For new shows just coming out of the gate, it’s important that they make a great first impression—because, let’s face it, we’re living in an era in which shows face off against each other Hunger Games-style and only the strong survive. Luckily, Wynonna Earp, Emily Andras’s adaptation of Beau Smith’s epic comic, stands a chance of seizing one of those elusive victor spots. Starring Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp, a modern-day descendant of Wyatt Earp, the show blends zombies with the gunslinger culture of the Wild West, adding in dashes of witty dialogue and colorful characters for good measure. In many ways, it is reminiscent of other classic genre shows, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, but as the pilot shows, it has a mythology that is uniquely its own and that will ultimately help the show stand on its own two feet before too long.
Altogether, Wynonna Earp has a lot going for it even at this early stage—a kickass female protagonist, a complex mythology and multi-dimensional supporting characters—all of which are things that showrunner Emily Andras (Killjoys, Lost Girl) and stars Melanie Scrofano (Gangland), Tim Rozon (Being Human) and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Avengers: Age of Ultron) brought up in a recent conference call with various reporters, myself included. In regard to how she went about adapting the series for television, Andras stated that she felt like the series was designed just for her.
I really felt like, when they brought me this property—this graphic novel—it was as if people had cooked up something in the kitchen that was my perfect project. I just couldn’t believe my luck the second that I opened the graphic novel. I’ve been privileged to write a lot of genre TV with strong protagonists and this had such a doozy in Wynonna Earp. Such a fun, take-no-prisoners, don’t-give-a-crap character; she’s kind of a mess, she’s wild, she’s crazy, she’s sexy—and I just saw all the potential in her for a TV series.
Moreover, she pointed out that she worked closely with comic creator Beau Smith throughout the careful and arduous process of adapting the series to television and has a profound respect for him.
I just have to say that Beau Smith is beloved in comics. Not only is he an incredible author with an incredible imagination, but he’s also such a gentleman and such a lovely collaborator. I say without guile that this has been such a pleasurable experience working together and being able to take it from one medium and turn it into a television show. He’s been so supportive. We really tried to involve him as much as possible and he’d come on set and hang with the cast, and it really has been a joy.”
Not only did Andras and Smith have a close relationship but the cast did as well, which helped solidify their on-screen chemistry and dynamic.
I think Dominique and I got along very well right away,” star Melanie Scrofano, who plays Wynonna, explains. “In regard to the relationship, I think that we were lucky because Dom and I had chemistry right away. It felt like we had known each other all our lives and that we were past sisters so we just jumped right in to that relationship. And Tim—he was so eager to play Doc and had such an annoyingly positive attitude; he just wanted to play and he never complained. We just really fell into the perfect group of people with a great camaraderie between us.
For a show with an ensemble cast, this is undoubtedly important. But what about how they got in touch with each of their characters? Tim Rozon, who plays the immortal Doc Holliday, admits that he felt conflicted at the start.
For me, I went from being really excited to get the part to this fear over playing this iconic character. I wanted to do him justice, you know? I knew there were going to be a lot of people looking for the things that I did wrong and I didn’t want to mess up other people’s visions or versions of the character. At the same time, I wanted to make him my own and not do anything that had been done before. I tried to bring a lot of fun to the character of Doc.
Meanwhile, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, who plays Wynonna’s younger sister Waverly, feels like she hit the ground running with little preparation.
I think I found out even later than everyone else so when I got the notice that I got the role, it was like “Can you be in Calgary tomorrow for filming?” Not actually tomorrow, but it was quite a quick turnaround. I think that actually helped me in the long run because it ended up being one of those things where you have to just jump straight in. It felt like I hadn’t done as much preparation as I would’ve liked to but the minute I stepped foot in Calgary and read the first couple of episodes, I saw that the writing was so strong and makes everything so clear that you just have to have faith and trust in that. Coupled with the actors who were so supportive, and the crew who were like a little family, it felt safe from the get-go. From episode one, I think we all clicked and connected, so it worked out perfectly, really.
In contrast to the other two, Scrofano drew on real life inspirations to craft Wynonna into the strong yet real female lead that we are introduced to in the pilot.
I looked to real life—to the real life superwomen that we all know and love. For example, my mom is by far the strongest woman that you will ever meet. She will end your life if you try to mess with her children, She’s a ferocious leader and a boss at work but she will also cry at the drop of a hat. She’s so vulnerable yet so strong. She’s not perfect but she’s perfect in her imperfection and that’s what I think Wynonna is. Hopefully, she makes everyone go “You know what, I’m not perfect and I know that I screwed up but I’m going to keep forging ahead and be better and make things right, and I’m probably going to fall on my face a few times along the way but so be it.
This approach helps Wynonna become someone to whom viewers can relate. Furthermore, it gives her room to grow into her abilities and her potential, and gives us the opportunity to watch her progress.
Because, in all honesty, the fact that she’s a fledgling protector at the beginning is what makes the show so interesting and entertaining. Her inexperience shows in many of the pilot’s action-packed scenes, lending them a unique touch of humor. In regard to what kind of preparation they had before filming those scenes, both Scrofano and Provost-Chalkley gave very unique answers. For Scrofano,
It was intimidating. I got to do some training before we started—motorcycles, guns and martial arts—and one thing I learned is that you fight differently in real life compared to on-screen where you have to make sure that nobody gets hurt, and I’m not that good at the latter yet (laughs). I can fight in real life and I’ll fuck you up but, on-screen, it was intimidating because I just never wanted to hurt someone and there were a couple of occasions where I did. But I pinch myself every day because I get to go to work and be a giant kid, living in the amazing imagination of Beau and Emily.
Provost-Chalkley, on the other hand, had no previous experience before the show.
For me, obviously, I’m from the U.K., and I had never touched a gun in my life before setting foot on this set. It’s just something that we do not do. Then, the first day that I arrive in Calgary, they we’re like “So, do you have some shooting practice?” And I was like “This is crazy!” But it was amazing. I don’t know if it was beginner’s luck or something but I was hitting the bulls-eyes and it was crazy. (laughs). But I had to keep pinching myself when I was on set because it was crazy and I was kind of enjoying it which made it more crazy. The adrenaline was running through our bodies. So, to get to go to work and run around and shoot guns—we were literally playing the whole time. It was awesome.
So, what does episode two have in store for viewers?
Honestly, as a writer, episode two is the one that makes your blood run cold. I’m really proud of the second episode because I feel like the comedy starts to pop, the cast really arrives so fully formed and we start to have the chance to put these characters in situations with each other. I feel like the second episode is hard because you really want to keep people’s interest but I also think that the pants start to come off as well (laughs). There’s a lot of mythology to set up for the pilot and I’m really proud of how we did it but I do think that the second episode as far as tone is very much what I hope we will continue putting on-screen.
Sounds to me like we all need to tune in to see what happens! Wynonna Earp airs on Friday nights at 10:00 pm ET/PT on Syfy.