THE CONCLUSION OF YESTERDAY’S INTERVIEW WITH STARS AMANDA TAPPING AND ROBIN DUNNE.
Now on to more Season Two intrigue as well as the tale of their long-running practical joke on producer Martin Wood.
It’s interesting that Magnus and Will do not have a romantic relationship as one finds on many other shows. I do sense that Will might have a relationship with Clara, the new Invisible Girl, and it also feels like Magnus and Druitt are heading towards some sort of reconciliation.
Amanda: There’s a definite change. He’s the ultimate for her. This relationship [between Magnus and Druitt] just defies description in so many ways.
Robin: He’s Mr. Big. Not that I watch Sex And The City.
Amanda: “He’s my Mr. Big.” You watch Sex And The City, don’t you?
Robin: No, I don’t!
Amanda: It’s awesome. Robin reveals so much every day.
So how can Jack the Ripper be Magnus’ ideal man?
Amanda: You know what it is? Before he was Jack the Ripper, he was Montague John Druitt. So the man that she fell in love with was not Jack the Ripper. He became Jack the Ripper as a result of the source blood. But the man that Helen fell in love with was this phenomenal, gentle, beautiful, intelligent and forward thinking man. It was an incredibly sexy relationship on so many levels, intellectually and physically, and emotionally they were just so well suited, and I think that there’s a part of her that still clings to that. He was that guy, right?
He was that guy.
Amanda: He was that guy, and dammit, could he be that guy again? So there’s always that. But Season Two starts off with everyone on really crazy quests. Not only to get Ashley back, but Druitt and Magnus are on their own journey, and Will’s off on his quest and has this burgeoning love with Clara. The season starts off with everyone exactly where they should be.
Is there anything you can tell us about the Season Two opener?
Amanda: The season starts on this incredibly intense vibration. In fact, the first three episodes just don’t let up, with everyone trying to figure out what happened to Ashley, trying to defeat the Cabal and get Ashley back. So the first three episodes are this intense roller coaster. After the first three episodes, the cast and crew were literally exhausted. It was so emotional and so physical.
Robin: Season One definitely ends on a cliffhanger, but Season Two begins on that same cliff but shot up a hundred stories. Things are falling apart around us, and everyone’s trying to keep it together. We were exhausted after the first three episodes, and a kind of panic set in because we knew Damian Kindler, Marty Wood and the writing team were going to come up with some crazy episodes for us to shoot. We knew it was going to be an exhausting process but a fulfilling one at the same time.
Amanda, you recently did a film called Dancing Trees. What was that like?
Amanda: That was a really cool departure for me to do something that was so not Sam Carter and not Helen Magnus, playing the mother of an autistic girl. The whole reason I took Dancing Trees was not just because it was a lovely film and a cool character but because of this cool director I wanted to work with since I first heard of her. When I got asked if I wanted to do this Anne Wheeler film, I just said yes without reading the script or knowing what the part was.
Was the experience everything you imagined it would be?
Amanda: It was. It was phenomenal. She was a phenomenal woman to work with. As a burgeoning director in this industry, I think there are ways that females directors are often treated on set, and she’s the perfect example of how I want to be as a director. She commands respect – she just knows what she’s doing and doesn’t push any boundaries. She walks on the set and knows exactly what she wants and does it with grace, humor, dignity and a great sense of fun, and everyone loves her.
Robin: Just on that subject, I know another director who is like that and who I had the very great opportunity to work with this season, and that is Amanda. She directed a episode this season, and it was just an amazing experience. All those things you described about Anne Wheeler can certainly be applied to you.
Amanda: Thank you very much.
You saved Will from being tortured for a couple of episodes, Robin.
Amanda: I think Robin will be on dry land for a few episodes.
Robin: I’m just banking goodwill here.
Amanda: He’s very wise, our Robin. [laughs]
Robin: Sanctuary is a political minefield.
Robin, I assume working on this series is refreshing for you because you’ve done a lot of movie sequels, like Species III and The Skulls II. Is it nice to go into something that you’re creating from scratch?
Robin: I have a phobia. I don’t like to own a new car. I like someone else to have owned it, just to make sure nothing happened to them. I would never buy a brand new house. I want to make sure that someone else lived there. So that’s how I approached my acting career. If someone else did the first movie, I would feel comfortable doing the second or third because nothing horrible happened to the other actors. So was this big a leap of faith for me to come aboard this show on the first season, and I had to go through some counseling. But I think I’ve managed to overcome that fear. But seriously, to be part of something that’s so grassroots like this, and where we came from – a little show that was on the Internet and now we‘re about to premiere Season Two – it really is a different experience.
On this show you have many characters who are immortal or live for a very long time. There’s a romanticism about immortality that’s been approached in many different films, although Highlander addressed it in a more serious vein. Amanda, what do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of Helen Magnus having lived 157 years?
Amanda: I think there’s a weight to it that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. There’s this incredible wealth of knowledge and this really fun history that we can tap into, and I love the fact that the writers are taking regular historical characters and turning them sideways. Taking Nikola Tesla and making him a vampire and things like that. But I think there’s a weight to it that I wasn’t expecting. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman playing a 157 year-old and that society isn’t good at validating women as they age — so 157 feels like a really crappy old age! There is an interesting weight to it that I think is a bit of a downer. And I think that helps me play Helen in a way because I think she’s not the lightest, most jovial of characters because she’s seen the shit. She’s seen the worst of the human condition. She’s certainly seen the best and has been fortunate enough to surround herself with genius. She’s known some of the greatest politicians and artists and writers and forward thinkers of our time. She certainly always had her finger on the pulse of the “in crowd,” so that’s a very cool part of her history, but she’s also seen a lot of crap, and I think that weighs heavily [on her]. And the fact that she’s seen people she’s loved so dearly grow old and die, I would think that would affect you after a while.
Robin: I also think making her 157 makes Magnus the ultimate MILF.
I wasn’t going to bring it up quite that way, but —
Amanda: [laughs] Robin did it for you.
Robin: I didn’t mean to take the interview to that place.
She certainly redefines Hollywood’s definition of a hot older woman. So what are some of the biggest pranks you have played on each other?
Robin: Do you have two hours? There are some bloopers that just could never, ever be shown.
Amanda: It might be because Robin has a hard time keeping his pants on.
I notice that he took them off pretty quickly at Clara ‘s request in the season finale.
Robin: Going back to the fact that the women [generally] aren’t taking their clothes off, somehow I feel like I have to take on that responsibility. Nobody wants to see that, but it’s like I have to pick up the gauntlet.
Amanda: It’s true. He keeps the women from having to get naked by doing it for us.
Robin: It doesn’t necessarily get the same reaction, but hey, I’m just taking one for the team.
Is there one good prank you can tell us about?
Robin: We’ve had people’s clothes go missing while they’re in costume, so they go back to their trailer and their clothes are missing.
Amanda: Robin likes to go to people’s trailers and decorate them with the magazines you find in the back shelf in the paper bags. Robin will find those, come into your trailer or even your office – and he usually gets the people that are most embarrassed by it and plaster their office with it.
Robin: So they come in and have pictures all over their office. I guess there have been pranks with people’s toilets and jars of Nutella.
Amanda: You can’t forget Holden MacPhillips.
Robin: Holden MacPhillips, yes. There was a man who kept emailing and phoning [producer] Martin Wood and sending flowers to the office and kept pitching him [ideas].
Amanda: This went on for one and a half to two years, didn’t it?
Robin: Two years, yeah. He kept sending all these gifts and all kinds of e-mails and pitching these ridiculous movie ideas to the point where when we went to Comic Con, Marty said, “I’m not going to stay in the hotel under my own name because this guy’s a wacko.” But it turned out to be…me.
Amanda: For a year-and-a-half, Martin was like, “I don’t know who this guy is.” It was “Holden MacPhillips Entertainment and Realty”. He would always spell people’s names wrong. The whole crew was in on it. Our network executives at Syfy knew about it. A lot of our distributors knew about it. It was this massive practical joke that everyone was in on. Holden MacPhillips would say things like, “I just had a meeting with Erik Estrada. Well, we met in line at Starbucks, but…” It was hilarious. It was the funniest thing I’d ever seen.
Robin: He pitched movie ideas like Gingko Balboa, which was another entry in the Rocky franchise where Rocky is on a distant planet in the future, and his brain has been put into the body of a fighting robot.
Amanda: The crew was in on it. That was our biggest, best practical joke.
That’s pretty ballsy considering Robin is the new guy. Some producers might not take very kindly to that kind of joke, especially if they didn’t have a sense of humor.
Robin: Yeah, a trap door opens, and in Season Three it’s no longer Magnus and Will, it’s Magnus and Bill.
Amanda: He gets disfigured in a horrible chemical accident, and we have to rebuild his face.
Robin: He’s like the guy out of Sling Blade – “Magnus, mmmm. I think we should go after these Abnormals, mmmm.”
What do you think your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
Amanda: With Robin, that he likes not to wear pants.
Robin: They know that. Please. My fans, both of them, know that. I don’t know. There’s some dancing coming up.
Amanda: Oh, yeah!
Are you going to have a musical episode?
Amanda: There’s a musical number in an episode. Robin kicks it! Man, he can dance. I can’t tell you much more about it, but it’s awesome. The entire crew got in on it. They were just transfixed. It was very cool.
And what about you?
Amanda: I do not dance. I don’t know. I’ve been at this for so long, and I’m one of those people who sort of says everything. I don’t think I have too many secrets, so I don’t think there’s a lot that the fans don’t already know. I don’t know, Robin, what do you think?
Robin: You’re a dark horse, let me tell ya.