Interview with Jonathan Scarfe of "Van Helsing" on Syfy - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Jonathan Scarfe 

Interview with Jonathan Scarfe of "Van Helsing" on Syfy 9/30/16

I really love the show, so I was glad to have this opportunity to speak with the star!

Here's a recording of our interview. Below is the transcript by Gisele.

1. Please tell us how the part came about and how you were cast in the role.

I'd worked with Chad Oakes before on "Hell on Wheels." He gave me a call. I was down in LA. I was looking for other work. He said, "Hey, man. I've got a part. I think you're perfect for it, but we're casting like right now, and I've got other people. We're in a room together. Can you fly back up, come and meet us, and talk about it?" I took a look at the material, and, basically, reminded myself that he said the words "Neil LaBute," and I said, "Hell, yeah. I'll hop on a plane. Yeah." So, I went up there and did it. It was really quick and easy like that, you know. Chad was ??, and Neil thought, "Yes, sir, that's the guy," and that was that.

2. Do you do any of your own stunts?

I do some of my own stunts, but I don't like to ?? any of that, because honestly 99% of the time, actors that say they do their own stunts are lying. I do as much as I can. I do everything that is reasonable, but there's an amazing stunt coordinator and an amazing stunt guy that covers me and makes me look good. It would be insane for -- I have an incredible stunt double, and I feel like I gotta give them a huge shout out. They do amazing work.

3. Had you handled weapons before or did you have to learn how to use them?

I've done a bunch of westerns in the past and have done a bunch of gunplay and stuff like that, but I've never been a Marine, I've never had to take care of a weapon, and there's always different sort of fighting style, depending on what kind of stunt coordinator you have working with you, so there were things about it that were new, but I had some idea of how to handle guns and all that stuff. I'd done that before.

4. Did you have to do anything extra to beef up for the role or get more muscular?

[Laughs] No donuts! It was just no fun. It sucked! There's no pizza. There was no beer. There was no donuts for like two months. I'm a pretty big guy, and I work out a lot, but to try and get ready for that shower scene, it was just all about what to eat. Can't have anything fun for a long time!

5. Will there be some more romance between Axel and Vanessa?

I don't want to spoil anything, but no. I think what we do start to see deeper into the season is this deepening of trust between the two, and with that trust, maybe some intimacy. No sexy guitar reps. We don't get there yet. [Laughs]

6. Have all of the episodes for the first season been filmed, or are you still filming them?

We're finished with season one. I think we've delivered 13 episodes, so we're just sitting around waiting to see if enough people like it to order up a Season 2. My sister is like 10 years younger than me and has been begging me for ages to watch "The Walking Dead." I remember when the pilot came out. I think I read for Shane. And I gave it a crack a couple of times, and I just couldn't get into it. It just didn't get me. And she was like, "No, no, no, no. You have to ignore Season 1. Season 1 is garbage. The rest is amazing. You have to get past those first six episodes. I was like, "All right, fine." So like the third attempt, we got past the first six episodes, and then I actually got into it. And then, I gotta say, it really did hook us. So, we're kind of lost right now. We're waiting to see what the heck is going on. Who got smacked in the head by Negan, and all that stuff. But my favorite little ?? was basically "The Walking Dead," but the walkers should run. You know? They're superfast.

7. Where was it filmed?

Mostly downtown Vancouver for the first half of the season, then we're out in a suburb. There's a really nifty weird compound that used to be a mental health facility. It's kind of a sprawling complex, but the facility [Riverview Hospital] has been shut down for years, but it's an amazing site to go and film, because there's interiors and exteriors, and it encompasses something like 40 acres, so we ended up moving out there [in Coquitlam] halfway through the season.

8. Had you worked with any of the cast or crew of the show previously?

Yeah, so Christopher Heyerdahl and I had worked on "Hell on Wheels" and I was just a gargantuan fan of his, because I think he is one of the most talented actors living, and he's phenomenal on this show as well. Other people I've known. I met David Cubitt when I was 14, 'cause he was doing a series with my mom. There's a Canadian series set in Toronto years ago called "E.N.G." that my mom [Sara Botsford] was a female lead on. And in its final year, Cubitt came on as a new male hunk. I wasn't even 14. I think I might have been 12. Yeah, so we were joking about that last time. I was like, "I met you when I was a child, David." He was really happy to hear that. That was great!

9. Why does Axel stay guarding the doctor and Vanessa for all those years?

Because he has no better idea. You know, honestly, and he thinks he was given the mission for a reason. He's doing his duty. And I think it's one of those things where once you get locked in that situation, you have kind of two choices. You can either say, "Oh, fuck it," and leave or you can stay. And if you stay, the only way you can stay and stay sane is by convincing yourself that what you're doing is as important as you think it is. It's a challenge to try and leave. That would be a risk, but if you're gonna convince yourself that -- Can you imagine two and a half years of going through somebody's daily routine and no one is there and nothing is happening, and you've got to keep yourself motivated to like believe that this is worthwhile? This is a determined OCD motherfucker. When I heard about this story outline, I thought, "Well, this guy's obviously just crackers," but then I thought, "Well, he's also been on a ??, so he probably can't be totally crackers," but, by all rights, he should be bonkers.

10. Did they give you much backstory to the character before you started shooting?

They did not, and they sort of left that purposely ambiguous because there were still very ?? writers around me. They were starting with so much, in terms of what they were going to do to build this world and what the rules were, the parameters were in terms of vampires and all of that stuff that I think they wanted to give themselves some wiggle room when it came to some of these other characters and how they were going to put them together. I mean, we had a couple of discussions about whether or not my ?? or not and, because I'd worked with some of these other guys, I thought, "You guys know I can do kind of like a Southern dude, and that would be all right, but I'd rather not with him. I'd rather let him be kind of working class New England, you know? Like kind of a Jersey boy, kind of guy, and they seemed fine with that. But other than that, we didn't get deeper into that.

11. Are there any guest stars this season that you can tell us about?

There's a lot of people that come through the show. I'm trying to think if I can talk about this. It's not really spoilery. Ahh, no one particularly significant that I can talk about. Sorry!

12. Do we find out this season why Vanessa's blood turns vampires human or what happened to her daughter?

We definitely reconnect with the daughter story. What's happening with Vanessa's blood, I think, by the end of the season, we develop that a little bit, but it's still an ongoing mystery. Dmitri and Rebecca get their hands on a sample of their blood, and start to put together an idea of what they think they could do with it, but they don't get to the conclusion. But we definitely do reconnect with the daughter story, for sure. I mean, that's got to be the most important thing for Vanessa, and I think that was one of the biggest things -- It was a challenge for the writers to try and figure out a way to establish a vampire show, how do we get into this world, and set it up in such a way that -- I think the most important thing is that the character of Vanessa and her daughter's relationship was so key to set that up early, 'cause that's the only thing you have to care about, right? If you don't care about them, there's no show. If you're not onboard for the "this lady just woke up and her daughter's gone, and oh, my God, can you imagine?" If you're not there and you're not in for that ride, then we're screwed, right? So -- You know, I never talk about having that scene be an early draft of the pilot. That scene was upfront. That was the first thing we saw, and I was a fan of that version, but... but either way, in Episode 2, if you haven't managed to get the audience invested in that dynamic, in her plight of how unbearable that need is for her to get out of that hospital and go find her daughter. If there's any chance of her being alive, she's got to try, right? I hope the people dug that version, because I think that's super credible, that everyone cares that she needed to go find her.

13. What have you enjoyed most about filming the show?

Well, you know, it was a real privilege to get to work with Neil LaBute, because I've been a fan of his for years, and I have a huge amount of respect for him, for his work, and the idea that he was going to be the guy guiding this story; and, of course, it's sci-fi and we have vampires and blood and gore and all that stuff, but, at the end of the day, it's about the people and what their relationships are like in the midst of all of this kind of chaos. And Neil LaBute was the guy who was going to be sort of figuring out the ins and outs and the intricacies and dynamics between these people. I was like, "Oh, man. This is cool. This is really fun." I mean, that was my favorite part, just kind of like going along with Neil on that ride and just watching his creative process and getting to be a part of it.

14. What has been the most challenging aspect of filming?

I'm too old for this shit, you know? [Laughs] Getting bashed against walls. What the hell? I'm 40. My kids are teenagers. [Laughs] No, I mean, that was actually fun. That wasn't really a down. That was awesome. I love doing all that stuff. There's no challenge. It's fun! It's a good gig! Doing a TV show is a good gig. Anybody that tells you it was a big hardship is kind of an asshole. I mean, for real. I've sailed around the world with my kids, and we've been in some hard situations, and we've certainly come across some people that are in incredibly difficult situations, and we come back from that experience, and you look at your life as like my day gig is going out and making a TV show? There's no way I could possibly tell you anything was difficult or a hardship. Yeah, long hours, getting bashed against a wall, it's no biggie! It's all good!

15. Anything else you'd like to tell fans of the show?

Hang in there, man. I think if you've got some questions or feeling a little bit like maybe we haven't given you enough yet, hang in there 'cause we will. All things will become clear.

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