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Exclusive Interview with Alison Haislip of Battlebots and Con Man

Photo Credit: Eric Fischer
Photo Credit: Eric Fischer

Talk Nerdy With Us had the chance recently to chat with the lovely Alison Haislip about Con Man, SDCC and of course Battlebots! Read the interview below.

You can follow Alison on twitter @alisonhaislip

And also follow the shows on twitter: @BattlebotsABC and @ConManSeries

 

I know you are a gamer, Alison. Is that one of the things that attracted you to BattleBots?

“Yeah. I guess when I think about it, that would be a big part of it because I love competition and I love unique competition. When I sat down for my meeting with BattleBots, they explained to me what it was, I was like, “What? This sounds like the coolest thing ever.” So, yes. I guess it really just tapped into me being a gamer at my core.”

BattleBots, as we know, is an update of the show that originally aired on Comedy Central. For people who haven’t seen ABC’s version, what are the differences, in your opinion?

“ABC is treating BattleBots, the robot combat, like it is an actual sport! We want it to be taken seriously. We want people to understand that these competitors are the new athletes. The Comedy Central version, because it was on Comedy Central, it needed to have comedy involved in it. It slightly made fun of what these people were doing. We’re not doing that at all! We’re taking it very seriously. ABC had us up in Vallejo (where we shot it) three days before we even started filming, because we took three full days just to get to know the competitors. To get to know the specs of their bots. When we started filming, we were experts at this. That’s how serious we’re taking it.”

Out of curiosity, how long does it take some of the competitors to build those bots?

“I think it varies from competitor to competitor. I think they want as much time as possible. Because of the production schedule of our show, we were not able to give them that amount of time. These competitors have to build their bots in a much shorter time span, just a few months. Normally, I think they’re given almost a year to build their bots. The fact that their bots are still so cool, I think, gives so much credit to the competitors. Assuming we have a second season, I hope we’ll be able to give them the proper amount of time. Then during season two, we’ll see even bigger and more bad-ass bots.”

The quarter finals are this weekend, right? Do you have any predictions?

“We shot the entire season back in May, so I actually already know who wins. But, I do love how people are doing their own brackets for this and then tweeting them at me and the other people in the broadcast team. I love peoples’ projections. I love to see who people think are going to win this competition!”

How long did it take you guys to film BattleBots?

“We shot the entire season in three days. It was pretty drastic. We shot the whole thing as a live event. We had a live audience there who were there for the full competition. We shot the initial twelve battles in one day and then all the bots that went on, they only had over night to repair their bots from their first battle. But that’s a long amount of time for what robot combat normally gives you. Normally, when you go into one of these competitions, you’re given maybe twenty five minutes to fix your bot before you go into another round.”

You are in the new Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. Can you tell everyone about that?

“That’s one of the coolest projects that I’ve been apart of. Wil Wheaton created his own Dungeons and Dragons-esque game and then asked four of his friends to come play through an entire campaign. We filmed the whole thing over four days. It was myself, Hank Green, Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey and Wil was our game master.

It was my first step into a true dice based RPG game. It was exhilarating! The characters that we all created and the adventures that we all went on, felt like I was living this other life through this game. In reality, all we were doing was sitting on a couch for twelve hours a day. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of gaming and I loved it.”

Now, I’ve got to ask you about Con Man. Can you tell us anything about your role?

“I play Faith. I am Jack Moore’s assistant. Jack Moore is played by Nathan Fillion. Jack is just never where he says he’s going to be. So when people arrive to see Jack, normally I’m there with Jack on Facetime.”

What’s it like working with Nathan and Alan?

“It’s incredible. Those two are such good friends and they’ve known each other for so long that they have their own language with each other. They do this look at each other and know what the other’s thinking. Alan was incredible as a first time director because he’s been an actor for so long. All my scenes were with him, so it’s very interesting when you’re acting with the director, because you’ll do a scene and someone will yell “cut” or he will yell “cut” and he’ll immediately come and talk to you as an actor. He’ll collaborate with you on how you feel you should do the next take.”

That’s great. You we’re at San Diego Comic-Con, this past weekend!

“This is my eighth Comic-Con!”

That is awesome! You’ve been an interviewer and this year now, you are a panelist. Which is harder?

“I think, schedule-wise, being an interviewer is harder because you’re at the mercy of where everyone else is. I would have to run all over God’s green earth to make it to these interviews. Normally you’re in heels and cute little outfits, and you’re trying not to look disgusting when you show up to interview Ryan Reynolds or something like that. And plus, you go all day. My hours when I was working at G4 were, you know, 7 am hair and makeup, shoot till 6 pm. As a panelist, the challenge is that you don’t know what you’re going to get asked. At least with the interviewing, you’re kind of in control since you’re the one asking questions.  So, you’re kind of sitting up there blind, and hoping no one’s going to ask you a question that’s going to stump you [laughs].”

Do you have any other projects that you’re working on right now?

“I do. I’m working on the Half Hour Happy Hour with Alison and Alex. Alex Albrecht, was my co-host from 4 Points, which we did back on Nerdist about four years ago. He and I have constantly been looking to start a show that we can host together again because we had so much fun working together. Alex was the one who was like, “Why don’t we just do a podcast out of my garage?” And I’m like “sure”. We have so much fun doing it, that we wouldn’t care if only five people listened to it. Somehow thousands of people are listening to it and the only promotion we’ve done is via our two Twitter accounts. It’s shocking because the show is just Alex and I sitting there with our sidekick Tom. We all have a drink, because it’s happy hour. We talk about things we thought were kind of interesting this week and that’s really it. Yet, people seem to love it [laughs]. We did a live recording at Comic-Con and we had fans show up with… They made signs for us. Some people made shirts with our catchphrases on them. It was shocking to me! I think somehow Alex and I have a weird chemistry with each other where we just manage to bring out the funniest sides of each other.”

I love the podcast! You both have great chemistry. Now you’re one of the hosts on theStream.tv’s “Winter is Coming”, the Game of Thrones after show. I have to ask you, what is your favorite Game of Thrones episode from this season?

“The episode in which they burn Shireen was… I hate saying it’s my favorite, like I liked that. I obviously hated that [laughs]. But as someone who has read the books, that episode is the first episode that really threw something at me that I wasn’t expecting. It brought up a whole new set of emotions for me because of that. I remember finishing that episode and being so moved by it. That episode really stuck with me.”

 

Tune into ABC tonight for the BattbleBots Quarterfinals at 9|8c!

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