As you know from my reviews, I’ve been fascinated with the Wynonna Earp TV show, and keen to find out more about her background. I got hold of the irrepressible Beau Smith, the original creator of Wynonna Earp, and grilled him with some questions. There are two parts to this interview, since we covered more than one page can hold, and I wanted to include some of the photos that Beau was kind enough to share.
Featured image: WonderCon 2016, Shamier Anderson, Melanie Scrofano, Tim Rozon, Dominic Provost-Chalkley, Emily Andras, Michael Eklund, Beau Smith.
I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did! In his own words, this is what Beau said:
L: You’ve been publishing Wynonna Earp comics for over 20 years, how do you feel about Wynonna, the humanly flawed but strong woman, as a character, and the world that you have created for her?
B: As a kid, I was entranced by monsters, kinda like every little kid is at some point. I was also very scared by them. Being a little kid, I knew if I ever faced The Wolfman or Dracula, that there was no way I was going to be able to stop them if they ever decided to come out from under my bed. It was around that point I decided to invent someone that could not only put these monsters down, but would scare them as bad as they scared me. That character was Wyatt Earp. Along with my fascination for monsters, I was also mesmerized by the old west, and its characters, both historical and mythological. So from grade school on, I wrote stories about Wyatt Earp, along with his brothers and Doc Holliday, hunting down various monster outlaws and settling their hash. That was the primitive basis for Wynonna Earp that I would eventually create in 1996 for publication.
At that time in pop culture, westerns were not as popular as they were when I was growing up, so I knew I would need to modernize not only the landscape, but Earp as well. I decided that it would be a descendant of Wyatt Earp that was now a U.S Marshal hunting down fugitives and dealing with the witness protection program. There would be a couple of twists, it would be Wyatt’s Great-Great Grand daughter , and she would be hunting down paranormal fugitives for the covert Black Badge Division of the U.S. Marshals.
Wynonna’s strong, independent will has always come from my mother. She was her own woman of strong opinions that she was not shy in sharing. She was very protective of family and friends. I always said, it was hard for someone to get into my mom’s inner circle, but even harder to get out. She was like her own form of the Mafia. In youth, much like Wynonna, my mom was probably what you’d call in the 1950’s a hood. She was no Pollyanna. My grandmother, was also an influence for Wynonna in the fact, she was very strong, but more stoic, and had a very strong code of what was right and what was wrong. This goes for work ethic as well. I really found myself writing their personalities into Wynonna Earp without even knowing it at times. It was so natural. They were how I saw strong women.
In the comic books and graphic novels, I had always written Wynonna in the prime of her career at the age of 35-40. I always find that people, especially women, are so interesting as they grow older. I don’t think enough fictional characters are written in this light, no matter what the gender. They should be. Now with the TV and comic book series, we’re able to show how Wynonna got to her prime and the transformation she had to go through a person to get to be the cool and composed Wynonna Earp that I have written in the last 20 years. Emily Andras, the showrunner/Creator/Writer of the TV series has created and opened up this wonderful beginning of young Wynonna Earp that is putting down all the fantastic layers that will one day take the form of the Wynonna Earp that has chased monsters for 20 years. Emily, the cast and crew, have built a wonderful house for Wynonna Earp from the foundation that I laid 20 years ago. I could not be more proud…and entertained.
L: The main characters in the show so far are Wynonna, Waverly, Doc and Dolls. Are they all in the comics?
B: The only characters from the original comic books that are on the TV screen are Wynonna Earp and her main villain, Bobo Del Rey. Waverly, Doc, Dolls and Nicole Haught, are all creations from [showrunner and screenwriter Emily Andras] Emily’s fertile mind. That’s not saying that if we go into a season two of Wynonna Earp, that some of the characters from the comic book series won’t be popping up and either helping Wynonna out or really causing her trouble. (Including one character that I see in the mirror every morning.) 🙂
Emily deserves so much credit for taking a character like Doc Holliday, one that has been done, time and time again on the movie and TV screen, and she has turned that character on it’s head without ever losing the tradition of what has come before. She and Tim Rozon, have exposed the audience to a new Doc Holliday that we as viewers have never seen before. There is so much depth in the Doc that Tim puts forth on the screen. There’s intensity and mystery, two traits that will always give a character longevity in a serial drama.
Without a doubt, Dominique as Waverly Earp, is the heart and soul of the series. Waverly is the sunshine when the clouds need to be parted, where Wynonna is the born protector, Waverly is nurturer. Off set, Melanie and Dominique are as close to being sisters as any family I have ever seen. It shows in the roles. My wife, Beth and I spent a lot of time with Dominique at WonderCon, and we decided that if we could, we would adopt her as our daughter. She is the sweetest person ever, and she has the most incredible smiling eyes ever.
I would also say that Shamier Anderson, who plays Agent Dolls, is the deep end of the pool. Dolls is truly mysterious and layered as everyone will find out as the series continues. Dolls is stoic and always seems in charge, but his story is just beginning to be told. Shamier is the first cast member I met when I was on set. He and I hit it off like two guys that played ball together. He is so funny, and lights up a room with his thousand-watt smile. We have a lot in common, except for the fact he is really tall, fashion is his friend and my enemy, and he swears he can dance better than me, but that’s yet to be proven.
Michael Eklund, who plays Bobo Del Rey is one intense actor. He not only knows his role and what he needs to do, he knows the every move of the rest of the cast he works with as well as the crew. He reminds me of Daniel Day Lewis with that intensity and ability to devour the role he is given and make it his own. Off set, Michael is a very funny, soft spoken and super polite guy. I love Michael’s vision with Bobo. He takes it deep within and releases the best for the character.
Katherine Barrell is such a natural actress. She flows into her lines and character flawlessly. As Nicole Haught, she is able to shift into toughness, confidence, and air of sweet nature without ever seeming to be jamming her gears. Like Shamier, she’s tall, but I think I could give her a go with my dance moves as well. 🙂
L: There have been lots of positive comments online about Wynonna Earp portraying LGBTI people as confident and positive role models. (Officer Haught springs to mind.) Has this always been part of the Wynonna Earp context?
B: My goal as a writer, has always been to write compelling, likable characters first and foremost, regardless of race, religion, gender or sometimes species. As a writer, if I can make that character compelling, then the reader, in my case, will become emotionally invested in that character and truly care about the situations I place them in. The conflict they are involved in is almost secondary. If you don’t care or like the character, then the conflict certainly won’t matter. If a vampire is knocking at the door, and you don’t like the character on the other side, then you’ll find yourself unlocking that door and inviting the Count in for the feast. So much in entertainment has moved forward in the last 20 years that we are now seeing benefits from small progressive moves in fiction finally being able to find audiences that were without relatable characters to follow. Changes that stick are gradual, they never move as quickly as we like, that’s human nature, but they do move forward. You don’t keep weight off generally from crash diets, it has to be gradual, it has to be a change in lifestyle that also applies to fiction, entertainment and pop culture as well. We are seeing that happen. If we create characters that everyone can relate to on some level, then it broadens not only entertainment, it helps broaden the world. Emily has always been a writer and a creator that believes the world should come in one size—Extra Wide. She writes that way, she creates characters that way, as a writer and creator, I think we all can learn from that.
L: I’ve read that the Syfy tv show is the backstory to Wynonna’s printed stories. How much input do you have into the details of the show?
B: Not a lot. You said it so well, the TV show is the backstory to my printed stories on Wynonna. It’s what makes the show so exciting and so interesting. For viewers that have never read a Wynonna Earp printed story, let alone a comic book, it gives them a brand new place to READ about who Wynonna Earp will become. For comic book readers of Wynonna Earp, the TV series gives them a place to discover and SEE new stories where they learn Wynonna Earp’s beginning years. Emily, SEVEN24 and IDW Entertainment have involved me from the very start. The scripts, the outlines, the series bible, I was there though all the audition reels for characters, I see all the dailies, the rough cuts, I’ve been to the set and even got to assist Director, Ron Murphy on a key scene. According to my contract, they didn’t have to do any of this, but they have because the whole Wynonna Earp production is truly family. My wife, Beth and I really feel that Emily, the entire cast and crew are our family. I’m not fibbing when I say that this whole Wynonna Earp TV series is something very, very special.
Look for part 2 of this interview, “Beau Smith talks writing Wynonna Earp” for more about the cast and the show, as well as tips for people wanting to write professionally, and an opportunity for fans to have a say!
Wynonna Earp is on Syfy in the USA on Fridays 10pm/9c and on CHCHTV in Canada on Mondays at 9pm
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