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Kelly McCormack Talks Killjoys, Industry Perceptions, and Changing the World [Exclusive]

Photo Credit: Syfy

This week’s Killjoys rolls out a series of big reveals, and Zeph is instrumental in helping Dutch unlock those doors. I’ll have my full preview for you tomorrow, but first, we continue my exclusive interview with Kelly McCormack, where we talk about how Zeph came along at just the right time to push her acting opportunities in a whole new direction and what we can expect from her personal Rocky.

At the beginning of this year, McCormack was evaluating an extended stint in Los Angeles, something she says is common for Canadian actors at the turn of the year when they’re mulling heading West for pilot season. “Killjoys was my first audition of the year. I stayed up until 5 am to clean my apartment because I was planning to sublet it,” she recalls. “I’d slept in and my agent called and said, ‘You’ve booked it! Go to the table read!’ and then my whole year changed.”

She says one of the biggest gifts of playing Zeph is that it’s reshaped the types of roles she’s offered. “The industry listens and sees, and now [after playing Zeph], the stuff I audition for is more in line with who I am…the quirky, androgynous, straight-talking lesbian type [although] I don’t know if Zeph is a lesbian or not,” she explains. “But that is kind of my wheelhouse.”

“Because I have bangs…I always end up in type A character roles. If I could be a character actor my whole life [that would be OK]. I really love character roles, and I try to push against [stereotypes]. There’s this expectation that I’m the ingenue, and I’m backing away with my hands up saying, ‘No,’ because I’m a raging feminist.”

Photo Credit: Ian Watson/Killjoys III Productions Limited/Syfy

“For my own filmmaking, I always play characters that excite me, that have passions besides just men. In [my film] Sugar Daddy, my character’s passion is music. and in Killjoys, Zeph’s passion is science. It’s so simple. There are never female characters like that. [Instead, it’s usually,] ‘Her passion is science, but ultimately she’s looking for love.'”

“[This week], Zeph has got some pretty on-point opinions about certain things that I think people will appreciate and people will be able to surmise where she came from and why she is the way she is.”

“At the beginning of my career, my character names were Becky, Sally, and Lucy, and now they’re Zeph, Colby, and Bo. Say a name and imagine them with a hair flip and that was my name. I play Zelda and all the female characters in the new Zelda giggle before the talk. Stop giggling! My friends and [my team] know who I am. It’s really nice that the industry is waking up to it.”

McCormack especially loves the dynamic between Zeph and Dutch. “Dutch is her idol. She’s everything Zeph is not. She’s direct. She knows what she wants. She can get it with a straight line. She’s pure power and confidence,” McCormack points out.

“Zeph watches her and thinks she’s a beacon. Their relationship isn’t just girl power. It’s not just because she’s a hardcore badass female. It’s because she’s the best. And Dutch thinks what Zeph does is really, really good.”

“It’s a currency of respect. To have two female characters exist in that way and there are not men involved in their relationship is very exciting. They pass the Bechdel Test nine times. There’s no jealousy, no weirdness. And that makes me really happy.”

Photo Credit: Space Channel

McCormack has her own production shingle, Floyder Films, which came together after she and Kristian Bruun did an independent film for $1,000. “It won awards all over the world and suddenly I was a screenwriter and a producer. After that I started writing more work. I’ve been writing my whole life. This fell into place,” she explains. “I needed some coherent idea of what my company was and what I wanted to commission and develop and Floyder Films came out of that. And I also wanted to immortalize by sweet dog.”

Next spring, McCormack will shoot the feature film Sugar Daddy, which she wrote and is producing and will star in. “[It’s] my Rocky. After I made a bunch of stuff, people asked me what kind of movies I make. I hadn’t had time to consider that,” she recalls.

“Usually it was with my friends and under duress. Sugar Daddy was the first time I really thought about what I want to say and how do I want to change the world. When I get an offer, it’s either, ‘Am I broke and do I need to say yes?’ or, ‘How am I going to change the world a little bit?’

“[Sugar Daddy] is about this upcoming singer/songwriter [who’s] too broke to work on her music so she registers for a sugar daddy website and learns how to package herself for all these men and then learns how to package herself for the already sexualized music industry.”

Photo Credit: Space Channel

“It’s about the dichotomy of art and self-worth and sex as a commodity and it’s going to make people really uncomfortable. It catalogues my transition from being this ultra-feminine soprano ingenue type and moving from opera into different types of electronic music. The performative femininity thing and what that means and the things we expect from women. It begs the question, ‘Is there a right way for women to behave,’ and the answer is what we explore that through the film.”

“[Music video director] Wendy Morgan is directing. She’s an amazing woman. My two producers Lauren Grant and Lori Lozinsky, are some of the smartest, hardest working people in the industry. It’s the kind of role I’ve never seen a woman play.”

8 Mile, Purple Rain, and Almost Famous, [are about] men and their end game is their music and we root for them. We never see women in those roles. It’s like we can’t believe that a woman’s entire MO would be to make music and [be a success]. This is my action agent for myself and me as an artist and the stories I want to put in the world.”

Killjoys airs Fridays at 8/7c on Syfy in the US and Space in Canada. I’ll be back tomorrow with my preview of this week’s episode. Come live Tweet and start tagging those Tweets with #RenewKilljoys! Click here if you’ve missed any of our exclusive interviews this season.  Here’s a look back at Zeph walking Dutch through her first autopsy in last week’s “Necropolis Now.”

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