TORONTO – There’s a steep learning curve to playing a spaceship-flying hero on a sci-fi show, say the stars of the new Space drama “Killjoys.”
Aaron Ashmore, Hannah John-Kamen and Luke Macfarlane say their stints on the action series involved martial arts training to pull off fight sequences and a trip to Fan Expo to get a taste of their target audience.
But there were also early stumbles in learning how to rattle off invented terminology for this fictional world, and in figuring out what buttons to push on the show’s spaceship, says Macfarlane, new to the genre after tackling roles on the medical serial “The Night Shift” and family saga “Brothers & Sisters.”
“Killjoys” follows a trio of interplanetary bounty hunters — known here as killjoys — who chase warrants through a distant planetary system.
Brit actress John-Kamen stars as Dutch, a charming but troubled killjoy who harbours a dark past, while Ashmore of “Smallville” and “Veronica Mars” fame plays her partner John, more of a peacemaker who hates conflict.
Macfarlane plays D’avin, a former soldier who joins the team when he reconnects with John, his estranged brother.
Created by “Lost Girl” creator Michelle Lovretta, the co-venture between Space and Syfy is produced by Temple Street Productions, also behind the Space hit “Orphan Black.”
The Canadian Press chatted with the stars about strong heroines, the dedication of sci-fi fans, and how to fly an imaginary spaceship.
CP: This is a very physical show, there’s a lot of fighting. Did that involve much training, and Luke, did you have to bulk up? You spend much of the first episode without your shirt on.
Ashmore (laughing): You noticed?
Macfarlane: I was supposed to have my shirt on more in the first episode. I was like, “Umm, I’d like to put my shirt on in this episode.”
Ashmore: It was feeling gratuitous to you?
Macfarlane: It was feeling gratuitous. I’ve always been a sort of athletic person but the fighting was all new to me.
CP: How about you guys?
John-Kamen: Loved it. I like the fighting, it was amazing. The training was incredible. We did Krav Maga, I did capoeira, military training, guns and it’s just great.
Ashmore: I hadn’t done a whole lot of fighting, either. And I think reading that stuff as an actor, any chance you’re going to get to do something exciting and probably look like a badass, you jump at it. We all sort of, on some level, enjoy action movies and all that sort of stuff so to get a chance to be a sort of an action hero in those scenarios is fun.
CP: This is yet another series featuring a tough female lead. Hannah, do you feel any responsibility to be a role model?
John-Kamen: I don’t want to just be on the arm of the man that’s going to save me. I think it’s really important to have strong females in leads, in shows, that have something to say.
Macfarlane: What’s also really great about the sci-fi genre is we do have a strong female lead but we don’t have to really talk about the fact that it’s a strong female lead in the world — just because we’re in a world where women are in charge and it doesn’t have to be a point of contention.
CP: You haven’t done much sci-fi before, did you find anything especially difficult to wrap your head around?
Ashmore: Oh, the pronunciation of words! Because it was always, “How are you saying that?” “Oh, I’m not saying it like that.” You know what I mean? We have to kind of get on board with stuff.
Macfarlane: I remember the first time we went to the cockpit (of the spaceship) and the set designer had done a beautiful job. There were all these buttons and screens and things and (the direction) was like, “OK, and now you’re flying!”
Macfarlane: We don’t know how to fly.
Ashmore: Nobody gave us a lesson!
Macfarlane: You make it up. (Pretending to handle the controls): “So, this is clearly, like, the jib? And this is the thruster speed!”
CP: I would think that partnering up with Syfy gives this show a huge boost in profile.
Ashmore: We went to Fan Expo last year, the year that we were still shooting. We’d only been shooting for a month and there were hundreds of people at a panel for a show that nobody barely knew anything about.
John-Kamen: There was one picture and like an article that was out! And we had like this crazy amount of fans and it was amazing and they were asking such great questions.
Ashmore: In this genre, sci-fi, people are incredibly loyal and incredibly interested in other shows within the genre so you kind of have a built-in group of people who are going to be really interested in it. Which is nice to know, too, that there is interest out there.
— This interview has been edited and condensed.