THE Syfy Channel's new drama series Haven, starring Emily Rose, will premiere Friday, July 9th, 2010 @ 10:00 p.m. EST/PST. Based on The Colorado Kid from renowned author Stephen King, the series follows FBI Agent Audrey Parker (Rose), who arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine to solve the murder of a local ex-con. Before long, her natural curiosity lands her in the epicenter of activity in this curious enclave, which turns out to be a longtime refuge for people with a remarkable range of supernatural abilities. Among the townspeople are local cop Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant), who eventually becomes Audrey's partner, and the mysterious and charming Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour).
Myself and a group of other journalists had the pleasure of speaking two weeks ago with Emily Rose and Lucas Bryant as well as Haven co-creators and executive producers Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn. The following is an edited version of our Q & A. Enjoy!
Emily and Lucas, what would you say is the major blind spot for each of your characters and how is that going to trip your character up as the story unfolds?
EMILY ROSE - That's a great question. I think the major blind spot for my character happens initially in the first episode with this sort of confrontation that she kind of comes to grips with where there might be some type of link to her past as well as her family and roots. As all that starts unfolding in the story it will begin to trip Audrey up at times. She's so used to having this sort of defense and that she knows how to operate and conduct herself in her day-to-day world, but she'd rather not face the emotional and personal side of things. So I think that's going to be her blind spot.
LUCAS BRYANT - With my character of Nathan, he has a condition where he can't feel pain, so this has sort of alienated him from people and relationships recently, so I think that it's intimacy that will get in his way. But at the same time, that's something that when Audrey comes to town, she kind of blows his world wide open. So we'll see if he's able to overcome those emotional deficiencies. In some ways, both he and Audrey are very similar in that way.
I have a question for the creators; can you guys give us some idea past the pilot of how the show is going to work. Will there be cases that the characters will be looking at each week?
SAM ERNST - We have two elements to the show. One is we're going to meet in each episode a supernaturally afflicted person like we did in the pilot, so we'll tell that story, and every week there will be a new person. So each episode in a standalone story, which means that viewers can jump in with episode six or episode 16 and they'll be able to enjoy it. At the same time, there is a mythology to the show, and Jim and I being Sci-Fi/supernatural geeks, we actually know the last scene of the series, whether that's episode 25 or 75. We know that scene, so we know exactly where we're going and we're going to unfold over that. Each episode will sort of go along and talk about the story of Audrey and Nathan as well as the town of Haven and where it's going.
Can you each talk about how you got involved in the project and how all that started?
JIM DUNN - We were working with the people who were producing The Dead Zone and their development person (Adam Fredo) brought us The Colorado Kid and asked if we thought we could find a TV series in it. We had this idea of making the town cursed or filling it with people with supernatural afflictions. And we jumped through a variety of hoops, the biggest one being Stephen King liking the idea as far as what we were doing with the basic core of his book. So that's really where it all started. We sold it to ABC and eventually it migrated to E1, Syfy and our international partners.
ER - I actually ended up coming straight back from my honeymoon and settling back into normal life and hitting pilot season. One of the very first scripts that came across my desk was one that my manager was really interested in, and I felt the same way when I read the script for Haven. Sometimes you read pilot script and you're kind of like, "I guess I could grow to love it, but this was one of those that was really special from the get-go where I really fell in love with the character. It was really exciting to me and I was turning each page looking forward to what was happening. So I just got involved with auditioning right away and I was really fortunate to be there when all the dust kind of settled.
LB - I read the pilot script and also loved it from the start. Then I found out that Emily was attached to it, and I had had the pleasure of working with her before. So I (jokingly) told them (the producers) that she is a total nightmare and if they were going to be able to deal with her, they needed me, and they bought it. And then I also bribed them with Canadian chocolate bars, which went down really well.
Emily, you're playing a different character than in the book, so would you talk about where the book ends and you begin? Also, what cool super-powered creatures are you looking forward to facing?
ER - When I read The Colorado Kid initially I had a very strong reaction to it. I thought, "What the heck?" But then I picked it back up and Stephen King so wonderfully in his afterward sort of nurses you through it and kind of helps you digest it. Not being the Stephanie character, specifically, but rather Audrey Parker, I sort of feel like she's - from kind of the reader's point of view - observing this town and the quirkiness that exists there. So in a lot of ways I think that's super beneficial that the audience kind of observes Haven, this central character of a town, through her eyes. And while that character might not be completely written as a person in that story, it's sort of neat because as a reader you are definitely a character through, again, the observation and the quirkiness. And I think that's the part that Audrey Parker takes; she takes the place of the audience observing and having to cope with all the strange things that are getting thrown at her.
In terms of the people I that I want to encounter. I think probably someone that could jump from place to place would be kind of cool, but the writers and producers are kind of leaving me in the dark as far as where that's going and letting me find out things as they unfold. And I kind of enjoy the mystery of wondering what's next.
Emily and Lucas, can you tell is a bit about your experiences shooting the first episode of the series and perhaps some of the challenges stepping into your respective roles?
LB - I guess the first shock was that we were here on the edge of the Earth, you know? We're shooting in a little town outside of Halifax on the edge of Nova Scotia looking off into the great wide rest of the world. So upon arrival that was an immediate surprise, as I initially thought we were shooting in Halifax, but, in fact we were shooting not quite in civilization, but it's exactly where we wanted to be. I don't know if you've traveled the south shore of Nova Scotia, but it's stunning and it's a landscape that you don't often see on television. So being able to capture that on film is a beautiful and exciting prospect, and I think we were both kind of like strangers in a strange land for a little while when we began shooting, but, again, it was and is the perfect place to be.
As far as challenges, one of the immediate ones was the weather. The pilot also deals with weather, so it was all rather appropriate. We got here in April and starting shooting in April, so the scene in the pilot where Emily and I first meet each other, shooting that scene we were outside, and it started off as a beautiful day and then it was black clouds followed by pouring rain. Then we had hail and two rainbows by the end of the day, and all that was in the same scene. I had very little faith that it would actually cut together, but it does and it's beautiful. So we just quickly got used to that being that status quo. What you can expect during the day was everything to change every five minutes.
ER - I think for me one of the biggest challenges was that Lucas and I have worked together before, so immediately off the bat it's one of those things where we get along and kind of have a camaraderie. There's that kind of checking each other out and observing one another thing that happens between our characters in the first episode of the series; it's like, "OK, who are you? How do you run this town? Who are you and who are you to come into this town and try to run it." In one way Audrey doesn't want to feel anything sort of emotionally, and then you have Nathan who can't feel anything physically, and how do those two (elements) sort of interplay and walk that fine balance. So in a way, Lucas and I having worked together before kind of helps that because we're able to fall into place if you will and finish each other's sentences.
Also for me, I had been sitting with the pilot script for a while, so it was a matter of trying to make each thing new and, "Oh, my word, what is this new place, and who is this person and what's going on," and all of that. So that was kind of like a fine little teeter-totter that I had to sit on.
This is actually a question for the co-creators - the show is called Haven but I understand you originally wanted to call it Sanctuary. I wondered what that's supposed to mean for the show; is there something like a villain or entity that's hunting everyone?
JD - In the larger scheme of things it will be revealed why there are so many people with supernatural afflictions here in this one place. And the idea of naming it Haven, or previously Sanctuary before someone else did a TV show with that name, was that this is a place where theoretically for long periods of time these people are able to live without having their afflictions kick in. But now we're in a time when they are beginning to do just that, when Audrey Parker comes to town.
SE - And that's something actually that we talk about in the second episode. Nathan reveals his perspective on what's going on and how he knows what has happened in the past, but he has no idea what's happening in the future, which is very consistent with the actors playing these roles.
JD - And the writers writing them.
It's difficult enough sometimes to adapt a TV show from a book, but this is a Stephen King book. Did that present any additional challenges, or sleepless nights trying to put this together?
SE - Yes, we had all those things, including sleepless nights with me and Jim sitting on my porch talking about this. There are two sides to Stephen King for us, and we are both huge fans of his. There's the creepy crawly side and then there's all the cool character/real world people's lives who suddenly go sideways on them. That's what he does to us. That's our favorite part of Stephen King. And actually with his new book Under The Dome, which I read over Christmas break and while we were just starting to write the first episodes of the show, I was struck by the fact that there was one supernatural element to that book, which, of course, is the dome. The rest of it was just how all these incredibly normal people deal with that thing and how everything just goes crazy because of that. And out of that 1,100-page book, which left a welt on my belly as I would lie there and read it in bed under the covers at night with a flashlight - that's actually true - I would say maybe 90 pages are supernatural, and the rest of it is just all the sideways stuff.
So that's what Haven is about. This show is about peoples' lives going sideways after something supernatural happens to them. And what we're really excited about is tracking Audrey and Nathan and hanging out with them as they try to help these people deal with these things. Sometimes they help them deal with them in very positive ways, and sometimes things go horribly wrong, and watching these two what we hope are very real characters deal with that is the journey that we want to go on with them.
JD - Just to add one more thing - one of the things in genre TV that can sometimes be a problem is that people get so hung up on the bright shiny toy of the supernatural thing or the Sci-Fi thing that the characters don't really get a chance to live and breathe and become real characters. We're trying to take the other approach, which is to use the supernatural elements of the show to highlight the lives of the characters and get more emotionally involved with them and the interesting things going on with them.
Can you talk about working in Nova Scotia and what the town of Lunenberg gave the series creatively that Maine couldn't and how it worked for the series.
ER - I always say that I think Haven, Maine is, of course, the central character in this show, and Lunenberg, Chester and all these really other cool places surrounding this area is just eye candy. A lot of shows go out there and they're filmed on the same lots in the same place and you see the same streets. But I think you can agree from watching the first episode, it has stuff in it that you don't see out there (in other shows). Doubled with that is the fact that we're shooting on film, and it's very rare these days to be doing that. It really sets a tone and a place for us to play and make these discoveries. It adds a certain weight, too, and Halifax and the people here as well as the crews have been nice to us and really it's a great place to be shooting. I think the minute that Sam and Jim stepped out into Lunenberg, they were like, "Yeah, this is awesome." And the minute I stepped out there it was like, "OK, yep, I can't shoot anywhere else," you know? This is perfect.
JD - It's an absolutely beautiful part of the world and it is a character in the show, and that's what we're so excited about. We always saw it that way. Jim and I spent a fair amount of time in Minnesota, which has a lot of very, on the surface, 'normal' people, as you would think, or whatever normal means. However, when you get to know them, you find out that they're just as 'freaky' as everybody else, and certainly that's true in Maine and Nova Scotia. I actually took the ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia and you don't really feel like you're changing cultures. It feels like it's just a natural continuation from one group of people to the other. So it looks just like Maine, of course, and feels just like it, too. And the crew is all local and they're fantastic to work with.
Emily and Lucas, what makes Sam's and Jim's writing unique and fun to play with?
ER - We love when Sam's and Jim's episodes come around, and their writing is fantastic. Honestly, the thing we enjoy so much is the natural banter, and some of the feedback that we've gotten from people who have seen the show is that the banter is natural. We want more of that; we want more of the banter between these two oddities. For me, it's like I can hear Sam and Jim saying things sometimes, and it's so nice to read a script and genuinely laugh out loud at certain beats. And it's great because they have a really good ear, too, for our voices and kind of how we finish each other's sentences, and, man, does that make our jobs so much easier.
LB - Sam and Jim have a beautiful marriage of the absurd, mundane and human, you know? Everything is always very real and human, even in these wild circumstances. And having a Minnesota connection, they understand part of my roots. My father is from North Dakota, and, in fact, I've been trying to use his side of the family as a bit of an inspiration for Nathan, and Sam and Jim have a real for that.
SE - With Lucas, I write using 20 or 25 words, and then my challenge is to get it down to three words and it's great to watch him struggle to get all that information out in three words. With Emily, I try as often as possible to get her to take a left turn in the middle of a conversation that no one is expecting and say it out loud and surprise Nathan with that. That's our goal. And my own number one goal has always been to make Jim laugh, and when I find that these two people can make him laugh as much as the words do, that's my happiest moment as a writer.
As noted above, photo by Chris Reardon and copyright of the Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!