In preparation for this week’s season premiere of Warehouse 13, Executive Producer Jack Kenny and stars Eddie McClintock, Saul Rubinek, Allison Scagliotti, and new cast member, Aaron Ashmore, spoke to the press about their characters and the show. The show returns with a key question looming from the gripping season two finale: has Myka (Joanne Kelly) left the Warehouse team for good? Joining the Warehouse is Steve Jinks (Ashmore, Smallville), an ATF agent with an innate ability to detect when someone’s lying.
Warehouse 13 follows a team of government agents who work at a massive, top-secret storage facility in South Dakota which houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and preternatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government. The Warehouse’s caretaker Artie Nielsen (Rubinek) charges Pete Lattimer (McClintock), Myka Bering (Kelly) and young apprentice Claudia Donovan (Scagliotti) with chasing down reports of supernatural and paranormal activity in search of new objects to cache.
Check out the first of four Q&As, which include great questions from Jack Kenny & Aaron Ashmore!
On how the show has changed since the beginning & why it’s so successful
Jack Kenny: It’s changed in that we’ve — like any show, at least that I’ve worked on — the actors start to tell you a lot about the characters. And so we start to write more in the direction of the actors playing the parts and their strengths and backgrounds and things.
So that sort of makes them – it enriches the characters, makes them more real to us and to them, and allows them a certain ownership of the characters so that they can actually really invest themselves.
We’ve also expanded quite a bit the mythology of The Warehouse — its history, its background, how it all works. We added Claudia, as you know, in the first season to broaden out the family. H.G. Wells last year, both good and bad — I mean the bad guy. And she’s fantastic.
And this year we’ve added Aaron Ashmore as Steve Jinks. Just sort of increasing our family and I use that word because that, I think, is one of the reasons the show is successful, aside from the incredible talent of everybody who participates — the writing staff, the cast, the crew. Syfy’s getting behind it so strongly.
I feel like because it’s a show about a family — I mean a made family — I think it’s more relatable to everybody. Everybody can sort of relate to that brother-sister-parent-child relationship one way or another. And I think that’s what we have with this show — a father, you know, a brother and a sister, a younger sister, and now a younger brother, and that crazy aunt who shows up once in a while.
And I feel like it’s something that everybody can relate to in dynamic-wise. So I think they’re willing to get on the ride with us and take that ride all the way to the end. I think they like hanging out with this family.
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On stepping into an already established show with such a loyal fan base behind it
Aaron Ashmore: Well, it’s exciting in a lot of ways and also intimidating. Having watched – catching up on a bunch of episodes before I actually jumped in and just seeing how well all these actors worked together and how well the show was put together, that’s exciting. But it’s also like, “Oh boy, now it’s my, you know, I got to jump in here and catch up.
So it’s exciting but also, that first couple days it’s a little intimidating until you get up to speed and figure out how you’re going to fit into the new family.
On their favorite artifact from the show
Jack: Well I had the advantage of being able to take anything I want. No, I actually often do try to get, if they make a duplicate of an artifact I try to get it for the writer of the episode if that’s possible, just as a souvenir.
I mean, honestly, my favorite one from the first season was Rheticus’ compass. And I think it’s just because – not because of what the artifact does but because of the beauty of the construction of it. I they spent many thousands of dollars building this authentic-looking antique, you know, 500-year-old compass, and they used brass and copper and real compass material there.
It’s a thing of beauty. And, it’s really a work of art that I would display on a pedestal because it’s so stunning. And as they do approach all of the things they build with that kind of love and care and that’s the most beautiful.
I think if I had to have one I’d want the Phoenix because what could be more handy than living through fire?
Aaron: Yes, I mean, I don’t want to give away any of the artifacts that I’ve had a chance to come in contact with over the season because I think everybody should tune in to find out what those are. But I am kind of in love with the Tesla gun.
Jack said it so, you know, there’s so much craftsmanship and work put into all these little artifacts and all these toys or whatever that we get to play around with at the Warehouse. And I think a Tesla would be super-handy to just have. And it doesn’t hurt anyone – anybody really in a long period – over the long-term.
But you could just use it to get out of situations and stuff. And I think they’re so cool instead of just a regular gun, getting this, like awesome kind of space age steam punk sort of gun to play around with, I really enjoy…
Jack: That’s true. When you guys start changing the lines I could just zap you.
Aaron: It could come in really handy.
Jack: Yes, having it on the set. Then no, “Say it as written.” Zap. And there you go.
Aaron: I bet you we’ll behave real quickly.
On getting into the head of Steve Jinks to understand his ability to detect lying
Aaron: Well I think I thought about it and was maybe overcomplicating it — this idea of being able to tell when someone’s lying. But, talking to Jack and when we kind of got into it, it was a very simple thing of just looking at somebody and being able to tell whether they’re lying or not.
I mean I think that the ability is quite simple in the way it works, but the way that it affects the character, I think, makes him very tentative when it comes to people and trusting people. He knows that everybody lies. And I think as human beings we know that anyways but being able to tell exactly when those things are happening, I think makes him put a little bit of a wall up around him.
And I think that that’s the real thing that when you’re playing – when I’m playing Steve that I had to think about him and be aware of. So I think that that’s really the big part of the character that there’s these walls up because of his ability to tell when people are lying.
On the key to introducing a character like Steve Jinks effectively to enhance the dynamic between the characters and the show itself
Jack: Well one of, I mean, the first key is casting — finding somebody who fits into the family, somebody who just sort of slides right in but yet feels different enough so that you’re not repeating a dynamic with anybody.
And that was – that’s always very dicey when you have four people, four very different personalities and different dynamics, and we wanted to add somebody who brought a new dynamic to that group. So that – a lot of that is casting. Who do you find?
And when Aaron very happily and beautifully fell into our laps, he seemed perfect to fit that mold. It was like he’s more sort of emotionally conservative than Pete. Not as uptight as Myka. Obviously closer in age to Claudia so that there was a possibility of a connection there. And he just brought everything we needed.
Plus he looked a little different than everybody else, and that’s always kind of important, too. Because you don’t want somebody that looks like one of the other characters because it’s hard to tell the people apart.
But and then the next thing is sort of – what I do anyway, I listen to an actor’s voice. Aaron and I had brunch the day before he was cast in the job. And I just – I like to hear how they talk, how they approach life, what their rhythms are so I can write to that, rather than try to force them into a mold of the character.
So I think it’s really important to listen to the actor and hear what the actor brings what they can – the different rhythms are. My cat is screaming in the background. I’m trying to lock him out of the room.
So there’s bringing that actor to the part. And then, just finding the fun ways that the characters can interact. What are the obstacles to their being friends and what – where are the places where they connect.
And really — I can’t think of the word — making – really making hay out of that. Really digging into the places where they’re going to drive each other crazy and dig into the places where they’re really going to connect. Because that’s, I think, where the real meat and potatoes is of any relationship.
On how he became involved with the show
Aaron: Well it was kind of a strange process because that – the auditioning didn’t kind of happen. I think that Jack and the Warehouse folks had been kind of looking to cast this part and had looked at bunch of different options and a bunch of different people. And I think it was coming down to the wire and they hadn’t found the right person.
And I happened to be up in Toronto and Jack was talking to the casting director, Robin up here and I guess my name came up. And Jack and I went and kind of had brunch and just sat down and talked about the character and talked about the role and the show.
And Jack said by the end of that meeting, Jack said, “You know what? I’m seeing you as this part. You know, I can really see you doing this.” And as much as I was hopeful that that was true I was like, “This is way too easy.” A lot of the times you have to go through these long casting process auditioning and testing and all this stuff.
So I left that meeting feeling very hopeful that that would be the case. But, also being like, “Ah, it’s just too good to be true.” And sure enough the next day or two days later I got the call and I was cast as Steve.
So it was a really interesting process and very different, and I wish more could be like that — the casting process. But it was pretty unique.
Jack: You have to ask the – Aaron, you have to actually send a portion of your paycheck to Zuckerberg at Facebook because it was because Robin as friends with Aaron on Facebook that she knew he was in town.
Aaron: Yes, yes.
Jack: It was such a bizarre coincidence of events. It was like we’ve gotten down to the wire, we couldn’t find anybody that was fitting in with the part and the cast. We had chemistry reads and it just wasn’t – it just didn’t feel right. And then Robin spent three days before the table reading and was like, “Well now, you know, now we have to actually hire somebody who’s Canadian because we don’t have time to immigrate anybody.”
And I was actually feeling like, “Well this may not happen. I may have to rewrite it and not have the part in the first episode.” I don’t know how that would work but it would be really tough to do.
But – and then Robin said, “You know, I’m Facebook friends with Aaron Ashmore and he’s perfect for this but I don’t know if he’s in town. I think he is. Let me check.” And because it was a Saturday there was no way to reach agents or anybody.
So she Facebooked him and he was like, “Yes, I’m here visiting my girlfriend.” And I’m like, “Oh my God. Well let’s have brunch tomorrow.” It was Sunday. It was just all so – it was just – it was fate reaching in and saying this is the guy. Because as soon as I — literally as soon as I saw him sitting in the restaurant I thought, “Oh-oh, that’s him. That’s they guy.”
Because there’s just something about it when you see the person. Everybody says at auditions you kind of know when the person walks in the room. When the actor or actress walks in the room, before they even open their mouths you can tell if they’re right or not. And it’s just something about an energy. And I looked at him and, “Oh, he’s right. Please God, let him not be crazy.”
On what they have learned the most from the show and how their lives have changed
Aaron: What have I learned the most? Well I have to say — and it’s not totally surprising to me but because every job you go into you learn things and working with different actors and stuff but you really pick stuff up.
But I really feel like I’ve gotten acting lessons in a lot of ways working on Warehouse. Because working with Saul and – it’s just like watching how he does things and is really quite interesting. And also like the other guys, I haven’t done a ton of comedy shows and more dramatic stuff usually. So watching these guys and how good they are, I feel like I’ve learned a lot or picked up a lot.
So I would say that my skills as an actor or just certain parts of how I act I’ve just kind of observed a lot of things and picked up a lot of things, which is kind of unexpected. You never know when those things are going to come up but I would say that I feel like I’ve taken some acting lessons working on this show, as well, which is really, really nice.
And like I said, not totally surprising because you never know when those things are going to happen. But I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself as an actor doing this season of Warehouse 13.
Jack: I think you found out how you’re funny. Because a lot of actors are funny in different ways. Eddie has a certain rhythm of comedy and Allison has a different rhythm of comedy. Everybody has a different way of approaching it.
And I think what I’ve seen from Aaron is he’s discovered how and where he’s funny. How a sense of humor is a big part of our show. It’s not the whole show but it’s a big part of it. And everybody has moments. And everybody has a different way of approaching it.
I’ve learned a lot about you in terms of how to write to you. Because you can’t write the same humorous moments for every actor. Everybody approaches it differently. So I’ve learned a lot about how to, you know, where your funny bone is and how to tap into it, because it always takes a while.
But I think it’s really been kind of cool to watch you blossom into this comic actor. It’s kind of fun.
Aaron: Yes, and that’s how I feel too. It’s just a very interesting experience and getting to work with people who are so talented — you guys writing stuff and the cast just knowing their characters and just being so good at what they do, it’s a pretty unique experience, actually.
Jack: And I’ve learned what it’s like to be on a show that the network is actually behind. That’s been a huge, a wonderful thing. Because I’ve worked on a lot of shows, Book of Daniel was a big struggle, Titus had its own sort of challenges, but this is the first time I’ve actually been on a show that’s a hit that the network loves and is eager to support. I will ride this train until it pulls into the end of the station.
On his favorite memory or moment so far from working on the show
Aaron: My favorite memory. Well I think a lot of the things that I’ve really, really enjoyed working on the show are times — and I was just thinking — I really enjoy working with Allison a lot. I think that she’s really fun.
I think just some of the goofy things that she does is – have just been kind of memorable and really fun. Like just goofing around and stuff with her I think is probably my best memory of doing the show and stuff so far.
Jack: You guys have a great rapport.
Aaron: A specific thing. Well we kind of…
Jack: I’d like to make – just suggest – I mean I think you seemed to have an awful lot of fun during the Confederate reenactment.
Aaron: Yes, yes, that was actually good doing the Confederate reenactment where we get to dress up as Southern soldiers and that was definitely a lot of fun because who gets to do that kind of stuff? I mean, obviously the reenactors who do that are doing that all the time. But as an actor, just like as a person, to get to reenact these giant war scenes and stuff it’s pretty neat.
Jack: You got to shoot that guy and you looked pretty happy doing it.
Aaron: I’m not a violent guy but fake violence is a hell of a lot of fun.
On the situation with Myka and Steve coming into the group in her place
Jack: Well just to keep myself from getting into trouble I never said she would definitely be back. They’ll hunt me down and shoot me. No, what I’ve always – what I kept saying to people is don’t worry. We have our fans’ best interest at heart and everybody should just relax and enjoy the ride.
Remember at the end of the first season we killed Artie. So just – everybody should just not worry. It’s going to be a great year and everybody’s going to be thrilled. That said, that’s part of the fun of the season this year is in the first episode is Myka coming back? If she does, how is she coming back? How does Aaron fit into all this?
It’s a nice fun beat. But honestly it’s just, as I keep saying and I’m surprised because I never really thought about it — Aaron fits so well into this family that it hasn’t felt like an issue. There’s been plenty of room in this show to have this new character. And I got to tell you, just separately of the writing and the acting and the shooting, everybody in the cast just loves Aaron.
So it would be different if we had somebody who was a jerk. But he’s such a terrific human being and brings so much warmth and professionalism to the set that I think people look forward to doing scenes with him and seeing him. So it’s been – it’s just been a real kind of a joy this year.
Aaron: If you guys could see me I’m blushing.
Jack: And he does blush.
[That was my first question!]
On how his character was received by the other characters
Aaron: Well, yes. I mean, I think that the other characters are tentative like this is a very tight-knit group and it’s also they’re putting themselves on the line, their lives on the line. What their lives are about is servicing the Warehouse and taking care of the world.
So this new guy coming in, I mean, who’s going to trust him until he proves himself? And I don’t think that anybody’s too comfortable with the fact that he can tell when people are lying. I mean, that’s great for solving cases but this guy can come in and you can’t lie to him, you can’t B.S. him. He can tell what’s going on.
So, yes, there’s definitely some tensions. I think that what Jack was saying earlier, though it’s interesting because there’s ways that these characters are going to kind of clash but there’s also ways that they are going to bond in certain ways. And those are very different ways but are also interesting.
So, yes, it’s not all smooth coming into the Warehouse on your first day. They put you through the wringer a little bit.
[That was my second question!]
On Steve’s initial reaction when he finally figured out what the Warehouse agents actually do
Aaron: Well, I think the initial reaction is that he just doesn’t fully believe. Everybody’s telling him this stuff and he’s seeing all these things go on. But it’s almost too much to believe right off the bat.
So I think his first real interaction with an artifact and realizing how going through it himself, I think it really shocks him and makes him just feel like, “Okay, this is for real. This is not just a bunch of crazy people out here, you know, trying to, you know, run this strange warehouse. It’s like, this is dangerous.”
And I think it sinks in and he’s on board, he’s game. I think at the beginning he’s a little tentative because he’s just like, “This can’t be true. This can’t be right.” But when I think that finally hits him that this is for real, Steve’s very professional and very into his job, so I think that he’s on board.
On his biggest surprise in working on Warehouse 13
Aaron: Well, I mean, I don’t know if it’s the biggest surprise but it’s the first thing that pops into my mind. When I first stepped onto the sets and saw them I couldn’t believe how awesome everything looked, and the details and all the artifacts.
You walk through the Warehouse and Artie’s office and all this stuff and I was just like, “Wow, this is going to be a lot of fun because this is – they take this stuff seriously. This is not like some kind of whatever. It’s like they’ve really gone out on all the details and that.”
So it was really impressive and exciting to go into something where everything was – all the details were taken care of. And even things like talking with Jack, like any questions I had, any details. Again, like everything was answered. It wasn’t like me just kind of going in there and it’d be like, “Okay, whatever. I guess we’re going to do this thing.” It’s like, it’s just everything is so thought-about and the details are all taken care of. So it’s quite impressive.
Jack: I’ve got to say, anytime I walk friends or family onto the set they’re all wildly – everybody just goes, “Ahh.” Because, a lot of times you walk somebody onto a set and it’s disappointing because it’s a set and there’s fake walls and things like that.
But Artie’s office is just the most awesome place to visit. It’s – it looks like it does on TV.
Aaron: Still, still right? Yes, even when you walk in it still after you’ve seen it before it’s – I’m always still just like, “Wow, this is really, really cool.”
Jack: Yes, it’s really fun.
Check out Part 2 of our Warehouse 13 Q&A HERE. Warehouse 13 premieres this Monday, July 11, at 9/8c on Syfy.