***Spoilers for 2.06***
Tonight’s episode of Syfy’s Van Helsing
introduces the character of Scarlett Harker, played by Missy Peregrym. In the episode it’s revealed that Scarlett is actually Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton)’s sister.
Peregrym recently talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about her character, if Scarlett has any of the unique qualities Vanessa possesses, playing a badass ninja, and more. SCIFI VISION: How did you first become involved in the show?
An offer came through my agent, so I ended up reading some scripts that they had written. I think it was episodes six and seven. Then, I just ended up watching the show a little bit from season one.
And then I jumped on the phone with Neil LaBute to discuss the character in more detail and what his plans were for Scarlett. And I just really appreciated talking to Neil and what his vision was. He had such great things to say about the rest of the cast, and I just got excited about it. Also I got to be in Vancouver where my family is.
So, I said yes to it and then went right into an immediate fight scene the first day on set. [laughs] When you first were offered the role, were you told right away that Scarlett was Vanessa’s sister?
Yes. I’m pretty sure Neil had explained to me that that’s what it was. He must have, because it’s the biggest part of the storyline, that they’re sisters. You know, what does that mean for Van Helsing
? You know what I mean?
My concern was like, “Oh my God, am I going to be a vampire?” That was my biggest concern, because I was like, “I don’t know if I can take myself seriously and do that.” Kelly is amazing at being a vampire. There are so many people on the show that can really just go there, but I didn’t know if I could. [laughs]
Like I’m down to be the warrior, the fighter, the ninja; that stuff excites me so much, but I’m not used to doing these real character type things.
And he couldn’t promise me anything. [laughs]
I kind of knew a little bit about where it was going, but really that’s the thing with television, they can’t really guarantee you anything, because there are so many people who are creating it and working on it, and there are notes coming from different places, and ideas can change, and that’s all part of it. So, you kind of sign up with an idea of who your character is and backstory, but it still is always created on the go to a certain degree, and that’s the thrill and fear [laughs]
of signing on to a tv show. Being Vanessa’s sister, does Scarlett worry that she could be like her, part vampire, herself?
Scarlett definitely does not at this point. There’s nothing weird happening with her. She doesn’t have a kickstart of adrenaline. She’s never been bit, and she’s never bit anybody, so it’s just not even a question for her. But she knows Vanessa can turn vampires; do you think that she questions that she could at least be different, as they’re twins.
They are, but they really don’t understand what that means, and I think for Scarlett she’s just like, "This is so much information." She was raised by the Harkers; those were her parents. She was trained to do this. Her world was pretty simple in terms of knowing where she belonged and what she was called to do. She’s been trained to kill these vampires. There’s no question about that.
So, even just hearing the rumors about Vanessa, that she can turn vampires, there was something about her that kind of throws her whole game, just because of the morality of killing. Now it’s killing a person potentially; it’s not a vampire.
So, already it’s confusing her world. She doesn’t know what to think about this stuff. Like there’s things that come back to her memory, and she’s picturing these things, but that totally screws with her sense of belonging, but it still doesn’t really make sense and is a little bit hard to believe.
So, I think the rest of the season is really the journey of trying to understand the depth of what has happened with them, and is there something with her? And there are situations that happen [where] there’s this huge sense of curiosity and like belief and disbelief, with, “I just don’t know what Vanessa is; I don’t know if she’s an enemy or she’s not.” Like I said, I just kill vampires. If you’re turned, that’s it. So if she’s turned, she’s actually a threat, but now she’s my sister, I don’t even know where I come from anymore and what my story is, because I can barely remember it, because I was that young.
So, a lot of it’s just staggering, the amount of information she finds out in 2.06. And she doesn’t know what to think anymore. So, you just go from the most certain person really, to just being completely rocked. Also Vanessa doesn’t let her kill Axel (Jonathan Scarfe), which has to make her even more confused.
Yeah. What are you doing? Whose side are you on? What do you mean, “don’t kill the vampire”? And also it’s confusing to her that Axel doesn’t want to feed, and even his behavior and how he’s handling this is not like a regular vampire. So, you know, the whole group is confusing to her. [laughs]
She just doesn’t get it. Can you talk about your scenes with Axel?
She doesn’t understand why they’re letting a vampire trail with them; it just doesn’t make any sense to her and just seems like a complete threat.
But again, it’s like I’m the new one in this group, and I’ve also been working alone for the whole time. I haven’t had any partners that I’ve been traveling with and journeying with, so it’s kind of like a tricky line.
I would just say that there is a mentality that Axel and Scarlett share, and they are warriors, but are on the same page. They just work really well together. Speaking of being a warrior, can you talk about Scarlett’s look, her costume? She’s pretty much a badass ninja.
It was awesome. I had no idea it was going to be as cool as it was. When I had my fitting I got really excited about this character. I’ve never played anything that was like this before. I’ve never had to use weapons in this way with swords. So, it was intimidating and also really exciting.
The mask looked great, but it was so hard to see anything, or breathe under there, so we kind of made a decision to get rid of it after the first episode. I think it gets crushed or something happens to it, just because it was so difficult to fight in.
But, you know, I loved the outfit, other than the fact it was freezing - look, it never works the way [you want]. It doesn’t really matter what project you do; you’re never dressed appropriately. Like you just never have enough clothes, or you have too many clothes and it’s boiling out. So, this is something that I’m used to, but this one happened to be that it looked amazing, and I was freezing all the time. [laughs] Can you talk about filming the fight scene in 2.06 with Kelly?
Kelly’s a badass. She was pregnant when she was filming this stuff. Wow, I didn't know that.
So, we had to be obviously very careful about that, but she really showed up. She had to do the parts where obviously she had to show her face, but she did not hold back on the aggression, she did not hold back on any of her performance stuff in there.
So, obviously Holly [Raczynski], who was her stunt double, we would do the majority of the stuff, but then I had [my stunt double], so they would have to come together and do stuff.
I mean, when I showed up on set, the very first day that I was filming, this was the very first thing that I had to shoot, this fight scene. So, I really had no idea. Like I had to use swords - it was three hours of just like the next piece of choreography, the next piece, the next piece, and a lot of it was overwhelming.
And we had like so many different types of swords, and then we had the real ones all of a sudden that you have to use, because it looks amazing, but it’s freaking heavy, [laughs]
and I can’t do the same things I was doing before.
So, it is really is no different than any other fight scene where, you know, you have to be really careful. It’s so easy to hurt yourself or hurt another person. It’s fine in theory to be practicing and going through the moves, but the second your adrenaline starts going and you’re filming - I mean, I just was bruised the whole season. My knuckles were cut.
It’s just a part of it; you’re going to be hurt. Every fight scene, you’re going to get hurt, but ,I mean, for the most part, if there was anything that was too crazy, we just wouldn’t do it. And the whole point is for you to be as safe as possible.
So, there just were a lot of elements with the fighting, obviously just because Kelly was pregnant. And I’m not great [with the swords]. I was just learning how to do it. And I think it ended up cutting together really well, and it got a little bit easier obviously as I was going on and became more comfortable with the weapons and the training and doing all that stuff, but yeah, that was a really intense scene to shoot, actually, just because of the timing of everything. Going forward, will the two of you get some sister bonding time?
Yeah, we have a little bit of time together, and we're trying to discover what exactly even happened and why, and hopefully putting together what it is we’re supposed to be doing.
I think we’re having different experiences, but we’re also united in the fact that we are having somewhat of the same visions, so there’s something there that you can’t deny, that there’s some truth to this stuff. You can’t just write it off, and it’s just getting more and more powerful.
Obviously running into Dmitri (Paul Johansson) and him wanting what they have also validates that there’s something really serious going on.
So, I think we’re both kind of united again in the fact that we’re trying to save humanity. That ultimately is our goal, that we’re trying to get to the bottom of this, that hopefully we can change things back to the way that they were. But it is a little bit tricky; I don’t know that I really trust what and who Vanessa is, and weirdly I’m going to have this loyalty, because she’s my sister. So, you can’t just react and go, “Oh you know what, that was threatening to me,” or “I don’t really understand what you’re doing,” and then, “Who cares; I’ll just kill you and be on my way like I’ve been doing for the last 15 years.”
So, I think that that dynamic is something that’s explored. Can you describe Scarlett in three words?
I would say fierce. I think she’s funny, and I would say, I think she’s actually really tender.