In the fifth and final season of Syfy’s Van Helsing
, Vanessa, played by Kelly Overton, Jack (Nicole Muñoz), and Violet (Keeya King) work to bring an end to the Dark One (Tricia Helfer) once and for all. Tonight’s all-new episode, “The Doorway,” marks the return of Vanessa. In the episode, Vanessa pulls Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) into the Dark Realm in the hopes of helping her escape.
Overton recently spoke to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about her return to the series, how much the series has changed over the seasons, how she feels about the ending, and more.
SCIFI VISION: Was it difficult jumping back in after you've been gone for a while?
Not at all. No, and in fact, it didn’t really feel like I had been gone. You know, we shoot each season over a course of four months, typically, and then we have this long, eight-month hiatus. So, there's always a sense of like, “Oh, wow, here we are; we're back at it. It's been a long time since we stepped back into this world.” But after a day or two, it feels like you've never left. So, it just felt that way too. It felt the same. It was great.You had been gone for quite a while. You were, I think, pregnant the last time that you were gone for so long? That’s got to be hard.
Yeah, I had two pregnancies over the course of the five years.Wow. That has to make it difficult, stopping to do that.
Actually, yeah, I mean, I had to at a certain point. You know, you can't even fly. So, here I was with logistic reasons why I had to come back, but I was able to work all the way through up into my third trimester. So, it was challenging, but being pregnant and being on the show was actually quite a gift for me. I must say, it made me so much better of an artist and an actor, and able to bring just dynamic layers to the role that I normally wouldn't have had to do. So, it ended up being a real gift, not only for me as a person and actor, but I think for the character Vanessa and for the show.
So, other than that, how has your life kind of changed since starting the show? Just in general, like, as a person, as an actor; what have you learned about yourself?
Well, having the two children, I mean, that's, like you said, [laughs]
a very big way in which my life has changed, and to separate that is a little difficult, but I think one of the things that I've learned is that I really enjoyed kind of taking lead in a creative manner. I've really enjoyed playing Van Helsing and being the lead of a show, and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about that, and I ended up really enjoying being as creatively involved as I was.
You talk about creatively being involved, and you make me curious. Are you involved in choosing her look, because I was curious if there was a reason behind her cutting her hair or if that was just the way your hair is now in real life [laughs], that you decided to cut it?
Yeah, well, you know, it's funny. So, my hair was cut - not related to the show - and I was talking to, you know, the show about it, and [so] they knew. It was easy for me to go back to brunette and pop in some pieces, and it was going to have grown out by then, and it would have been no different, but they were like, “No, don't; we love it.” I was like, “Okay, cool.”
Well, it works. It's interesting find out that's why. I just kind of wondered, because it was suddenly different.
So, what about Vanessa's journey has surprised you the most?
I think one of the things that surprised me the most is - you know, I didn't get the five year break down. Nobody really knew the five year break down. So, coming in on season one, I just knew that I had a bite that could turn vampires human and then make them immune to ever being a vampire again. So, that's kind of where it started. You're like, “How is she going to be the savior of the world? How is this going to work?” So, I think what surprised me the most was where they took that question and kind of where the show went in a greater scope of the battle between good and evil and how they just kind of built on that one power Vanessa had, and where they took the storyline.
Yeah, I was going to ask, you didn't know then kind of how much the show would shift? Because my friend and I are always saying how it started out almost as like a kind of murder mystery in the first season, with Sam (Chris Heyerdahl) and everything, and it's such a different different show now.
Oh, totally different show. I mean, personally, I have such an affinity for that first season. I mean, that first season was just gold, as far as I'm concerned. It was a very special year, I think, and all the actors involved in the show look back on that on that year very fondly. You know, we were in the hospital. The cast was made up of a bunch of real actors’ actors, and you have Neil LaBute as this playwright who loves actors, and we're all in this one room acting and talking. I think it was really exciting to be a part of, because it felt bigger than just a vampire show. It felt like we were making something special and different. So, I think that's what why we all kind of have such a place in our hearts for season one.
And [it’s] also what made the show super successful. I think it really gave it legs to go where it needed to go, because it was always going to have to, as a sci-fi [series]. That's the world. So, it was going to have to go there, and I think it was really smart and special that they started off with something different and hooked a lot of people and then said, “Okay, we got you in this reality now; now, come with us. Now, suspend your disbelief and come with us into this fantasy.”
Speaking of the first season, all the all the flashbacks, they were all old [clips], right? I mean, they seemed like they were. They weren't refilmed or anything, because I was curious if there was any discussion of maybe trying to redo anything to get different takes on it, or if it was just right away that they decided, “Let's just use old clips for the flashbacks”?
No. Yeah, as far as I remember correctly, we didn't redo any of the flashbacks.
Okay, and there was never any discussion then about about doing that?
No, I don't believe so. No.
Okay. Sometimes it's nice to have that, but at the same time, you usually you can tell if it's been the same scene filmed five, six years later and everyone looks completely different.
So, can you talk about just kind of the technical aspects and any difficulties in filming two versions of yourself together in this week’s episode?
Yeah, that was a crazy day. You know, technically, you have your mark where you need to stand, as an actor, for the camera. It's hard to explain, but I'm talking to myself, so I had to go from one point of view to another point of view, and because of that, there weren't many changes, which I'm sure you saw, and people will notice, in my look, in my hair and makeup, my wardrobe. I didn't have any special effects, nothing to really hint at the fact that it was a real different version of Vanessa, other than, I think, there was just red eyeliner, [laughs]
to be honest.
So, it was definitely a challenge to make the dark Vanessa different without making her a caricature of the real Vanessa. I didn't want to make her overly evil to be like, “I'm a different Vanessa.” When you have contacts or makeup or all that stuff, it's easy to sell that you're different. So, that was really challenging for me, I think, as an actor, to make subtle differences that you can tell the difference, but technically, it's just very much about where you're standing, where you move. It's very tight, I think, physically. So, it was definitely challenging.
Can you talk a bit about working with Nicole and Keeya?
Oh, yeah, I adore them so much. When I first met Nicole and Keeya in season four, I mean, learning that I had [that] storyline, learning that I had [laughs]
two more daughters was crazy, but knowing that they had cast such great, diverse talent to play my daughters and to, quote, unquote, carry the torch, in some ways was really meaningful to me and special. And off camera, it was just, I think, one of the coolest moments of my career, to sit with these two young actresses whose careers [were] really just starting to take off, and say, “Welcome,” and just give them love and let them know the ropes and let them know how awesome of a journey it was going to be.
And they're both so talented. They're both so talented in different ways. So, it really was a gift to be able to work with them, and then to watch them blossom from season four to season five. I'm sure the viewers can see it, too. They just grew so much as artists, and also their characters. It was just really cool to watch.
Yeah, I think the three of you play really well off of each other.
Oh, thanks. Yeah, we definitely had a good time.
So, is there anything that you either were given or took from the set as a souvenir for working on the show?
I mean, off the top of my head, yes. In, I believe it was season two or three, I had a pair of epic knives - I think it was season three - that Vanessa carried around behind her back that I was in love with. And I loved learning how to work with double knives, and that was a really fun thing for me, and the weapons and stunt team gifted me with those. So, I loved [I got] to take those back with me.
That's awesome. So, when I talked to you last time [during season one] you hadn't even really done any special effects work yet I remember.
So, how do you do you enjoy all of that? Because you're covered in blood a lot, let’s be honest. [laughs]
I mean, I'm covered in blood a lot, but I don't have any prosthetics or anything like that. I've never had to sit in the [makeup] chair. I’ve never done the character prosthetic work that some some actors do. I've had to get like wounds put on, but that doesn't take nearly as long as some of the other work, like the Sam character played by Chris Heyerdahl, for example. I mean, he would have to show up to work three hours before everybody else and sit in the chair for that long to have all that put on him. So, I've never had to do that. So, yeah, I’ve never had to do that throughout the whole five years. Now, they definitely did not shy away from pouring blood on me [laughs]
, but that's easy to take off.
Yeah, I don't know if I want to say it looks fun or not. It looks sticky.
It's very sticky. It's very sticky, and let me let me say, it's a lot harder to work with in your mouth than people might think, because it doesn't taste good. It's this weird consistency. It really is a skill, knowing how to properly work with the mouth blood to get it to come out when you need to get it to come out, the amount to talk with it in your mouth. I mean, it's very complex; it really is.
Yeah, I was gonna say, I think a lot of the times you have blood on you, it’s in your mouth. [laughs]
Somewhere, at least splattered on my face.So, I know you can't obviously can't tell me anything about it, but were you satisfied with the way that the show ended?
Yeah, I was. I think the things that meant the most to me since day one, I got closure on…I got them in day one, and I got them on the final day too. So, I was very pleased.
Awesome. Is there anything that you're allowed to tease about? After you come back, the other actress, Ali Liebert, it looks like is going to play your character, at least for a little while, but is there anything that you can you can tease beyond that?
I'm trying to think. This is always really hard for me to answer [laughs]
, not knowing if I'm saying too much. I think people can be prepared for a lot of heart. I think people can be prepared for some epic storytelling, for the characters to have closure in unexpected ways. My hope, really, is that all the fans that have stuck with us all these years will just be really happy with with how things end.
Yeah, I think it’ll be nice to get some resolutions on some of the things.
Yeah, which a lot of the times you don't get with certain shows, so it's just really special that we were able to do that.
Yes, it's nice that you got to get your ending.
Did you work with Ali at all, to have her kind of copy you?
No, I did not. I did not work with her at all.But you do come back at least after that again, I'm assuming? [laughs]…Because I’m like, “She's back. Is she back?” [laughs]
No. I mean, no, I wasn't pregnant again or anything. [laughs]
I think COVID just made it hard on budgets for a lot of shows. So, I think that might have played into some of the story choices that they made. [laughs]
But yes, I do. I do come back, and…that's all I can tell you about my character. I won't speak on the Ali character though.Okay. All right. Well, I know people are waiting to see Vanessa again.
Thank you. I mean, it was it was really fun to come back, and I hope everybody's really happy with it.
Yeah, I think they will be. I mean, I haven't seen the ending yet. I've seen through eleven, but so far, so good!