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Erin Karpluk Talks Riftworld Chronicles, Rookie Blue, and Passion Projects [Exclusive] 

Photo Credit: First Love Films
Photo Credit: First Love Films

Erin Karpluk is a TV Goodness favorite, back to her Being Erica days, and she’s currently back on TV in ABC’s Canadian summer import, Rookie Blue. Next week, you can catch her opposite another TV Goodness favorite, BSG‘s Tahmoh Penikett, in Riftworld Chronicles, a fun new sci-fi web series about a lost inter-dimensional traveler wandering around Toronto. We chatted with Karpluk this week about both projects as well as Being Erica, hosting the inaugural Golden Maple Awards, and giving her time–and body–to personal causes.

Karpluk got involved in Riftworld Chronicles after the producers played her and Tahmoh off each other to get them onboard for the initial short film, The Portal. “Tahmoh and I have been friends for 15-plus years but we’ve never worked together. I got a call one day from my manager who said Tahmoh’s friends had created a short film and they’d like me to be a part of it,” she recalls.

“I thought if Tahmoh’s going to play this character where he’s basically taking the piss out of himself as a sci-fi guy I’d finally get to work with him. We’re day two in the shoot and Tahmoh looks over at me as asks me how I know these guys, and I said, ‘No, these are your friends…’ They had vetted us against each other to get us there. We had a laugh about it. We had a blast shooting. They were so lovely to us.”

Photo Credit: First Love Films
Photo Credit: First Love Films

She says after the short film was well-received, the producers pitched the idea of a web series, and Karpluk got the scripts after she wrapped Rookie Blue last fall. “I was flying back to LA and was laughing hysterically [as I read]. It was in my wheelhouse. I felt the same way about Being Erica. I texted Tahmoh and told him we had to make this happen. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing it. Then we were back in Toronto shooting. It was one of the most fun things I’ve shot. We did a Kickstarter for it, and slept on the floor in the lunch room during our lunches.”

“There was no ego. It was a lot of fun. It was an awesome group of people and a great experience. I think I worked 13 or 14 days. We shot it all as one movie and we’d shoot [based on location availability] and block shoot in one location all in one day.”

The series is a fixed eight episodes, but Karpluk would love to pick the story up again. “As with the portal, the door is always open. They originally wrote 10, and we kept it to eight to [maximize quality over quantity] for the effects,” she explains. “It would be my hope that we could [return]. I’m always open to anything. As long as we’re having fun and people are enjoying it, I’m always in.”

One of the perks of the shoot was having Tahomoh walking the streets of Toronto dressed as a time traveler. “It was the best part of the day. Making fun of him makes me so happy,” she laughs. “Here you have this six-foot whatever Yukon boy bare-chested in a cape and what he called his joker pants. It was hysterical watching him, especially if he went to get coffee.”

“He’s such a pro to work with. We shared a condo, and I’d get up in the morning and he’d already been up and running his lines. I was blown away by how professional he was. He has no ego. He’d put his jacket down on the floor at lunch [and take a nap].”

Photo Credit: Caitlin Cronenberg/ABC
Photo Credit: Caitlin Cronenberg/ABC

Rookie Blue wrapped filming almost a year ago, and the fifth season was split into two separate sets of episodes, so Karpluk’s arc was a bit of a mystery since there would be a long hiatus between her episodes. She was introduced late last summer as Juliet, who immediately sparked with Nick until she found out he was a cop. We didn’t get to the why of her dilemma until the second half of the season started airing a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s so funny for my family [when shows take a while to air],” she says. “My dad will get [impatient]. It aired in Canada first so we try really hard to keep things under wraps on social media for the later countries. I’m not in Canada and I haven’t seen them, and it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten what happened and need a memory jog.”

Karpluk had a blast joining the show, and spent five months working in Toronto. “Rookie Blue has an incredible fan base. They’re so dedicated. They are committed and so supportive. Anytime that you put something out there that people like, it feels good,” she shares. “I am lucky that they did keep me around the whole season. It’s a slow burn on who Juliet is and what she’s about and if Nick and her develop a relationship or not. I was very grateful. I got a really cool arc out of it.”

“This week’s episode is super fun because I have a whole episode with Missy Peregrym, which is fun because Andy’s dated Nick. Some big stuff happens. We get partnered up for the day and shenanigans ensue. It’s the one where Missy and I spent a lot of time together, and I realized it was going to be a profound experience off and on screen. It’s just a tight-knit group. She’s been the lead of the show for six seasons. She’s all about a having a good time. She’s super supportive and a constant pro. That’s nice to see as a guest star coming in. It was  really nice, warm welcoming set to come onto. That’s all I can wish for ever.”

Karpluk calls Los Angeles home now, and as is the nature of the beast, she’s often back in Canada for work. Her Canadian ties were called upon last week when she was a last-minute replacement host for the inaugural Golden Maple Awards, which recognize Canadian talent in U.S. productions. “I love both countries. I was not supposed to host. Lauren Ash had a last-minute emergency. They called me at eight in the morning, and it was fun to get up there and announce my peers and friends. Those awards shows are always a really good chance to get together and celebrate the work and put on a fancy dress. It was a really, really cool day. I got to see a lot of old and new friends.”

When Karpluk isn’t onscreen, she’s involved in BCSPCA and World Vision, two charities that are near and dear to her, which you’ll see when you follow her on social media. “I always feel like I want to use social media to help others. I’ve always been an animal lover. BCSPCA contacted me a couple of years ago and I toured their facility. I’ve done their Cause for Paws. I ran a triathlon for them last year which was so fun and kind of terrifying,” she admits.

“World Vision came to me through social media. I had re-Tweeted a couple of things they had put out there about children. They asked me if I’d like to be involved. I travelled to Honduras with them. It was great to go and hash out any concerns I might have had,” she says. “The volunteers are amazing. It’s liberating for the families to [be empowered]. I’m learning more and more. With the marathon coming up, we’re focusing on child protection.”

“It’s a lot to talk about. I’m just getting educated. The more I learn, the more happy and proud I am to be an ambassador [for them]. They’re selfless and loving and they want to improve the quality of children’s lives. I couldn’t be more happy to back that.”

Next up, Karpluk is attached to a miniseries that will begin filming later this month in Toronto. “It’s a very, very different part for me. It’s a very dark character. Artistically I’m very excited for that,” she says.

One of the benefits of the many outlets for consuming TV shows is that older shows find new fans every day, so we asked about Being Erica, Karpluk’s signature series that an from 2009-2011 on CBC in Canada and the now-defunct ABC SoapNet in the U.S. She says it’s in 180 countries around the world–before you even get to the streaming audiences.

“It’s [lasting impact is] so surprising to me. I started shooting when I was 27 and wrapped when I was 32 and now I’m 36,” she points out. “There is a time delay with the global distribution, and social media opens up the arena for immediate responses from new fans who are just starting it. It’ll be one of the best jobs of my professional life. It changed me as a person and as an actor. It gave me so many opportunities. I developed lifelong relationships.”

Photo Credit: ABC SoapNet
Photo Credit: ABC SoapNet

She was recently approached in a restaurant by a woman who credited the show with helping her through the death of her brother. “It’s amazing the feedback we get and the amount of people who identified with it. We all have regrets. The show dealt with everything from infidelity to jealousy to sexual inadequacies–all these taboo things we don’t always tap into–a really messy way. Erica is a hot mess.”

“I feel so happy that I could be a part of that storyelling that would affect people, inspire them, and help them overcome something. That was Jana [Sinyor]. Her writing was revolutionary. It was a lot of deep content as well as light, fluffy stuff and shenanigans. A lot of us in LA are [and still in touch with each other]. I’m very happy with the way it ended. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”

Rookie Blue airs Thursdays on ABC at 10/9c. Riftworld Chronicles premieres Tuesday, July 14th. Being Erica is available on DVD and iTunes. You can follow Erin on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Here’s a sneak peek of Riftworld Chronicles.

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