This week’s Killjoys packs a ridiculous amount of story into 43 minutes, and Zeph is front and center and threaded throughout. In the second part of our interview, Kelly McCormack talks about pairing with Atticus Mitchell, going so hard this season that it sent her to Italy to recover, and what’s next after Killjoys wraps production this month.
Zeph has become indispensable to Team Awesomeforce,delivering babies, deciphering spores, and trying to de-spider Pip. McCormack has been thrilled to play all of it, and particularly enjoyed switching between Kelly, who loves babies, and Zeph, who’s distinctly, meh about them, back in Episode 404.
“I’ve never crammed more science jargon into my brain. Give me every prop, I will do it. She’s been an ob-gyn, she’s made a frickin’ jump cube. What med school did she go to? Was she the only student, so they taught her everything? I’m deeply honored [that they’re throwing everything at her],” she shares.
“I love babies so much and [in that episode], I got to hold this jammy baby covered in red jam off camera and [tell him], ‘You’re so cute,’ and then I come on camera and I have to [shift gears].”
McCormack has loved the multiple layers of Zeph’s challenge to save Pip, and offscreen, has had a ball with Mitchell as her frequent scene partner. “Because she has feelings for Pip, and they have this very unique relationship…like she does with everybody, she’s going to put it on her shoulders to solve it,” she says.
“This is the problem when you get close to people. When your personal and professional lives overlap, you have to negotiate what those feelings are. She can’t treat Pip like a science experiment. She can’t stay detached, which is what her MO is.”
“Last season I barely knew [Atticus], and Michelle put us in this scene [in ‘Wargasm’] where we kissed and then this season we spent so much time together. We’re so good and excited about improv-ing. We don’t always get to do that because the stakes are so high. Zeph often has to deliver the exposition and science and world-building [dialogue].”
“One of the joys this season has been working with [him]. He’s such a funny person and his instincts are on point. That was a surprise. I didn’t expect them to build that relationship and that we would jive so hard and get along so well.”
“We would just rip and go off script. I feel sorry for the editor. We’re always one upping each other and adding lines and saying stupid stuff. The ‘what are we?’ scene in Episode 404 went on for 10 minutes. It was so much secondhand embarrassment for ourselves and we were playing it so awkwardly.
McCormack found herself paired with Mitchell again over at The Expanse and only discovered it after both were cast. â€œI’ve auditioned for all the [Canadian-filmed] sci-fi stuff. Some of them don’t want you to cross over [to other shows]. [The Expanse] didn’t care I was on Killjoys. I went in for the costume fitting and the wardrobe person pointed at Attucis’s headshot and said,’This is your Mars bestie. Do you know him?’ I started laughing,â€ she recalls.
â€œThe two of us are a like a traveling space duo. It was wild being on that set. We were the newbies trying to commandeer a ship and were so serious about it. We were on a space ship that looked like Killjoys, in jumpsuits that looked like Killjoys, but it wasn’t the Quad.â€
McCormack also enjoyed working with her real-life pal Thom Allison and says we’ll see more of Pree and Zeph. â€œPree has this true north ability to just say the right thing. He can synthesize what everyone is feeling and say the wise, grounded thing,â€ she explains.
â€œShe’s just learned how to trust people. She’s in a leadership position. The stakes are higher, more shit is going to go awry and there are lovely opportunities where he can ground her in the moment. Working with everyone is amazing. I feel like I had a really beautiful, deep moment with each of the main actors in the show. I feel that much closer to them, like we’ve all gone to war together. Once we get to season 5, all bets are off.”
“You guys are in for such a treat. The writers are going for broke. They’re doing it all.Â It’s such a gift because they can give everybody what they want. Shooting two seasons together means they can do what they want. We’re swinging really high and these are our choices. It’s an absolute dream. I can’t believe I get to be part of it. It just gets more intense and hard-core for Zeph.â€
When she says hard-core, she’s not kidding. The series took a month off between shooting Seasons 4 and 5, and McCormack was super grateful for the break after literally leaving it all on the screen. Almost sidelined by a persistent lung infection, she took a doctor’s suggestion to go somewhere warm and decamped for Italy, spending the hiatus there and turning her recovery into an Instagram series of photos that are a fun nod to 19th century artists who fled England for Europe.
“It was humbling. You’re nothing without your health. I went there for a month, got better, and came back. I decided to turn it into a Keats, Shelley, and Byron [homage]. I feel like social media is becoming more reductive with clickbait and emojis. It can only go so small and abbreviated until it disappears, so I thought, ‘Let’s bring the long form essayist Instagram action back,'” she says.
“I sat on verandas and wrote all these posts and drank a shit ton of wine and I was better by the time I got home. It was a feminist exercise to embody all these artists. They were all rich privileged white dudes and sort of shit human beings [but they’re remembered for their art]. Keats was no nice and loved one woman, but the rest were bastards.”
Calling back to those artists also afforded McCormack a historical perspective on the current climate of re-evaluating art based on the artists’ behavior. â€œI talk to so many of my male artist counterparts and they’re [asking if they should no longer enjoy the art of men who are accused of crimes],” she points out. “And it’s part of the conversation. [I tell them], ‘If you had more female icons, you wouldn’t have this problem.'”
Once Killjoys ends, McCormack will begin prepping her feature film, Sugar Daddy, which she talked about last year. Production was delayed while she was ill, so she’s happy to get going on that now. â€œWe’re writing a bunch of original music for the film,â€ she says. â€œWe’re working with this incredible musician, Foxtrott, so I’ve been spending time in Montreal.”
Alongside Killjoys, McCormack also banked four episodes of the Canadian series, Letterkenny, which is airing its earlier seasons now on Hulu in the US, and she was astounded that she got to play one of a pair of characters who are pretty uninhibited in their language, but she leapt at the opportunity.
“The [description] was one of my favorites. [She’] a chirpy, trash-talking hockey player. The stuff I say is the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard on TV,” she laughs. “At one point, I started coughing reading the script, thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m going to say this.’ I was excited.”
“In the audition I went full McCormack because I grew up quite the jock. I went in in a hoodie and bandana and sweatpants. I got to get back on the ice and skate a bunch. I got to work with all these female hockey players who were so great and intense.â€
Killjoys airs Friday at 10 pm/9c on Syfy and Space Channel. The first eight episodes this season are online at both sites and on their apps. All of our Season 4 coverage is here. You can also catch McCormack in theaters this weekend in the new noirish thriller, A Simple Favor.
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