On Set with the Cast of Killjoys: Luke Macfarlane

Luke Macfarlane

Last fall, The Televixen joined a group of journalists for a visit to the Toronto set of Space and Syfy’s new series Killjoys. In the first of three interviews from the set visit, we chat with Luke Macfarlane about his character, D’avin, and what’s in store during the first season!

What can you tease about D’avin when we first meet him?

He is estranged from his brother. He’s sort of estranged from the world as we know it. He’s been gone for seven years. D’avin has a military background, so in some sort of distant place there’s a war that he’s been involved in. Because the world of our show is so big, the world that we exist in doesn’t really have anything to do with that. Anyway, I’m a former military guy, sort of like a special ops type fella, and my brother finds me on a transport ship kind of making my way across the galaxy. This sort of transport ship is the way you travel when you don’t have a lot of money. So I’m sort of on this big behemoth ship travelling across the galaxy, and I meet my brother for the first time not having seem him for seven years.

Did you and Aaron [Ashmore] do anything to build that brotherly bond, since your characters are estranged at the beginning?

Well it’s funny, the first thing we did was went and had these intensive fight rehearsals together because when we find each other, we actually find each other in a cage fight on this ship. I am this sort of legendary cage fighter. So when Aaron and I first met, we actually had three weeks of this fight rehearsal together which was a beautiful way to learn somebody’s process. We were both outside of our comfort zones trying to tell this story through fight, which both Aaron and I didn’t have a ton of experience with. As far as getting to know each other, it’s a beautiful experience to kind of get to know somebody that way and figure out what the relationship is that way because we were both in uncharted territory.

Is this series more like a cop procedural, or a serialized, character-based show about two brothers finding each other, or just a fun space adventure?

You know, so often the case as it is with any TV show we have no idea what we’re going to make. I mean, we all want one thing and something else comes out of it. I think that what definitely are is a group of people that are bounty hunters, and there is a procedural aspect to it in that we’re going after these warrants which are the bounties in this world. So there are procedural elements and each episode sometimes has a contained element, but then there are definitely big overarching stories that take us through the whole season. It really kind of goes back and forth between those two formats, procedural and episodic, and there’s a lot of action and kicking ass and jokes. It’s funny. The world we live in came out post-Guardians of the Galaxy so that informed a lot of people’s tastes for what the future could look like.

We’ve heard that there’s some tension between D’avin and John, but also with Dutch. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Dutch and John were a team before I came along. I joined their team, I bring something different to their team. But also I think John was looking to reconnect with his brother, and Dutch was maybe looking for some kind of a companion that may be more than just (coyly) a… um… maybe. Relationships of three are very interesting because there’s just so many ways to play it and I think by the time we’re done Season 29 we will have explored all the different variations of that.

You’re on a spaceship and it sounds like you get to use some cool weapons and tech. What has excited you about that?

The weaponry is really fun. It’s fun to shoot these pretend guns. There’s been a lot of conversation as to what comes out of the gun. Like what does it look like and is there a stun phase versus a kill phase, and what does the trigger do to you, and do lasers have a kickback? According to the rules of physics I guess it would because of propulsion. Also, just being on a spaceship is really totally cool. When I was a kid I used to make a spaceship out of my bunk bed so it’s really fun to actually have one that’s made of old audio equipment and pieces of wood. I shouldn’t say it’s made out of old audio equipment. And flashlights are our joysticks. I shouldn’t say that either. They sometimes fall off when we’re flying. (Laughing) But that’s great. I love that stuff. It’s so exciting to try to make that convincing and everyone’s onboard with that vision.

You mentioned your character’s military background. Is he the only one of the trio that has a military background?

Yeah, I have the military background. They have extensive fight skills, but the military as it exists in our world is an entity that we haven’t really explored fully but it’s alive and very, very well established. So I’m definitely the only one with the military background.

How much does that inform your character?

Tons. He’s always looking for the tactical solution to things. He understands weapons, and in the first episode we come across a missile and D’avin understands exactly what that means whereas nobody else does entirely. He’s also really grappling through the season with the loss of his military team and what was essentially a very tragic ending to his time in the military. I think there’s a lot of parallels to post traumatic stress disorder and what military people experience now so I hope that that’s made clear. But I think we’re really talking about what happens to a soldier when you reintegrate him into civilian life. It’s definitely something that I think the writers are interested in talking about and how you can essentially not be traumatized by that.

We’ve heard that Lucy, the ship, is like the fourth person in this ensemble. Can you tell us a bit about her?

We haven’t really talked about Lucy’s as far as her design and make up and where she came from. It’s really interesting because we haven’t voiced Lucy yet, so the ADs are taking their turn reading the voice of Lucy. She has opinions and safety protocols that prevent us from getting in trouble, and she doesn’t always dole out the information equally to everybody. It’s established pretty early that she likes John the best. John takes care of her. John is like her caregiver. She doesn’t really know what to make of me. She tattles on me a few times when I’m trying to use her to look up secret information. She has a point of view.

A lot of shows that take place in space, and particularly in spaceships, the sets are constricting at times and there can be a sense of claustrophobia that’s kind of what you might feel like in space. What can you tell us about this set in terms of that aspect?

It’s really great and definitely claustrophobic in certain spaces. My favourite set piece, it’s sort of our garage. I always keep saying, “Can we shoot this scene in the garage?” because it’s the one voluminous space and it’s just beautiful to shoot in. Also, the DP does an incredible job lighting everything from below. He doesn’t believe in overhead lighting and that creates all these beautiful shadows and really interesting things with light that is really unique to the show. Comparing it to Star Trek where everything had that neutral, living room quality to it, in this show, light is always coming from unexpected, strange places. And that happens in the ship too. So you can play a scene near the bottom of the floor because there’s light coming up.

It’s not entirely constricting because you can kind of play things anywhere within the scene. The one thing that is just a pain in the butt is that we have these automatic doors, like everybody in the future has, pocket doors. But they’re never quite working as nicely as they should. A lot of takes are ruined because the door jams up.

Photo Courtesy of Space

About Melissa - The Televixen

Melissa Girimonte, aka The Televixen, is a Toronto-based writer, TV blogger and podcaster. After freelancing with print and online magazines for several years, she channeled her life-long passion for TV into TheTelevixen.com, where she serves as Founder and Editor-in-Chief. She is an avid two-screen viewer and social media aficionado that adores being part of the online community. When not watching or writing about television, she enjoys travelling to pop culture events across North America.