Laura Vandervoort is a Canadian television and film actress who has appeared on such shows as Smallville, Haven, V, CSI: NY and The Dresden Files. She currently stars as Elena Michaels on Bitten, the television adaptation of the book series “Women of the Otherworld” by Kelley Armstrong. Laura will also have an upcoming role as Indigo on CBS’ Supergirl.
I recently chatted with Laura about Bitten and Elena. Here’s what she had to say.
What do you enjoy best about playing Elena?
“I enjoy most who she is and what she stands for. She deals with a lot of drama, but I enjoy how she gets through it. She definitely has her flaws. Yet, despite how she was brought up and the things she went through and the things she continues to go through being the only female werewolf in this new world, she’s gain a certain strength about herself. She still relies on her own moral compass, even in a world that is filled with bloodshed. She’s maintained who she is and has just gotten stronger.”
How has the character of Elena changed since you’ve been playing her?
“It’s definitely been a process getting to know her throughout the seasons. Most shows, like season one you’re sort of feeling out the character and the new skin that you’re in. You’re trying to sort through what’s really important to the character.
Most writers and even our producers slowly develop the character to be more like the actor. Despite her being a character in the books, and we do stay as true to that as possible, she’s also evolved with the show. She’s helped me to become more comfortable with myself in a lot of ways, so it’s been a real journey and I love playing her!
Elena and Clay work well together, how do you think their relationship would be different if the werewolf element was taken out and they were a normal couple?
“It definitely would be a lot easier for them to start a future together. (laughs). He would be working as a professor and she would be a photographer. I think it would be more of a laid-back lifestyle for the two of them. If they weren’t dealing with this pack mentality. The sense of not having control of their own lives when they’re in this pack is difficult. So I think they would still be deeply in love, I don’t think their love would change in any way. They’re soul mates if you believe in that. But, it probably would have been an easier journey getting to where they want to be.”
I agree, it’s made things complicated but it hasn’t come between them.
“Their love is so strong that no matter what happens at the end of the day they come back to each other for comfort.’
What has been your favorite Bitten episode thus far?
“That’s a hard one because there might be some stuff in Season 3 that I can’t talk about (laughs).”
Okay, let me reword that, what has been your favorite episode from seasons 1-2?
“I really enjoyed the episode (I think it was in Season 1) where Elena is confronted with someone from her past, he was a child molester. For me, that was a very serious topic in the script. It explained a lot about Elena and who she is. She confronted those fears. That’s symbolic of a lot of things in our lives, she confronted those fears and she bounced back. In the show, she took care of business and got rid of him.
In terms of scenes, it’s hard to say a favorite episode but there’s been a lot of scenes where I’ve been really proud of the work that the cast has done. Our finale when Elena takes on Aleister and is dying in Clay’s arms. That was a really emotional scene for both Greyston and me to do. On that day, we really had trouble keeping emotions in check. I’ve never done a scene like that before and I don’t think he had either. I think we were both channeling whatever it was in our own lives. It was a very powerful scene for us to do.”
It’s great that you guys can take a show that addresses werewolves and transcend it into something that touches many lives
“Yes, the werewolves and supernatural aspects are only a small part of Bitten. The main focus of the show are the relationships and the family and the betrayals. I feel that if an actor can find something within themselves that triggers something that relates to the character in the scene that they’re doing, something truthful comes out.
And that’s exactly what the cast of this show does, day in and day out. I’ve learned so much watching Greg, who plays Jeremy, our Alpha. It opens up doors of emotions and he’s just so there for you. He’s someone who you feel comfortable working with and can explore things in a scene with. He helps me do a great job.
I’ve worked a lot of shows in the sci-fi genre and what I’ve noticed is that sci-fi isn’t really recognized for awards. Even in Canada, we have an awards show and it’s hard for the genre to be acknowledged as a drama. I’m hoping that will change in time. All that really matters to me, the cast and the producers is that the fans enjoy our work and the genre. That’s really why we do this.”
What can you tease about Elena’s storyline in the coming season?
“Elena’s troubled by the visions she’s had at the end of Season 2. She’s worried that she is going to be responsible for bringing it all down, whatever that metaphor means. (laughs). So she’s dealing with that and doesn’t want to share it with anyone. She’s trying to understand what it means for her and her pack. And there are some new characters that come in this season. They definitely turn Elena’s world upside down. They make her question who she thought she was. It’s pretty great the revelations that come out this season.
I do believe this is our best season yet. And I really hope everyone feels the same way. There’s really nothing more I can say without giving away major plot points (laughs).”
What are your thoughts on the events at the end of last season?
“I thought the finale was really rewarding for me as an actor, and I think the audience enjoyed it as well. Elena took out Aleister. And she and Clay, the feelings they’ve had this whole time have gotten deeper. I think it was fantastic, it seemed the episode was over, but then there was the quick flash cut to the premonitions. I think that just shocked everyone! Then it cut to black. I thought it was a great cliffhanger and it definitely set up this season.”
If you had to describe Bitten to a non-viewer, someone who’s never heard of it or the books it’s based on, what would you say?
“It’s a drama that is a mixture of Sopranos and True Blood. (laughs). It’s about family, keeping the bond and protecting each other at all costs. It’s almost a Romeo and Juliet situation where two characters are torn apart by their world. There’re action and definitely sci-fi elements. It’s werewolves, but it’s more than that. It’s a show that people aged 16 and above would enjoy.
We’ve had to take some creative liberties with the series and as the seasons have gone on, it’s sort of gotten away from the books. To maintain the drama, we’ve had to change a lot of the story. We’re pretty much off-book this season.”
You have an upcoming role on Supergirl? How does it feel watching another actress play Kara, the role you played in Smallville?
“I think, first of all, the show is fantastic! Melissa is the perfect new version of Supergirl. I think if I had been Supergirl for this, it would have been a mistake. It’s nice to have a new take on Kara. She’s a completely different Kara from the one that I played on Smallville. I joined the show seven years in and they had an idea of how I should play her and who she was. It was more of an immature, bratty Supergirl at the beginning and as the seasons went on, she matured. She got to live in Clark’s world.
Whereas on Supergirl, it is her own world. Superman isn’t there all the time and she has the ability to make her own mistakes and be humbled. She doesn’t have that snarky attitude. Kara on Supergirl is finding her own way and her own style. It’s almost the Clark Kent version of Supergirl where she has the glasses and has a daytime job and is a superhero in disguise. I think that’s a great version of her and to be a part of the show has been awesome.”
What can you tell us about your Supergirl character and her story arc?
“It’s a character that I’ve never played before. I can’t say much about her because the episodes haven’t aired yet, but discovering Indigo as I go has been a journey. (laughs). It’s been a lot of fun, it’s the most freely open character that I’ve ever played. She just says what comes to mind. There’s a lot of physical changes that are completely different from when I played Supergirl. Working with Melissa and the rest of the cast has been great. I’ve got a few more episodes to go.”
When people think of Laura and your career, what would you like them to say about your body of work?
“I hope people would say that I’ve grown as an actor and enjoyed playing a lot of the stronger female roles on television. I’ve been acting since I was 12 years old and I would love fans to say that they’ve seen me grow.
I’ve become more comfortable with myself and I’m trying to take on more challenging roles.”
Bitten Season 3 premieres Friday, February 12 on Space and Monday, February 15 on Syfy.