Kelly Overton has excelled at everything she’s done: from an accomplished school athlete to American Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate with honors to versatile actress, Kelly has done it all. Now she’s playing Vanessa Van Helsing, a character with a bit of a “family feud” to deal with in the vampire apocalypse. Vanessa’s blood can turn vampires human again, and she has a beef with the biters. Add to this the character’s burning desire to find her lost daughter, and you have a recipe for an amazing series. Kelly took time out of her busy day to speak with me about Van Helsing and her role.
What interested you most about the role of Vanessa Van Helsing?
“I really loved the character. You have this woman who has been in a coma and wakes up to find she has these supernatural powers. There are also these amazing action sequences; I love the fight scenes. I also love that it’s the apocalypse.”
What’s your favorite part of playing the role? You mentioned the fight scenes, so I’m guessing that’s one of them ….
“[Laughs] Yes! I’ve always been an athlete, ever since school, so I love the physical part of it. It’s always come easily to me. I did a martial arts video game called Tekken where I did all my own stunts, and it was great.”
How many of your own stunts do you do, and what has been the most difficult stunt you’ve had to perform?
“I try to do as many of my stunts as I can, but I also am more than willing to let my amazing stunt double do what she’s best at. You want to get thrown against a wall? Yeah, I’ll let you do that, you’re the expert.” [Laughs]
As an athlete in school, I’m sure it wasn’t too hard getting into shape for playing a werewolf on True Blood and now playing kind of an anti-vampire on Van Helsing. Do you work out at home in addition to your scene prep and stunt training?
“Absolutely. I always try to stay in shape. For Van Helsing, I did a lot of strength training. I did a lot of weight training, really bulked up.”
Van Helsing has quite the cast lineup; which actor were you most excited to work with?
“Ooh, that’s a tough one! [Laughs] It’s hard to say any one person. I mean, it’s such a great, diverse cast, and they all bring something different to the show. They are such amazing actors. I just—I can’t really pick just one. They’re all so great.”
What do you think sets Van Helsing apart from other Syfy channel shows with female leads?
“I think it’s really different from other vampire shows because the vampires have variety. There are several different types of vampires. It’s also the apocalypse, so that adds something to it as well. Wait, I don’t think I answered your question. [Laughs] There are just so many shows on TV now that have strong female characters. It’s great to be able to work on that kind of show.”
You co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in The Collective. Any plans to use some of your creative skills outside of acting in the near future?
“Yeah, I definitely want to do more of that. I have The Collective ready to go as a TV series. I would love to do create more content and put my director hat on again.”
Has your daughter shown any interest in acting like Mommy does, or does she currently want to be something else when she grows up?
“She wants to be a vet. She loves animals. And I think that’s great.”
She might end up with more scrapes if she becomes a vet.
[Laughs] “Don’t tell her that! Then she really might want to be an actress like Mommy.”
Not if she sees Mommy getting thrown around on-set.
Finally, since you’re “talking nerdy with us,” let’s talk nerdy! Is there anything that gets you super excited in a way that only nerds can get excited (even if it’s not a traditionally “nerdy” subject)?
“Let me think about that. I would have to say the stars—anything to do with space. I’ve always loved the mystery of what’s out there and the wonder. Speaking of outer space, I showed my daughter E.T. the other day—have you seen that recently? It still holds up. Yeah, I have a thing for space…Funny enough, when I was preparing for the role of Vanessa Van Helsing, I was thinking of Ripley from Alien.”
Maybe you can go to Syfy and kind of “Wink wink, nudge nudge, hey, if you need a guest actor on one of your space shows….”
[Laughs] “Yeah, can you add a space ship? Can we have Vanessa go to space?”
Space vampires [Laughs].
Van Helsing premieres Friday, September 23 at 10-11 p.m. ET on Syfy.