on that episode together. She even came out to see me play Brutus in Julius Caesar by Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park production (a long-time Toronto tradition – they’re in their 33rd season). Another thing I wanted to add about Fancy Lee: I love how his “ethnicity” isn’t & doesn’t have to be explained. He just happens to be one of the people who inhabit that world. God knows I’ve played enough “ethnically-specific” characters with accents, stereotypes.
TIBS: This was a very layered, complex episode. Representative of the entire show.
Sean: I agree with what you said about Ep. 106 being complex. It makes that world, The Quad, all the richer, AND the characters that inhabit it. Much like our current world, with politics, economics, class differences, statuses, etc. Absolutely believable.
Nora: It’s beautiful to walk on to the set. I walk around between shots and go, “Oh my God, look at this, look at that, that really works.” The fact that they had everything looking so real – when I’m moving things around on the computer, that’s real. That’s not in post. Which I love! Someone was working the computer when I was working it, right behind me, off stage. How cool is that!
TIBS: That’s very different. I watched a show recently where I saw an unfinished screener recently where you saw nothing on any of the computer screens.
Nora: All of those sets where you see those signs up, all of those bulletins, those are actually working right on set. So cool to see it! I was just watching “Come the Rain,” and I said to my guy, “that’s all on the set! It’s all there!”
TIBS: We’re all anxiously awaiting news about a renewal.
Sean: Fans are jumpy? Imagine how we, the cast members, feel?!? LOL.. Oh, the anticipation, huh? Yeah, we all are waiting anxiously. Would I be back for a second season? MOST DEFINITELY. I myself love the show very much. The people I got to work with are all AWESOME. Not to mention the writing. It really comes down to the writing. We’ve been very fortunate to be helmed by Michelle Lovretta and her writing staff. All smart, funny, down-to-earth, and talented people. It really all depends on how the rating(s) does/do… People should really watch and re-watch the show/series on proper “outlets,” not illegally. Syfy website, Space Channel (in Canada) website, Hulu, and I even heard it’s available on Amazon? Even if one watches the show on a website, it affects the rating to go up.
TIBS: What do you find most interesting about the Killjoys story?
Thom: I’ve always found the relationships the most interesting. Michelle Lovretta is so smart and detailed. I also love how she never makes an obvious choice without a surprising and heart stopping twist. I am not by nature a SciFi fan. I enjoy SciFi but not religiously. But that is another perk I’ve gained from Killjoys. I’ve really seen what a huge community of friendship and kinship there is. Bonding and passion. Tweeting with and getting know fans has been one of the most unexpected and joyful parts of this experience.
Nora: I love the relationships. I really appreciate the fractured family that we have on the show. Of course, if it goes to another season, for example, Bellus came from Westerly and bought her way out to Leith. Would she have known Pree, for example? Thom Allison and I are great friends in real life, but we never get to see each other. Obviously, I have great mistrust for D’Avin right now, but we’ve got this family set up in a huge world that is set up to have a revolution. I don’t know where my character stands about this revolution, but I enjoy it and would like to find out.
I just want to say that those three actors especially, Luke, Aaron and Hannah, came to the set every day as if they had not been doing everything that they had been doing. Now that I’m watching the series, they came in as if they had been doing Law & Order. Just cool as a cucumber. I’m so in awe of them, I can’t say, because I now realize how hard they were working, and they did nothing but make me feel comfortable, and teach me things I didn’t know. The kindness of those three actors, Hannah primarily that I was working with, it was such an honor, and now to see the work they were doing, I’m just in awe of them.
TIBS: I think that’s been one of the best things for me about all the social media outlets – getting to know people with similar passions. People you never would have had a chance to meet in “real life.” And the chance to have more interaction with people like you. You’ve all done a lot of theatre – what do you prefer doing, theatre or TV? Or is it not an either/or situation? (and Thom, I’m so sorry I missed Priscilla Queen of the Desert when it came to Chicago!)
Thom: My first love will always be theatre since that’s been where my career has mostly been. I’ve often been too busy to do film and TV. But this has been a real trip to do a series and have the time to see where a character goes over the course of months of filming & 10 episodes. I didn’t do the tour of Priscilla. I just did the Toronto (pre-Broadway) and the Broadway run. I understudied Bernadette.
TIBS: The show just looked so great. I saw a couple of numbers-there was one on the Today show during the Broadway run, costumes were AMAZING.
Thom: They were pretty amazing… And occasionally crippling. Haha
TIBS: I could see that! Looked difficult to dance or walk in!
Thom: Sometimes yes . The cupcake costumes were deadly if you fell in them. Haha
TIBS: You’d be like a turtle that couldn’t get off its back.
Sean: Um, I wouldn’t say that I’m more of a Theatre actor than Film/TV. I certainly started out in Theatre. But now I divide my time between Film, TV, Theatre, Voice – I’ve done it all that an actor could possibly do. And I intend to continue to do so. Besides, in Canada, we don’t have such a “star” system as the U.S. entertainment industry has got. I mean, “stars” are recognized, but not as…how should I say…”celebrated.” But it’s SLOWLY changing, I would say.
Nora: I’ve been in theater since I was 8, I love being in the theater, but I can’t tell you how much I love being on a film set because it’s so foreign to me and so lovely, such a different discipline. It’s my favorite hobby. Now that I’m a woman in my late 50s, I don’t get cast a lot anywhere, which is truly a shame, and that should be addressed across the board, and I think you’re hearing more and more about that, in terms of equity, but I love being on a film set. I know many theater actors who hate it, because they have to recreate and recreate, but I find it fascinating that the second camera operator is going, “If you couldjust move a millimeter, this would be so much different,” and I’m going, “Really?” I just go, wow, it really makes a difference? And she’ll say yes, it really does. So film and television, that’s my pastime, when I’m not on stage, that’s all I do. I watch TV, and I watch and I rewind, and I watch again, and so the fact that every so often I get lucky enough to be on a set, you can’t get me back to my trailer. I just love what they do and how they do it. I’m so enamored. It’s completely different. In the theater, what I do on Monday – gone forever. Tuesday – gone forever. So it’s a different world. So my preference is neither, and both.
TIBS: Sean, your bio says you practice Hapkido (a Korean martial art). Do you still practice it?
Sean: Yes, I still do practice. Before I decided to become an actor, I wanted to become a Police Officer in Toronto. I was actually head-hunted by an officer from Toronto Metropolitan Police Force who was training at the same Do-Jang (a Korean word for “Martial Arts Studio”). And my Grand-Master Park put me through a Specialty/Expedited Course. I got to learn all the special “moves” that my “level” wouldn’t. normally learn. I myself haven’t used it in a role as of yet. But I did Fight-Direct a play called “Kim’s Convenience” that did REALLY .well in Toronto, as well as across Canada (it went on a National Tour). There were several Hapkido moves that were choreographed in it.
TIBS: Are you a sci fi fan?
Sean: I love Sci-Fi. I may not be one of the BIGGEST geeks, but I actually admire Geeks/Nerds. I love board-games, too. And video games. Sci-Fi, as a genre, has great potential for, truly, “Anything is possible.” So, for story-telling, it’s a great “arena,” so to speak, to be in.
Nora: I’m a scifi geek just like you are, you name it, I watch it. Embarrassingly so. I was one of those people watching Firefly all those years ago, I was on the XFiles. I keep thinking “Every 23 years I hit the big time!”
TIBS: What other projects are you working on?
Thom: I’m waiting to hear about the second season, obviously. I will be doing some teaching in September. I’m doing week long fundraiser in October for a theatre company on Toronto that I love. Where I’ll be the featured act. I am about to announce that I’m doing two night Solo cabaret/concert of all Stephen Sondheim music in Toronto. The Sondheim show is called Me And My Town. Sept. 13 & 14, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. And a couple if other things I can’t mention yet. And yes, my CD, A Whole Lotta Sunlight is available on iTunes.
Sean: I’m currently portraying the role of BRUTUS in Julius Caesar & Angelo, the Goldsmith, in The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare. Toronto’s Canadian Stage Shakespeare in High Park productions. The 2 plays run concurrently, in rep. So, one night, Julius Caesar, the next, The Comedy of Errors. And we rehearsed both shows at the same time. Theatre in Rep., is what it’s called. Chicago Shakespeare is pretty much the same, I think. Like Stratford Festival or Shaw Festival in Canada. And once those plays are done, I’m slated to work on that Independent feature film due to start principal photography some time in Fall 2015. It’s called The River You Step In.
Nora: I’m starting a show in Calgary – The Shoplifters, by Morris Panych (Sept. 1-27, Theater: Calgary). This is the Canadian premiere.
Follow these terrific Killjoys cast members:
@McLellanNora, @ThomAllison, @SeanBaekTO,
@redTamsen, @MorganSam (Morgan Kelly, “Alvis”)
Help the cause: Watch Killjoys LIVE or within 3 days, on TV or on the Syfy Website
and TWEET #RenewKilljoys to @SyfyTV and @SpaceChannel
Follow me on Twitter: @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace
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