Best-known for portraying Clare Edwards on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Aislinn Paul’s career is on the rise. This fall she will be starring on NBC’s anticipated hit mini-series Heroes Reborn. Fans can meet Aislinn’s character Phoebe Frady in the web series Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters.
Read our interview with Aislinn below. We discuss Heroes, Degrassi, Peter Pan and Twitter.
To start things off, tell us a bit about your audition process for Heroes Reborn.
“It was actually a very quick process. Unlike what you usually hear for big shows and everything because I was doing the web series. I auditioned for the web series, I sent in my tape, and then it was a really quick turn around. I heard back, and then had to fly home to Toronto from LA.”
So, you knew about Dark Matters first. You auditioned for Dark Matters prior to Heroes Reborn?
“Yes. That was my main focus when I auditioned.”
Did you watch Heroes when it was originally on?
“I did watch Heroes. I was a huge fan, especially the first season. I loved everything about it. I watched every week live. When I got the audition, obviously, I was like “Yes! This is amazing.” [laughs].”
This is a dream job.
Did you do screen tests with Henry (Zebrowski)?
“I didn’t. It was the quickest turn around. Honestly, I sent in this tape for the audition, almost forgot about it, because it’s such a busy time of year, you’re sort of auditioning for a bunch of stuff. Then when I got the email back saying I was a top choice, I was floored. Within a week or so, I was flying home and did a read through, and that’s when I first met Henry.”
What was it like filming Dark Matters?
“Filming Dark Matters was so fun. We had the best time. We shot in 8 days. Everything that you see in the web series, plus all the little viral videos, is all done in 8 days. They had a team from Retrofit Films in LA come out and shoot it with us. They were so fun. It was just such a creative environment and it was a really fun way to explore the relationship between Quentin and Phoebe. It was a great way to get to know Phoebe. I had the best time shooting it.”
Between TV, film, and web series, which is the most fun for you to shoot?
“That is such a hard question. Ultimately, I think it’s about the content. That’s kind of a cop out. [laughs]. But I really do think it’s about the material that you’re working on. I will say that I do like film or anything that you can see the beginning and the end of before you begin shooting. You have the whole story arc written out. Then you get to plan out your arc and see where you’re going to go and the moments that are going to mean something to you later on. Versus a TV show sometimes it’s just shot in the dark. When something comes up, you think it’ll mean something then it doesn’t and then … or something that you sort of brushed off as an actor then later means a lot. Sometimes that can be a bit of a guessing game.”
What originally drew you to the roll of Phoebe?
“Well, I mean, the role was on Heroes. [laughs]. No, but ultimately I really adore Phoebe. I think she’s a really, really interesting character. She’s really defying my generation a bit. It’s just she’s very vulnerable and kind of fragile, a little anxious. You know, she’s looking for her purpose in life.”
What would you do personally if you had Phoebe’s shadowmancer power?
“I would probably do a lot of what she does in the web series. I’d make shadow puppets over the walls, and I would definitely use it to turn off lights so that I would never have to touch a light switch again. [laughs].”
During the first webisode I was like, “Oh my god, she’s like Peter Pan!” Then I realized it was much darker than that.
“Yeah, it’s a little more complicated than Peter. [laughs].”
Did they give you a back story for Phoebe or did you come up with your own?
“We did have a bit of discussion on set about the back story. But in a fun way, I mean, the prequel is back story. Which was great. We cover so many years in such a short time. So, I mean, obviously we can’t get to the stuff with her parents, but we really get to see a lot of Phoebe and Quentin’s relationship. That was really great foundational stuff for us to build.”
You keep getting to play characters that are actually pretty similar in age to you, versus being like, 30 and playing a college student or a teenager. Does that help you get into these characters?
“Sure it does. I did immediately connect with Phoebe because our ages were so close. It does make it a bit easier I think.”
Were there any traits you took, I mean obviously it’s a completely different character, but were there any traits that you took from Clare and used for Phoebe?
“That’s an interesting question. I mean, I’m sure if you analyzed it, there might be some similar traits but I do, try to look at each character as new when I sort of start building them. I think, especially with Clare, to me she’s such an actual person, that’s such a weird thing to say but I sort of closed the book on her when I was working on TV. So, Clare never really crossed my mind when I was working on Heroes.”
On Degrassi and then on Heroes, you keep getting to join casts that are already established but then you get to start with the new people as well. So, what’s that like for you? Building those relationships with cast members who know each other already, but then also being part of the new group as well?
“Yeah that’s true. If anything Degrassi was great practice for it. I’m sort of, I’m prepared to walk in and build relationships. That’s a great thing as well that Degrassi gave me; the desire to have that. I really want to have a close cast, and people who I hang out with outside of work. These guys are great. They’re so, so fun.”
How different is the Heroes set from the Degrassi set?
“The Heroes set is otherworldly. It’s amazing, the stuff that they are building. I walk in and I am just, my jaw is on the floor. They are building some amazing, amazing stuff. The set designers have the most incredible imaginations, and the people who actually execute it are so skilled because it looks so good.”
Is it easier getting into character on a sci fi show? When there are more props/sets/etc? Is it easier or harder getting into character when the world you’re creating is less realistic?
“I don’t think either really. I find them kind of on par because I think even though the reality TV is in might be different from our reality, for the character, it’s still reality. So, I don’t find it harder, I guess. The only thing I will say is that there is an added element of just getting into character of also visualizing the powers that are going on.
With Clare, in the middle of the hallway, I don’t have to like imagine that there’s a notebook in my hand. There usually is. I can carry props, I get to have all these things around me. Versus CG with the shadows on the walls, or a ball of darkness, I have to visualize these things or imagine them happening. I work with all the special effects teams, and the visual effects and know what they’re going to add. That’s sort of an extra layer of preparation but about getting into character, it’s sort of the same.”
Do you have time to watch television? What’s your favorite genre?
“I have a shameful amount of time to watch TV. I make time! [laughs]. TV is my favorite. I also really like bouncing around from genre to genre because I just look for anything that really intrigues me and is entirely unique. That’s sort of the thing that drew me to Heroes at the time, because at that time they were the only show doing superpower related stuff. I enjoy Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones. They were all very original in their genre and I really like that. That really draws me to them.”
Besides television, what do you “nerd-out” over?
“Well, televisions definitely the top one. I nerd-out over television pretty much constantly. Also movies as well and books. I was always big on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.”
Are you more of a binge watcher of television or do you enjoy, watching episodes weekly?
“I’m totally a binge watcher. I can have hyper focus on a TV for hours. [laughs]. Then I usually regret it because I wish I could spread out my dealings. You know, you always go into withdrawal when you watch several episodes of one show and then you don’t have anything for a week. It’s nicer if you can spread it out over a couple of days.”
When Heroes Reborn starts, is Phoebe still missing?
“You know, I really can’t tell you a lot about what you’re going to see with Phoebe and Quentin. I mean, I don’t even know a lot. I will say that there will be a resolution to the story.”
Who from the original Heroes were you most excited to meet on the set?
“Oh. Well, I always loved HRG, so Noah Bennet! Jack (Coleman) is just the coolest. So, that was really, really, nice to meet him and hang out with him a bit. Also Masi, who played Hiro on the original show. I mean, he’s one of the best characters. That was really cool.”
Phoebe has her shadowmancer power, but if you, personally, could have any power in the world, what would your EVO power be?
“Wow. I’ve always been partial to flying or time travel. I think those two would be my top choices because they’re just so great. Traveling is one of my favorite things. If I could travel back in time, I would just be so happy. Or if I didn’t have to buy plane tickets, that’d be great. [laughs]. Both of those things would be very cool.”
Do you enjoy watching yourself?
“That’s probably my least favorite thing to do. I know that’s not very original because most actors don’t like watching themselves but it’s just very strange. I don’t like it at all.”
The cast of Degrassi, you guys are so supportive of one another and you’re very close yet not competitive. Do you think that that’s because you guys were a Canadian show? Or was it something special about Degrassi?
“I think it was definitely something special about Degrassi, there’s no question about that. I think also, as a group we’ve talked about it, we think having a show in Canada where we’re just far enough away from the spotlight of you know, the tabloids and the paparazzi, I think it really helps us stay grounded and level-headed. We got to live normal lives and still go to school, and take the subway and do normal things while doing the show. I think that really, really helped. Also, everyone who’s been on that show is just so kind and we try to bring that out in each other. It’s never competitive. It’s so nice.”
What was it like having to say goodbye to Degrassi?
“It was super hard. It was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do. It kind of crept up on me in that way. I knew it would be hard, but I was sort of taken aback by my own reaction. It’s 7 years of my life that I sort of had to say goodbye to, and end that chapter of my life and move on. I mean, things are going well, but there are always things that I will miss.”
Do you have a favorite scene from the finale?
“I loved us all sitting around and eating fries and burgers in our prom clothes. [laughs]. I thought that was just very, very true to life actually. It was fun to just sit out there with everybody. I didn’t have very many lines in that scene so I just sort of joked around with everybody.”
Personally, were you team Eclare? Or by the end were you over the couple? What were your thoughts on that relationship?
“Okay. I will say that after what transpired towards the end of the relationship, I wasn’t sold on getting their happily ever after. I am happy with the ambiguous ending that they gave us. I do feel that there is something with Eli and Claire that will never go away. However, I was really upset with a lot of things that happened towards the end of the relationship so I’m glad that they didn’t forget about those things and have Clare just move to New York. I didn’t want Clare to forget about who she is. She’s always been such a strong person that I think it’s good for her to keep doing some soul-searching and figure out what she wants to do and do it for herself. If Eli fits into that, that’s great.”
Did you take any props home with you when Degrassi ended?
“Actually yeah. A bunch of us took a letter from the Degrassi, the name above the doors. I have the “I” I think. We each signed them for each other.”
How has social media changed the acting world for you as an actor? Now that so many shows include Twitter or Tweeting on their shows?
“Well, it’s definitely made me feel much closer to the audience members. You know, when I was a kid and acting in projects, you’d be on set and then they’d eventually air maybe, and you’d rarely hear back about it. You wouldn’t hear anything unless they put you in the newspaper or someone you knew had seen it and said it to you in person. It’s kind of amazing to speak so directly to people who watch the show everyday and hear their comments. I think, especially for a show like Degrassi, it’s been an amazing amazing growth for us. So many topics that we cover can spark a discussion amongst teens. And twitters the best place for that.
You can go on to Twitter and share your opinion and discuss things and go further in-depth about things or just have support. You can send anyone from our cast or the Degrassi page, you can send them a message just about how you’re feeling about it. It’s just so nice, I think. It’s a great direction for our show to go because that’s the best end for Degrassi. It’s always been about the education and the sharing of stories.”
What’s the last TV show, book, and movie you read or saw?
“Wow, okay. I have to wrack my brain for that one. [laughs]. TV, book, and movie? I’m trying to think of the last thing I went to see in theaters. Well, to be completely honest, the last thing I just sat and watched all the way through was Harry Potter 1. That’s not a new movie, though. [laughs]. For the book, I am just finishing Slowness by Milan Kundera. I’ve been working on that one for far too long, because it’s a very small book but I’ve finally done it. For TV show, I think Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is one I just watched. I am loving it so much. It’s like watching The Daily Show but they’ve had even more time to do in-depth research and it’s so good. I’m so happy that they’ve continued to do that.”
Besides Heroes, are there any other projects that you’re working on that you can tell us about?
“There are a couple of things at very early stages right now. Sadly, nothing I can share at the moment.”