What attracted you to Wynonna?
Initially, it was just it didn’t seem like they wanted a girl to act like an action hero. I’m a big fan of honesty and being real, so to me it seemed like Wynonna was a very human character in a very supernatural circumstance. I was like, I can do that!
I just loved her wit, I loved that she was allowed to be funny, I loved that she was allowed to be sexy in her own way, which is not like posturing and pouting her lips and selfies. She was sexy in her own quirky deranged way, and unapologetic about who she is.
The character description I think was: “she’s a mix between Jennifer Lawrence and Lana Del Rey”. I was like, “I love those two girls. Perfect – I don’t know what that means but I will do that.” In essence, depth and humour and this quirky sexiness, whatever that means to you.
I had that and a couple of sides – they didn’t send out any scripts or anything. I was really going in blind, so I was lucky that I interpreted the breakdown correctly, and my interpretation of “a cross between Jennifer Lawrence and Lana Del Rey” seemed to be exactly in line with what they meant.
It’s like Emily Andras’s description of the show as “Buffy meets Justified meets Frozen” – what does that actually mean?
I love it. But to Emily, in her head, yes, that’s exactly where it lives. She knows, and the only person who really needs to know what that means – and if not we’re in trouble – is Emily, and she knew exactly what that meant and she really committed to what that world was. I think she killed it.
As I said to her earlier today, the only other person recently with that sort of passion was Glen Mazzara on Damien…
Dude! I was just going to say the same thing. They’re the two most passionate showrunners I’ve ever had. Both are the same way: I booked the job on Damien (right) and Glen was the same as Emily – any questions you have, at any time, call me… because they are so in love with the stories that they’re telling. Why would you want to work for anybody else? They are unapologetic about the stories that they’re telling, and they firmly, 100%, believe in it. We shouldn’t tell stories any other way: I’m so inspired by both of them.
You’ve talked in other interviews about the martial arts training you did to prepare for shooting the series, but for you, to play the character, what sort of preparation did you do?
There was a defining moment for me. I was standing in line at Starbucks waiting for my beverage of choice, and there was this woman who was having a bad day. I was right up against the counter – I literally had nowhere to go, I could not get out of her way any more than I already was. It was like she expected me to melt into the counter, to make even more room for her to go by… It was just so ridiculous, and I was like, “fuck you lady”. And she gave me the stinkeye… she gave me the stinkeye. I was like, “fuck you, motherfucker”. Then out loud I said, “oh sorry.” What the hell? I shouldn’t be apologising, and in that moment I thought, Wynonna would have said “fuck you, motherfucker”. Wynonna is my inside voice, with all permission just to come out. Anything you are thinking, just say it – that’s what Wynonna would do. There’s a honesty about her that is so refreshing.
And it can be painful for other people, when somebody is that open…
It doesn’t come from an evil place. She’s such a good person actually, but it comes from a place of having been hurt in the past, having been betrayed by others, having been cast aside. That was her education – that’s how she learned how to treat people. She’s just doing what she knows, and she’s doing the best she can. In her realm of “shit to take care of”, self-improvement in her manners is not one of them.
There have been various revelations as the series has gone on about what happened to her between she shot her father to her return to Purgatory – how much of that did Emily share with you, or did you find it out from scripts as you went along?
Emily will tell you everything she knows. She says a lot of “probablys” – “she probably did this”, “she probably was this type of person”, but the thing about Emily is she’s so open. If you have any ideas, she wants to know them. She was like, “If we go to season two, I want to sit down and see what you think Wynonna’s been through, where do you think she’s going”. We have sort of done that, on a very shooting the shit type of basis. She’s so open to going “What do you think?” because the reality is, a lot of bad things have happened and it could be anything.
Actually it’s funny you say that. I just pre-screened episode 9 so I can live tweet it. There was a moment where we get a little tiny titbit about Wynonna’s past, about the Bleaker case that she was involved in that we’ve already made reference to [in the pilot]. You get little kernels of things that you thought we had talked about and they were over, and they were just exposition, but actually they were leading to something. Emily is really good at that.
It was probably the hours – they were really long, obviously, because I was in so many scenes. Maybe it ended up being a good thing, but I felt underprepared sometimes. I like dedicating time to scenes, going “What does this mean? Where is this going?” but a lot of times I felt like I had to shoot from the hip. I felt that that works, because it makes your performance more fresh if you feel unprepared, but I think that was really challenging – feeling like I should have done more work when there were in fact just not enough hours in the day to do it.
What was the best part?
A couple of things: meeting these people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, cast and crew. I’ve met the most inspiring amazing people: people at IDW, our producers. People who know how to get shit done with very limited resources I find totally inspiring because it forces you to get creative. It made me go, “if there’s a will there’s a way and we can do amazing things if we’re just clever with it”.
Also, the response from the fans has just been great, just so gratifying. I feel like an idiot, but it really does touch you. I feel like I’ve made something that matters to people and that I sort of matter to people now. I didn’t expect that I would have this feeling of worth that I’ve got.
I really expected Twitter to be a scary place, for people to say horrible things, but I’ve had just the opposite experience. I’m so grateful to the people on Twitter and people watching the show that they’ve made us all feel so valued and important.
Emily was talking about that. It’s such a good point. It’s so easy to zero in on the negative. Tim Rozon says that too: you can’t change anything so it’s done, just enjoy it. And it’s true. What can I do now?
What are you up to now?
I’m working on a show called Letterkenny – I’m very proud to have joined that cast, so I’m just prepping for that. We start shooting next week which is very intimidating and totally different. A totally different world, which should be interesting. Very proud to be part of that family.
You’ve done Saw, Damien, Wynonna – is this sort of genre material something you choose to watch yourself or is it just the way things have panned out?
I’ll watch anything with heart.
Right…! There are certain things that I might not watch, and in fact some things that I’ve done, I don’t watch because it’s not my cup of tea, I guess. But anything with a heart – my dad and my stepdad were both huge Star Trek fans, and I remember being like, “not this shit again”. But we only had one TV in each house (I know, poor us, right!) so I would be forced to sit down and watch with them if I wanted to watch TV, and every time without fail, I would be drawn in.
Anything that is interesting or has heart, I’ll totally be a fan of. But I would watch Wynonna if I wasn’t in it – that was one of the things that drew me to it.
Wynonna Earp airs on Syfy in the US, and begins on Spike in the UK on Fridays at 9 pm from July 29
Thanks to Michelle Marron for her assistance with this interview.