This is part 2 of the Q&A with Colin Ferguson & Salli Richardson-Whitfield from Eureka. If you missed part 1, check it out HERE.
On their favorite Allison/Carter moment so far
Salli: I know – well, that one we have that was in our first season we got stuck together on this fence, but I also like when I was pregnant and the baby was kicking, that – do you remember that?
Colin: Oh, yeah. That was – we were on the couch.
Salli: Yes, we were shooting this wonderful scene in my office when I was enormous at the time, and it was a very sweet scene where he’s touching my stomach. But literally, when we were shooting every time Colin would touch my belly the baby, because I was really pregnant, the baby would kick right on his hand, like with every single take, Little Dre would go crazy in my stomach, so it was kind of funny.
Colin: Yeah, and Dre is a model athlete at this point in his life, so it really is no surprise that he ended up kicking on cue every single time.
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On whether or not he was a model student when Salli directed
Colin: No, I mean it – the funny thing is its really nice when one of us does direct because it’s always great to have a cause to rally behind. We’ve done, I don’t know how many episodes, close to eighty at this point, and you go, “Okay, great. At least there’s a reason to show up today,” you know? (But I go with) Salli’s episode it’s like, “Oh, great. Okay, well this is sort of cool.”
And to the extent, what Salli’s saying, it’ s not only that you have to know how to do it on our show, I mean we’re a cable show, so we don’t have $4 million a week to get this stuff done. You can’t learn on the fly, you have to know how to do it and know how to do it quickly. You can’t figure it out. So, it’s great training ground because it’s trial by fire, which is fantastic.
When I’m directing I’m all about making the day, and being relaxed, and I like a calm environment at this point, so I respond to how Salli directs because she’s very calm and she knows what she wants.
On the Jo/Zane relationship and their future
Salli: Can we?
Colin: …we can. They go through a lot and they keep going through a lot for the next year. And really, as of right now, we’re still on the fence on if they’re going to pull through, and that’s a while later. Those two go through the – they go through it, you know? They definitely love each other, but that – but it’s a hard one. It’s hard to watch sometimes when two people keep missing each other in the night, and then ultimately do or don’t get together you go, “Oh, God, guys, just figure it out.”
Salli: And isn’t that real life?
[That was my first question!]
On whether or not they had any interest in science before the show or even now
Colin: Yes, definitely.
Salli: [I] would be no. I stumble through all my tech talk. Great to the guys they – they love that joke because I’m always…
Colin: Yeah, which is a great blooper reel that we won’t ever show. A great blooper real.
Salli: We know when we’re doing a read through when they’re giving me this tech talk and we’re just reading the script for the first time and I’m like, “Oh, you guys are killing me.” I’m fine once I…
Salli: …get there, but that first time I go through it I’m like, “Oh.” So, I…
Colin: Well, we also mess with Salli, and Sal actually my sister was in Hawaii two weeks ago and she was like, “Oh, we’re going to Haleakala to hike the volcano.” We play – because we’ll purposely mispronounce words for about ten minutes just before Salli has to do it, like Haleakala. Like, I think it’s Haleakala. I’m pretty sure it’s Haleakala. Is it Haleakala? It’s (pronounced) – it’s Haleakala. So…
Salli: And I hate messing up on stuff, so I’m like, “Stop it. Stop it. I can barely remember this as it is.” So for me…
Salli: …it’s very hard, but Colin is very – the person who doesn’t really have to do it, probably is the one who would be the best at it.
Colin: I like it. I like science. I like the words. I like the thing. I mean we go into it in a show in an intensely more detailed manner than I ever do on my own, but I’m always interested in sort of what’s going on technologically.
On whether or not fans ever ask them “science-y” questions
I get – I take that to mean I read as incredibly manly on screen, that’s what I think that means. But I’m six feet, I’m not small. So, I don’t know what…
Salli: No, he’s not – yeah. I’m always…
Colin: …I’m mostly…
Salli: …surprised that people, especially when we go to Comic-Con and stuff like that, I’m always surprised that they aren’t asking more questions like that, because our fans, they love that stuff, but they don’t seem to ask – they really like the relationship stuff, which is cool.
Colin: Yeah, and I’ve got to say, our fans are amazing. It’s like the most respectful, kind group of people. You hear the myth, and I’m going to call it a myth, Sci-Fi fans being crazy and intrusive and, boundary issues and all that stuff. And so, coming into it people were sort of like, “Whoa, watch out,” and I’ve found exactly the opposite experience.
People – they’re like, “Oh, really like the show. Thanks. I don’t want to disturb you, but,” you know, and really, really respectful and differential and I love our fans.
On how they can relate to the weird/science/technical/unexplainable stuff that happens on the show
Colin: That’s actually difficult. It requires a lot of communication and it requires a lot of trust. And you build that up with, for example, the vis effects guys, you know, over time. Acting to green screen is – if you don’t know how to do it it can be one of the more humiliating things that you can do, because you don’t know to ask certain questions. You don’t know to say, where’s the outline? How big is the explosion? Is everybody going on the same cue? No, stop this. Okay, we need everyone moving on the same cue. Can we move the cue to unify everybody?
And it’s all those sorts of tricks and necessities that if you don’t do you’ll see the show and I’m sure you’ve seen it where you’re like, “Wow, that doesn’t work,” you know?
Salli: Yeah, and it’s so funny that that stuff has sort of become second nature now…
Salli: …for us, you know?
Colin: Yeah, absolutely.
Salli: And I think that it’s helped us to go direct this stuff because you realize that you know how to direct it because you’ve had to act it so much that you don’t – you’re not as lost as you may have been if you had never done – had to be an actor doing visual effects all the time.
Colin: Well, a lot of times you’ll be working with an actor and you’ll see them, and you’ll see them drowning. You’ll see them flailing on something. And the perk of having – of being an actor is, gee on this one show, probably done 500 days, is that you can sort of go, “Oh, I know where they are. Okay, this is what they need.”
And you can come and go, “Right, I’m going to give you a cue for that moment so everybody can get on the same thing.” And it’s usually something like that, which is the silliest easiest thing in the world to do, and it’s night and day for an actor. It makes all the difference.
And the fact that you can provide it for them they go, “Oh, thanks,” because they, you know, not sure if they can ask for it or not sure what they should ask for, but they know they’re not hitting it and they’re sort of looking around like, “Please help me”.
The other thing that you do is you make it physical and you make personal with the science. It’s the only way to make it through. You choose, is it hot, does it smell, does it sound – is it loud, is it bright, do you have to struggle to see it? It’s all those things that you can put into your body and the choices that you make about it that you use to unify it with everybody.
So, when you go into a scene like that you also say, “Okay, this is loud or this is really bright,” and you know if everybody’s sort of reacting the same way it just helps. And any little thing you can do to help sell, so that’s also how we deal with the science is that personalizing and physicalizing.
On seeing Zoe back in Eureka
Colin: Yes. Jordan definitely came back a couple times that season. She was actually over here yesterday. She’s my designer. I’m getting some renovation done on my house and I’m going to be out of town, so I’ve (unintelligible) Jordan. She did. She came by with my contractor, (Leif), Jordan and myself and she’s handling all the design.
So, I’m going to come back to a house that she – Jordan is designing, which is…
Salli: And that a 21-year old is designing.
Colin: Exactly. Yep, my closet’s going to be filled with Forever 21. Yeah, no, it’s great. I mean, it’s one of my favorite relationships and it’s been amazing to watch her grow from a 13-year old to now being 20 and watching her life bloom into what she’s created it today, and yeah, I love her and I love that relationship, and yes she comes back.
[That was my second question!]
On what draws viewers of all ages
Salli: I mean for me, especially these last few years we’ve been doing it, I think it’s just really the mixture. We were talking earlier that we have comedy, we have love, we have drama, we have the big explosions, and I really think that there’s something for everyone.
And it’s also kept clean enough that you can have your ten-year old watching the show and you’re not having to usher them in the other room, but it’s not done in a corny way where adults can still enjoy the show. They really found a happy medium where anyone really can watch and enjoy it.
Colin: Yeah, we try to put in as much – I remember the first season, it was – the mandate came down and were always being chastised saying, “This is not a comedy,” you know, “Stop putting – stop doing that, stop putting the jokes in. This is not a comedy.” All the directors were told, “This is not a comedy.” Because they were coming off Battlestar and it was going to be serious and all that stuff.
And I think the comedy that we throw in and the writers write in really helps. It helps us take the sting off of ideas and be a little more self-aware and make it fun. When the show began I really wanted it to be dark and edgy and all this stuff, but then as we started hearing from people, like, “Oh, we watched this – we watched this with our parents or I watched this with my kids, and my grandparents watch it.”
And I guess I’ve gotten older I’m really proud of that. I’m really proud – I mean, it’s a little better than it used to be, but for the last bunch of years it was all CSI and all murder and rape and just TV was hard, and it was really nice to do a show that people could watch together. It became a source of pride for us.
So, what makes that work? I think we got lucky. We – the right combo worked and we were on a network that was patient enough to keep us on the air and if we knew what worked we could probably do it again, which is impossible.
On funny moments that did or did not go wrong while filming
Colin: That has gone wrong? Yeah, there’s always something going wrong. What happened this year? Some things go wrong and they’re not funny, like when Frasier had his collar bone ripped out this year. That was funny.
It was the one stunt I’ve ever said, “You know what,” I’d been going through a rough time personally and I said, “You know what, I don’t know the scene. I can’t do it. I just – have Frasier do it.” And Frasier went to do it and it tore out is collar bone and I was like, “Okay.”
So we have things like that, but I would say the funniest thing that’s gone wrong, what would that be? Probably Neil Grayson, a couple years ago, and jump in Sal if you have one, but when he was – we use this stuff called Methocel, which is – Methocel is the stuff that’s in McDonald’s milkshakes and it’s like a food additive. And one of the properties of Methocel, when you get covered in it, is that it wicks all the heat from your body, and then dries so it’s really, really cold.
So, basically getting covered with stuff is sort of always an exercise in – and you know Neil was supposed to shoot first and ended up shooting six hours later, so he was covered in this stuff. I think he was painted green, standing in his trailer for six hours and that’s because you’re covered and you can sit down and you can’t do anything, (and he has glasses) and he’s functionally naked because he was naked in the scene.
So, he’s got this little banana hammock and a bathing suit on, going like – I – you know, that was – that provided us with endless amusement. And then, I guess right before we stopped shooting I was supposed to get – I was, peppered with paintballs, and those – they hurt, but there’s this giant plaque that they’re supposed to be pounding on, which they systematically missed more times than they hit over the course of the scene.
And I’m supposed to be reacting like I’m in pain, which is like good and then after the scene, “Aren’t you bruised?” In like four or five different places for like a week. Those things kill, the paintballs, so we always get up to no good with stuff like that.
Salli: Yeah, Colin usually is the one getting tortured. I’m going to tell you…
Salli: …I can’t talk about it, I’ll be – Colin’s episode coming up, I think I’m going to get some torture in there. They found a way to torture me, but yes, he’s usually the one getting it all.
Colin: Well, there was the one where I was – I still – I’m positive I got a concussion on that one when Matt was directing and he was slamming my head into the top of the jeep. Do you remember that? I was on the (crane), and they were like, “Just drop him,” and we couldn’t get the shot and he was like dropping me ten times in a row on the top of the Jeep and I was like, “Really”? And he was like, “What?”
Salli: Well, I think there’s one where, and I don’t want to say who does it, because I’m not sure when it comes, but when you keep getting slapped.
Colin: That got old.
On being a role model to young kids
Salli: Well Allison isn’t really – somehow I’ve become – I know – I seem to know all this science, you know, I really came in, I worked for the Department of Defense, but I was a medical doctor and somehow through osmosis now I know every bit of science that everyone else seems to know. But, I think it’s my daughter, who is six, loves watching the show, and for me…
Colin: Oh, Sal, hold up. Sal, if I remember correctly, we had deemed that episode that it was going to be established, they were going to make you a nurse.
Salli: Oh, yeah, and…
Colin: Do you remember that?
Salli: Right, I was still…
Salli: …I was like, “Why a nurse?” Wasn’t I upset about that? I was like, “Absolutely not.”
Colin: You were pissed off, yeah, and now you’ve made yourself a doctor and now you’re screwed. You’ve got to know everything.
Salli: And now I’m mad because I have to do – but at the time I felt that, you know, why wouldn’t this really intelligent woman, why wouldn’t she have gone all the way and gotten her medical degree.
But I think it’s wonderful for my daughter who usually only sees a lot of my friends who are in the acting business, because she loves the show. We get to talk about that there are other avenues for women and other jobs to think about, and that our show kind of shows that being smart is kind of cool and kind of fun, and she really gets that and she likes that about the show.
On whether or not we’ll be seeing more of Debrah Farentino (who played Beverly Barlowe)
Salli: That’s all we can say.
Colin: Yep, she’s coming back. But, that’s tied into like the spoiler of spoilers, so that’s about all I can say on that. But yeah, she’s coming back and coming back with a vengeance.
On whether or not there will be more crossovers with other Syfy shows
Colin: I think Grayson’s doing another one.
Salli: Oh, is he? Okay.
Colin: I think so. Yeah, I think he’s doing another – it’s so hard. I think they did one in February, so that’ll air this summer. He and Skaggs are – or he’s going to Warehouse 13 again, I believe, but I could be wrong, but I think that’s correct, and I don’t think anyone else is.
I mean the hardest thing is because we all shoot at the same time, so the idea that, you know, I could get free or Salli could get free is just not – it’s not in the cards.
Salli: Yeah, not…
Colin: We’d love to. In fact, Jack and I, the Executive Producer of Warehouse 13 were actors together in a show in 1999, so I’ve known Jack for about 12 years and I’d love to go up and work with him on a show. I think it’d be hilarious.
On the dynamics of the show changing with a crossover & whether or not Salli would like to do one herself
Colin: Well, I would imagine, speaking for myself, if I was to go over to Warehouse 13 and – it’s a tough one. You have how you like to work, but it’s their home and it’s their show, and what they need for their show trumps anything that you’re – that you could, – I know Jack and I know Eddie very well because we did The Circuit together for – I mean the (backing) Circuit for a while, and I did a movie with (Joann).
And so, I know – and then Saul did an episode of Eureka and Skaggs has been on Eureka, so we know them all and we know how – they’re so kind and respectful it wouldn’t be a problem. But, first and foremost in our minds would be like, “What do you guys need,” you know? “We’ll supply you with what you need.”
Salli: Oh, of course. Like Colin said, if they find the time I would love to go do it. It’s always fun to go do something different, even though we would be doing our character it’s fun doing someone else’s show.
I think that I’d – honestly I’d like to go over there and direct the show. I think that Colin would to.
Colin: Yeah would be great. Good plug, Sal, good plug. Well done.
Salli: (Have) us over. I think that – we’ll act in it if you let us direct it. How about that?
Colin: Yeah, exactly, exactly, exactly.
Remember, Eureka returns with all new episodes this Monday, July 11, at 8/7c on Syfy!