Q & A: Emily Rose and Colin Ferguson Talk ‘Haven’, Acting and Chemistry

Colin on Acting: "If you can't listen and respond, you're sort of done"

emily-rose-colin-ferguson-havenThe SyFy Channel’s Haven is off to a great start for its 4th season and stars Emily Rose and Colin Ferguson said in a recent conference call that we haven’t even begun to see the craziness.

The interview is a tad long but if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll love it. Even if you’re not, they delve into questions about their careers, acting, working in sci-fi and tons more.

Haven airs Fridays at 10:00 p.m. on Syfy.

What’s been your favorite scene the two of you have filmed together? What’s been the most fun?

Emily Rose: Oh, that’s a tough question.

Colin Ferguson: Well, for sure, without revealing, yes, we did a scene – I really enjoyed a scene that we did, it took place in a hospital, I can say that. And I think that was a fun one for me because I really thought that they were going to write him with a lot more humor, you know, and he – when he was being nice or not nice, it was funny both ways. And I really appreciate that they went that way with him because I so enjoyed doing that sort of stuff. So that was a great eye-opener for me, I enjoyed it.

Emily Rose: Yes. You know, it’s been really fun, like, you know, Colin and I started hanging out at these Syfy, you know, media tour deals and, you know, just sort of like you do with your friends when you hang out — we weren’t friends before that but, you know, had a friendship develop over all those, you know, many times of doing interviews together — but just sort of blast about, hey, it will be so fun to have you on Haven, it’d be so cool if we got to do something together.

And so now looking back with you asking that question, there are so many scenes I feel like we had this opportunity to do, you know, some really fun work. And what’s cool about Colin and I’s scenes, I feel like that we get – the treat we get of doctors is there really is really good, you know, scene work. There’s some great scene work.

And I think for me, you know, it is that trick of not wanting to give it away, there is a scene that takes place where I am in a prison cell, that’s what I want to say, but I think that was a really fun scene to play, because tables were turned and it was really, really enjoyable, the listening that happened and just the scene itself that played out. And I also just really like those early bar scenes in episodes one through four because it’s so early on on the journey and they’re both sort of kind of naïve, or at least you hope they are, to really what’s happening. So those are always fun to play.

Colin Ferguson: And we’ve had a running joke where I would sort of go in before I’m about to do something and I would go, so in this take I’m going to do this and this and this. And Emily was saying like, she would always turn to me and go, you don’t have to tell me ahead of time. I am listening. You (unintelligible).

Emily Rose: Yes. I’m going to choose to listen and be present, Colin, that’s what I’m going to do.

What do you like best about your characters?

Colin Ferguson: What I like most is what they’ve – that they’ve given me so much to play. You know, when you come in to be – to service, you know, a show the way that had been brought in, the fear is that you’re going to be the plot hammer. You’re just going to come in and like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and everybody else with just cool reaction.

But they’ve actually written this great role that has so much subtexts because you’re not really sure what he’s doing from time to time, and that was a huge gift for me. So I think probably that’s what I’m most grateful for and what I like the most, that he does that with humor. And yes, I would say that three times in a row if I could, but that’s where I’m at.

Emily Rose: Yes. I think for me, as far — I just choked a little bit there — I think for me, Audrey is such a fun character to play in general because she gets to be all these different people. And so with Lexie, I feel like one of the fun things for me to play with her was like all of the external things that she was — her hair, her rings, her nose ring, the dark sort of edgier kind of point of view, and just the humor.

I mean Audrey is so serious all the time because she has to be. And so playing Lexie was like a breath of fresh air because she didn’t take anything seriously. She’s like there to have a good time, party a bit. And if she gets freaked out, kind of cool and crazy. But she’s mainly there like razzing everybody and, you know, just kind of a party girl.

So that was like, you know, just the most, I don’t know, the detail and just the thing that always caught me off-guard when I was getting to film was I was like, I get to say that line in a completely different way and it’s hilarious. That’s really fun. So that was part I enjoyed the most with Lexie.

These new characters, is it a challenge for each of you to step into roles that have to be so different from what you played before, or is that just super-easy for each of you?

Emily Rose: No, it was really fun for me. But I think having kind of just had my son, having the baby and then coming straight into like four days of straight shooting in order to kind of catch up with everybody else, there was a little piece in me that was like, is this Audrey or is this Lexie? And I constantly was kind of talking with Colin and just saying like, oh, I kind of maybe want to take that, take it again, it feels a little more Audrey than it was Lexie, I need to make sure that this character is coming through. You know, that’s always your fear, is that maybe one will bleed into the other.

But in my case it’s okay if they do kind of bleed into each other I think, but still you want to make a clear distinction. But no, to me, the externals, the things like my costume and what I’m wearing really help me get caught from one person to the next.

Colin Ferguson: Yes. And I would say the first day is always the worst. I mean, prior to coming in, you have all these ideas about what the character is and how you’re going to play it and all that stuff, but you don’t know if anyone else is going to approve or if it’s going to work. And you don’t really know until you start bouncing off the other person and seeing if any of it lands or if, you know, the writers and the execs and the other actors had a completely different take on the scene.

So prior to that first day, you’re pretty nervous playing someone new, you know, because there’s all this concept discussion. The concept doesn’t really mean anything at the end of the day, it comes down to execution and what that means to everybody involved. So yes, that first day is always nerve-wracking.

But after that, I mean it’s a breath of fresh air because you get to, you know, the good news about playing someone for a bunch of different years is that you learn them so well and it’s such familiar clothing to step into. The downside is that it’s hard to make it fresh.

The good side about getting someone new is that it’s completely fresh, so you’re energized right out of the gate. The scary bit is your bag of tricks is way smaller, so you’re just slowly growing it as the character grows, and that’s a fun, fun exploration. So in a sense Emily and I were doing it together, you know, in the first couple of scenes.


Colin, with these new characters of Lexie and William, how much did you know when you were getting started playing these characters?

Colin Ferguson: Well, the funny thing about that is you’re told things but, you know, whether they’re true or not is the hard bit, because the writers don’t know. You know, they’re writing episode 401 and they say, yes, we think it’s going to do this direction, we’re fairly certain it’s going to go like that. But until they actually write it, it could go another way. And a lot of times, you know, they’re watching. So they see the chemistries, their interaction, where do want to go with it? So you try – or at least I try to prep based upon what they say, but you have to sort of keep the trap door open just in case it’s snakes right or left without you, you know, suddenly.

Emily Rose: Yes, definitely. And I feel like, you know, it is constantly my desire to want to know and to get as much information as I can so I can make, you know, informed choices as an actor. But in some regards, you know, with this particular character of Audrey Parker that I’m playing, the not-knowing is just as relevant. And so I do push at times when there are things that I do need the answers to, I feel. But then there are other times when I realize, you know, you just need to use this, Emily. Use the mystery, use the unknowing, use the, you know, no one knows where a relationship will end up when it starts unless they’re looking back on it in some regard. So from my point of view, you know, it’s constantly trying to open up whatever there is to discover and trying to find out, you know, what there is to know.

And like I tease Colin about trying to be present and to listen and to see what kind of comes from that. But, you know, of course I say that and in other sense of the word, I’m there, you know, as I’m about ready to have my son waiting to have the baby and going, I need to prepare for this character as much as I can. Give me all the information I can. You know?

And so in some ways, that’s beneficial, and in other ways you just kind of have to trust that you’ve done your homework and then forget about it and do the best you can on the day, so.

Colin Ferguson: And I have to say, with this, they — and I think I can say this — there’s something coming that’s pretty big that they did need to sit me down in L.A. and tell me all about before it all started. And that was true. That proved to be true. What they told me in the beginning was what they did ultimately.

So in this particular situation, it was good to sort of follow what they said and believe. So I guess the answer is, yes, they sat me down, and said, this is where this character is going and this is his history. It’s something.

Colin, was anything about William that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you added to this role?

Colin Ferguson: I’d like to think there was something I added to the role. It’d be awfully sad if there was nothing I added to the role. Yes. I mean I think that that’s a funny – it’s a funny line, that you definitely try to shove as much in that box as you can so that it’s a very, you know, rich character. But having said that, they did right – they definitely wrote to my strengths. And either it was just a happy coincidence or, you know, they actually watched what I was doing and knew who I was and wrote to that. So I – it’s a chicken and egg. I don’t know what came first, but it came together really, really well.

As actors, when you get handed these roles, it’s almost like sketches, they’re not quite developed new characters. Do you have to kind of create your own backstory or do you have to kind of play it in the middle because you’re afraid you might not go in the right direction? And how do you tackle something like that?

Colin Ferguson: I think it all depends on how much clout you have, to be honest. That’s my honest answer. It’s, you know, when I started out and I would get a role, I would go in and do it as good as I could. And if they told me to make up a severe change, I would say yes, and I would do it.

At this point it’s so much nicer because I can go in and they say, hey, this is the character and this is the first script. And I’ll say, okay, this is really cool, I really like this. I’m going to lean in to this kind of stuff because I really like that and I hope you guys like what I do with it. And if they do, then it spirals up and just gets really good. And of course they can just ignore me and do what they want.

But I mean that’s how I try to affect change, sort of look at the good in the script that they write and say, yes, I want to lean in to that stuff. And maybe if they’re listening, the character will go that way.

Emily Rose: Yes. I think, you know, I definitely agree with Colin in that it’s kind of like at the beginning you are very much taking your directions from the creatives that are creating this character. But what’s really great is that as, you know, you go on, the character really does become your own. And as you kind of start the conversations with everybody and say, you know, you head in a direction, if they sort of trust you with it, and if you are headed in the wrong direction, then you’ll end up hearing about it.

But I think as the show develops and especially having been in season four, I feel like I have a — I don’t know if I have clout — but I definitely feel like I have a voice in the conversation or if there’s something that needs to be said in terms of, well, Audrey would make this choice, wouldn’t make this choice, things like that. I feel like I definitely have the ear of some people to say, let’s look at this and let’s talk about this before this happens, you know. I’m not sure if that answers your question, but.

Early this season, there was a scene between the two of you that was almost like something romantically was going on there, then it kind of turned – and it became like, oh wait a minute, it got like a little strange because you brought up her past and all that. That must have been blast to kind of play ping pong that way and have a great time doing it.

Colin Ferguson: Yes. That was really – and the funny thing was, you know, you talked about what we were just talking about, and that had been so discussed ahead of time. So you have this meeting where it was like, yes, this is what we want from this scene. We want there to be, you know, some chemistry and people thinking, oh maybe it’s a hookup kind of thing, and then it’s going to go another way. And then as an actors – as actors, you know, we, Emily and I are sort of like, okay, well, how do we do that, you know? So we’d sort of monkey around and find some stuff. So it’s really gratifying to hear that, you know, what we tried to do came across. That’s nice.

Emily Rose: And I mean, it doesn’t really hurt at all that I – that, you know, Colin’s super-charming. I mean for a girl to act across charming, you know, leading guys, it’s always really helpful, because you kind of, like I said, you’re kind of just there in the moment. And, you know, whatever humor comes across, whatever, you know, looks come across, you can talk about it all you want, but on the day, when you’re standing there on your mark, you have to be able to read each other and have fun with it and play around. And then that’s how the scenes come alive.

Colin Ferguson: Yes. And it’s all just conjecture until you’re with another actor and you go, oh, either we can both listen to each other, or it’s one of those where like, no, we just missed. And then you don’t. And there’s nothing you can do. If you don’t have chemistry with someone and – in the scenes, you can use every trick that you want but they’re tricks. You know, if you can’t listen and respond, you’re sort of done.

Emily Rose: Totally. Totally. I definitely agree. That’s why it helps when you like the other person you’re working with, just in, you know, in terms of like, oh, you know, oh yes, this person I enjoy them, it’s fun, I can laugh with them, you know, but then you also feel like you feel safe enough to sort of talk about the scene and that the other person won’t get offended or anything like that. You know, you have to – sometimes you come from different places on a scene, you have to be able to work it through and talk about it along with the director. But it’s definitely worked, that friendship or that base, or that sense of humor all helps the final product for sure.

Emily, tells us about the nose ring.

Emily Rose: Oh wow. That’s such a good question. I fought for that nose ring. I fought for that little nose ring so hard, you find out how stubborn you are when you fight for something like that.

No, we really wanted to have – sorry, here I am. We really wanted to have, you know, some sort of a character, like a signature character, you know, thing. Every single character I have, I try to find what that is that, you know, I can hook on to.

And so for Lexie, just being sort of, you know, this very kind of rocker, you know, bar person, I had played actually a character that was kind of similar to Lexie and I was a little bombed that I never got to play her for longer. So when I saw Lexie and we were kind of dreaming up who she was, I just kept saying to my makeup artist and to my executive producer, man, it would just be so cool if I could get – she could have a nose ring. Nothing huge, nothing enormous that’s going to be distracting, but something delicate and dainty and it’s very her and it’d be very specifically Lexie.

And of course, you know, there were people that were a little afraid that that was too bold of a choice. But lucky for me, I have a network called Syfy that loved it and they loved it and wanted – liked that distinction. And so I was like so excited to have this little tiny thing because very rarely does a little, you know, blond like me get to kind of jump in to kind of characters and make them that sort of, you know, externally outgoing. So I was really, really excited to get a nose ring. And I know everybody online has differing opinions on it, but at least people are talking about it. So I really enjoyed it…

Colin Ferguson: And it’s really funny that. I mean if you think back, there was so much discussion about, you know, because no one – you were like four weeks out of having a baby when all that put together. I don’t know, she’s four weeks at having a baby, and you looked amazing, like ridiculous four weeks of having a baby.

Emily Rose: I think – I think my biggest like triumph was when they took pictures of me in the Lexie look and they sent them to people and everybody was like, that’s great. We would just like to see them with the – with Emily wearing all that stuff now. And everybody was like, that is, that is her. That’s her. She’s transformed into character. And it was like, no way, I can’t believe it, she looks fantastic. So thank you, Colin, that was great. I was very nervous about being on camera that – and after having a baby, but thanks to the amazingness of extensions, it all worked out.

Colin Ferguson: And also like just the breast, you know, we discussed, you know, the first day of having your character on set, the new character, you were also a new mother on set for that first day.

Emily Rose: Yes. Yes, that was crazy and intense. But it all worked out really well. The production company, you know, obviously has been really fantastic about making sure I get away and get time to feed Miles and get that time in with him as being such a new little guy. So I really do feel really blessed. They worked really hard to make sure I had that time. And it’s amazing I’m not too sleep deprived. That’s because of my fantastic husband taking care of all of that and it’s been really great. It’s worked out great.

Emily, how much input did you have into building this new Audrey character? Were you able to say, I want to go here with this one?

Emily Rose: A little bit. More – a little bit. I mean I more so have the freedom with the characters once they’ve sort of been given to me. I haven’t really, you know, I don’t really get to say this is what kind of character I would like to play. But once they’ve been given to me and we sort of talk about who they are. Like I said, I do tend to fight tooth and nail for some things if I really believed that it’s a really great character choice. But that is about, you know, as much freedom as I have.

And then obviously like her vocal quality and her physicality and all of those things, they pretty much kind of let me run with very – very rarely do they sort of say, no, or, that’s not what we want, or whatnot. They kind of see what happens and then, you know.

It’s kind of interesting. I’ve kind of always been like, has this always been the plan, that I would get to play all these different people? Or what if you hired me and I did just play just one dimension really well, would you want me to do as many characters? Is this a strength of mine? Do you like doing as many? It’s kind of a very, you know, interesting thought.

But they haven’t yet asked me yet, you know, who would you want to play. Actually no, they have, and I have given them that answer. Whether or not that ends up being able to happen is another question. But I’m hoping it does before I’m, you know, done with our time here for sure.

Colin Ferguson: I’m going to weigh in actually on Emily’s question, and just the funny thing about that with execution of a character when you get one, you know, because having been in your own body for, you know, 20, 30, 40 years, you know what works, you know what doesn’t. As much as you’re open to trying new things, you really sort of know how you do it and what works better on you. And that’s what you bring to the table.

So when a character is created for me anyway, I think I’m the same as Emily, where once they create it, you know the version of that that you do well. So you sort of go, oh that’s great. If we can do this instead of that, that will accomplish what you want, this and that, that’s sort of where I like to win, I like to weigh in as well, you know, when it’s coming down to, you know, costume and tone.

Are there any of your own personal personality traits that you put in to these two characters?

Colin Ferguson: Yes. Yes, I do. I throw in as much as I can cram in to the little container. I’m like – yes, I’ll try anything that’ll work with a line. But that – my take on it is you put as much of your – like if it’s a mean guy, you put, how would I be a mean guy? So you put as much of your mean – your version of mean in there as you can, or something that’ll work for camera and all that jazz. So I’m always trying to, you know, discover new things about myself and put them in.

Emily Rose: Yes. I mean I feel like obviously without even knowing you do that, you know, some people – Colin, you were just saying today that it’s hard for you to watch people that you know on TV sometimes and separate that from who they are because you know them so well. So I think naturally you sort of put that, you know, in, in your characters for sure.

And it takes, you know, it takes a lot of work I think sometimes when it comes to like posture and physicality, to really train your body for a prolonged amount of time to sort of do something differently than how you do it. But yes, I think your view of the world is naturally infused in there.

And there is actually a moment in episode five and a scene that I said a line like – and Lexie, you know, was making a joke about something, and I totally threw in something that was a joke of me and my – me and my friends, what we do at home as like a little shout-out to them. So you do get a chance to do that occasionally. And when you do, it’s really, really fun.

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