Being Erica was one of those TV series that was profound and life-changing for me, so when I was given the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Erin Karpluk, I was ecstatic. She’s playing a role on Slasher that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen her in up to now: a woman who has been through one of the most unthinkable experiences ever.
We chatted during her first day on set, just before she filmed her first scene with Katie McGrath. She was excited to be stepping into this role, and very generous in sharing what it was like to prepare for playing Heather. (There are some minor spoilers, so proceed with caution!)
Aaron Martin and everyone that I’ve spoken to so far have been very tight-lipped about your character. What are you able to tell us about Heather, and why you wanted to play her?
It’s an interesting character. I’ve obviously worked with Aaron before on Being Erica. When my manager called me and said, “Aaron’s doing a mini-series, and he would really like you to look at this role,” I thought, “Great. What is it?” She said, “Well, Heather Peterson was once beautiful, and is now crazed and haggard.” I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?”
I took the scripts and went camping, and I read them all. I really fell in love with this character because she has a very sad story. Sad is such a generic, elementary term to use for it, but she’s had an extremely hard past. The thing that I can share with you is that outside of the murder of Sarah’s parents, the only other bad thing that’s happened in this town is my daughter’s been kidnapped.
Is that the “Ariel” character that I’ve heard mentioned?
Yes. She was 15, and went to a party and never came home. We’ve never found her. Then my husbandis accused of being the one that did it, and he ends up killing himself. I’ve done a lot of research online about post-traumatic stress syndrome and parents of children that have been abducted, and it’s horrifying. I’m not a parent myself, but this is very dark territory.
The town has really turned their back on Heather, and she’s become this reclusive, secluded, mentally unstable person. I can justify it and see where it’s coming from, but I feel like the town can’t quite empathize or understand her grief. I don’t know that they know the full truth, and I feel like my character thinks that she knows the full truth. She’s very isolated, and from that, she becomes a hoarder, which is a very normal thing. There are other things that I’ve created, and hopefully Aaron [Martin] and [director] Craig [David Wallace] are on board on with me on all these different layers that have made her the way that I see her written on the page.
I grew up in a very small town, smaller than Parry Sound — 4500 people in it — and everyone knows your business. Because it’s such a small town, there’s a certain amount of guilt that my character would have about letting my daughter out that night, about why my husband would have killed himself, that maybe I was a terrible mother or a terrible wife, and having all the eyes — particularly the women in the town — looking at me, and how that would make me feel. They call me the “Log Lady,” like from Twin Peaks. There are some secrets here, and some darkness, and you can’t escape it. Heather was born in this town, and she’s going to die in this town.
Does she long to escape the town?
No, I don’t think she’ll ever leave. It’s her whole shrine to Ariel. She has a very firm belief that maybe Ariel’s not gone, and has become obsessed with finding her daughter. As a parent, when do you let go? When do you stop trying to look for your child, especially if there’s not a body? I couldn’t think of anything more horrific than child abduction. If a body is found, if the child is found in whatever state, at least there’s closure for the parents. It’s not knowing that is driving Heather more crazy, like Kiefer Sutherland in The Vanishing. I remember watching that and feeling horrible in my heart about not knowing.
I think that Heather is trying to physically live in this angst, because she feels guilt. Can you go out and have a nice meal? Can you laugh? Can you watch a sitcom without feeling that guilt of moving on?
Katie mentioned that her character, Sarah, sort of feels for Heather. How do these women’s stories collide?
That’s the scene we’re doing today, at the drugstore. The Waterbury Drugstore has been in Heather’s family for a long time, and Sarah — along with the two realtors in town, Robin and Justin — ends up making it into an art gallery. Not only has Heather lost her husband and her daughter, she’s also lost her business. It was unjustly torn away from her, so there’s a lot of hostility towards Sarah for taking over the space. She’s a little bit venomous about this new person that’s taking over.
Did Heather know Sarah’s family?
There’s an awareness. Sarah’s been gone for so long. [She left] as a baby, and has come back now. Heather’s aware that Sarah’s family has died. I know that because of everything that happened with Ariel and Heather’s communication with the police, she’s always got her finger on the pulse of anything criminal that’s happening. There’s a big scene where I’m spewing out all the murders that happened in town, a big “fire and brimstone” speech of, “You, now you’re paying. Now you’re paying, and you shall listen to me. I see you all.” You want it to be a vindicating moment, but Heather’s just devastated.
At the end of the day, how do you shed a character like this?
I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a method actor. I’m chatting with you. I’ll go to set, and I’ll get into character. I like jumping in and out. That works for me, unless I have an accent to do. Then I like to keep the accent, because I find it’s hard to jump in and out of accents. At the end of the day after this, what do you do? Go home, watch a little episode of Bachelor in Paradise, read a cheesy magazine, have a glass of wine, chat with my mom, go for a run, and go to bed. Then in the morning, get up, and put that character back on again. I’m not taking her with me.
Photo Courtesy of Chiller