I recently got the chance to talk to Allison Scagliotti, who plays Claudia Donovan on Syfy’s Warehouse 13. She is a fantastic young actress and the character is brilliant, and she’s incredibly sweet and funny on the phone (& I’ve heard in person, as well, from people who’ve met her at Comic-Con and what not).
This week’s episode is a crossover with Eureka, in which Neil Grayson, who plays Fargo, is guest starring. The press got to chat with Allison about Fargo’s appearance and what kind of crazy episode that means for Warehouse 13, as well as other great stuff about Allison and her character.
There ARE spoilers for tonight’s episode & slight spoilers for later in the season, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, wait til later to read!
Jump with me to see what Allison had to say.
On working with Neil
Allison Scagliotti: So it’s always a pleasure to work with Neil. I’ve said in the past, Neil is one of my best friends, and so having the opportunity to work with him on set is just a joy. It’s like summer camp but we’re getting paid to run around in crazy costumes.
He’s an incredibly professional, hilarious comedic as well as dramatic actor and is never afraid to have fun. I think I speak for the entire cast and crew of Warehouse 13 when I say that being able to bring Neil Grayson onto the show is nothing but fun.
On the crossover episode
Allison: This is probably our biggest concept episode that we’ve ever done. There was a lot of green screen, a lot of special effects. It’s airing sixth in our season but we shot it third in terms of shooting order because there were so many elements to capture and it took a lot of prep and we were directed by the incredibly gifted Chris Fisher, who’s also our supervising producer. And I can honestly say it’s my favorite episode this season so far anyway.
It’s a very tongue-in-cheek sort of lampooning of video games in general and their depiction of women as well as what the warehouse could look like to an outside viewer or from an outside perspective.
It’s – the theme of the Warehouse video game, it’s called Fortress 13, and it’s the sort of castle medieval futilistic aesthetic. And so all the women have cartoonishly large breasts and the theme inside is very – it’s actually a little bit conflicting because there’re gladiators as well as knights and wenches and – what you’ll get to see is your sort of staple warehouse characters but as Fortress 13 avatars, so cartoonish representations of our normal characters.
It’s really fun. Fargo sort of plays with the mythology of purple goo and artifacts. And I don’t want to give too much away but given that Fargo had seen the inside of the warehouse, you know, don’t be surprised when you see the disco ball from Studio 54 make an appearance (unintelligible). And is there a dragon? Maybe. I’m not saying there isn’t.
What’s interesting is we shot it in live action and then in post, the image was given a treatment so that we do look – we look stylized. We look animated in some way. But it wasn’t motion capture and it wasn’t animation. It’s just that the digital – I don’t even know what you call it – but the digital image was altered in post so that we look at least a little bit more like a video game.
On her favorite artifact so far and what she would like to see
Allison: My favorite one this year has definitely been Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar because it was the first opportunity they gave me to sort of play guitar on the show, which is actually something I want to add.
For those of you who’ve seen the episode, you’re expecting this. But for the people reading this article who haven’t seen it yet, the writers and the network has been really supportive of my wish to play guitar and sing on the show. And this episode that’s about to air is the first time I do get to do that.
So at the end of the episode, Claudia goes to an open mike and gets out on a limb and covers one of Claudia’s – I mean, Allison’s favorite songs. So that’s – but in terms of episodes – or rather, artifacts that I would like to see, I would love – I think I pitched the red shoes this year, based on the ballet.
I mean, before that, the short story of the girl who dances herself to death or a pair of red shoes. I think that would be really interesting if some shoes sort of wound up on Claudia and she had to find a way to get out of them and they have some sort of emotional resonance.
But yes, the great thing about this show is that it’s kind of past the limit. I think we can almost do anything in terms of artifacts, and even this year, we explore so many different themes that I don’t think any two episodes are alike.
We’ve got this video game sort of Tron-esque episode and then two episodes later we’ve got a sort of Die Hard type story line going on. So we’re keeping it fresh.
On Claudia getting out into the field more and growing as an agent
Allison: Yes, I think so. You’ll see in plenty of episodes that the episode between Claudia and Steve becomes very pivotal emotionally as well as professionally, you know, in terms of the Warehouse teams.
Claudia’s at this point in her life where she wants to prove herself as an adult and she’s sort of like all 20 year olds, figuring out who she is and what she wants to be. And that’s been really, really great for me to be able to bring that sort of part of my life and me discovering who I am to the character.
So in terms of Claudia’s destiny, I know last season we sort of touched on her becoming the next Mrs. Frederick, and what happens to her at the end of this season is really emotional and intense. I think the world is sort of Claudia’s oyster. We can see her go in a couple different directions, so I’m really excited to explore that going forward.
On working on the Warehouse 13 web series
Allison: Oh yes, the Web series. So that was really interesting. Part of it was live action and then the rest of it was, emotion comic, as you probably saw. We had one day where we had to shoot but the rest of it we were just in the studio in Toronto where we record ADR when we’re out there, and just sat in a circle and it was like a table read.
And we were directed by (Andy Sepra) and it was just a really fun sort of extra thing to throw at the fans a little bit before the season started. Very different from our typical shooting schedule. I think – we actually had to film on a weekend in order to get it done because our episodes follow such a sort of strict schedule involving prep and locations and everything it takes to make a TV show, that this sort of had to be squeezed in between the real work that we had to do.
But I think it was really fun. It came out well and I haven’t really heard a lot of feedback from the fans about it but I think they enjoyed it. So it’ll be up to Syfy whether we do it again next year.
On whether or not she’d like to see Warehouse 13 do a Twitter promotion like Haven
Allison: I actually would not. And the reason is that Warehouse 13 is, you know, the mythology that we have established is that it’s a top secret government facility, where…sort of a sect that’s removed from the FBI. The Secret Service doesn’t really know about it. And so I think that – and to integrate something as public and difficult to control as Twitter into a mythology like the top secret mystery has an address, I think it would just sort of devalue the (unintelligible), the secrecy of what we strive for on the show.
However, I’m sure it’ll be great on Haven. I actually didn’t know they were doing that but, you know, the great thing about this episode is that we take something as obscure as the video game and somehow integrate it into what we do at the warehouse and that’s because Fargo inadvertently came into contact with an artifact and integrated it into his video game software.
So it’s been pretty cool to watch this episo- I thankfully was able to watch it before I got on this call with you guys. I love this episode. I think it’s hilarious and scary and all the things that make a warehouse episode great.
On what she thinks has changed the most from episode one of the series
Allison: Oh my gosh. I think first of all, no two episodes of Warehouse 13 I think one can say are alike. I think the major theme of our show is that we keep it diverse. The only procedural aspect of what we do is that we track down artifacts and we have to neutralize them before bad things happen.
But the scenes that we deal with are all so different and we explore different dynamics and there are disagreements between characters and there are things that make us bond and deepen our relationship. I think we’ve all just grown. I think that’s the chief difference, is growth and increased trust and just, you know, what happens when you spend a couple years with working with people and also, you know, becoming family.
Yes, I don’t think there’s any one singular event that’s changed then – I think it’s time and human nature.
And it’s just been [great] to be able to play myself at 20 sort of discovering myself and figuring out who I am and what I want out of life and being able to just bring that to Claudia because it’s exactly what she’s going through to.
[Note from Jenny: That was my question. But I have to say, my 13 year old son was over the moon I was getting to talk to Allison, and as I was on hold waiting to talk to her, he came downstairs and asked if I’d talked yet. Anyway, he told me a couple of things to tell her, and when I did, she was so sweet and gracious and funny. She made my son’s day!]
On what made her want to play Claudia
Allison: I love how smart Claudia was. And I love that the writers didn’t apologize for her intelligence ever. In Claudia’s first episode, this is a girl who had lived on her own for a decade, had been through some really dark times in a mental institution, was searching desperately for her brother to save him from that inter dimensional space he was caught in and was doing it all on her own without any help.
And so here was – here’s this really independent, really intelligent, really funny dark sarcastic, and also deeply insecure, scared, vulnerable character. And I rejoiced in a role so real because – I’ve mentioned this on panels before, I mentioned this in other interviews, it’s so rare for a role for a young actress to come around that isn’t too dimensional.
I’ve lost parts based on bra size. I’ve gotten feedback that I wasn’t pretty enough for the role that was being cast. But that’s the nature of this industry. It’s a superficial business. And I just – I love the character that was so full and so real and so much like myself and not just a pair of legs and lips and a giggle and a hair flip.
On what she thinks keeps people coming back to the show
Allison: I think it’s the relationships between the characters. I think it’s the fact that we are a sort of misfit family unit that people can somehow relate to. We get feedback all the time from families who watch the show together or from young people, older people alike, and I think we have a really diverse audience and it’s because it’s relatable in some way.
We’re not being chased by aliens in space and while that’s fun to watch, I think that’s more of a fantastical escapist sort of entertainment then our show. I mean, our show is a lot of fantasy and it’s a great way to sort of escape from the perils of what our country and our times have become that what I think is so relatable about the show is our characters and the sort of brotherly love and tension between Pete and Myka and the father/daughter master apprentice relationship between Artie and Claudia and then the whole family together.
In addition to the artifacts and the action, I’ll admit of the show being exciting and fun to watch. I think the reason people come back is to view this family that they’ve grown to love.
Thanks again to Allison for her time. Catch the new episode of Warehouse 13 TONIGHT and weekly on Mondays on Syfy at 9/8c.