Interview with Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Exec Producers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst from Haven

Based on the novella “The Colorado Kid” from renowned author Stephen King, Haven is a new Syfy series that follows FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose, John from Cincinnati, Brothers & Sisters, Jericho, ER) who arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine to solve the murder of a local ex-con. Before long, her natural curiosity lands her at the epicenter of activity in the curious enclave — which turns out to be a longtime refuge for people with a remarkable range of supernatural abilities. Among the townspeople are local cop Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant, MVP: The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives, Queer as Folk), who eventually becomes Audrey’s partner, and the mysterious and charming Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour, Six Feet Under, Veritas: The Quest, Conviction, 24). For more about the show and the interview with stars Emily Rose & Lucas Bryant, as well as Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn (both for Shrek the Third, The Dead Zone), the series co-creators and executive producers, jump with me. And don’t miss the premiere of Haven, which starts tonight on Syfy at 10/9c.

The impressive creative team behind Haven includes show-runner Scott Shepherd (Tru Calling, The Dead Zone) who is joined by his partners, executive producers Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller (both for The Dead Zone, Wildfire, Greek), as well as E1 Entertainment’s John Morayniss & Noreen Halpern (Hung, Copper), Laszlo Barna (The Bridge) and Michael Rosenberg (Hung, The Riches & star of Smallville).

Check out the great interview, then watch the preview clip at the bottom to prepare yourself for tonight’s premiere!

Emily and Lucas, what would you say is the major blind spot for your character and how is that going to trip your character up as the story unfolds?

Emily Rose: That’s a great question. I would say I think the major blind spot for my character I think sort of happens initially in the first episode with this sort of confrontation that she kind of comes to grips with there might be some kind of link to her past and her family and her roots. And I think that as kind of those start unfolding in the story it will kind of start tripping Audrey out and tripping her up at times.

I think she’s so used to sort of having this kind of defense and that she knows how to operate and she knows how to do her world and her day-to-day but the personal and the emotional sort of things that she has to face, she’d rather not. So I think that’s going to be her sort of blind sight.

Lucas Bryant: I just wanted to mention also that Emily didn’t mention, she has a really hard time walking. That will affect her forward momentum.

But for me, Nathan has a condition where he can’t feel pain so this has sort of alienated him from people and relationships recently and so I think that it’s intimacy that will sort of get in his way. But at the same time that’s something that when Audrey blows into town she kind of blows his world open. Don’t laugh, it’s true. So we’ll see if he’s able to yeah, overcome those emotional deficiencies. In some ways we’re very similar that way.

 

[For the creators,] can you guys give us some ideas past the pilot how the show is going to work? Will there be cases that they’re looking at each week? Just give us a general idea of how – not – you don’t have to give away anything about the plot unless you want to but yeah.

Sam Ernst: Thanks, that’s a great question and I’ll start out with – there’s two elements of the show. There’s the…

Jim Dunn: That is Sam Ernst talking by the way.

Sam Ernst: Unless what I say is insanely stupid in which case it’s Jim Dunn. But we have two elements to the show. One is we are going to meet in each episode a supernaturally afflicted person like we did in the pilot and so we’ll tell that story, every week there will be a new person. So we’re doing this as a standalone show, each episode as a standalone episode so the people can jump in Episode 6 or Episode 16 or wherever they come in and they’ll be able to enjoy it.

However, there is a mythology to the show and Jim and I being Sci Fi supernatural geeks, we actually know the last scene of the series whether that’s Episode 25 or 75. We know that scene so we know exactly where we’re going and we’re going to unfold that over – each episode will have – they will be stringing along to sort of talk about the story of Audrey and Nathan and the town of Haven and where it’s going.

 

 

Can [all of] you kind of talk about how you got involved in the project, how that all started?

Jim Dunn: I guess I’ll start since it started with me and Sam. Years ago we were working with the people (Pillar, Seig, and Shepherd) who were producing the Dead Zone and their development person (Adam Fredo) brought us the Colorado Kid and said that did we think we could find a TV series in this. And we had this idea of making the town cursed or filling it with people with supernatural afflictions.

And we jumped through a variety of hoops, the biggest one being Stephen King liking the idea, liking what we were doing with the basic core of his book and so that’s really where it all started. We sold it to ABC and eventually it migrated to E1 and Syfy and our international partners.

Jim Dunn: And I’ll tell you before Emily jumps in.

Emily Rose: I’ve been involved in…

Jim Dunn: I’m sorry Emily, I was going to tell the story of your audition but maybe you should tell your story of your audition.

Emily Rose: Well I was just saying I got involved, you know, usually pilot seasons starting back, I ended up coming actually straight back from my honeymoon and getting settled back into normal life and hitting pilot season hard. And one of the very first ones that came across for me that my manager was really interested in and when I read was also very interested in was Haven.

So, you know, sometimes you read pilots and you’re kind of like I guess I could grow to love it but this was one of those ones that was really special from the get-to where I really fell in love with the character. It was really exciting to me, and I was, you know, turning each page looking forward to what was happening. And so I just got involved with auditioning right away and was really fortunate to be there when it all kind of – all the dust settled.

Lucas Bryant: I, too, read the pilot, loved it from the start, and then doing a little bit of extra generating machine, I found out that Emily was attached to it and so I went in there and I had worked with – had the pleasure of working with Miss Emily Rose before who is now Mrs.

And so I told them, you know, that she is a total nightmare and if they were going to be able to deal with her they needed me. And they bought it. And then I also bribed them with Canadian chocolate bars which went down really well.

Emily Rose: All of this is very true.

 

Emily, you’re playing a different character than in the book so would you talk about where the book ends and you begin? And also what cool super power creatures are you looking forward to facing?

Emily Rose: The unknown. Actually when I read the Colorado Kid initially I had a very strong reaction to it. I sort of threw it across the room and was like what? What the heck? And then I picked it back up and Stephen King so wonderfully in his afterward sort of nurses you through it and kind of helps you digest it.

And I honestly think yes, I mean, not being the Stephanie character specifically but, you know, Audrey Parker I sort of feel like is kind of from this kind of reader’s point of view kind of observing this town and this sort of quirkiness that’s existing. So in a lot of ways I think that’s super beneficial that the audience kind of observes Haven, this central character of this town through the eyes of her.

And while that character may not be completely written as a person in that story it’s kind of neat because you definitely as a reader are a character through the observation through kind of the quirkiness that’s going on and I think that’s kind of the part that Audrey Parker takes is the place of the audience observing and kind of having to cope with all the strange things that are getting thrown at her.

 

What was it that bothered you about the book?

Emily Rose: Oh well because it’s the mystery of it all, you know. I think all of us really love to at the end or do we, you know, know what happens. This Colorado Kid mystery is a mystery and it’s not tidy at the end. It’s not a tied up bow, it’s not kind of like and this is what has happened exactly to a T.

It’s more like well yeah, that was weird and so yeah, nothing like strongly bothered me. I love the characters of (Vincent Dave) and I love the weird town. But it’s that initial reaction of being like what, I want to know what happened.

In terms of the people that I want to encounter, I think probably someone that could jump from place to place would be kind of cool but the writers and producers and where it’s sort of going, they kind of like leaving me in a mysterious let me find it as it unfolds as well so I kind of enjoy that mystery as being what’s next. I never know.

 

Emily & Lucas, I was wondering maybe if you guys could perhaps tell us a little bit about your experiences shooting the first episode of the series and maybe some of the challenges stepping into your respective roles on the show.

Lucas Bryant: Well first of all, I guess the first shock was that we were here on the edge of the earth. You know, we’re shooting in a little town outside of Halifax on the edge of the coast of Nova Scotia looking off into the great wide rest of the world. So upon arrival that was an immediate – well I thought we were shooting in Halifax initially and I learned we were…

Emily Rose: Shooting way outside of Halifax.

Lucas Bryant: Yeah, not quite in civilization but exactly where we wanted to be for this because, you know, it’s – I don’t know if you’ve traveled the south shore of Nova Scotia but it’s stunning and it’s like – it’s a landscape that you don’t often see on television. So being able to capture that on film no less is a beautiful and exciting prospect and I think we were both kind of like strangers in a strange land for a little while when we started shooting which was a perfect place to be.

One of the immediate challenges is the weather. The pilot also deals with weather so it was all rather…

Emily Rose: Appropriate.

Lucas Bryant: Yep, and I mean, we got here in April and we started shooting in April and so in the scene in the pilot where Emily and I first meet each other, shooting that scene we were outside, it started off on a beautiful day and then it was black clouds and then it was pouring rain. Then we had hail and two rainbows by the end of the day.

And it was all in the same scene and it was, you know, I had very little faith that it would actually cut together but it does and it’s beautiful. And so we just quickly got used to that being, you know, the status quo. What you can expect during the day was, you know, everything to change every five minutes.

Emily Rose: I think for me one of the biggest challenges was Lucas and I have worked together before so immediately off the bat it’s one of those things where we get along and we can – we kind of have a camaraderie. And there is, you know, that sort of – that kind of checking each other out sort of observing each other that kind of happens in the first episode being like okay, who are you and how do you run this town and who are you and who are you to come into this town and try to run it.

And so, you know, that natural like sort of chemistry and familiarity I think works between the characters because in one way Audrey, you know, doesn’t want to feel anything sort of emotionally and then you have Nathan who can’t feel anything physically and how do those two sort of like interplay and how do they kind of walk that fine balance.

But, you know, in a way us working together really before kind of, you know, helped because we have that natural sort of we can fall into place and finish each other’s sentences.

But I think for me it was also trying to, you know, I’ve been sitting with the pilot, sitting with the script for, you know, a little bit and so it’s to make each thing new and to make it, you know, oh my word, what is this new place and who is this person and what’s going on and all of that. So for me that was kind of like the fine little teeter-totter that I had to sit on.

 

 

Emily and Lucas, understanding where this series, the origin of this series with Stephen King, etc. And yet when I was watching the pilot I couldn’t help but notice a little bit of X Files kind of Mulder and Scully dynamic with you guys. Had you ever thought of that before where, you know, kind of reversing the sexes on it with, you know, Emily’s character as the kind of Mulder character and Nathan being a little more skeptical despite his own abilities?

Lucas Bryant: Yeah, yeah, and I really fought to get Gillian Anderson’s hairstyle and color but no luck yet. No we had – I don’t know, I had.

Emily Rose: Yeah, you definitely think of it stepping into the genre. You definitely – you know it’s out there. I think you know that it’s there and you know that it’s kind of the gauntlet sort of laid before you but you also want to make it fresh and new and its own entity in and of itself. So I think we take those sort of archetypes and characteristics into mind but want to make sure that we’re staying true to the people that we’ve been written as and how that plays out.

Lucas Bryant: Yeah and they’re great. I mean, they’re like a beautiful classic couple and I think we’re probably the next beautiful classic couple.

 

The show is called Haven, I understand you originally wanted to call it Sanctuary. I wanted to understand what that’s supposed to mean for the show. Is there something like a villain or entity that’s hunting everyone?

Jim Dunn: The – in the larger scheme of things it will be revealed why there are so many people with supernatural afflictions here in this one place. And the idea of naming it Haven or previously Sanctuary before someone else did a TV show with that name was that this is a place where theoretically for long periods of time these people are able to be without having their afflictions kick in but now we’re in a time when they are beginning to kick up again just when Audrey Parker happens to come to town.

Sam Ernst: And that’s something actually that we talk about in the second episode which I don’t think you’ve seen but Nathan actually reveals his perspective on what’s going on and how he knows what has happened in the past but he has no idea what’s happening in the future which is very consistent with the actors playing those roles.

Jim Dunn: And the writers writing them.

 

Why will people want to take the time to tune in and watch Haven?

Emily Rose: I think it’s something, you know, I really – I know that there’s a lot of kind of like procedural and there’s also there’s a lot, you know, kind of paranormal weird stuff that people naturally are drawn to but I just hope that they’ll tune in because they can identify and enjoy spending time with these characters.

It’s always exciting when writers write, you know, the material like Sam and Jim have where you’re really kind of like what is going on and what’s going to happen next. And then when you double that with a character that you enjoy hanging around and being with and joking with and also who’s intriguing with their own sort of past ways, I think that’s a great recipe for, you know, a draw to come back and watch it every week. And because we’re the next beautiful couple.

 

I just – my biggest question, and I love the pilot. I really – I thought the pilot was great and I love the chemistry between the characters and such. But watching it, of course I’m wondering just what were some of the – I mean, it’s already difficult enough sometimes to adapt a television show from a book. This is from a Stephen King book.

Did that present any additional challenges or any additional, you know, sleepless nights in trying to put this together? And will we get an obligatory Stephen King cameo at some point?

Sam Ernst: I’ll tackle this one to start anyway. That’s a great question Michael because yes, we had all those things, sleepless nights, Jim and I sitting on my porch talking about this.

There are two sides to Stephen King for us and we are both huge Stephen King fans. There’s the creepy crawly and then there’s the – all the cool character real world people’s lives who suddenly go sideways on them. That’s what he does to us. That’s our favorite part of Stephen King.

And actually his new book Under the Dome which I read over Christmas break while we were just starting to write the first episodes of the show, I was struck by the fact that there was one supernatural element to that book of course which is of course the dome. And the rest of it was just how all these incredibly normal people deal with that thing and how everything just goes crazy because of that.

And out of that 1100 page book which left a welt on my belly as I would sit there and read it in my bed under covers at night with a flashlight — that’s actually true — I would say maybe 90 pages are supernatural, 50, and the rest of it is just all the sideways stuff.

So that’s what this show is about. This show is about people’s lives going sideways after something supernatural happens to them. And what we’re really excited about is tracking Audrey and Nathan and hanging out with them as they try to help these people deal with these things. Sometimes they help them deal with in very positive ways and sometimes things go horribly awry and watching these two what we hope are very real characters deal with that is the journey that we want to go on with them.

Jim Dunn: Just to add one more thing to that. One of the things in genre TV that can sometimes be a problem is that people get so hung up on the bright shiny toy of the supernatural thing or the Sci Fi thing that the characters don’t really get a chance to live and breathe and become real characters.

And we’re trying to take the other approach which is to use the supernatural elements of the show to highlight the lives of the characters and get more emotional involvement and interesting things into the lives of our characters.

 

And any Stephen King, can we expect him to pop up?

Sam Ernst: We are – we’re hoping for that actually. We – (Charles Cartwright) who is the publisher of the Colorado Kid and pretty tight with Mr. King is actually writing at least one if not more of the episodes this season. He was the publisher of Hard Case Crime that the Colorado Kid was published under and is an author in his own right. And I know that King has been in – he has seen the pilot, he’s been involved in everything and believe me, please say we would love to have Steve King come in.

Emily Rose: Yes Stephen King, yes please come and visit.

Sam Ernst: I would rather have him in the writer’s room though than in the – on the set although I’d happily take both.

Jim Dunn: Right, and Mr. King if you’re out there listening to this our show owner is good friends with the guy who owns the Boston Red Sox so, you know, if you want to get tickets for something come on down to the set.

Sam Ernst: Yeah, I’m sure he can’t get those on his own.

Jim Dunn: Yeah, yeah, that much money.

 

 

Can you all talk about working in Nova Scotia and what the town of Lunenburg gave the series creatively that Maine couldn’t and how it worked for the series.

Emily Rose: I always say that I think that Haven, Maine of course is the central character in this show and I think that Lunenburg and Chester and all these really cool places, you know, surrounding this area, it’s just eye candy.

You know, it’s kind of like a lot of shows go out there and they’re filmed on the same lots in the same place and you see the same streets. And this is like I think you can agree from watching the screener it’s like stuff that you don’t see out there.

And doubled with the fact that we’re shooting on film and it’s, you know, very rare these days to be doing that to get the (greenness) of it. It really sets a tone and a place for us to play and to make these discoveries and it adds a certain weight. And Halifax, the people here and the crews here have been nice to us and really it’s a great place to be shooting.

I mean, I think the minute Sam and Jim they say, you know, they stepped out in Lunenburg they were like yeah, this is awesome. And the minute I stepped out there I was like okay, yep, I can’t shoot anywhere else, you know, this is perfect.

Sam Ernst: It’s an absolutely beautiful part of the world and it is a character in the show and that’s what we’re so excited about. We always saw it that way.

Jim and I spent a fair amount of time in Minnesota which has a lot of very – on the surface of it very normal people as you would think, whatever normal means. When you get to know them you find out they’re just as freaky as everybody else and certainly that’s true in Maine and Nova Scotia.

And of course, you know, I actually took the ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia and you don’t really feel like you’re changing cultures. It feels like it’s just a natural continuation from one group of people to the other. So it looks just like Maine of course and feels just like it. But everybody speaks a little funny. That’s the only difference I have found. And that’s just Lucas of course.

Lucas Bryant: That’s mostly me and (Jerry) our sound guy. He’s from Newfoundland.

Sam Ernst: Yeah, and although the crew is all of course local and they’re fantastic, just unbelievable to work with.

Lucas Bryant: Yeah.

 

Well it is a short ferry ride for Stephen King so hopefully you guys get him.

Sam Ernst: We’re trying man, we are so trying.

 

Emily and Lucas, what makes Sam and Jim’s writing unique and fun to play with?

Emily Rose: We love when Sam and Jim’s episodes come around because – and their writing is fantastic. The thing that we enjoy so much honestly is the natural banter. You know, and I think that’s kind of some of the feedback, you know, we get from people who have seen it is the natural, you know, we want more of that. We want more of the banter between these two oddities, you know.

So to me it’s look hearing, I can hear Sam and Jim saying things sometimes and I read it and it’s so nice to read a script and genuinely laugh out loud at certain beats and it’s great because they have a really good ear also for our voices kind of how we finish each other’s sentences and man, does that make our job so much easier.

 

Lucas, can you talk about that too, does the banter remind you of any other style you’ve heard before?

Lucas Bryant: It’s a bit classic. Sam and Jim as you may know were like Siamese Twins. They were attached until they were like 17 I think, right?

Emily Rose: So we’re really seeing their banter back and forth.

Lucas Bryant: So it’s basically their – them.

Emily Rose: Yes, Lucas plays Sam and I play Jim.

Lucas Bryant: And the first thing you notice about their scripts is they cannot spell for the life of them. No I’m kidding. They have a beautiful, I think beautiful marriage of, you know, the absurd and mundane and human. You know, everything is always very real and human even in these wild circumstances and I think, you know, they like being – having a Minnesota connection that they understand part of my roots.

My father is from North Dakota so I’ve been trying to use my father’s side of the family as a bit of an inspiration for Nathan to say. And so I feel I have a real – I think they can understand the location for that.

Sam Ernst: I’d like to rewrite their answers for them. Can you give me just 15 minutes?

Sam Ernst: You know, I will say, I’ll just jump in and say you know for these guys to write for them is – I know with Lucas I can write – what I write – he’s (unintelligible) for him. I write it with 20 or 25 words. And then my challenge is to get it down to 3 and that’s great to watch him struggle to get all that information out in 3 words. And that’s great.

And with Emily I try to as often as possible get her to take a left turn in the middle of the conversation that nobody is expecting and say it out loud and surprise Nathan with that. That’s our goal. And my own number one goal has always been to make Jim laugh and then when I find that these two people can make him laugh as much as the words do that’s my happiest moment as a writer.

 

Check out the clip below, which is Lucas & Emily’s characters meeting for the first time in a… precarious situation.

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