One of this season’s most intriguing arcs has been Khylen getting unseated by an ancient alien called The Lady while she’s walking around inside the body of a teenage girl. Played respectively by Rob Stewart and Alanna Bale (Cardinal), their scenes together have been a mesmerizing dance where we think we know who’s controlling the board until we find out that we don’t. During last summer’s press tour, Stewart and Bale sat down to chat about playing complicated villains.
Stewart has of course been on the show since the beginning. He joked that he’d given series creator Michelle Lovretta an ultimatum when they were casting The Lady and was thrilled with how it was answered. “[I said], ‘I don’t who you’re getting to play the Lady, but she better be the best damned actress in the country,'” he laughs.
“[Alanna’s] now the best damned actress in the country. “The first day [she was] on the set, all the writers came down. She has to intimidate [me]–the guy who was the bad guy. After the first take, they were blown away right away. She had more hoops of fire [than she knew] and she did it with grace.”
Bale hadn’t seen the show before she was cast and admits that she went with her gut in the audition, which was done with a few sides and no real context. “When I auditioned for the show, I hadn’t watched it. I don’t have cable TV and it wasn’t on Netflix and I know that’s an awful thing to say. I hadn’t seen the show,” she says.
“When I got the sides to audition, it was the night before. I had just the night to prepare, so I was just going to make some choices and try to figure out who the character is and go with it. I knew what I was doing, but I was sort of making up the plot from the prior seasons in my head. I guess it worked out well because I’m here right now.”
Bale echoes what we’ve heard again and again about how welcoming the Killjoys tribe is, and says that getting knocked down by a cold right out of the gate was actually strangely helpful for calming her nerves. “It’s pretty daunting to start on any show, let alone a show that has been running for four seasons and the cast has been together for years and years and years,” she explains.
“I was nervous but everyone was super welcoming. They’re used to having characters come in and out all the time. It’s daunting to come in, especially on the very last season. After the first-day jitters were gone, everyone becomes a family and you forget you’re new.”
“I was super super sick the first week of filming so I was trying to contain myself and all my energy was expelled trying not to cough or snot in people’s mouths. There was no forethought to be nervous because I was a little delusional.”
Both actors approach their characters through a lens that’s a bit of “doing the wrong things for the right reasons,” and nailing down that tone requires playing the roles from an honest place. For Bale, that means playing an ancient being trying to rage through her own mania while trapped in a body surging with adolescent, human hormones.
“When you distill it and take away all the creepy, alien, sci-fi layers, in my mind, she is this being whose angle is to survive and provide a place for her offspring and the things that she loves to survive,” explains Bale.
“Her goal is pure and I can understand why people perceive her as evil, of course, In order for me to wrap my head around how she goes about getting what she wants, it has to come from a place of genuine love for these beings. I acknowledge that she’s evil, but her intentions while I’m playing her are pure.”
Stewart says he didn’t have much of a bead on Khylen when he started, but he has been thrilled to see the characterization he imagined and the love he imbued in playing him made manifest in the later seasons. “It’s been an absolute joy. We don’t get told much in advance [so] I didn’t know [in] the first episode of Season 1 who he was, but he seemed pretty evil,” he recalls.
“It’s like Alanna said about [working from a place of] love. So I focused on Dutch, and I just guessed, and I played love even though I was doing bad things and didn’t know why or how it would play out. All the things we posit in our own imagination, to love our own characters…it’s been so amazing over five seasons that the writers have played out those guesses and that feeling.”
“I was able to play that subtext and now that’s on the screen. Now I get to explore it more fully. I used to hide it and just have glimpses where I’d show love. Now I can play it fully, all those things I imagined. It’s a gift.”
Once she was on the show, Bale started catching up on episodes and joined Stewart in becoming an unabashed fan. “I’m constantly asking [Rob] questions and trying to grasp some of the situations the characters have been in. I can now say I’m a huge fan of the show,” she shares. “To be watching this show and enjoy it and see it from the outsider’s perspective is super special, and I’m super thankful to be on the show.”
“When we first get [each script], we get that first literary thing like reading a novel and then we get to put it on its feet and see it a year later and [are] a fan again,” says Stewart. “The crew itself…I’ve never had an energy like that. Everyone from the floor [all the way through the crew]…these are our friends and family. That’s very comforting.”
“The cast itself, they’re the most warm, loving people. We see each other socially, We hug when we go in the makeup trailer. That’s a huge thing and that’s not always the case. That makes it a joy. In terms of being a fan, that’s on the editors, writers, and the actors, who are brilliant. That’s what makes us fans.”
“We love watching it even when we’re not in it. Normally when we’re an actor, we watch for our scenes. It’s just damn good. I think it’s very rare. From the first season through to the [last one, it’s] gotten exponentially better. I just love the show.”
Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 pm/9c on Space Channel and Syfy. All of our Killjoys coverage is here. You can catch all four seasons and the first seven Season 5 episodes on demand on the Space Go app and Syfy app and website.
Photos Courtesy of Space Channel and Syfy.
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