The final interview from our visit to the set of Killjoys is with Aaron Ashmore. He had a lot to share with us about his character, John, and his relationship to the other two main characters.
Luke [Macfarlane] told us about the brother dynamic on the show. What can you tell us about your character when we first meet him, and the relationship with his brother that’s been MIA for a while?
Well John is sort of — I don’t want to call him a pacifist but he’s definitely not as much into like the kicking butt as Dutch is. He’d rather talk things out and that’s where he’s coming from. He’s a little more of the tech guy and he’s willing to jump in and do whatever he needs to do. That also ties into the relationship with D’Avin. They’re estranged and John is definitely the younger brother who’s pulling to communicate and make this work when they get back together, whereas D’Avin is a little more standoffish. There’s definitely some resentment between the brothers and they need to patch up the relationship. It is at a point where there’s barely a relationship. It’s sort of difficult, there’s definitely some friction, they definitely butt heads, but they love each other and they’re brothers so hopefully we’ll work through it. Stay tuned.
You’ve worked with Michelle [Lovretta] before on Lost Girl. Did that influence your interest in this show at all?
One thing that Michelle just told me a couple weeks ago that I didn’t know — and I’m glad I didn’t know — is when they were casting the part and writing the character, she pulled some pictures of people that were the general type and energy they were looking for [with] the characters, and my picture was under John. I was like, “Thank God I didn’t know that going into the audition.”
There is a dynamic. That being said, I don’t think I really had a lot of interaction with Michelle when I was [on Lost Girl] because I was just coming in doing a couple days as a recurring character. But I think every time you work on something, especially in this business, you can make those connections and when you’re lucky people start to see you as other things and start to think of you for other roles.
There was definitely a familiarity, and I’d watched Lost Girl and liked it. This is obviously a very different show than that, but there are some similarities — some of the writing, and some of the pacing feels similar to me.
John is very different from your Warehouse 13 character, Jinks. What is it like to shed an old role and embody a new one?
It’s awesome. That’s what you want to do. You want people to see you differently. You don’t want to get stuck in any sort of similar thing as an actor. There’s always lots of similarities and you always bring yourself to roles, but I think [this role] is much more fun, and at times even more aggressive. There is more action. I feel like Jinx was sort of removed and had these walls up. This character is much more heart on his sleeve, and it’s nice to play that. It’s fun to be able to do both things and show those aspects of yourself as a performer and a person. I love creating new characters especially when you like them and I do very much enjoy this character.
Can you tell us about John’s relationship with Dutch?
I think that’s probably one of my favourite parts about the show is the dynamic that we’re creating because I wasn’t sure what it was going to be at the beginning. The more we play things, the more heart there is in these characters and in their dynamic. I don’t want to say that it’s like siblings, because I don’t think that it’s quite like siblings, but there’s just a lot of love between them and respect. They’re just really amazing friends and partners, and they put themselves on the line for each other in such huge ways physically that they have to trust each other. But also emotionally. There’s a lot of interesting things that they do for each other emotionally. It’s not like a romantic relationship, but they still really fulfil a lot of interesting things like that emotionally for each other, like a great support system. The more we play into that stuff and get into that dynamic, the more I’m liking it and there’s a lot to work with and play with.
Bounty hunters in sci-fi are usually renegades and going against the law. What can you tell us about the nature of the bounty hunters in Killjoys?
We work for the system that’s set up, and a company that we get our warrants through. There is an element to things where we do what we want. We go about fulfilling these bounties for the most part however we want — if we have to kill, if we have to break the rules and all that, we do. But, there is still some structure where we are forced to do things by this company based on all sorts of different things, and you can’t really say no. You work for them. And they have, at the end of the day, total control.
There are [times] where we’re left to our own devices, do what we want and push the rules, break the rules, but at the end of the day we do work for somebody. We have bosses and we are accountable to them.
How action-based is your role?
Well, I get to do a lot, but I probably get to do the least in the group. I do a lot of the tech stuff when we’re trying to break into something and we need to have some sort of technical aspect to it. That being said, I still get to have a gun and kick butt, definitely more action in this than I’ve done in other shows.
When I worked on Smallville, Jimmy Olsen got his butt kicked so many times and was in the hospital so much that he would be traumatized, I think. This is a little different because this is a more active. Not just getting [my] butt kicked all the time. [I] get to do some butt kicking, which is nice.
There’s definitely a lot of action. This show is definitely action-based. There’s a fun adventure element to the situations that we get ourselves in, and it’s not always fun and light hearted. There’s a lot of dark scenarios that we get ourselves into, but there’s always an element of fun and adventure under what we’re doing.
You mentioned that you characters work for a corporation that issues the bounties and the rules. There’s a tradition in sci-fi of government services becoming corporate, like in Continuum. Is that an element of the show?
I think it’s representative of what’s going on in the world. And sci-fi is always such a beautiful reflection of what’s happening. We can disguise it and talk about it without specifically saying what those things are. Most sci-fi has always been reflective of what is happening and talking about issues, but slightly veiled in that way. That’s what this show is doing, There’s an element of unrest and unfairness that’s bubbling underneath with this corporate thing that’s taking over and has control, and it’s very similar to a lot of things that are happening in this world with all these revolutions and people rising up.
How much will we learn about how and why this trio has become bounty hunters, and how that system was created?
I don’t know exactly what happened. I don’t think we know exactly how The Rack and the bounty hunters got formed. I’m sure we’ll probably dig into that a little bit. But in the first season, we’re introducing these characters and this world and sort of jumping in. Again, every episode has a bounty that we’re doing so there’s always backstory and stuff tied in, but there’s also a slight procedural element to it. I think that those things, maybe the history of this quad that we’re working in is slowly being revealed, but we haven’t really explored yet why these bounty hunters were set up. There’s a lot of bad people in space that need to be dealt with, but we haven’t touched on why yet.
Luke told us about Lucy, the ship, and John’s special relationship with her. What can you tell us about that?
That’s another really fun relationship. The strange thing about it is I didn’t realize what a huge part of the show Lucy is, but she’s basically with us on all our missions. She’s always there, she’s always helping us, giving us information, and I didn’t really think about that too much until we were really into it. She’s basically the fourth part of our team. She’s really with us all the time.
Since John is the tech guy and spends the most time in the ship, he’s constantly talking to Lucy and interacting with her, and I think that’s where that bond forms. At certain points people reference that John is Lucy’s favourite and he’s like, “What are you talking about?” He doesn’t believe it. She’s a computer, she’s a machine. I don’t know how much consciousness she has of her own, but there is an element of that potential. And she does at times seem to favour John. You’ll have to wait and see how those things play out.
Are you working against a lot of green screen?
No. There’s definitely some elements, when we’re in the spaceship. I think one of the really cool things about the production design is that there’s a planet and there are these two moons and they’re very, very different. But they found amazing locations to represent those things and I think that’s one of the really interesting visual things about the show. One’s a very agricultural, idyllic place. Another is a working class mining town, and they found all these real places to set and built sets. So there’s definitely some green screen stuff because we are flying in a spaceship, but not a ton. It’s not a Star Wars scenario where everything around us is green screen and we’re acting off of our imaginations all the time. There’s definitely a lot of practical stuff with the sets.
We’ve heard that there’s a bit of procedural aspect to the show. Is there a case of the week, or a mark of the week, to get things rolling?
Pretty much every episode, we have a bounty that we’re getting and that’s the procedural element. Then, obviously, there’s a bigger arc and that’s more what’s bubbling underneath this element of control, and revolution is tied into that. The A-to-B storylines of the episodes are we get a warrant, we track them down, it’s dangerous, we kick their butt, and sometimes we get our butts kicked too. It’s not Law & Order but there is a procedural aspect to it for sure.
Do the characters actually live on the spaceship?
We do live on the ship. It’s quite big, and we all have quarters. There’s sort of a living room, a big cargo hold, and it’s quite spacious. It’s not massive, but there’s quite enough space that we all live on the ship. We park, or dock, on Westerly, which is the working class planet. When we’re not relaxing on the ship, we’re in the bar called The Royal. That’s our home away from home, and a lot of our action takes place there. So, we basically live in the bar and the ship. There’s not a barracks or something that all the Killjoys stay in. As much as we all work for the company, we’re all very separate. We’re all working for the same jobs and competitive.
Photo Courtesy of Space