INTERVIEWS: Wynonna Earp
I covered a phone press conference and spoke to Showrunner Emily Andras, stars Melanie Scrofano, Tim Rozon and Dominique Provost-Chalkley. Plus comic creator Beau Smith was in attendance as well.
I was wondering if you two could talk about kind of adapting the show from the comic book and kind of how that went, how you had to change it – things like that?
Beau Smith: Well, this marks 20 years that Wynonna Earp’s been a publication and when we knew that this was actually going to be a television series my decision was this is great, put me in with contact with as much stuff as possible and what I’ll do with the new series is make this a hybrid of the television series and what people traditionally have with the comic book series.
So, thank goodness, Emily and everybody has just been getting busters in making sure that you know I knew what was going on and it helped me quite a bit in beginning to tell, I continue to tell the origin of Wynonna Earp through Emily’s landscape because I always written they are 35-years-old to 40-years-old in the prime of her career.
So, now, this is the beginning of her career with black badge division and Emily and the group have just really set this up for me where I basically, yes, I, I bake the cake 20 years ago but now we’ve got new icing on it and it’s going to taste even better.
Emily Andras: Speaking of cake, I’m going to use that metaphor just right into the ground. I really feel like when IVW brought me this property, this graphic novel, it was as if people had cooked up something in the kitchen that was my perfect project. I just couldn’t believe my luck the second I opened the graphic novel, I mean, I have been privileged enough to write a lot of genre; always a strong hero protagonist and this had just such a duty in Wynonna Earp.
I mean, she was such a fun, take no prisoners, give no asks character. She was kind of a (mess), she was wild, she was crazy, she was sexy. And I just saw all the potential for a TV series in this character. I just thought, “My God.” First of all, there’s nothing so interesting about someone who has is a descendant of one of the greatest heroes of all time. You know when you have a last name like Earp; there are a certain expectations that are going to come with that.
From more so of that, immediately I started thinking, what if you weren’t such a great person? What if you were essentially one of the bad guys or bad girls in this case but you still have that last name, and you know I just saw a whole series where we could sort of see if we could take this character and make her a hero, make her live up to Wyatt Earp’s name.
On top of that, I just like can’t go wrong with the idea of a team of underdogs you know a motley crew of completely you know underfunded, under gunned and under saying you know teammates trying to fight big bad evil so, I could immediately start to see the landscape of this so, we gave Wynonna cool sisters.
One of whom is not around anymore at the event for the pilot. And we know we brought in her some kind of a mysterious boss Shamier Anderson and immediately start thinking about the original (bromance) so, I started cooking up how we could possibly bring in Doc Holliday.
So, I just have to say like Beau Smith is just lovely in comic for a reason. He’s just not only seen an incredible author, incredible imagination but he just such a gentleman and such a lovely collaborator so you know I say without guile, it has been such a pleasurable experience working together and being able to sort of take it from one medium and turn it into a television show. I mean, he’s been so generous, so supportive.
We really try to involve them with as much as we possibly could from daily to casting. He got to come and set and work a flamethrower. I don’t know if he brought his own flamethrower or no.
So, it really has been a joy. It feels like a family. I know people say that a lot but I feel like if one tenth of the sort of special bond and fun we all had working together on this translates on the screen, I know we’ll have a winner.
For the actors, you’ve got kind of a lot of action-fun stunt, kind of stuff going on in the first couple episodes we talked about, can you tell us kind of about that and how that went?
Melanie Scrofano: Yes. It was, it was intidimating, this is Melanie by the way. I got to do some training before we started with motorcycles and guns and also martial arts. And one thing I learned is that you fight differently in real life than you do on screen so that nobody gets hurt. And it turns out I’m not very good at that one.
So, I’m good at like fighting in real life, I’m great, I’m strong and badge you up. But, yes, on screen, definitely, it was intimidating because I just never wanted to hurt someone and there were a couple occasions where I did.
But having said that, I pinched myself every day because I got to go to work and like be a giant kid and just fight and live in this amazing imagination of Beau’s and Emily.
Tim Rozon: Yes. I think that one is very true, we got to play.
Tim Rozon: We got to play everyday. It’s like what Melanie was saying, we got to be kid, like everyday on set was like just being a little kid living a dream, playing, just playing, jumping through something, shooting something, it was awesome. It’s just like playtime everyday.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes. Absolutely. So, for me of ECM from the U.K. and I had never touched a gun in my life before setting foot on this set. I mean, it’s just something that we do not do. And then, like first day, I arrived in Calgary and they like, “So, you’ve got some shooting practice?” I was like, “What? This is crazy.”
Melanie Scrofano: You were amazing.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: I was amazing, wasn’t I?
Melanie Scrofano: Yes.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Now, even bizarre. It was like the way it is thing.
Melanie Scrofano: It was really impressing.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: I was like, “Oh, they can’t take the bulls eye like it was crazy.” But it was like I had to keep pinching myself when I was there because I was like, “God, I’m playing with guns, like this is crazy and I’m kind of enjoying it which is even more crazy.” And yes, the adrenaline was rushing through our bodies. I’ve got some videos which I’ll post eventually and now like freaking out after shooting our first gun.
So, yes, I mean like you get to go to work and run around shooting guns, and like Tim saying “play” you know we were, we were literally playing the whole time so, it was pretty awesome.
Tony Tellado: Hi, folks. I’ve seen the first two episodes and I’ve had a blast watching them. It’s a lot of fun.
For Emily, as far as the season, how much of it is planned out and Emily mentioned that Beau is involved, do you see every script or did you just get ideas on what you’re doing, that kind of thing?
Emily Andras: I think that the season was pretty planned out far as first season, you’ve got to show the network that you have a plan to be completely honest. I mean, my joke is always people say, “Oh, my gosh, how much work is the pilot script?” And I’m like, “Well, I actually have it, when you’re in development; you have like two years with the pilot script.” It’s the script (for two) that you’re terrified of because you think, “Oh, my God. This is it. We got to show this is actually a show like stuff is actually happening in every episode.”
And I really love episode two but it was certainly a lot of work. I mean, again we tried to show Beau absolutely as much as he wanted to see and you know he has as discussed putting out many series of comic books that are companion pieces. So, he and I were really in contact as far as just trying to be respectful like when does this character find out this about another character, when does this character reveal his big secret just so that we were really working in tandem that way.
But you know the truth about if you’re a good producer is, you do need to have a plan but part of things when you have a cast like this and this by far is the best cast I’ve ever worked with. They’re just so phenomenal. (Sue), yes, what, sorry what call is this? Just kidding.
No, I mean that. You know you got to be open-minded in the first season because you’ve really got to see people’s strength and weaknesses, like you may find out if someone’s like, “Oh, my God, the British girl is so good at hitting the target.” Who does that? Like we got to give her more guns or you know Doc Holliday is our last pride. He’s so funny. We got to give him more comedy.
So you know I think part of the joy is you need to have a plan so you can sleep at night when you’re doing a first season but you should be open-minded and if something better comes along, a better idea from anyone, you need to be collaborative and open to that kind of stuff so, we certainly were, we certainly were. Beau?
Tony Tellado: For the actors, how much preparation did you all have to play your roles, I mean, Melanie and Dominique are playing sisters and you know that kind of thing, how much time did you have to develop those relationships? And the three of you are kind of like, kind of really sensible what’s going on around there too so, kind of talk about that aspect of it?
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: It wasn’t hard was it Mel for us?
Melanie Scrofano: No. You and I got along right away.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes.
Melanie Scrofano: Yes. I mean, Dom, I can’t speak for you but for me I had to know a few weeks before to really sort of think about who Wynonna is and sort of what makes her tick. And then, with the relationship, I think we just got really lucky because, well, certainly Dom and I had chemistry right away. It was just like we had known each other forever.
And it sort of ignite what it was to have a sisters so, we jumped right into the idea of having to know that. And then, we’ll speak about Tim because he’s here but like he was just so, like so eager and ready to play Doc and he just came to set every day with such, an annoyingly positive attitude and he wanted to play and he never complained and we just really fell into the perfect group of people.
Shamier was just such a huge fan of Tim for sure so, it was just so sweet to see the like the camaraderie between them. I wish he was here to speak to that because I think that was really important too.
Tim Rozon: God, I used that a compliment from Melanie Scrofano. No one understands…
Melanie Scrofano: Don’t get used to it. Calm down, don’t get used to it. I know, we do.
Tim Rozon: And I love to people heard it which is pretty amazing. For me, I went from being really excited to getting part to just this year of, it’s an iconic character that a lot of people know and I wanted to do it justice you know. It’s been done well so many times before that I knew there’ll be a lot of people looking for the things I did wrong or you know I didn’t want to mess up other people’s visions or versions of the character. But at the same time, I wanted to make it on my own and not do anything that had been done before. And like I said, it goes back to playing, I just had a lot of fun playing and I think there was a lot of times I tried to bring a lot of fun to the character of Doc. And you know I wanted a real mustache, so… three to four months, I grew that mustache.
Melanie Scrofano: That was the main preparation for you, right?
Tim Rozon: So, mustache.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Well, for me, I think found out a little late more than everyone else so, it was very much like, “Hey, do you want to go Calgary tomorrow and play a TV series?”
And I was like, “Yes.” Not actually tomorrow but it was certainly quite a quick turnaround. But I think that, that actually helped me in the long run because it was just one of those things we have to just jump straight in.
And of course, I was nervous and you know felt like I hadn’t maybe done as much preparation the way really asked for. I would’ve liked to but actually, the minute I stepped foot in Calgary and read the first couple of episodes, I was like, this writing is so strong …And it makes it so clear that you just have to have the faith and the trust in that, he was so supportive. And you know I say it again and again that the crew and the whole team was such a little family that I just felt safe from the get go and I think that even, yes, from episode one we just all clicked and connected.So, yes, it kind of worked out perfectly really.
Tony Tellado: Yes. So, in the pilot-to-pilot it really clicked for me, it was great to watch and them
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Oh, thank you.
Tony Tellado: And the second episode…
Melanie Scrofano: I think also shout out to the crew for…
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes.
Melanie Scrofano: Also, becoming part of the family because…
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes, exactly.
Melanie Scrofano: They believed in us every, every day. They were just, they you know they would like to blow takes by laughing which is such a gift and they genuinely love each of us and our characters. And so…
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes.
Melanie Scrofano: To feel like we were so supported by the people who really don’t have to like us, they just have to come to work and do their jobs…
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes.
Melanie Scrofano: And they loved us and we loved them and I think that really helped us all really want to make something great.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Absolutely.
Emily Andras: Yes. They are really incredible crew. I should shout out Alberta. They worked on Fargo and a little movie I like to call The Revenant…
Emily Andras: So you know they had seen quality and I was like, this is, I would tease them, I would say like, yes, but this is it guys. This is it. [laughs]
Melanie Scrofano: And they’re such the unsung heroes, sorry.
Emily Andras: Absolutely.
Melanie Scrofano: Yes. And it’s like you know like we’re the face of the show but there’s so much more, they make us that, like we’re so good.
Emily Andras: And they were great. They would read the scripts and we like, “What the hell, Andrew, like what’s going to happen next?” And I’d be like, what do you think is going to happen next with the pen and paper. No, I wouldn’t do that. But, yes, we’re going to fall in love the show so, that was great.
Melanie Scrofano: Yes.
We talked a little bit about you know running a pilot, how sometimes so much extra time goes into that but episode two is just as strong with some great stuff… In there, I’m kind of curious how as a writer, you kind of balance not doing too much in the first episode because often time the show is really kind of fall off on that second episode but that’s not the case.
Emily Andras: Oh, that’s so nice to hear because honestly as a writer, it’s like episode two is just the one makes your blood run ice cold. So, I’m really proud of the second episode, I mean, I think the difference in the second episode, I feel like a comedy starts to pop and the cast just arrived so fully formed and we get to start to like, put these characters and situations with each other, right? We get to see Doc Holliday and Wynonna meet and Doc meets Wynonna’s little sister, And you know Dallas and Wynonna are trying to work together and they’re so different.
So, it just like you know in some ways the second episode is really hard because you want to keep people’s interest but I do feel like the handcuffs come off as well and you’re like, OK, now, we really can start playing, you know.
There’s a lot of mythology to set up in the pilot and I’m very proud on how we did it. But I do feel like at second episode as far as tone, feels very much what I hope we’re putting on screen which is like an insane crazy ride; and then, some incredible emotional payoffs.
So, yes, it’s terrifying but you know once you start to crack the second episode, I really felt like in our writer’s room, we had a great set of writers. I felt like, all I do want to know what happens next. And then, I want to know what happens next so, I really appreciate you saying that. Thank you. Episode three is even better. I’m not even just saying that, it really is, so.
Melanie, maybe you could talk a little bit about how you know shows like this where we talked about a strong female lead oftentimes these characters seem to be almost perfect on pedestals. But you’ve really grounded Wynonna and maybe you could talk a little bit about her.
Melanie Scrofano: Thank you. Yes. It’s just that, I look in real life at the real-life super hero women that we all know and love, like I’ll talk about my mom, don’t tell her, because it will make her cry. But, she is the strongest woman you’ll ever meet in your life.
She will end your life if you try to mess with her children. She is a ferocious leader. She was the boss where she works. But she will cry at the drop of the hat. She probably watched the Rosen brothers on The Voice and sobbed. She cries at figure skating. She’s so vulnerable and funny and tells inappropriate jokes even though she’s supposed to be the parent…like, and she’s a real woman. And she’s not perfect but perfect in her imperfection. And that’s I think what Wynonna is and hopefully she makes everybody know, you know what, I’m not perfect, I screwed up but I’m just going to keep forging ahead in trying to be better and make things right.
And I’m probably going to fall on my face a few times along the way and so be it. And I don’t know now, that’s what I love about her. Did I just answer a question or completely go on a (tangent)?
Emily Andras: You answered it perfectly.
That’s the part I think, that folks are going to find the attraction to Wynonna is how real she is and down-to-earth, that’s what you’re talking about really.
Emily Andras: I think Melanie is real and down-to-earth too. And so beautiful and all that stuff. But I feel like Mel won this role not only because of her incredible range and just like extraordinary audition but she put so much of herself in Wynonna and sets a funny, charming, real woman that, it just felt like she came fully formed. And it was just so fun to go back and forth and kind of see what Mel in the character and see the character in Mel. So, she herself is like that so, if you loved Wynonna, you’ll love Mel.
Melanie Scrofano: But also, like for you too, that was on the page, I was able to bring that because you allowed it to be a thing for the character. So, I don’t know, it’s just such a great meshing, it’s just sort of a perfect storm of people coming together to allow this character to be who she is.
Tony Tellado: One of the things I love about the show is it has like a Western flavor to it and I don’t know if you’re all conscious of it, is that something you all work on when you’re working or it’s there in the script but it has a modern take but it has a Western flavor too.
Emily Andras: So, I’ll just yes. I think that was conscious. We were very, very conscious from kind of the producer’s standpoint. But I really want to emphasize this, it is like a modern western…like we always say Wynonna would never ride a horse, she hate horses and they hate her. She would ride the Harley like a bat out of hell.
And you know that is true of modern-day Alberta which is like Canada’s Montana. It is like a world of contradiction. It isn’t sort of people wearing cowboy hat and you know riding tractors to work. It’s like big oil and a huge earth community and probably one of the most progressive cities…… in Canada.… so, anyway, we were conscious about the spirit a Western, I would like from the credit point of view, not only all the best is so incredible and the landscape is so amazing.
But the biggest thing I think that was an influence or our tone with the idea of Shades of Gray which you see and like a justified which is a huge influence on the you know like, Wynonna is really fighting people, some of them really hate her and some of them really know her and again, she’s not a good guy necessarily.
So, she you know over the course of the series, we really say with those Shades of Gray like even Doc Holliday when you hear the name Doc Holliday you may have expectations about what it’s like and we try to kind of birth those expectations. I don’t think anyone is all good and all evil so, that more than anything really kind of excited me as far as the Western side. OK. Someone else go.
Tim Rozon: Gone in my cowboy hat. Yes.
Emily Andras: That is your cowboy hat. And you’re being eating habits. Exactly.
Melanie Scrofano: And I just like how such a modern take on, on what a Western can be and we weren’t trying to like imitate anything, it was just all sort of, this is what it’s like now in this world…
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes.
Melanie Scrofano: And so, it felt fresh.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Yes. It’s nice watching it back as well and seeing the, there are, there are you know modern, modern…like a, it’s like this, like you say, there’s a flavor of it. They’re like…
Tim Rozon: Yes.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Instead of, instead of (haggering) to get a horse from (Jody), do you think it’s going to be a horse and then, she comes you know riding out…
Tim Rozon: Yes.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: And it’s amazing in those fights. And all of those little hints that they put in is so, so clever and even though I think as the actors, we didn’t necessarily play that, it comes out very beautifully.
Tony Tellado: You know definitely that was great. And, would be seeing any, we saw some flashbacks all ready, will there be more at the season progresses?
Tim Rozon: Spoiler alert.
Melanie Scrofano: Spoiler.
Emily Andras: Maybe. Maybe. Yes. No. Go ahead, yes. I mean, it’s such a rich history, right?
Tony Tellado: Yes.
Emily Andras: Like the Legends of the Old West and the Legends of Wide Earp and there’s a lot of people with the name as name (Mrs. Balcolv). And so, yes, what do you got? You get them the money where we’ll go to, we’ll got to Arizona and do… next year. We’ll do the OK crown, so, yes. There’s…… and that kind of just the position and seeing how the past and of course, our influence the future. Yes, there’s some more coming up.
Tony Tellado: Well, that sounds great. And Tim, if you want to say, “I’m your Huckleberry which is the, with the real Doc Holliday said,” you can certainly use that.
Tim Rozon: I’m your Huckleberry.
Tony Tellado: Yes. You said that.
Melanie Scrofano: Oh, there he is.
Emily Andras: Although, I always say on our show, if we have something called the Huckleberry, it’s going to have tentacles and suck your face off, so. Just braise yourself for that. You don’t want to meet our Huckleberry….
Tony Tellado: Probably, not.
Emily Andras: Too early for that, so.
Tony Tellado: Thank you, all. It’s been a pleasure.
Melanie Scrofano: Thank you.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley: Thank you.
Tim Rozon: See you.
Special Thanks To The SyFy Channel