Tamsen McDonough Talks Bringing Lucy to Life on Killjoys [Exclusive]
Killjoys has flipped the script on so many sci-fi staples in its short two seasons (bring on a third!) and one of the most lovely, warm surprises is Dutch’s ship, Lucy, voiced by Tamsen McDonough. She’s smart, funny, sassy, serious, and non-corporeal, sans one brief flicker as a fembot in this season’s “I Love Lucy.” She’s also, in all fairness, probably Johnny’s first love. I talked with McDonough this week about playing Lucy, her web series project, Miss Odette’s Modern Handbook to Manners, and her work with the Humane Society in Canada.
When McDonough was cast, she had no idea how big a role Lucy would turn out to be, and surprisingly (or not, if you peek behind the curtain of voiceover work), she’s just about the last thing added to every episode, and she records her dialogue in an ADR booth on her own. On-set, her dialogue is yelled out to the cast by the first Assistant Director. Think about that the next time the small nuances give you all the feels.
McDonough loves playing her. “She’s just so well written. The writers went about it the same way they would create any other character. She has a bit of a backstory, she’s got a future, and she’s got relationships with each of these characters,” she says.
“They’ve really fleshed her out. And she’s got this complication, I believe, that she wants to be human or to be able connect more fully, but she can’t. There’s this restriction on her at all times, which creates an amazing challenge to play.”
As taken as she was with playing her, McDonough considered the fan response pretty early on. “[With every script], I thought, ‘This is really good. I wonder if the fans are going to respond to this.’ It’s so well done. And the fact that there’s this crush on a human,” she says. “It’s so sweet and there are so many possibilities. They did such a good job of putting this character together.”
McDonough says recording on her own is done mostly to ensure the crispest audio, and she feels like she’s right there because of the tech that goes into the process. “Each of those days [on-set for the cast and crew are already] incredibly long, and to get such clear, clear sound for the ship, it’s better that they bring me into the studio afterward,” she explains.
“It’s a screen that’s a huge wall and surround sound, and I feel like I’m in the scene. All the FX have been done. It looks beautiful. It’s easy for me to immerse myself in it. I’m always so impressed about how the other [actors] are able to do their lines with me when they’re shouted from off set.â€
She recently added Lucy to the season finale, airing Friday, and said Aaron Ashmore just killed it in the Johnny/Lucy scenes [they both do]. “I was crying as I was trying to do my lines. I was blown away that he’s listening to the first AD yelling these lines at him and he’s pulling out that performance,” she says. “I was boggled.”
When “I Love Lucy” came up, McDonough wasn’t sure what the setup for the episode was going to be until fairly late, but she had a blast. “It was really fun and a bit nerve-wracking. My agent called and said Killjoys wanted to know if I was available for set [with no context],” she recalls. “I was finger-tapping, ‘more input please…'”
“It went back and forth and eventually they said what it was, but the episode wasn’t named in the script. They told me my days and what was happening with the character. You tend to find out more when you go in for your fitting. It’s a character pow-wow [with the whole production team and cast] about the look and the vibe and that helps you get prepared for the episode.”
McDonough doesn’t radically alter her voice to play Lucy, but there is some tonal adjustment that happens almost by default, depending on the setting. “Put a mic in front of someone and it changes their voices, get on the phone [or] get them in person, and their voice changes,” she explains.
“Learning voice, I really see the difference now. When I want something, I lower my voice, but when I want something and I’m acting, I tend to raise my voice. As soon as I get in front of the mic, I drop it low and get calm and serene with it.”
She did look to some famous voices for inspiration when she landed the role, and when she played Lucy as a fembot. “I was listening to J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man a bit, and looking at C3PO, especially when I did the fembot, to get an idea about AI reactions and movement, the crispness of how they speak, how specific they are,” she says.
While McDonough has done voiceover work for commercials, Lucy is her first VO character, and she’d love to continue playing her in any capacity, on screen or in voice only. “She’s so great,” she says. “I’m kind of happy doing whatever they want. I’ll do whatever Lucy wants.”
This Thursday, McDonough will join the cast and crew for a screening of the Season 2 finale at Fan Expo in Toronto. She’s not sure what to expect, but loves engaging with the fans at events and on social media and credits her sister with getting her onto Twitter.
“I had not done a single Tweet until Killjoys. My sister told me to get my name years ago [so I did] and when Killjoys started up, she told me I would need to be engaging with people. I didn’t know what to think of [cons] before I did [Fan Expo last year], but it was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had,” she recalls.
“[The fans] are very passionate, and very honest in their passion. There’s very little ego. ‘This is who I am, this is what I like, I like you, I’m going to show my appreciation.’ There’s no manipulation or coyness or fakeness. It’s just out there. It’s creative and fun. I really like our fans a lot.”
As a celebrity ambassador/advocate, she’s working with the Humane Society in Canada to support a Canadian bill intended to strengthen animal protection laws.”They need help with a bill called Bill C-246, which is important because it updates Canada’s animal cruelty laws and improves animal cruelty offenses in the Criminal Code, closing legal loopholes that let animal abusers go unpunished,” she says.
“Additionally it cracks down on dog fighting, prohibits the practice of shark finning, bans the import of dog and cat fur and requires that fur be labeled with the animal species and country of origin.”
McDonough is also at work now on Miss Odette’s Modern Handbook to Manners, a short film she hopes to expand to a web series. “Because you’re doing something very indie, low budget, you’re hoping for wonderfully talented people who are willing to exchange favors,” she laughs.
“We’re currently editing it. I think it’s going to be fun. I think it’s a cute concept. It’s a more mockumentary, instructional kind of style. The first one could easily be a short and go into festivals. We’re learning as we go [and] have other episode ideas.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…