Exclusive: Katherine Barrell Talks Wayhaught & Wynonna Earp

Katherine BarrellSyfy's Wynonna Earp, based on the IDW comic book series of the same name by Beau Smith, follows demon-hunting Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano), a descendant of Wyatt, who hunts down Revenants and sends them back to Hell. She is joined by her boss Agent Dolls (Shamier Anderson) and her sister Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley).

Actress Katherine Barrell plays the part of Nicole Haught, a new police officer in Purgatory. From the first time they met, she has shown interest in Wavery, who may finally be starting to respond to her advances.

Recently Barrell talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about her work on the show, Nicole and Waverly's relationship, and much more.

SCIFI VISION: How did you first become involved with the show?

I auditioned for it last summer. They did kind of a wide net casting call for Wynonna, and I auditioned for Wynonna. And then like a month later, I auditioned for Waverly, and then maybe a month and a half later, I auditioned for Nicole. So I just went the audition root.

Was there anyone in particular who inspired your portrayal of Nicole, or did you take it all from the script?

Not really. I mean, I always admired Jennifer Lawrence and how confidently she plays her characters. I think Nicole in some aspects reminded me of of a lot of particular scenes I could have seen Jennifer Lawrence playing, but obviously on kind of not as big of scale. But I'm a really huge fan of hers, and I love the way she portrays a lot of her female characters. She plays these beautifully strong women just like with that extreme confidence. But I think that's just my fan geeking out a little bit.

But other than that no. Really, I pulled a lot from the script.

Did you bring any of yourself into the character? How did you connect with her?

I think I connect with Nicole, because she is someone I aspire to be. She's incredibly confident and comfortable in her own skin, and she just seems like a really solid person who knows who she is and is at a stage of her life where she's really happy and confident in her own skin.

So I think as far as bringing pieces of myself, it's because she's kind of like a goal of a person I want to be more like.

Did you know early on about the relationship coming with Nicole and Waverly?

I did; I knew right from the beginning that it was coming. There actually were significant scene changes. There was a script that I didn't even read that Dominique read, where things happened between Nicole and Waverly much earlier in the season. And I think obviously when you're first putting a show together, the writers are going through so many different story options. How are we going to tell this story and how are we going to tell this relationship? And I think they definitely made the right decision to push it later in the season, because it just gave it a really natural buildup too.

And it gave Nicole a chance to be her own character outside of the relationship with Waverly. I think especially in episode seven, we really got to see her hanging out with Wynonna, and I think that was a huge episode for Nicole, because she became a fully fleshed out character and not just a love interest.

And I'm really, really glad that they pushed the relationship, or I don't want to say relationship, but the instigation of something more between these two women, to later in the season, because I feel if it had happened too soon it would have been very superficial. Whereas now, I feel like Nicole and Waverly are at such a place were it feels very real and very genuine, and they have a very genuine attraction to each other. And at this point in the series, it's very obvious that it means a lot to both of them, as opposed to having it just be some little fling.

Everyone kept asking me to ask you if Nicole and Waverly are going to kiss, and in this episode it finally happens. Can you talk about filming that scene?

I think whenever you film an intimate scene with your fellow cast mate, there's always a bit of nerves before it, because filming any sort of intimate [scene] - if it's a sex scene, or just a make out scene or anything, the first time with somebody is always very, you know, it's like, 'Can I touch you this way?' or 'Are you comfortable with that?' 'Is it okay if I...'

So I think before those scenes, whenever I've done them in the past, I've always kind of checked in with my fellow actor to be like, 'What are your boundaries?' You know, 'Are there parts of your body you don't want to be touched?' 'Is there a certain way you don't want to be kissed?' Like 'Where is your comfort level as a professional; where do you kind of draw the line?' Because you're so vulnerable in those moments with somebody. Man, woman, doesn't matter, doesn't make a difference; it's your colleague, [laughs] and it's a very strange job that you have to go and make out with your colleague.

Katherine BarrellAnd Dom and I definitely had that conversation. We had gotten to know each other pretty well. We'd become pretty good friends by then, which is another level of like, 'I'm going to go kiss my friend now; that's kind of strange.'

But, you know, as I'm sure you've heard from many other actors, those scenes, they're not romantic. They're very technical. You're stopping in the middle - 'Just turn your head a little bit this way. Okay now keep going.' You know what I mean? [laughs] There's really not a lot of emotion; it's very technical.

And so I think just because it is, it doesn't feel romantic or anything. I mean there are moments of that, but there're fifty people staring at you. It's just part of the job.

But Dominique is so lovely, and we had a really great chat before of like, 'What are you comfortable with?' And we talked about the characters, what we wanted to portray in this scene, you know, how close have they gotten, where are they at with like their desire for each other? Where's Waverly's comfort level at right now? Because Waverly, what I love too, is she's really driving the scene. And Nicole even pushes her back, and says, "What happened to friends? Are you sure you want to do this?"

Nicole, that's what I love about her, she's really not pushing her to do anything she's not comfortable with. So I think for me I was feeling like these are kind of my personal boundaries. We didn't really have any, because we were so comfortable with each other at that point. It's like, 'Do whatever.' But it was really in Dominique's hands to kind of push that moment forward, and we kind of decided in the middle of it Waverly kind of clearly had succumbed to her desire and instigated with Nicole.

Then I love the moment of me kind of picking her up and turning her on her back, and Nicole kind of taking control. One, because I feel like it's super sexy. Also when I'm doing these kinds of scenes, I'm definitely thinking - I don't know if a lot of actors do this or it's just me, but I'm definitely thinking about the audience and what they would want to see at that moment, and like kind of taking a step back and looking at the scene as if you were like watching it, or directing it, or whatever it is. And being like, 'Okay, what's the dynamic of this? How is this going to look? What would my desire be as an audience for these two characters right now? What would I be dying to see them do?' And I think it sets up the story. It's great to be aware of that for sure.

And I'm really happy with the way that scene turned out. I think just the whole season Dominique and I fought so hard to make sure everything felt really real and genuine between these two characters, and I'm really happy about this episode, because I feel like it feels real.

There's a whole lovely mix of like fear and excitement and trepidation and all these beautiful emotions that I know I totally identify with. I mean, I've had moments like this in my own life.

And I just think our director Ron [Murphy] did an amazing job allowing us to feel comfortable enough to play all of those kind of emotions, and I'm really happy with it, and I hope the fans are too.

Can you talk about kind of where they are headed on their journey together?

Katherine BarrellFor Nicole, I think she's definitely starting to figure out that something is strange about this place. Nicole comes from the big city. In my head I've always imagined that Nicole came from Chicago. I don't know why Chicago, but just for me, there was something about it. She grew up in a big city, a much more liberal place. And I think that's why it leads her to be a just a lot more confident person in her sexuality, and who she as a woman working in a traditionally male dominated field. I think living in a bigger, sort of more liberal city kind of adds to that.

And she comes to this little town of Purgatory, and she's like, 'This is strange,' but because of the awesome person she is, she's making the best of it. She's like, 'This is my life; this is where I'm at right now in my career.' I've assume that she went to police college and then was probably placed and didn't really have much of a choice of where she went.

And I think Nicole is definitely starting to figure out that things are strange in Purgatory. And I don't think she is going to be shy about voicing her opinion. We even see it again in episode nine when she goes in to [Sheriff] Neadley (Greg Lawson) and she's like, 'Dude, what's happening? Have you noticed? Things are weird.' And clearly Neadley's hiding something from her. But I think Nicole's pretty determined to follow her gut - and that's another thing about her; she really follows her gut. And she's definitely going to investigate that a little bit more.

As far as with Waverly and Nicole, I think they're still figuring things out. As with all relationships, it's like one day it's the best thing in the world, and the next day it could be shit. And things change really fast, especially when these two characters are in a dangerous place and a dangerous situation. And there's no guarantee of safety in this world. This is a really dangerous world that these characters live in, and I think dealing with the high stress that comes with both of them doing a dangerous job definitely plays into their relationship dynamic.

Do you think there's a possibility that eventually she might be helping Waverly out with her research and investigations?

Waverly's a very loyal Earp. I think it's twofold. I think Waverly really wants to protect Nicole, and I think anytime anyone has found out something about Waverly's family, she gets pushed away. So I think Waverly is actually afraid of Nicole finding out what the Earp curse is all about. Because I think - I mean, I don't want to speak for Dominique, but in my interpretation of it, there must be fear of rejection of like, 'Oh my God; she's going to find out that I'm a freak,' and 'There's one person who I really care about and I really like and is going to be scared off.' I think it's more that for Waverly in a couple upcoming episodes, but again, I don't want to speak for Dominique.

But, you know, Nicole definitely is going to start poking around.

Can you see that happening though? I definitely can see her teaming up with them in the future.

All I will say is, 'I hope so.' That would definitely be really fun.

For Nicole, I think, that definitely would be her desire if she was to find out what is going on in the town, but there're are no guarantees that she's going to get there.

I also have a Twitter question; they must have a theory. Someone asked if your character is all human.

I would just say it's a really good and observant question, and there may be something to it.

Has the fan reception for the series been what you imagined?

It's exceeded my expectations, absolutely exceeded them. I had no idea that this was going to be as amazing of a fan response as we've gotten for the show. It's totally just blown me away. I'm so beyond thrilled about just how everyone's been too. Like I'm sure there's been a few negative comments, but I haven't seen any. It's just been so positive and wonderful. It absolutely exceeded my expectations; I'm very grateful.

Katherine BarrellWas the reaction to the relationship itself how you thought would be, or were you surprised as well that it became such a big thing? It's got its own hashtag (#wayhaught) and everything.

I was surprised that it happened so quickly. Like it was episode two and everyone was like, 'Oh they're totally going to get together!' And I'm really glad we did, because there's a part of me that was like, 'Oh my goodness thank God we did get together,' because I don't know what I would have done if we didn't and how disappointed everyone would have been.

But I was surprised at how soon it happened and how excited people got without having any proof that that's the direction it was going to go. Definitely the fans took a big risk on jumping in, and I'm really glad that they did.

Shippers, they can be big supporters.

Absolutely. I'm just really happy that they got their payoff, because if they hadn't I would have felt bad.

Do you enjoy the live feedback of social media? It looks like you've tweeted along some on Friday nights.

Yeah, I do love it. It's really difficult; it moves so fast it's hard to keep up. When I'm tweeting, I'm literally staring at my computer every second that the episode is airing. I'm not even getting half the things out that I want to get out. It just moves so incredibly fast. I love it though; it's such a rush, because as an actor, when you're doing film there's nobody really - there's no audience. You have the crew, but that's different.

And I used to do a lot of theater, and there's like this beautiful feeling of an immediacy with theater, of you're there; the audience is there; you can hear their response; you can hear the laughter or the shock. You can feel the energy in the room, and it's just like so gratifying as an actor, because as an actor you want to affect people. You want to make them feel something. And I think for me, not having done theater for a few years now, I've been focusing more on film and TV. The live tweeting is kind of like the next best thing to that, because, you're not acting in the moment, but your work is coming out in that moment, and people are reacting to it right there. It's just very gratifying.

You know, sometimes it just feels like you're just kind of throwing your energy and your work into this black abyss [laughs], like a black hole, like is anyone watching this? Is anybody seeing it; does anyone get affected by it; does it make them feel something? And nine times out of ten, you're not getting any feedback. So I think just the whole Twitter thing, for me anyway, I love it, because it's gratifying. It makes all the hard work feel worth it and feel really good. And it makes me feel really proud of being part of such a great show.

Is there a guest star you would like to see on the show if the show gets picked up for season two?

I'm really excited to see if we get to come back who they cast as the villains of the next season, if we continue building on our current villains. I just love seeing the villains that they bring on. I find it really fascinating.

I mean Colm Feore would be a great one, but I think he's kind of moved over to the States now, but he's like an amazing theater actor, who I absolutely love, who often crosses over and does really cool Canadian stuff. He's such a good actor.

Katherine BarrellYou know what it is? There're so many great actors in Canada who are like relatively unknown, but what I love about Wynonna, is it gave all of us a shot. I mean like Tim and Michael [Eklund], they're very established people, but I think what was really great about Wynonna, is that they went with Canadian actors, and they kept it Canadian and gave all of us a platform to finally flex our muscles and just keep going with our work. There're are amazing actors up here in Canada, and I think whoever they bring on in the future is going to be phenomenal.

Do you have any other projects coming up that you want to talk about? Also, specifically Definition of Fear, if you know when that's coming out.

I've heard Definition of Fear is coming out in 2017, which seems really far away, but that's the last I heard. I originally heard fall of 2016, but not it may not be until 2017.

...I've got some short films, but they're just going to run the festival circuits, so they won't be out there at all.

I think Definition of Fear, to look out for that, and I'm going to be working on a feature this summer called Goliath with a great team of young Canadian indie film makers that I'm really excited about. A really good friend of mine is going to be the DP on it who I've worked with a few times before, and a couple good friends of mine are also acting in it, so, it's going to be a very fun project. So look out for updates on that. I'll be posting a bunch of photos and stuff from set.

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