By Prutha S. Patel (@PSPatel)
Kelly Overton talks about her starring role, Vanessa Helsing, on Syfy's Van Helsing, the types of vampires featured on the show, her character's special abilities, the fight sequences and much much more!
Firstly, congratulations on the show and the role! That’s gotta be a really great feeling.
Thank you! It is, yeah. It’s been a good time!
What were you most excited about when you found out you had landed the role?
I love Canada, so I was stoked to be in Vancouver! Gosh, so many things. I was excited about carrying a show for the first time. I was excited about the journey that my character goes on. Being able to play a woman who goes into a coma for three years and when she wakes up there’s the apocalypse, she discovers that she has supernatural abilities and that she’s a mother. All of those things connected with me. The fight scenes too! It was also that I was going to get to use my imagination like I did when I was a kid and do crazy fun fight scenes. It just seemed like this great opportunity to play this character. Adding in Neil LaBute as the creator and the showrunner, I come from a theatrical background as well so it seemed like a great opportunity. In fact, when Neil was on Broadway doing The Shape of Things, I was on Broadway doing The Graduate. So I’ve known about Neil and have been a fan of his work for a long time. I thought the combination of the genre and also the level of talent that was involved, was just really intriguing to me.
You actually started to answer my next question! For those who aren’t aware of the show yet, can you tell us a bit more about Van Helsing, you mentioned a bit about your character, and so maybe what people should expect from the show?
People have been saying it’s very much like The Walking Dead. It’s got a lot of The Walking Dead feel. There are so many layers of vampires. People won’t be tuning into a vampire show that’s been done before, they’re gonna see new vampires. They’ll see lots of different varieties of vampires, which I think is really cool. It’s a post-apocalyptic world where you have the heroine, the leading lady who discovers that she has these special abilities, and the vampires want her for their reasons while the humans want her for their reasons. Is she a savior or a destroyer? This kind of journey of her acceptance or rejection of the powers she’s been given in a world where you have just so many wonderful, colorful characters along in that journey with her. You’re not short of talent or complexity and relationship drama, sprinkled with one form of levity. So you’re going to be watching an edgy drama, but with moments of humor. Just so people understand the tone of it, it’s not comedy. There are crazy awesome fight sequences and you really just get to see the vampires in their own world, and also how everybody is dealing with the survival that the times have brought upon.
Is this the type of show that’s going to have people go back to fearing vampires instead of maybe wanting one to casually kick an apple back up to his hands before it hits the ground?
[Laughs] Yes. Definitely. There are the gorgeous vampires as well. We have so many different kinds, but they are definitely to be feared. On the show, it’s the vampires and humans who aren’t coexisting peacefully by any means.
Are the vampires on Van Helsing a bit like the ones in Underworld where there’s a whole hierarchical structure of the eldest being the most powerful, and the ones who are maybe two days old don’t really get any respect?
Yeah, totally. There’s definitely that going on.
You mentioned The Walking Dead as a show that might have fans who could be into Van Helsing. Can you think of maybe any other particular show or perhaps genre fan group you think will really love the show and should give it a chance?
I will say that this is a part of the show that I think is really unique, and one of the things that I love about the show as well. Maybe it will appeal more to the cerebral, psychological thriller fans out there. What we delve into, which has never been done before, is: What is it like to have been human turned vampire, existed as a vampire, and then gone back to being human? The show really in a real, grounded way, explores psychologically what it could be like for somebody, which I thought is a new, cool look on the vampires. And having Neil LaBute write that, he’s the perfect person to write that dark, disturbed interrelationship and the psychology behind it.
You also mentioned abilities and fighting sequences. What was the most fun part about that for you?
All of it! I love it all. I’ve always been athletic so to me it’s exhilarating and so much fun. But I think the best are the lessons from it too. It’s not like my character, Vanessa, naturally knows how to use and is an expert at every weapon. It’s not like that. She doesn’t have that gift just so people are aware. When we first meet Vanessa, we obviously know she’s Van Helsing but she doesn’t start off with that particular gift. She isn’t awakened and instantly the fully-realized, impenetrable, all powerful, vampire killing machine. We’ve started off where we’re playing the long game in the journey and when we first meet her, she’s an ordinary woman who is put on a journey of self-discovery and history. That’s something that I really loved about the show. We didn’t want people to think there’s no reason in investing. We didn’t want people to think, “We’re not worried about her, she’s good she’s got this. Vampires aren’t a big deal.” We wanted the stakes to be high and people to be emotionally invested.
That’d be too easy! Over the course of the season, will we see her triggering new abilities?
When she wakes up she quickly realizes that she can heal and that her bites can heal. I think there are some surprises in store. As the season progresses, and if there are more seasons to come, there will be more. There will be a realization of who she is and when going more into the backstory, why she is the way she is. I think from that there’s going to be all kinds of stuff in the future.
That’s gotta be fun!
Right? Hopefully! I want it to!
I mean, it’s a character in a fictional world. Hopefully. Maybe, I dunno, I can’t speak for a thousand years from now or anything. But, it’s a character in a fictional world, that’s gotta be a lot of fun. It’s exciting to hear that you’re excited!
It is! Yes! It’s a blast. And the cast is so great, we all get along really well. We’re really lucky in that regard.
What has it been like working with this particular cast and crew?
They’re amazing! They’re all up in Canada and I hope that I can get back up there. Everybody for the most part comes from a really strong theater background, so you have a bunch of actors who know what they’re doing. There’s just a lot of experienced actors at their craft, starting from the showrunner and working its way down is just cool. We all kind of speak the same language.
Did you do any research for the role or training for the fight sequences?
I worked with a stunt coordinator and unfortunately, because the show was a fast moving train, we didn’t have as much time as one would like to prepare and rehearse before we shot. What I did for this role in particular as far as research goes, I just tried to find what her strengths were and how she physically moved. I felt that she was more of a street fighter, a brawler. Someone who fights tough and dirty, someone throws a lot of elbows. I boxed, so that’s one thing I stepped up a notch in training was boxing. I started lifting to up my muscle mass and did some more body building stuff to up my strength.
Since all thirteen episodes are filmed, I’m curious to know what you’re most excited to have people see over the course of the season.
The look of the show. I’m really excited for people to see Brendan Uegama’s work, he created a really cool looking show. The three words would be…
I know, it’s tough!
It’s too hard. It’s too hard. Maybe next time.
Sounds like a plan. Season two! And lastly, anything else you’d like to say to the readers and viewers?
Thank you for watching. Thanks for tuning in and we’re all working really hard to bring some innovative, edgy, epic content to them. You know…just get ready for a really bloody season.