Today I sat down and talked with Jodelle Ferland, the bright young actress who plays the mysterious Five on SyFy’s new series Dark Matter. No stranger to acting, Jodelle has been in the business since the tender age of two. Here is what this wise-beyond-her-years young woman had to say about life, Dark Matter, and Comic-Con.
You started acting at a really young age. Has there ever been anything else you wanted to do outside of entertainment, or are you just where you want to be right now?
“Well, there were a lot of random things I wanted to do when I was younger, the typical kid dreams. At one point I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian but that ended pretty quickly once I learned all the things that were actually involved. But I think the only other thing I would ever really consider as a job would be some sort of artist. I really like painting and drawing and just making things. But I did do a semester of school for that at one point when I was trying to decide whether I wanted to follow that or keep going into acting, and eventually I decided that acting is what I want to do as my main job for as long as possible and art is just a side thing that I enjoy doing.”
This question comes from a Twitter follower: Who did the drawings that Five did in one of the episodes? Was that you?
“That was not me, unfortunately. They did decide to make Five somebody who doodles and draws because they found out that I like to draw, and they did want me to do a few but sometimes things end up being last minute and I didn’t exactly have time for that. But I did think it was really cool. There were a lot of things about Five that they changed because of me and they put some pieces of my personality into Five.”
How does it feel to be both the youngest and the most seasoned actor on Dark Matter‘s Raza crew?
“That was a bit of a running joke on Dark Matter. Every time somebody mentioned that I was the youngest somebody would say “Yeah, but she’s been doing it the longest.” It is funny being a younger actor on set, because even when I was younger people assume that if you’re a child that you haven’t been acting for very long or that you don’t really know what you are doing. And when people used to ask me how long I’ve been acting and I was eight and I would say “six years” and they’d be so confused since I looked about six. It’s funny watching peoples’ reactions when I tell them I’ve more or less been doing it my entire life and that’s pretty much just what I know. I’ve never done anything else so I’m used to it.”
What’s it like working with the diverse Dark Matter cast?
“Our cast is amazing. I was so happy with the casting, because you never know really when you’re on a series what the people will be like and you also don’t know how much time you’re going to have to spend with them. Who knows? It could go for ten seasons and imagine if we didn’t work well together. On some shows they’ll have a chemistry test beforehand to make sure that the people work well together. We didn’t have anything like that on this one, so they just know us well enough to know that we were all going to be perfect together. And it’s interesting because every member of the cast is very different; I don’t think any of us are quite the same, and somehow we just work perfectly together. Our little spaceship family.”
Everyone else on Raza gets to use guns and weapons; when will Five get to use her own gun?
“Spoilers! I don’t want to give anything away or tell you exactly what’s going to happen, but I will tell you that Five gets her moment in the spotlight as far as the toughness goes, like the rest of the crew. She shows how brave she is. She will get her moment in the spotlight like everybody else.”
Without giving any spoilers, can you tell us if we’ll find out more about Five’s identity and her mysterious dreams before the season ends?
“Actually, the next episode—episode 6—is basically Five’s episode. We all have an episode that centers around our character, and this coming episode is Five’s. It was definitely the most fun to film. It was quite a lot of work compared to the rest because Five—she has some very interesting moments but she’s not always the center of attention, and for that episode she is, and also the interesting thing about episode 6 is while you learn more about Five you also get to learn more about the rest of the characters through her because she apparently has everybody’s memories in her head. But watch episode 6 to find out more.”
You’ve done some voice acting. How does that compare to screen acting? What are some of the different challenges involved?
“It’s very, very different doing voice acting and doing on-screen acting. For most of my life I’ve done on-screen acting and I’ve only really done a few voice scenes, but I had so much fun on them. I mean, it’s completely different. It’s so strange because—I think the main difference between voice and real-life acting is your reactions and noises because when you’re doing a real-life scene the reactions just sort of go with what you’re doing, and when you’re recording it they have to tell you each thing that you have to make a sound for or react to because you’re not doing the scene. You don’t really know what you would be doing in that situation. So the list of lines would be a bunch of words that you have to say and then it’ll say “grunt” “gasp,” and then you have to recreate all of those reactions that would normally come naturally if you were in the middle of a scene and you wouldn’t really have to think about. It’s definitely a lot more. It’s a very strange feeling, trying to act out all of that but not really being able to move so that the microphone will only pick up the sound that it needs to pick up. It’s strange, but it’s a challenge and I’ve had a lot of fun doing voice acting. I’d love to do more.”
Another Twitter question: Have you auditioned for any comedic roles recently?
“I have auditioned for a lot of comedic roles throughout my life. I auditioned for things of pretty much every genre but the darker sci-fi genre seems to keep pulling me towards it. I mean, when I was younger I did get typecast a lot. I was generally the creepy little girl. That’s changing more now. I don’t always have the exact same kind of role. Five isn’t a character that I’ve ever played something like that before. And you know, she is a little funny. The character has some humor to it. She’s a little quirky. I always try to get diverse roles and it just ends up that the darker sci-fi roles keep pulling me towards them, which is fine because I absolutely love that genre.”
You play violin and also guitar, is that right?
“Well, I played violin when I was very young, and I have a guitar which is in the corner of my room and doesn’t get loved very much. (laughter)”
So no plans to expand into music anytime soon?
“Haha no, not right now. You never know, maybe one day my guitar will actually get some intense practicing and I’ll be able to play something. Usually what happens is I get distracted very easily or I end up getting busy so I will pick up an instrument, and I will say that I’m going to learn a song and then I learn the intro and I’m so happy with myself that I just never do the rest. I’m not great with motivation sometimes.”
Last weekend was San Diego Comic-Con. What is your favorite part of conventions: meeting the fans or getting to do your own geeking out?
“Oh, I don’t think I can choose between those two. I’m the type of person that just goes to conventions on my own time even if I’m not hired to go to them, so I was especially excited that I got to, first of all, go to Comic-Con, but also for one of my own TV shows. That is a geek dream. I had such a great time. Honestly, one of the highlights was that I got to meet the Dark Matter fans in person. We only had a few episodes out when we went to Comic-Con so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew we had fans because I’d seen people on Twitter and Facebook, social media, but I had no idea how many people are actually fans of the show and dedicated to it already. So that was amazing and definitely helps with motivation for trying to get us season 2, because I would love to be able to do that again, so I’m working extra hard on the social media to get people. But geeking out was definitely a huge bonus to going to Comic-Con. When I wasn’t doing interviews or panels or autograph signings I definitely went and walked the floor and bought everything! I’m sitting in my bedroom and looking at all the posters and artwork that I bought and I’m like “Oh, I went crazy! I’m so bad!” And I also got to meet Peter Capaldi, who plays The Doctor on Doctor Who. I was so happy! I was really sad because I didn’t really get to go to any panels or events because most of the time I was doing Dark Matter related things, which was also a lot of fun, but there were some things I wanted to go to like the Doctor Who panel, but I was busy during that time, so I was telling people that I was really sad because I didn’t get to see Peter Capaldi. Then we went out for dinner later, and guess who’s at the table next to us? Just Moffat and Peter Capaldi and a few other Doctor Who and Sherlock people. No big deal. I was so happy I couldn’t move. I almost started crying, so somebody had to take me over to say “hi.” And he signed my TARDIS backpack. So overall, such a great experience, and I hope I get to do it again.”