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Laura Mennell, Gabrielle Stanton and Matt McGuinness Talk Haven Season Five [Interview] 

Photo Credit: Mike Tompkins/Syfy
Photo Credit: Mike Tompkins/Syfy

In the closing moments of last week’s Haven, a CDC doctor named Charlotte rolled into town to find Dave, and Vince played dumb while Dave scooted away from the Gull. We had a chance to chat with Laura Mennell, who plays the good doctor and will recur through the rest of the season, on a press call. Supervising producers Gabriel Stanton and Matt McGuinness also sat in, so we had a wide-ranging chat about Charlotte, the show, and where we’re heading.

Viewers will recognize Mennell from her regular role on Alphas, and her stint on last season’s Motive, opposite Alphas’ castmate Warren Christie. She’s embraced being the new kid at Haven. “[It’s] like the first day at school and you never know how you’re really going to fit. But I found with this show specifically it was a really easy fit. I mean the cast is lovely and wonderful and super sweet and…the crew is just spectacular,” she says.

“I think there’s something to be said about East Coast Canadians and their warmth and hospitality. So I’ve really, really honestly enjoyed being a part of Haven and being in Nova Scotia and part of the wonderful, crazy, wacky world and getting to play with so many wonderful things that the writers have sort of thrown my way. I mean Charlotte will definitely go through some interesting changes to say the least. So, it’s been a fun couple of seasons we’ve been working.”

Mennell appears in the episode that series star Lucas Bryant directs (which we’ll see next year), and she had high praise for him. “[He] is a great, wonderful man and super talented. He’s a great actor…so I was curious to see what he’d be like as a director and he’s a lot of fun. He’s really, really supportive to his actors and his crew,” she points out. “I think what I loved the most about being directed by him was he really encouraged getting to play around with different things and would really give you the time as an actor to be creative and try new things and just to see where it would go…I gained a lot of respect for him because that’s a tough job to do and I think he did a great job and I think his episode will honestly be a lot of fun and super weird.”

McGuinness echoed that sentiment. “We’re going to chime in here and say that Lucas by all accounts was a fantastic director. And it’s always fun for us to watch and see what…their strengths and/or perhaps weaknesses are and actors are always really interesting to me because I think they work from a place of actors,” he says. “So they work with the actors and they like to work on performance and things like that and that, frankly, is what I tend to like as well.”

“[It] was also fun to see the crew really rallying around him. You know I think it was indicative of how fond people are of him up there and these are people that have been working with him for five years in the rain and snow and sleet and whatever else. And you know, there was an opportunity to really ride to the rescue for Lucas and help him as he directed and I think people really did. I was happy to see that, I thought that was a real indication of closeness of people up there.”

So far this season, we’ve seen a lot of two-part arcs, and Stanton and McGuinness say that will continue, although not in every episode. “[We] kind of had the opportunity this season to do…more serialized stuff. Dig more into mythology, do a lot more character stuff and that really kind of lent itself to two-part stories so we can really dig into the Troubles and…how our characters are reacting to them…and the overall mythology of the series,” says Stanton. “So, it’s been really kind of fun this year to be able to do more of that…as opposed to all standalone episodes.”

McGuinness adds that getting to the fifth season opened the door for more arc-driven storytelling, as well. “[We] were very much a ‘case of the week’ show earlier in our run. [The] longer you go, the more you want to learn about where these people came from, how they’re interacting with each other and the sort of one-off case of the week is there, but it’s…there to service the characters more,” he explains. “And for that reason, two parters seemed to work really, really well this year. [As] we become more serialized, almost every episode ends on some type of bombshell or cliffhanger or something so, to us, it just feels like almost an ongoing story at this point.”

Photo Credit: Mike Tompkins/Syfy
Photo Credit: Mike Tompkins/Syfy

This season, Mennell will work most opposite Adam Copeland’s Dwight, and she said he was a joy to partner with. “He’s really lovely. He has a heart of gold. I think it’s so funny…coming into a new job when you know you’re going to be working with new people. You always get curious and you do a little bit of research and I knew that he was like this pro-wrestler guy and…you see the pictures of him all muscled up and all tough but he’s honestly just such a sweetheart and so lovely to work with as an actor and as a person,” she says. “We had a lot of fun, we’d joke around and we’d work really well together so hopefully that comes across. I think it will throughout the season. He’s been great. He’s so lovely and wonderful. It’s just so nice to see this big hulky guy with a heart. “

The switch to 7 pm/6c on Fridays, out of the formal primetime schedule, rocked the fans this season, but the produces say with timeshifting, the effects haven’t been dire. “Television is sort of a real moving morphing landscape these days. [Our] DVR numbers are virtually the same as our live numbers,” says McGuinness. “[Almost] 100 percent of our audience is almost split between live audience and DVR audiences at this time. And I think…we’re kind of a harbinger of people realizing that people watch television when they want to…[When] I first heard [about the time change], I wasn’t thrilled. But I think pairing us with wrestling was probably a good thing because Adam has a lot of fans there and I’ve been pleasantly surprised actually at how well it works.”

Stanton adds that timeslots have become less important. “have shows that I love that I watch every week but if you ask me what night’s it on, I actually don’t know. I just know it’s on my DVR when I get home,” she says. “So…we were a little…weirded out by the time at first [but] we’ve come to realize with the ratings and stuff, that it’s not making a huge difference in terms of numbers and our audience is absolutely finding us.”

The production team is now working on the final episodes of season 5 b (i.e. the last of the 26 episodes ordered), so I asked if they’re writing a series finale, because they’re in the tricky position of scripting something that’s at least a year away from airing, and there are so many variables about whether this will be the end of the show. Stanton answered honestly. “We are writing to the idea that it’s going to be a huge awesome finale and that if we do not get another season, the fans will feel satisfied and feel like it was a great ending to a series,” she promises. “But if we are fortunate enough to be able to continue then it will be just another one of our incredible cliffhanger seasons and it will be able to ramp right back up for the next season.”

Haven airs Fridays at 7 pm/6c on Syfy.

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