Felicia Day has been a part of the sci-fi universe for years, and now she’s joining the Syfy universe, headlining a modern take on “Little Red Riding Hood” in the werewolf-themed film, Red: Werewolf Hunter, which premieres tonight on Syfy, just in time for Halloween weekend. And this spring, she’ll be appearing in eight of Eureka’s remaining fourth-season episodes as a triangle love interest for Fargo (Neal Grayston) and Dr. Parrish (guest star Wil Wheaton).
We had the chance to get on a call with Day earlier this week to chat about her huge plate of projects – writing and producing the Web series, The Guild, writing the accompanying comic book series for Dark Horse, and acting in TV series and now, films – which sounds like more than enough to wear anyone out. It’s a workload she’s thrilled to have, because it came to pass in large part due to her drive to create work for herself. “Being empowered and being able to make [my own] opportunities [are the things] that I’m most proud of in my career,” she says. So, of course, the first thing I asked her was if she slept, and she said absolutely, if something’s got to give to get it all done, the social life gets the boot before the snooze.
Red was offered to Day last spring, when she wasn’t looking to pick up acting work because she was knee deep writing the fourth season of The Guild, but the part was such a different role, with a physicality she’d not yet been allowed to play that she said “yes,” juggled her schedule, and jetted to Toronto for the on-location shoot. She even went up early to start training so she could convincingly portray the physicality of a warrior and handle the fight scenes.
Red fulfilled Day’s checklist criteria, too, offering “I always look at a project and [ask], am I going to learn from this, am I going to learn a new skill … is it something that I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity to do again in the future? And this project definitely was check, check, check on all those levels because I’m not the stereotypical action star.” She adds that it was a much more horror-driven and dramatic role than she’s known for, so the opportunity to do it was a very flattering privilege that turned out to be a great experience.
Another draw was Day’s affection for fairytales and folklore. “I’m a huge fairytale fan,” she points out. “I actually took several folklore classes in college and I tried to minor in it, but my dad said that was ridiculous and he stopped that.” Day has always liked the idea of updating fairytales and Red was tailored to that.
A little dad/daughter bonding at the gun range was an unexpected bonus. “I actually had my dad take me [for] the first time,” she says. “He’s been bugging me [for] a decade to go shooting with him, because we’re from Texas. And when I called him up, he [said it was] the best father-daughter moment [he] could ask for.”
Day has a new appreciation for onscreen talent who hone their bodies for roles. “I definitely got in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life for this,” she says. “I worked out every single day. And it makes me admire the other mainstream actresses who are known for their physicality.” She realized it’s a full-time job just to stay in shape on top of working 12 hours a day.
“It made me appreciate working on Buffy with Sarah Michelle Gellar, [who was] working all day, every day, being first in, last out,” she adds. “It definitely seems glamorous on the outside, but somebody like Colin [Ferguson] on Eureka, even – he’s working every single day, all day, in every scene, and it’s a lot of hard work. It’s definitely something to admire.”
She lost a little track of time because the shoot was very compact and quick. “I would really just wake up and go to set and go to bed,” she offers. By the end of the week, [my] body had no idea what day it was. I would go out to brunch and they were like, it’s Monday, you can’t have brunch.”
Day got to work with a lovely tribe of Canadian actors on the shoot – Kavan Smith, who she was later happy and surprised to find already on the Eureka set (he plays deputy Andy) when she arrived in Vancouver this summer, Greg Bryk (awesome in ReGenesis and variety of TV films), and the legendary Stephen McHattie. Working with McHattie was a treat and a bit of scare.
“He’s one of those actors that you don’t know that you know him until you see his face, and then you’re like oh my gosh, [he’s] that guy,” she says. “He is a great actor … really just immersive in the part. Sometimes I didn’t know if he was in character or not off the set.” She was impressed with how he took what was on the page and made it his own in a way that couldn’t have been scripted. “He’s definitely an icon [who] raises the bar for the other actors and [makes] them better at what they do,” she praises. “He is one of those guys that you never see the actor in him, you just see the truth of the character. So he was actually pretty frightening.”
She enjoyed creating a small family on location outside of Toronto. “We really did work well together,” she says. “It was definitely a very supportive, fun group.” Day had raves for the Canadian crews, too. “Everybody is just there to do their work. There’s less separation between the actors and the crew, which I kind of thought was really nice.
The Eureka gig has also been a dream job. “Not only are the scripts fantastic but just working on the set is an amazing opportunity” says Day. “I feel like that show is really run by geeks [who] know their science – you could see the passion in the scripts, and they’re just so funny.” Day has been a fan of the show and was ecstatic to be asked to guest star. She credits this season with raising the bar over all of the other seasons. “They’re really innovating and doing some just really fun things with the characters and the dialog,” she adds. “I’m just really happy to be a part of it.”
As for acting projects down the line, Day really, really wants to play a bad girl at least once. “As a person, [I] am very good hearted and I feel like that’s kind of an aspect that sort of shines through when I act,” she says “[But] I would love to play an evil villain, even if it’s a comedy villain – that would be really fun. And that’s actually one of the things that I put on my list [of] dream roles.” She says if someone doesn’t write the role for her, she may write it for herself.
Every morning brings Day something to work on that’s fulfilling and a source of joy. “I love everything I do. I love waking up to write something, I love working on a new project, I love actually giving notes … being able to help people on their scripts is really fun for me,” she offers. “I love being on set … taking around the craft service tray to make sure that everybody has a carrot or a cupcake.” She also finds her Web work thrilling. “I would never want to give up being able to release stuff into the wild onto the Web and see all the feedback good and bad. That’s just what goes with the territory when you have millions of people at your fingertips. So it definitely toughens you up but it definitely … keeps me going.”
*Editor’s note – Red: Werewolf Hunter also airs on Showcase in Canada 8 pm EDT!
Photo Courtesy of Syfy