One of the more entertaining Q&A of each new season is the Amanda Tapping/Robin Dunne Q&A for Sanctuary [Syfy, Friday, 10/9C]. Both are smart funny and quite capable of taking a riff and going completely sideways with it. Sure, they can [and do] deliver the goods on what’s happening this season [musical episode!] in a more or less normal manner, but then there are those moments…
It has gotten to the point that some of the interviewers on any given call actually enable their tendency toward silliness – usually with great results, like this time out. So, without further ado, The Amanda Tapping/Robin Dunne Traveling Comedy Revue! [Seriously, these guys are funny!]
Can you talk about the musical episode? I’m really excited for that.
Amanda Tapping: Oh, yes, the musical episode is our eighth episode. It’s called Fugue. It was written by Damian Kindler…
Robin Dunne: Directed by Damian Kindler as well.
Tapping: …and he wrote the lyrics for the music with our composer, Andrew Lockington. And it’s, I mean it’s interesting if, you’re not going to see an episode of Glee. It, there’s not big production numbers or dancing or anything like that. It’s actually a very organic way of telling a story, and the songs, the songs are, even though the songs are sung, it’s sort of like you’re hearing a scene.
Dunne: Yes, I think the way that the music and the story are married together, like as Amanda says, it’s very organic and it was an amazing episode to shoot. We had an interesting, some comments from the crew, during a lot of the musical scenes, a lot of the crew were saying that it was like they were just watching a scene, and the, sort of the singing was sort of secondary, which was kind of interesting.
Tapping: Yes, but what was cool about it, was the crew really got into the idea of doing a musical, so they would, everyone on set was singing.
Tapping: You know, “we’re coming up behind you, we’re carrying a ladder,” you know it was just like, it was really funny, and it was just a great atmosphere. But it sort of goes with the idea that certain people respond better to frequencies, certain musical frequencies or tonal qualities, than they do to actual voice. So we sort of took that idea and made it a Sanctuary episode.
Dunne: It was also kind of, it was interesting, too. It was a very emotional episode to shoot. Something about the music really brought the emotion out in a lot of people, and not just, like, the actors but, you know, we had like, burly grip guys standing in the back of the room kind of wiping tears away from their eyes, which was kind of interesting.
Tapping: And we had Pascale Hutton, who plays Abby on our show, figures very prominently in this episode, and we were really lucky to get Jim Byrnes, who plays my dad, who’s an incredibly accomplished blues musician, sing a song for us in the show. So it was a, I don’t know, I think it’s so far outside the box, and yet not, in the way that we presented it.
Dunne: Yes, I think it’ll really, it’ll be, yes, it’s like Amanda says, it’s something very different, but it’ll totally fit in as a Sanctuary episode.
Great, well I can’t wait to see it. Can you talk about some of the guest stars that you have, other than what you just said, that you have coming up this season?
Tapping: Well Ian Tracey is back as Adam Worth, and Jonathon Young is back as Tesla. Peter Wingfield is back as James Watson.
Dunne: We have a very, kind of cool new villain this year, played by Brian Markinson.
Tapping: Who’s just a phenomenal actor, and we had him in one episode, and loved him so much that we kept bringing him back. Carlo Rota does a couple of episodes of the show.
Dunne: (Adam Grayson Reed) and Caroline Cave are in the show this year.
Tapping: Oh, your dad, Al Sapienza.
Dunne: Al Sapienza plays Will’s dad, in a wonderful performance that we, you know him from the Sopranos.
Tapping: Robert Lawrenson is back a fair bit, as Declan, which is great. It took, I mean, what you’ve seen over the past three seasons, as we build the Sanctuary family, we utilize them a lot. And I think that’s what I love about the show is, you know it’s, if you come on and we really dig you and we have, pretty much dug everyone who’s come on the show, and we just keep bringing you back.
So, and (Polly Neegan) is back as Henry’s love interest. So it’s just, yes, it’s a real sense of family here. We have, Gil Bellows, actually came and did our last few episodes with us, and he’s phenomenal, so…
Dunne: The Sanctuary family is growing. Aww, so cute, it’s like the Brady Bunch, but way, way bigger.
Tapping: Way more dysfunctional, but fun.
All right, I just wanted to ask quick, Amanda, have you guys heard anything about (Riese), or at this point is it sort of, you know, a no-go?
Tapping: I wouldn’t say that it’s a no-go. The last I heard was, there was a lot of discussions being done about whether or not there was a potential to turn it into a series, but I’m not one of the producers on the show, so I just sort of hear bits and pieces from them. But they were very excited about moving it forward, and I think it would make a great show so, fingers crossed.
Will we be learning any more of Magnus’ juicy secrets this season?
Dunne: No. No secrets.
Tapping: Yes, yes you do actually, especially in our first episode. You get a sense of what makes this woman tick, and some of the choices that she’s made and why. The whole season builds to a finale that is quite breathtaking, and it’s not until the very last scene of the finale that you understand why Magnus has aligned herself with the people she’s aligned herself with, why the Sanctuary went rogue from government support worldwide.
But you don’t ever actually figure it out, and I think people will be very surprised when they see the final ending, and what’s happened. But you do, throughout the course of it, there’s things that Magnus does that you go, “what, why would you, huh?” And then it’s all (unintelligible) at the end.
Dunne: I think more than ever, any other season, I think you’ll see the sort of brilliance of Magnus and the, I think she’s masterminded (unintelligible) season is like, you know, more brilliant than any other time. And again, yes, you’ll, at times it will be very confusing to the audience as to why she’s doing what she’s doing, but it will all made sense in the end.
Tapping: Duh duh duh. Do, do, do.
How many episodes will Magnus’ love interest be involved in?
Tapping: Well, one. Magnus is – one that we see, but Magnus is, again, very busy this season, so…
Dunne: Too busy for love.
Tapping: Too busy for love, it’s sad really.
Dunne: And we’re going to write a song about it. Too busy for love, poor Magnus, too busy for love.
How do you view Helen and Henry’s relationship? Is it like, mother and son, a doctor and patient?
Tapping: I think if you were to put a label on it, I guess the most apt would be mother and son, but there’s a real genuine kinship there, and there’s a friendship that sort of goes beyond, I don’t know it can…
Tapping: The boundaries of mother and son but, I guess, she’s very maternal towards him in a lot of ways, and obviously having rescued him as a child, she feels very maternal towards him. And raised him, you know, with Ashley so, yes there’s definitely that element, I would say, more than anything.
And just, real quickly, will there be any Helen and Will centered episodes in Season 4?
Tapping: Yes, in fact, one in particular, called The Depth, which is our typical Magnus and Will two-hander that we do every season, and of course it involves a lot of water. So I don’t know what that is, I don’t know why the writers feel like they need to do that to us every year, but…
Dunne: Torture, they hate us.
Tapping: They hate us and torture us, so there is one that is actually, it’s an incredibly intense episode, but so much comes up during the course of this episode, past lives, past – I don’t know, past transgressions, and it’s…
Dunne: It’s a very brutally truthful episode between the two characters, and it’s, the result of it is, is that, you know, all of these things have happened over the course of the season, even previous seasons, and then the repercussions kind of go right into the end of, into the season finale.
Tapping: Yes, there’s a massive ripple effect from that episode.
Dunne: Ripple effect, that is what I was looking for. I was searching for that.
Tapping: And I found it for you.
Dunne: Thank you, see, we’re a good team.
Just real quickly, if either of you could have a guest star on the show, who would it be?
Dunne: George Clooney.
Tapping: Helen Mirren, I would like Helen Mirren to play my mom, in flashback scenes, and…
Dunne: I would like George Clooney to play Will in like, you know, in flash forward scenes.
Tapping: You just want to meet George Clooney.
Dunne: No I don’t.
Tapping: Robin has a crush on George Clooney.
Dunne: No I don’t. Shut up.
So what kind of a journey would you say that your characters are on this season?
Tapping: A roller-coaster journey.
Dunne: I think it’s a very, I would say it’s the darkest kind of journey we’ve been on. I mean, we’ve been in some dark places, but I think this season there is some real friction and real ugly truths that come out.
Tapping: Yes, it feels, and it feels like every relationship this season is tested, and thankfully survived, but there’s a difference at the end of it, in the way that the characters deal with each other. There’s, I mean, Magnus has a big episode with Tesla, and it changes the course of their relationship somewhat.
Will and Magnus are on this incredible, you know, she’s still lying to him and they’re at loggerheads a lot, but you can tell at the heart of it all there’s incredible love between the two characters, and incredible respect. But it, if this, I think Robin put it right, this is a bit of a darker season.
It’s not without its crazy humor, because it wouldn’t be Sanctuary without it, but it’s a much darker season, and I think the best way to say it is that the relationships are all tested.
So, it sounds awesome.
Tapping: It is. You know, I think we say this every press junket that we do, every season, that it’s our best season ever, but I really feel like we’ve, that Season 4 has just blown the lid off anything we’ve done before.
So what is going to surprise us most this season? What is the thing that the viewers just are going to be thrown for a loop by seeing?
Tapping: Well, we can’t tell you, because then they won’t be thrown for a loop. And we like throwing people for loops.
Dunne: Yes, we love it. Well that’s our specialty, throwing people…
Amanda Tapping: The loops.
Dunne: …you know, loop, into the loops.
Tapping: Yes, what’s the thing they would be most surprised at, probably the friction between Magnus and Will.
Dunne: Yes, I think there’s going to be some, the audience is going to be shocked by some of the interactions between Magnus and Will this season. And also I think, you know, things like Fugue, are really, really going to be, you know, really momentous moments.
Tapping: Yes, I think even our first couple of episodes, like Tempus that, the fact that it takes place entirely in Victorian era England, in such a bizarre set of circumstances is, it’s going to launch the season, I think, quite incredibly.
Before we start, Mr. Dunne, I would like to wish you luck on your quest to kidnap, I mean meet George Clooney, I really wish you the best of luck on that.
Dunne: Thank you very much. I’ve really got a huge plan in place and, you know…
Tapping: He’s built traps and everything.
Dunne: I’ve learned how to hijack yachts in Italy, so I think that’s maybe the way I’m going to do it.
All right, well if you need a wheelman, let me know.
So our fans at Blogomatic 3000 are really excited about the new season of Sanctuary…
Dunne: I think when you say Blogomatic 3000 you should say it like this, Blogomatic 3000.
Actually that’s what we do, it’s just that there are noise limitations in our neighborhood, so we have to cut it back a little.
Tapping: Yes, I think it sounds like a really good Cuisinart.
Dunne: Oh yes.
Tapping: The Blogomatic 3000, it dices, it slices, it…
Dunne: Dump all your carrots and your everything in there…
Tapping: And you get juice. All right, sorry, (Erin), go, we, please.
That’s our new tagline, thank you for that.
Tapping: No problem.
So, as I was saying, can you tell our fans a little bit about the season premiere, and what they can look forward to this season?
Tapping: Well the season premiere, again, takes place in Victorian era England. It’s a direct, it’s almost a direct cut from how we ended Season 3. So we actually have, the first two episodes of the season are the conclusion to our season finale last year. And we had initially discussed doing them, sort of flashing back and forth between the two storylines, one in Victorian era England and one, what’s happening in current day.
And we just realized that in order to service both stories properly, they needed to be separate. There needed to be not, you know, you would need to jog the audience back and forth. So Tempus is Magnus stuck in Victorian era England, trying to hide from her past self, trying to stop Ian Tracey’s character Adam Worth from altering the timeline.
And the second episode, Uprising, is basically how Will and Henry and Kate and Bigfoot are trying to quell the rebellion that’s happening from the insurgents from Hollow Earth. So that’s how we launch. We launch the season in such a big way. We were kind of exhausted by the end of the first two, where we were like, oh God, how do we keep this up?
But we take you everywhere. We take you to a remote island off the coast of Africa in an episode called Monsoon. We, Robin directed an episode called Homecoming, in which we meet his dad, there’s a series of flashbacks with his father, and it’s a really poignant and beautiful episode. We take you to an icebreaker in the middle of the Bering Sea, a musical episode, we take you into a virtual Sanctuary, which is kind a, one of our cool episodes called Chimera.
And we take you into a cave system in the Andes with Will and Magnus. I mean, we’re all over the place. We’re literally all over the world. And we’re dealing, the whole time, the through-line is dealing with the fallout of going rogue, and separating ourselves from the World Government. So it’s an intense roller coaster ride, but again, not without its humor.
And then the ending, you know, I wish I could say more about our season ender, our two-parter that Damian directed. But it’s, I don’t even want to give you a word, for fear that it will give too much away. It’s incredible, and the way that it ends, I mean, we were shocked when we read the script.
All, the crew, the cast, everyone was running around going, ‘What, what, what? How did you – what?’ And so, but of course we did, in typical Sanctuary fashion. And I think it’s quite shocking.
Dunne: And we, even just shooting it, just being there and shooting those scenes, it was very, kind of, it was very emotional, very shocking for us to shoot. And to sort of realize what was happening, not to give it away, but.
Dunne: It’s going to be cool.
Tapping: Which means Season 5, fingers crossed, is going to be even cooler.
That sounds really exciting. SyFy has a history of doing crossovers between their shows, like Warehouse 13 and Eureka do, almost every season now. Will Haven be seeing any crossover this season, or if not, maybe in the future?
Tapping: We haven’t done any yet, have we?
Tapping: No. We haven’t. We’re sort of in our own little cocooney bubble.
Dunne: The closest we had was maybe having Chris Gauthier…
Dunne: …guest star but it…
Tapping: But it wasn’t a crossover at all, yes, it was a completely different character. Well, you’re not going to see it in Season 4, but we’ll, we’re open to discussions for Season 5.
Dunne: Tee hee.
Tapping: Tee hee hee.
All right, well, last question, what has been your favorite experience while working on this season of Haven? I mean Sanctuary, I’m sorry. I apologize. I’ve got so many things on my…
Dunne: They’re like, similar words, really, aren’t they?
Dunne: You know, Sanctuary, Haven, you know.
Tapping: Yes, well, you put it in the Blogomatic 3000 and came out with the wrong word, that’s what happened.
Dunne: That’s what happened.
Tapping: No, that’s okay. I would say, one of the most interesting, and really fun experiences was doing Fugue.
Tapping: It was such a crazy episode to shoot, and it was so far outside of everyone’s comfort zone. And I just felt like, creatively, we all pushed the envelope. And everyone, it was one of those where, you either give in to the idea fully, and just go for it, or you’re not servicing it, and so we all kind of had to take this massive leap of faith, which is kind of the Sanctuary logline, and it was so much fun.
Dunne: Just being in the recording studio, recording songs and working with Damian Kindler and our composer Andrew Lockington, who really helped us through that process because, you know, as actors and not singers, per se, it was a very daunting task to take on. But it was a really special experience, and I think the episode is really quite…
Tapping: Yes, and because it took so long, like it wasn’t just, we didn’t just shoot the episode. We had to go in, you know, a couple of weeks before and record the songs, and then the week before we shot, we went into the studio and rehearsed. And so it was just, it was spread out over a period of time and, so when we finally came on to the set to actually shoot the scenes where we were singing, we were so prepared and had been, you know, if it, a real sense of anticipation.
Dunne: We had…
Tapping: But that was really fun.
Dunne: We had these cool, like, earwig things, they called them earwig things, they’re like invisible earpieces where, we could hear the music but nobody else could, so we could sing along with the track, but get the singing recorded clean and, I don’t know, it was just, it was kind of like being a rock star for a little while, and it was fun.
Dunne: It was a lot of fun.
Tapping: And I’d have to say for me, Tempus, the first episode of the season, just to be back in that era, and you know, wearing those clothes, and playing two different versions of Magnus, you know a much younger, more innocent, wide-eyed version and, you know, the fairly beaten-up version that she is now, was really satisfying, creatively. It was really fun.
Dunne: And also the way that episode was shot, and technologically, how you had to do it…
Dunne: …to shoot both characters…
Tapping: Using stop-motion camera, and just the set was, I mean, we built this beautiful Victorian set, and then made it rain the entire time, inside the studio, which seems, you know, sort of counter-intuitive when you live in Vancouver, and we have so much rain outside. But we, yes, it was just a really, very cool and soggy.
I’m not sure, I missed a part of the call, so I’m not sure if this was addressed, but in the season premiere, Tempus, we see Helen Magnus really lacking in emotional control. In the past, whenever she’s gotten angry she seemed to channel it into a determination and focus to solve the problem, but here she really loses her temper and she’s really kind of a fury.
What is it like, playing that unleashed version of Magnus?
Tapping: It was interesting to play, because I was afraid that it was getting too dark, but what was explained to me, and what I finally worked through is, she has to, at all cost, as callous as it seems at times, and as full of rage as she seems at times, she has to, at all cost, stop Adam Worth from altering the timeline. A, because her present, and all the people in it, could potentially be destroyed, but also the fate of the world is in the hands of a madman, who now has technology far advanced of what’s available in Victorian era England, and can literally change the course of human history.
So the stakes are massively high, and it’s also very emotional because she’s dealing with a younger Watson, she’s trying to hide from the younger version of herself, she’s dealing with what it’s like to be a woman in Victorian era England, she has to deal with John Druitt in a pretty ugly way, and gets again a sense of, firsthand of what it was like to be with him back then. So it’s an intense episode and, yes, there are times when I’m like, man, she is nasty.
But when you realize what’s at stake, and it literally is the course of human history that’s at stake, then you understand why she loses it. And I think she’s so far out of her depth, you know, she’s so far from home and, ultimately playing in the back of her mind is, ‘How will I ever get back to my present? How is that even possible?’
So it’s an intense episode.
Speaking of Druitt, I thought that the revelation regarding him was rather spectacular, and kind of key to the way people have been understanding him, both in the show and in the audience. What was it like when you read the script and saw that was what was happening? Or did you have some input into that before the script was finished?
Tapping: Well we actually, we sit down before the season starts, Martin, Damian and I and the writers, and sort of, you know, log out what we’d like to see happen, certain character twists and turns, but then it’s really in the hands of the writers. And Damian wrote this episode and, as usual with his deft touch, he’ll find a turn that nobody sees coming. And so, with Druitt, I mean, it made sense, it made sense that we saw this man at this point in time, I mean it’s right in the middle of the Ripper killings in White Chapel, and we, it was important to service that element of his character.
So it was shocking to read the script, but by the same token, it’s just another revelation, right? It all, it helps you understand the character a bit more, and it helps you, in some ways, choose sides a bit more. So, but you know, we may map out as much as we can, but then the writers will always throw little curve balls in there that no one sees coming. And that’s kind of what I love about getting a fresh script is, okay we’ve talked about this, but how is it going to happen?
So of all the things that happened in the premiere, I think that may be the one that has the widest, or causes the widest shift in point of view among fans, and I think it was really well done and I…
Tapping: Oh thank you.
I certainly hope that the rest of the season is as wonderful.
Tapping: It is, and more so.
Robin, I wanted to know, can you talk about the musical episode, and how the Bollywood episode might have helped you with that?
Dunne: Yes, sure. The Bollywood episode helped me in no way whatsoever.
Tapping: That’s not true.
Dunne: No, I mean, I think it helped me in the sense that they were both episodes that were extremely daunting to undertake. Both episodes were way out of my comfort zone. And both episodes had me do something that I don’t do very well, which are dancing and singing, but…
Tapping: There’s a level of trust, right, like you built up a level of trust with the crew, I think, doing the Bollywood thing, and had so much support that it made, maybe made the next one easier.
Dunne: Well, I don’t know if I would say easier, but yes, I mean, it certainly is a classic Sanctuary thing where you go, ‘Okay let’s dive in and let’s do this,’ and, you know, Fugue is probably one of the most amazing experiences of my career, being able to work in that capacity with Amanda and Pascale and Damian, both being the writer and director.
It was a really, really amazing thing, and like I said before, there’s something different about song, it brings people together, it’s a more, it hits more of an emotional chord, and certainly we were all feeling that during that episode. You know, (Ry Ro) has a really lovely song in it, and to me across the board it’s, I’m telling you, it’s going to be something that’s going to really blow people away.
Tapping: And that, I mean, again, there’s only, in Fugue, there’s only like seven songs, maybe, in the whole episode.
Tapping: It’s an emotional episode that the, it’s not like we sing wall to wall in the episode, so…
Dunne: And there’s, like we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s a real organic connection between the story and the singing, and the theme was sort of a joining of those two things where maybe in other TV shows that have tried to do this, there has been sort of more of a story and then a gap between the singing. But certainly here in this Fugue is not the case at all.
Oh cool, I can’t wait to check that out. Also, what was it like to have Gil Bellows on this season?
Tapping: Oh, fantastic. We got him on for the last two episodes, and he’s just a really lovely man. And he completely got the Sanctuary vibe, he really, you know, he just kept saying, “What a great set.” And he was so happy to be there. And he’s got a really, you know, he’s got a really gentle spirit. I mean I didn’t know a lot about Gil, I know his work most definitely, but he walked on and he was just so, sort of zen.
He’s just a really, really interesting man. And we loved it. We loved, because there’s a darkness to his character, so dark, and so nasty. And then you’ve got Gil playing it, it just seems like the antithesis, it’s really, it was very interesting.
Dunne: And we’ve been so extremely lucky on Sanctuary, to keep welcoming these people who come into the group, and kind of, after they’re there for a few days, you don’t really remember what it was like without them, and certainly Gil was…
Tapping: That’s exactly what it was like with Gil.
Dunne: Gil was…
Tapping: And Brian Markinson, same thing.
Dunne: Brian Markinson, the same thing, and, yes. And also man, like the guy was in the Shawshank Redemption, you know, the coolest movie of all time. And I did not geek out on him…
Tapping: You geeked out a little bit.
Dunne: …much, a little bit, a little bit, you know.
Well, you didn’t sing to him did you?
Tapping: Not publicly.
Dunne: I may have. Would that have been weird? Hypothetically if I did, would that have been, you know, a weird thing to do? I don’t think it would have been weird. Not that I did that, but, you know, whatever.
Okay, fair enough. One more quick thing, in the press release it mentions that the Sanctuary team has to go rogue, how will that alter the way things are done from now on?
Tapping: It makes things infinitely more difficult, I think. We have to, Magnus has to find a way to hide her money, to get it out of markets that, you know, the government may be able to control. It makes running individual Sanctuaries more difficult. You know, we see that in certain episodes, like the episode that Robin directed, certain of the smaller Sanctuaries are really struggling without the government’s support. We have to merge a few of the Sanctuaries.
And so it’s a bit of a shuffling of the deck for Magnus and the team to – it’s the right decision to get it out of the hands of government control, because the government, we realize in certain countries, is too corrupt. But it also gives us a bit more autonomy and a bit more freedom, in terms of how we do things.
Dunne: We also have to dress like pirates for the whole season.
Dunne: You know, like…
Tapping: That was just my, you know, my choice.
Dunne: Yes, I mean, the eye patches and the wooden legs and stuff, and, you know, Henry has a parrot, it’s, it was definitely a choice, you know, I don’t know.
Tapping: I don’t know. We’ll see how the fans respond.
Dunne: We’ll see, you know, again, it’s just another of those Sanctuary, thinking outside the box things, you know.
Tapping: We’re rogue. We’re dressed as pirates.
What were some of the pros and cons of going back down to a 13-episode season after the 20-episode season that you did last year?
Tapping: Well, I actually think it really worked for us. That format worked for us. When we did 20, we did 10 episodes and then we took a, like I think a four or five-week break, and then went back into the other 10. And it was actually very nice in that we all got a summer with our families and, you know, enjoyed it, but it was a slog to get through 20 episodes. It was a lot of work and it was a lot of planning. And 13 seemed somehow more manageable.
I mean, at first we were really disappointed that it was dropped to 13. And then it was like, no, wait, we can actually make 13 really kick-ass episodes of this show, and service each one of them well, as opposed to trying to spread ourselves really thin over 20.
Dunne: I think story-wise it just made the season more compact and…
Tapping: And succinct, in a lot of ways.
Dunne: Yes, and I think you’ll definitely see that in the season. But it was a sort of duality going on there too, because, like Amanda said, we did get a break in between tens, the two sets of ten episodes last season, so in another way it almost more grueling to just do 13 straight through. But…
Tapping: But I think there is like, you know, we didn’t waste a minute of footage, you know what I mean? We had 13 to sell this season, 13 to make it amazing, and so there was, you know, there was very little fat to trim, if that makes sense.
What are some of your recollections of the night shoot that ended your filming on the new season?
Tapping: Night shoots are always crazy, super fun, and there’s a different sensibility on set. Because, you know, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re still filming, and we were filming on location in…
Dunne: Like you’re having lunch at 3 o’clock…
Tapping: Yes, and it’s just, it messes with your time clock, but there’s also, I don’t know, there’s a weird sense of adventure when you shoot nights. And because we were shooting, again away from home, you know, we weren’t in the studio, we were on location in the downtown East side, which is, you know, an interesting place to shoot.
Dunne: You want to talk about abnormals.
Tapping: Well, it’s a, and we were shooting in this really beautiful space, like this old ironworks foundry, and I don’t know, there’s a sense of adventure to it, a sense of adventure when you shoot nights.
Dunne: It was also strange for us, too, because not only we were shooting all night every night, which throws your equilibrium off completely, if any of us have any equilibrium, which that’s still…
Dunne: Very debatable, but also, you know, we shoot, we very, very, very rarely leave our studio. We shoot everything here, and so, the end of the season we on, like Amanda said, we were on a location, so that kind of added another level to the sort of weirdness of finishing the season.
Tapping: Yes, and it was huge. I mean the last of the season two-parter is huge. And we had like, 70 extras, and we had crazy huge set deck and…
Dunne: Yes, that two-parter is like a big feature, see…
Robin Dunne: There’s all kinds of major stuff going on, and…
Tapping: I think for us, you know, we don’t feel it maybe as much as the locations guys do, and the, you know, having to canvas the neighborhoods, and let people know we’re blowing stuff up and, I mean, logistically it’s a bit of a nightmare when you go on location, and especially when you shoot nights, and you’re in a neighborhood.
Dunne: Yes, if you’re on the downtown East side at 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re firing, like having major gunfights, I think there’s a lot of paperwork.
Tapping: There’s a lot of paperwork to happen.
Dunne: …that has to see, you know?
You get to drive a big truck, too, right, Robin?
Dunne: I got to drive a big truck. I like driving big trucks. I didn’t crash it or nothing. Yes, I did, I did actually get to drive this…
Tapping: You got to drive a big truck, and a motorcycle…
Tapping: We do like a Magnus and Will, Magnus takes off in her car and Will chases her on a motorcycle, they get into a fight, Magnus takes Will’s motorcycle, and she, you know, chases after it…
Dunne: Yes, it was like…
Tapping: There was a lot going on.
Dunne: Yes, it was like doing, like a big Neal Moritz movie or something at certain times. It was like The Fast and the Furious or something, it was very cool, it was very cool. And the fact that, yes, the fact that people let me behind the wheel of automobiles is, you know, amazing to me, you know, that they have that kind of trust.
Tapping: The paperwork, I can’t even tell you the half, paperwork.
Dunne: The paperwork to allow me to drive one of those trucks, my God, I had to give, I had to sign documents, and give blood samples, and you know.
Excuse me, and one more thing if I may just jump in here. It’s not Sanctuary-related, but I think it’s a good thing to get out there…
Dunne: Don’t jump!
…you’re both going – sorry?
Tapping: No, go ahead.
Dunne: Don’t jump, unless you, like make sure you’re not on a slippery surface or anything, because I wouldn’t want you to fall.
It’s okay, I’m in an office chair, so I think I’m safe.
Tapping: Okay, good. Jump in.
You’re both going to the Once Upon a Cure gala this weekend, what can you tell people about that?
Tapping: Well, it’s something, a great cause that’s very close to our hearts, because it’s to raise funds for Hunter Syndrome. And our camera operator, Ryan Purcell, who I had also worked with on Stargate, his 7-year-old son Trey has Hunter Syndrome. And it’s considered an orphan disease, because so few people have it. So there’s very little money going into research, development of pharmaceuticals, there’s very little government support.
So when Ryan and his wife Deb found out, just before Trey’s second birthday, that he had been diagnosed with this, they started a foundation to start raising funds. And it started as a Tacos for Trey, a little backyard barbecue, for all intent and purpose, and has grown now to this gala that we’re having on Saturday night at the Sutton Place Hotel.
And to date they’ve raised, I think, $187,000 for research, and as a result, them and one other person in Canada, Simon Ibell, are the only two people in this country raising funds for Hunter Syndrome. And it is a degenerative disease. There is currently no cure. The prognosis, when Trey was diagnosed, was that he may not live into his teens, although now that has changed dramatically.
And what I love about them is they’re logline for their foundation is called “Got Hope.” And I think when your child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, that’s pretty much all you’ve got. And they have parlayed that into this wonderful fundraising initiative. And it’s being supported by the film community, and especially the Syfy community. And so we’re proudly going there Saturday. There’s going to be a live auction and music.
There’s an online auction on eBay right now, and there’s some phenomenal things being sold off. So yes, we’re really proud of it, but it’s very much a family affair. Because it’s, you know, it’s Ryan. And he’s an amazing camera operator but an even more amazing man so, we’ll all be there.
I had a fan question. What she wants to know, how will the flashback episodes be affected after Season 4, with Peter going back to med school?
Tapping: We, Peter’s a part of this family, so if we ever go flashback again, which I hope that we do, Peter sent us a long email and just said, you know, we’ll make it work. We’ll just make it work. We’re thrilled that he’s chosen this other career. I think he’ll be a phenomenal doctor. He’s a lovely man and so, you know, we’ll make it work.
We’ll work around his schedule and we, like we do with a lot of our guest stars and family members that we love so much, we’ll just make it work. He’s not out of the show by any stretch and, you know, when he wrote us and told us what he was doing, and said, I would come back to the show at any time, and we said, we’ll have you at any time. So there’s nothing to fear, it’s not like he’s gone from the show. If there’s a way to bring him back we’ll do it.
Dunne: Sanctuary’s like the Mafia, you know, once you’re in…
Tapping: You can’t leave.
Dunne: You can’t get out. It doesn’t matter how…
Tapping: We’ll find you.
Dunne: You know, you want to go to med school, yes okay fine, go ahead, but you’re still part of this, you’re still in the group, okay, and just, you’re, you know, your other career is not going to get in the way of being part of this family, okay?
Tapping: Yes, so not to fear there.
All right. How do you think your characters have changed since the very beginning of the series? What’s the most significant?
Dunne: I think for Will, Will has kind of gone through a crazy progression. You know, he started out as a guy who wasn’t sure whether he wanted to be involved in the Sanctuary, and then you saw him kind of give in to that and realize that was his lot in life. And then you saw him become a guy who really took responsibility in the Sanctuary, and really believed in it, and believed in what he was doing, and what he was a part of. And I think, in Season 4, you’re going to see the, that sort of commitment, the cracks in sort of his belief, and maybe start to doubt some of the things he took as gospel before, and maybe question some of the choices he’s made to get him to this point.
Tapping: I think he’s a lot stronger, too. I mean that what you’ll see between Will and Magnus over the course of the four seasons is that they, Will’s not afraid to stand up to her. And he calls her out, and especially in this season, he calls her out a lot. And she’s forced to answer, in a way that I don’t think she’s ever had to before. Perhaps her protégés have been, you know, more towing the party line, whereas Will really, in part because of his background, but he’s not afraid to pull her onto the mat and say, ‘Okay explain yourself.’
Dunne: And, you know, I’d like to just say that, that takes a lot of guts. You know, I mean, come on, Magnus standing there in the field, she’s like three feet taller than him, you know. So I’d like a little credit for Will there, because that’s just, that ain’t easy, you know.
Tapping: And I think, for me, was, you know, give credit, my love, credit, that’s fantastic.
Dunne: That’s all a guy wants is just a little credit.
Tapping: For Magnus, I think, so much has happened to her. I mean, losing a child, and trying to continue on after that, is one phenomenal feat. But then to be, to shoulder the responsibility of this world-wide network, and especially in this season and at the end of last season, where you realize she can’t rely on the support systems in the same way that she did before. It’s not like she can call up, you know, JFK and say, ‘Hey honey, I need your help on this one.’
She can’t do, she doesn’t have that same network that she used to have with world leaders and bankers and, so it’s a bit of a different road for her. And I think you’ll find a new strength in Magnus, and perhaps also a bit of a sadness to her. And when you realize where she’s been, after Tempus, when we get back into the season and you realize where she’s been, you’ll see, I don’t know, maybe a bit more sadness, a bit more loneliness to her.
And yet at the, yes, she’s been very focused this season, incredibly focused. Because she now sees exactly what she has to do.
Dunne: Just wondering, I just have a, I have a question for Amanda here. Would Magnus have called President Kennedy “honey?”
Tapping: Yes she would.
Tapping: Well, I’ve decided that she would.
Tapping: I would. No disrespect to any of the former presidents or world leaders. Stop it. Stop it, stop it, stop it. Please, ask again. Ask something, quickly.
All right. Just no, I was just going to say, I know you guys talk on Twitter all the time, obviously, but is there anything that you think people could still be surprised to know about you, that you haven’t told everybody, that would be interesting?
Dunne: I have been contractually obligated to not reveal anything more about myself.
Dunne: I am kidding, I am kidding.
Tapping: No, I think we’re pretty open. I mean, part of the, Twitter has been, like a, kind of a weird blessing, because none of us were on Twitter, and then our publicist said, “Come on you guys, let’s do this thing.” And then the sharing of yourselves, and hearing more from fans and, I mean, it’s just become a really fun and great and easy way to communicate, and you know, I’ll throw in little tidbits about my family.
I’m pretty protective of them, but I’ll throw out stuff, and Robin does too, and I think all of us sort of shared little pieces of ourselves, and it just, it doesn’t feel like it’s an invasive…
Tapping: …social media. It feels like a really sort of fun and light, and you get great messages across, we’re able to spread the word about Once Upon a Cure, and Sanctuary for Kids, and it’s been a great tool, but I don’t know that there’s much that we haven’t revealed.
Dunne: No. And that speaks to really how, like, our relationship with the fans. We have really great fans, and there’s a trust there. We feel like we can, you know, send silly messages, and say things, and…
Tapping: And send silly pictures of ourselves, and it’s safe.
Dunne: Yes, that may happen now and again. But, you know, it’s actually pretty safe, and that’s has a lot to do with how great our fans are and how respectful they are, and you know, we get messages back. But it’s all very, it’s all in good fun, so it’s just a really great way to keep in touch with the fans. Because otherwise, you know, we’re just stuck in this studio in Vancouver all the time, you know, and feeling like, just nobody out there.
Tapping: It can become very insular, insular…
Tapping: …insular, working on a TV show, and so this is just, it’s a nice outreach. And I think we share enough, and the fans share great things about themselves. I don’t know, it’s cool.
It’s been a, listen, a great interview, listening to your answers so far, absolutely fantastic. My question is for the both of you. Now we’ve seen quite a few literary and historical figures on the show Sanctuary, you, they’ve been given special powers or abilities. Now my question to both of you is, who in the world of history and/or literature would you like to see as an abnormal, that hasn’t been done already?
Dunne: That would be cool.
Tapping: Yes. Think.
Dunne: Elvis Presley? I know, I was like, it’s a tired theme, but I would go there.
Tapping: Here’s some amazing sort of historical and literary figures. Dorothy Parker would be interesting.
Tapping: And that whole group, and Hemingway and his group, in the days of, you know, the halcyon days in Paris.
Dunne: Yes, in Paris with James Joyce and F. Scott and all those guys, yes, that would be great.
Tapping: Wow, we could just list every major literary figure in history and be pretty happy with any of those answers.
Dunne: David Lee Roth, you know, that would be awesome. I think he would be on the show. And oh, my goodness. Okay. Oh, nice. Ow, look at the Beatles.
Tapping: You get the idea.
Dunne: We’re in a very small room with no windows, and no air.
Ouch. Okay, well, my next question is for you. You starred in Manchester Prep, aka Cruel Intentions II. Why do you think that series failed, as opposed to why, I guess, Sanctuary is a big hit. Why do you think that failed?
Dunne: I will most diplomatically to answer this question. I, you know, there was a lot of other stuff going on with that, Manchester Prep. I think that it was a very transitional time with Fox. I think there was some friction there. I think that the show that Roger Kumble was delivering to the network may not have been the same, tonally the same as what the network was expecting. But you know, regardless, it was a fun thing to do.
I think, I don’t think I would be speaking out of turn to say that it was a very interesting idea, what Neal Moritz and Roger Kumble decided to do, in cutting together this, sort of Frankensteining the episodes and putting together the movie Cruel Intentions II. While it may not be the first movie I would recommend, out of my resume for people to watch, I think it was an interesting idea.
But you know, I think a series lives or dies, ultimately, on the strength of the premise, and I think when I first read the pilot for Sanctuary, it really, you know, Damian Kindler really has set up a really solid foundation for a series. And also, thematically, I think it’s a very interesting show, because it deals with, sort of, acceptance, and not judging, and understanding, and I think those are all themes that really resonate with people.
And I think, you know, I think as a starting point, as a basis for a series, it was something that was just a sure hit. And then you add in, you know, all the wonderful other people who are involved in it, some of them are sitting right next to me. You know…
Tapping: Breathing down your neck.
Dunne: Breathing down my neck, staring right into me, you know, I think you have a recipe for a really great show. And you know, Sanctuary, also we talked about it a lot but, there’s a great connection between all of us here. There’s a great common belief in this show, and we have a lot of fun doing it. And I think those are the intangibles that really pull things together. And whether an audience consciously realizes it or not, they really feel that, and I think that contributes to the success as well.
Okay, and my last question is for Amanda. You have, without any doubt whatsoever, a fantastic science fiction pedigree. You’ve been on the X-Files, Stargate, and now Sanctuary. What is it about this genre that appeals to you?
Tapping: It’s interesting because when I got Stargate, I wasn’t a massive science fiction fan. I had done a lot of science fiction, but I think, what I came to realize, that what appeals to me about the genre for women, is that there’s an incredible opportunity for strong, savvy women in leadership roles, unapologetically, and I just found, I think I found my niche, you know.
And what I love about the genre, beyond just making the show where I get to play these great women, is the fandom, and the connectedness of the fandom. And I think once you get yourself into shows like Sanctuary and like Stargate, the fans are stalwart and loyal and gracious, and they’re hard on you because they want you to be amazing and, but they’re also amazingly supportive.
And so, I mean I would never have said, when I graduated from, you know, theater school, that I would be doing sci fi. I was quite snobby when I left theater school, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love it. And I love the fact the genre, in and of itself is a genre that thinks outside the box. It’s not formulaic, it’s not procedural, every week is a whole new ball game. And I love that, I love the imagination of it.
Dunne: And also, you know, the genre is great in the sense that it’s very, metaphorically you could deal with a lot of different subjects in different ways and…
Tapping: And politically, I mean, you can, yes, there’s a lot of messages that you can parlay, that aren’t as didactic as saying, you know, ‘This is how we feel about politics,’ but you can do it in a roundabout way, and still get your message across.
Dunne: We trick people. Trick them, trick them all, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah.
Tapping: I don’t know, I’m a big fan of the genre. I’m a big fan of what it’s done, specifically for women.
And, I’m sorry, I have one more question to ask, I apologize, for that kind of (unintelligible), because I said earlier I was done. Is there a certain, now, for both of you, is there a certain abnormal power or ability you wish you had, that’s on the show?
Tapping: I know Will would like to be invisible.
Dunne: No, I…
Tapping: No, Robin would like to be invisible.
Dunne: Sometimes I feel invisible. Oh God, here they come, I swore I wouldn’t do this. I don’t know, I was thinking lately it would be cool to have Slinky hands, you know.
Dunne: It just, like Slinky or…
Tapping: We don’t have anyone with Slinky hands on the show.
Dunne: That’s what I’m saying, though, but that’s what I would like. I would like Slinky hands…
Tapping: You’re so weird.
Dunne: …because I could just play with the slinkies all day – or pogo feet. And I could bounce around.
Tapping: Okay, Tigger.
Dunne: Oh, see?
Tapping: You know, I used to think that longevity would be a great gift, but I actually think it’s kind of a curse. I would really like the idea of aging very slowly, though. That would be nice, slowly and gracefully, like Magnus. But I don’t think I’d want to live forever.
Hi Amanda, hi Robin. I just want to say, for full disclosure, George Clooney is making me penne a la vodka, and he sent a text to Brad about filling up the yacht.
Dunne: Where is my invitation? What, like, what have I got to do? I got to like write it in the sky or something?
Tapping: I’m going to have to give Robin therapy sessions for the next…
Dunne: God, you know, I just want to hang with those guys. I think I could, you know, be like their dorky…
Dunne: You know, yes, their…
Tapping: Cabana boy.
Aww, come on.
Dunne: That’s not nice.
Okay, now I got to ask, when you guys are doing this show…
…do you guys get to ad lib?
Dunne: The whole media is here, and you’re mocking me. That’s not nice. If you’re going to mock me, do it in private.
Dunne: They’re writing this down now.
Dunne: We will continue the mocking when the press conference is done.
Okay guys, when you’re doing the show, do you get to ad lib, or do you have to follow the script?
Tapping: We do ad lib, a bit. Often the scripts are so technical, and they’re so, the through-line is often so convoluted that if we ad lib we may, you know, the butterfly effect. Well not, you know what I mean, though, like there’s…
Dunne: It’s intricate.
Tapping: Intricate, not convoluted, intricate, so if you ad lib something incorrectly it may affect, you know, the time line. But we do ad lib a little bit, and they often stay in, because there’s a lot of freedom on our set, and there’s a lot of laughter on our set. And often things come out that end up becoming character, you know, character, yes character traits, really.
Dunne: Yes, and I think there’s a sort of nice duality of both things happening, because like Amanda says, the scripts are often very, very, the scripts are very, very tight on Sanctuary, but, you know, sometimes you hear about actors working on shows where, you know, there’s not, like not one single thing can be changed, and thankfully, we’re not, the writers here are not as rigid in that sense.
So, you know, while the scripts are generally, you know, what you see on television is what was written, there is an openness to adding some things in, and that’s a lot of fun too.
Okay, what is the one character trait that you admire about Magnus and that you admire about Will that you don’t have in real life, but you wish you did?
Tapping: Magnus is much more ballsy than I am. I wish sometimes that I had her strength of conviction, without worrying so much about what other people thought. I’m very, sort of conscientious of other people’s reactions to things, and I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But there are times when I wish I could just say exactly what I feel, like Magnus does and, you know, consequences be damned.
Dunne: For me, you know, Will can read, and that, you know, I’ve been, I’m working on it. You know, he’s really kind of, with all that book learning smart stuff, and…
Tapping: But you are a good baseball player.
Dunne: I’m a good baseball player, I like that. I like hitting balls back.
Tapping: Why didn’t you just say that you wish you were as smart as Will?
Dunne: Well, I’m, you know, again, it’s like, do we have to do it in the way that’s just so bland, it’s like eating, you know, corn flakes? Can we like, add some raisins to the cereal, and make it a little bit funny, you know? All right, I’ll say it the way Amanda wants me to say it.
Tapping: No, no, no.
Dunne: I wish I was as smart as, I were, I wish I were as smart. See, I don’t even know how to say it. I don’t even know the correct grammar to say this. But I wish I was as smart and good at the book learning as Will.
Tapping: That’s a fine answer, young man.
Dunne: Thank you, thank you, see?
Tapping: A fine, fine answer.
Was there anything that you were surprised to learn about yourselves after taking on the roles?
Tapping: For me, I guess I’m stronger than I thought I was. But it wasn’t just taking on the role of Magnus, it was sort of taking on the role of producer, and they’re very much interconnected, in the way that the show runs. So I guess I realized that I knew more about filmmaking than maybe I had given myself credit for, and I was a little more savvy than I had given myself credit for, and stronger, in some ways, than I gave myself credit for.
Because I’m able to fight the good fight when I need to, which may fly in the face of my previous answer, but yes, I think I’m stronger than I thought I was.
Dunne: Why wouldn’t you say that?
Tapping: Why didn’t I? I don’t know. And you, Robin?
Dunne: For me, in the same way, I mean, this is the biggest job I’ve ever had, and with, you know, the most commitment and the longest time I’ve ever been on one show, and it’s kind of exhausting in all the things that we’ve been doing here, but again, you know, you surprise yourself at the endurance that you have, to undertake a role so demanding and work on a series that’s got such a crazy pace to it.
And, you know, that even sort of applies to directing, this year. Lead… going into it I was kind of, very freaked out, because, obviously having never directed before, but as soon as you find yourself in the middle of it, you realize that you, how much more you know than you thought you did, and, you know, it was a great experience.
Thank you, and my last question is, what are your own personal sanctuaries?
Tapping: Our own personal sanctuaries, wow, this is a, you know, the truth, and it’s hokey, but bedtime with my 6-year-old daughter, and crawling into her bed with her, and reading stories, and doing our little rituals that we do at night, little dream train, and that for me is like, if I can make it through a day knowing that that’s at the end of it, that little – she has an amazing bedroom, little purple and green and lovely little quilt and the little canopy, and I just, that’s my sanctuary, cuddling up with her and quiet time.
Dunne: For me, it’s baseball. Baseball zens me out, you know, I could, whether it’s on television or whether I’m at a baseball game, I don’t know, I can just, get very zen for me, you know.
Well, this is what I was going to ask. So one person asked you what people you’d like to see as paranormal, or as, paranormal – as abnormals. What kind of, like, qualities or abilities that the abnormals have would you like to see on the show besides Slinky hands?
Tapping: Besides, what we’d like to see on the show? You know, I’d like to see more of Sally the Mermaid, and more of that sort of psychic – and Robin’s nodding his head, he would like to see more of Sally the Mermaid too.
Dunne: That’s not true. You cannot prove that I’ve done that, okay.
Tapping: I can’t. What other abnormal abilities would you like to see on the show?
Dunne: Like, you mean, new abnormal abilities or ones…
Yes, something that you haven’t done.
Dunne: …that we’ve seen that we want to see more of.
Something you haven’t done before.
Tapping: Something we haven’t done before, wow, we’ve done a lot of crazy stuff. And now we have more flying people, which I’m always a big fan of.
Dunne: Flying is good. We’ve never really seen anyone turn invisible.
Tapping: No, that’s true – well Griffin.
Dunne: Griffin, yes, Griffin does, that’s right.
Tapping: Kind of. That’s a good question. You’ve stumped us.
Tapping: Damn you, damn you.
Dunne: I have no idea.
Tapping: I don’t know either. I really wanted to see more flying people, and we got some in this season, so…
Dunne: Yes, this season’s definitely good, we’ve got some cool abnormal…
Tapping: We’ve got some very cool abnormals this season. We’ve got people who glow in the dark, we’ve got all sorts of cool stuff.
Dunne: Yes. Yes, I think we’re really going through, like, you know, like Season 5 we’ll have to start thinking of, like, you know, this guy’s abnormal power is, he can eat, you know, seven tons of M&Ms and not be full.
Tapping: That’s not a good abnormal…
Dunne: Yes it is.
Tapping: Okay. Sugar Rush Man.
Dunne: Sugar Man. Give me those M&Ms, I’ll eat as many as is possible. I’ll eat the whole store out.
You get asked a lot of questions, of course, by journalists like ourselves and fans, but if you were able to turn the tables and ask, let’s say, your fans and I suppose perhaps journalists one question, what would it be?
Tapping: What’s your favorite aspect of the show, and what would you like to see more of?
Tapping: Yes. But you know, I mean, like is it the revision of history, is it the abnormals, is it the interpersonal relationships? And what would you, what more would you like to see? Would you like a, you know, that, I would like that. Put that out there, Michael and see what you come back with.
Dunne: I mean, I think as a show with so many different, there’s so many different aspects of the show, it would, yes, it would be interesting to take a poll and see what people really connect to in the series.
Dunne: Will Zimmerman.
Dunne: Tell them it should be Will Zimmerman. The show is…
How about a little hint in the footnote? That’s great, thank you. Thanks again for coming out today. I appreciate it.
Tapping: Thank you, thank you everyone for being here.
Dunne: Thanks everyone.
Photos by Joe Pugliese and Chris Helcermanas-Benge/courtesy of Syfy