[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Syfy’s new genre drama, SurrealEstate premieres its next new episode on Syfy and CTV Sci-Fi Friday night, and this afternoon, I spoke with Tennille Read, who plays Megan, the med student whose ghost trouble kicked the series off last week. Eagle-eyed viewers might also recognize Read from Workin’ Moms, where she’s recurred as Bianca, or from her appearance on Good Witch as Patience Merriwick, the ancestor at the heart of the series’ final-season mystery.
Read loved jumping into the SurrealEstate’s universe. As someone not especially drawn to watching horror, being on the inside now helped demystify it. “I read the script for Megan Donavan and I just loved it. It had such a cool swing on a procedural about selling homes, but also mixed with freaky hauntings and all of these metaphysical entities. And I really loved the humor of it,” she shares.
“I am not a super horror film, horror genre watcher. I usually get spooked so I kind of stay away from scary stories, even though I used to tell scary stories as a kid. As an adult, they freak me out. “[But after shooting it], I watched the first episode on premiere night and I was not scared at all. And I think it’s the first time I ever watched something where I wasn’t covering my face or muting it or cleaning the entire kitchen.”
While Luke’s team are all in on the fantastical elements of what they do, Megan and Susan are initially outsiders, with Susan joining the inner circle out of necessity, and then we learn, through her own beliefs. Megan, however, is a scientist first, so she’s a harder sell, but seeing is believing and Read enjoyed playing that evolution.
“I think we were similar in the pragmatic way of thinking. Very logical, a bit skeptical. And fleshing that out so that I could play with that conflict of being someone so logical, but seeing things that have no explanation and feeling things that don’t make sense to have…I liked playing that kind of duality.”
As we see in the next episode, Luke is drawn to both the house and Megan, and since Read is a series regular we can safely assume that won’t be a one-sided interest. Having a romantic angle in the middle of a horror comedy was a lovely surprise for Read to get to play. “Megan is at this point in her life where she is questioning her beliefs and she’s in a relationship with Brock and it’s not quite what she wants anymore. She’s living in this house. It’s definitely not what she expected,” she explains.
“How Luke shows up, and not only is he a gentleman and handsome and funny and incredibly intelligent, he also has the ability to sell her house. It’s a fun thing to play where there’s a romantic storyline and intrigue and also the practical elements of, he can probably exorcise all the ghosts in there and get the house on the market.”
The first season filmed in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and due to COVID restrictions, the cast couldn’t travel to and from the Maritimes region for the duration of the shoot. While it was a forced familiarity, it helped the cast and crew become a family very quickly. “It was kind of a gift to be shooting there, for so many reasons. It’s quite remote and it was in the middle of COVID, so we were there for a set period of time. A lot of us were from other parts of North America. We were getting to know each other, getting to know the city of St. John’s, and also getting to know this world that creator George Olson had made up,” Read recalls.
“We were part of the Maritimes bubble. It was kind of locked in. And once you were there, you were there. You had that feeling of, ‘Okay, this is going to be a project, This is going to be family. Let’s dive in.’ And also the people of St John’s, Newfoundland, were incredible people, incredibly welcoming and kind, and that was just contagious. And I think everyone in the cast was incredibly welcoming, but it definitely set the stage for us.”
Next week’s episode and the one that follows were both directed by Wynonna Earp herself, Melanie Scrofano (who also guest stars), Tim Rozon’s former co-lead. That trippy dynamic wasn’t lost on Read. “The legacy that Wynonna Earp is for them crossed my mind a couple of times. But at the end of the day, I think Melanie did a great job directing from that bird’s eye view of an episode,” she says.
“Tim is such a generous scene partner to act with and he was always throwing me pitches that I could catch and throw back. It just became more of a team effort and it was fun because I got invited into their relationship in a way and I got to play along in a different story, and, of course, a different project, but it was nice to be able to experience their artistry.”
Good Witch wraps its seven-season run this weekend on Hallmark Channel and next weekend on W Network and Read loved dipping a toe in that world as Patience Merriwick, Cassie’s ancestor. “I enjoyed my time on it. The history element and the legacy that goes all the way back were really rich. I’m such a fan of really good costumes and transforming in that way,” she shares.
“Being able to play someone from the 1800s was just so enjoyable. I never get to play other eras very often and it just enriches my imagination and allows me to really explore something that is different from my everyday life. It’s a good group…exceptionally kind and generous, and it was just fun to show up.”
On the Netflix (and CBC) comedy, Workin’ Moms, Read is Bianca, and she says it’s the role she gets recognized for. “That’s a fun world to play in, as well. The humor and the comedy on that show is my cup of tea. Catherine Reitman is amazing, writing and wearing so many hats and pulling it together,” she says.
“I get stopped in the street with people just recognizing me who really want to tell me how much they love the show. Because of COVID and the [production] bubble shooting SurrealEstate, I wasn’t able to leave St. John’s to shoot last season in Toronto so they had me do my scenes over FaceTime calls. That was kind of wild and unique to this time, and they trusted me with my own hair and wardrobe and photography.”
SurrealEstate’s next episode turns Pippi Longstocking on her head with a demon masquerading as a pigtailed little girl in a red gingham dress and mary janes. “The Harvey” is The Roman Agency’s nickname for the boogedy thing that’s been jumping from family to family as a not-so-imaginary friend to young children because it really doesn’t like its own company.
While Susan gets her first taste of why there are rules in the first place, Luke’s attention is drawn back to Megan and her house. It’s another fun hour, premiering Friday at 10 pm/9c Syfy in the US, or streaming now on syfy.com or YouTube, where you can also catch last week’s premiere. The new episode airs on CTV Sci-Fi in Canada alongside the Syfy linear premiere, at 10 pm/9c.
[Updated 10/8/21: The entire first season of SurrealEstate is now streaming on Syfy and fuboTV in the US and CTV Sci-Fi and Crave in Canada.]
Photos and Video Courtesy of Syfy.
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