The actors who play Sheriff Jack Carter and his daughter Zoe talk season four, season five, the Christmas episode and Twitter-mania
Halloween weekend at the London MCM Expo , and SFX is rapidly discovering that Eureka , Warehouse 13 and Haven have more in common than a shared network (all three are shown on Syfy both in the States and the UK). Syfy UK has lined up a bunch of interviews with the cast and crew of the various shows, and it soon becomes clear that the trio of Canada-based shows are almost like a sci-fi repertory company. Everybody, it seems, knows everybody. And Eureka star Colin Ferguson – Sheriff Jack Carter – seems to be more connected than most…
“Shawn’s a good friend of mine,” he says (meaning Haven showrunner Shawn Piller). “And Lucas…” (He means Lucas Bryant, star of Haven ) “… and I did a film together with Joanne Kelley…” ( Warehouse 13 ) a few years ago. And Jack Kenny, who’s an executive producer on Warehouse , we acted together about 14 years ago… Yeah, my connection to all these things are weird, and multiple and tangentional. They’re people I’ve known for a really long time, and they’re all really nice people.”
The phrase “we’re all one, big happy family” has become a bit of cliché when actors talk about the cast and crews they work with, but here it seems to be one big barmy extended family. Certainly there’s a bit of light hearted rivalry going on. When the Eureka interview is over, and the Warehouse 13 mob move in, Eddie McClintock instantly announces, “Hey, we’ll be much more interesting!”
But that’s in the future (both in our timeline and yours – watch out for exclusive Warehouse 13 and Haven interviews in the next few days on this site). For now we’re here with Ferguson; Jordan Hinson, we’re told, is on her way (hey, she’s only just got off the plane, so we can cut her some slack).
SFX : Were you disappointed you didn’t to be one of the Eureka characters who guest appeared on Warehouse 13 for the infamous crossover episode?
“It was supposed to be Salli (Allison) and I going over to do the episode that Neil and Erica ended up doing last year, but it conflicted with a couple of things, so I had to pull out. But, yeah, I’d love to go over as my character. It would be great to go over as Jack. Eddie and I have been knocking around together so it would be really, really fun, two idiots trying to solve something.”
You recently Tweeted that you were filming in a storm. What was that all about?
“That was insane. That was for the season four finale. There was a windstorm in Vancouver and we were shooting this scene with a black hole starting to form. So just in case the storm wasn’t enough they had three giant swamp fans set up. And they got the wind blowing so fast that the leaves – they’ve got guys with bags of wet leaves, and they’d throw them up and they’d come whipping across my face. And they’re actually stinging, leaving marks on my face. And they set up this rig – the thing that I was Tweeting about – above the jeep, where I’m getting slammed into the top of the jeep. And it was a really long day. I’ve still got the bruises.”
There were some big changes in Eureka at the start of season four, how did the cast react to the time-travel twist on set?
“I think this was the make or break season for us. In two and three we were just doing our thing, In this one, the writers just hit the ground running. The writers really raised their game.
“We loved the writing staff they put together. Every year with the writing staff before it’s been like… everyone gets fired over the course of the year. And this year, no-one was fired. Everyone stayed the whole season and immediately signed on for the next season. So they all got along, this amazing group, and the scripts were as tight as they've ever been and they were completed way earlier than ever before. That energy translated down to us and I think that’s why the season worked so well.”
Did you know what huge changes were in store before you picked up that first script for season four?
“You hear little dribs and drabs for the six months before, so you get inklings. It’s not like, ‘Oh my God!’ when you see the script. But the fact that it happened the way that it did – hats off to the writers. I think it’s a big thing for us. Because if you go back in Syfy’s past, for a while Galactica was down, SGU hadn’t started, Warehouse was an unknown. We were the only kids on the block, so we had all eyes on us, and… maybe the word ‘micromanaged’ wouldn’t necessarily be correct, but, all eyes were on us. So it was hard on the writers. A lot of people were giving a lot of notes.
“And so now that SGU ’s up, Warehouse is up, Caprica is up… well, not any more, Haven is up. So there’s a lot of people doing a lot of stuff and the writers, this was the year they got the vote of confidence. They came up with this brash idea, and the network said, ‘Yeah, go for it.’ And it completely flummoxed them. They were so used to fighting for the show, they said, ‘Really?!’ So they ran off and started writing and that excitement sorta carried through. And the best thing is, it’s been our best season critically, and it’s been out best season ratings wise. It was the right thing to do. I think.”
Do you think that the writers can top that twist and keep on innovating?
“I honestly didn’t think they could. I thought it was such a bold rebrand, or reboot, that I thought it was probably going to be our peak. I thought it was going to be the apex of our show and we’d sort of fumble around after that. Wrong! In the second half of season four we start with a space mission then something goes wrong with the launch. And that kicks into season five. And I can’t tell you what happens but things go sideways. I’d be fired if I told you what actually happens, but it’s really, really cool. I wanted them to do it for the last episode of season four. I wanted them to get it in there, but they’re going to save it for the first episode of season five, and let it unwind into season five. So, they are really doing an amazing job.”
So are the writers quite open with where they’re taking the show?
“I think it’s sort of like going through a trauma. Writing is sorta traumatic. So they come up and they’ll just blather on about this trauma. And they talk to as many people as they can about this trauma they’re going through. I think that helps them get it organised in their head, and at the some time, it gets feedback. They’re open to suggestions. Not that they would take our suggestions but sort of when the right one comes up, they know it. Like you do when you’re going through a trauma. Someone says that all-important piece of advice and you’re like, ‘Right – lots of fish in the sea!’ So I think they do that a lot.
“It also changes, right? Like, they do the long term plans but it’s not in stone. And even when the season begins and they’re writing episode two and three, something happens and they go, ‘Oh, it’s going to change 10-15% because that hasn’t worked quite the way we thought it would.’ The story always needs to go where it needs to go. You think you can sit there and write something as you wanted it to go, but it sort of dictates where it wants to go sometimes.”
What's been the biggest curve ball they’ve thrown at you?
“The beginning of season four. ‘Oh, we’re not going to reboot the show? Okay.’ If you remember, actually, at the end of season one, where we time travel for the first time and we’re in the future, and the only reason we did that was because we didn’t have a pick up from Syfy, and Andy and Jamie wanted to give anyone who was into the show, and idea of where the show was gonna go. That was the whole reason for the episode: ‘Just in case we never get to finish the show, this is sorta where we wanted to go in the future with you and Allison.’ It’s funny then to actually be four seasons in and they go, ‘Right! Let’s do this time thing properly.’ And they do a full attack on it.”
Is that a future you would like your character to have had?
“No I don’t think I’d like to go to that particular place, because I think where we’ve gone is much more interesting.”
Enter Jordan Hinson
Jordan: “Hey guys!”
Eureka set the tone for a whole bunch of other Syfy shows. Did you feel like the show was pioneering for the network?
Colin: “When the network set out to create Eureka , they wanted no space, no aliens. They wanted something more mainstream, a version of sci-fi that would appeal to more people. So we were the guinea pig on that, and we definitely took it on the teeth on a couple of fronts, as we all tried to find out what that was going to be. ‘Oh, it’s going to be darker. Oh no, it’s going to be more comedic.”
Jordan: “It took a long time to find out what the tone of it was going to be. It was a process to be sure. And I don’t think we really found it until the second season.”
Colin: “Even through the first year, all the directors that come on to do the show, they would be told outright in the tonal meeting, ‘This is not a comedy, so get that out of your head.’ That was the first thing they were told.”
The relationship between Zoe and Carter has got stronger and stronger over the years. Has the same thing happened with you as actors?
Jordan: “It’s never been easy to work with him.”
Colin: “It’s been a chore. An effort from day one.”
Jordan: “Nah, it’s definitely gotten easier. Me and Colin have been buddies since day one. But it does get easier once you get to know someone.”
Colin: “And we’d love to take credit for it, but we just get along. We’d love to say, ‘Yeah, we’ve devoted a lot of time intense processing,’ but we just get along. It’s the writing too, of course”
So, if the crew on Eureka is like a family, who is the mad uncle and who is the drunk aunt?
Jordan: “I am the mad uncle and he is the drunk aunt.”
Colin: “Toodle-oooo. We are definitely a sort of a family. There is a respect everyone has for each other. But everybody has their eccentricities, and nobody tries to cover for their eccentricities. It’s like, Erica is dingy, just dingy.”
Jordan: “But she’s great though.”
Colin: “She’s awesome. And Morton is the logic Nazi. That’s what he does.”
Jordan: “Any time there’s a question about anything…”
Colin: “He’s looked up the science!”
Jordan: “We take it to him. You know, ‘I don’t know how to pronounce this.’ ‘Oh, well, clearly Jordan, it’s…’”
Colin: “And Grayston’s all about his Tweeting.”
Jordan: “Hey, he just hit 12,000 followers. That’s a really big accomplishment.”
Colin: “Yeah, where am I at?”
Jordan: “You have a lot. I’m trying for 5,000 followers at the moment.”
Colin: “Is Grayston beating me?”
Jordan: “You are ahead of me. Can I just state for the record, Colin was not even going to get a Twitter until I made him one. I set up his password…”
Colin: “I was in the editing bay in LA, and I was like, ‘What’s this on my phone?’ I’m getting all this stuff, and I’m like, ‘What has she done?’ She has set up a Twitter account for me. She’s set up the account. She’s set up the password. I believe the password was JordanIsCool.”
Jordan: “Not any more, I hope.”
And the Christmas episode, how does that fit into everything?
Colin: “It doesn’t. It’s standalone insanity. It’s the stupidest thing we’ve ever done. We have a giant Santa sleigh. Oh, and if you do watch the episode it’s actually the sleigh from Elf. We got it at a cut rate.”
Jordan: “I didn’t know that.”
Colin: “We are the cheapest show in town. Once we literally ran over to Galactica , and borrowed one of their raptors for the day. We borrow everything from everybody.”
Jordan: “What about Hellcats ?”
Colin: “Oh yeah, we shoot on the same lot as Hellcats , the cheerleading show, so we’ve been doing the Hellcats drive-bys. ‘What are you guys doing? See you later!’”
We’ve just been told – you have 11,809 followers, Colin*
Colin: “11,809! I’ve only done 200 Tweets.”
* All figures correct at time of interview.