The following is an exclusive San Diego Comic Con interview with SyFy’s Van Helsing stars Kelly Overton and Christopher Heyerdahl. The show premieres September 23 on SyFy.
Pure Fandom sat down with two of the stars of SyFy’s soon-to-be hit show Van Helsing, Kelly Overton (Vanessa Helsing) and Christopher Heyerdahl (Sam). Overton plays the starring role as Vanessa Helsing, a distant relative of the famed Van Helsing, who has a secret power against vampires. She wakes up three years after the vampire apocalypse has happened, and vampires now rule the world. Heyerdahl plays the role of a Sam, a survivor of the apocalypse.
We learned exclusive details into the mythology of the show, and how vampire-fans can rejoice with a fresh new spin on the classic genre. Read the interview below!
PURE FANDOM: Van Helsing promises to be a resurgence of the vampire-genre. You’re not a damsel in distress; you’re a fierce bitch! What characters did you draw from to craft this role? For example your character in True Blood was super fierce, too.
KELLY OVERTON: Yes! She definitely was. This was totally different research. Some of the female roles out there or films that I drew from was Ripley from Aliens, of course. While I was researching, I actually also drew from Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver. She was so stoic, and then when she smiled, it was monumental and it meant so much. It was in such juxtaposition to her stoicism that I thought that was really interesting, and I wanted to do that with Vanessa. Another character I drew from was Gena Rowlands in the ’80’s version of Gloria. Some obscure references there!
A lot of those female characters, specifically Ripley, are almost too hopeful to a fault, so it’ll be really interesting to see the lengths Vanessa will go. As far as the re-imagination of vampires in the show, your character (Vanessa) has a unique power in that she bites vampires, and her bite can cure them.
KELLY OVERTON: Yes, that or they die. It depends on what kind [of vampire] they are.
CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: Within the first 10 minutes of the episode, you have an example of that.
It sounds like you set the stage from the get-go with the mythology of the show, and that you don’t have to be a long-time vampire-genre lover or Dracula fan to watch this.
CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: No, and you can also see the journey that Vanessa Helsing is going through. We first see her waking up after this three-year “nap” [laughs], and this crazy thing happens right off the bat – and she has no idea why. It’s great to watch this character go through this and have no idea that she has special powers. She was just a regular mom – a “super-power” mom – and she wakes up, and we literally go into this crazy [sequence] where she finds out that something is going on with her.
So Vanessa begins to struggle with not only a new world, but a new version of herself?
KELLY OVERTON: Yes, and Vanessa also has a daughter, and she has no idea where she is. She’s really driven by her mission to find her daughter.
Ah, so that’s where the everlasting hope comes from!
KELLY OVERTON: (Laughs) Yes!
Christopher, you character Sam is a survivor of the vampire apocalypse. Tell us how he will play a part in the show.
CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: There’s a group of us, and it’s this group of rag-tag men and women, who are trying to survive this crazy vampire apocalypse. They come across Vanessa and Axel (an ex-marine in charge of protecting her Vanessa), and they end up in somewhat of a prison, a place of safety and sanctuary and solitude. Each of them has some sort of their own survival skill-set. It’s a crazy group. Sam is the strong, silent, horticultural type. That’s his way of getting rid of the bugs of the world.
Do you and your team hit it off right away with Vanessa?
CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: Yes, he’s very protective of this person that he meets.
KELLY OVERTON: Well, and the humans and the vampires both want me, so I’m a target for everyone. They’re scared of me in a way, and I’m scared of them, too.
CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: Nobody’s quite sure what to do with Vanessa, either. The humans are scared and not sure who she is, so there’s this uneasy truce that happens it this group. There are two factions that are thrown together, and [we see] how they’ll deal with being in this enclosed space.
That’s great to hear, because that’s how we as fans relate – seeing how these characters deal with tough situations, each other, who they trust and why. Which brings me to my next question – we already know [Vanessa’s] secret right away, so how do we as fans get hooked to the show? What mystery is left to uncover?
KELLY OVERTON: It’s really grounded in how the characters are so human and fleshed-out; there are so many layers [to each character.] CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: We don’t know [Vanessa’s] secret so much in that there’s so much stuff that’s hidden. We see the evidence of it in the first 10 minutes of the show, but we don’t understand it.
KELLY OVERTON: The cool thing too is that you discover along with my character. So that’s another thing that hooks you – you’re going on this journey, this identity and ability discovery with Vanessa. We don’t know much about my past other than I’m a single mom with a daughter; that’s something that you learn pretty much right away. We don’t know if [her daughter] is alive, either.
Will you tap into the classic Van Helsing story or the Dracula mythology?
KELLY OVERTON: No cross-brow or corset! (Laughs) You may [see something of the classic mythology] as the season progresses.
Chad Oakes has said this series “challenges traditional vampire rules.” What’s your own perspective on this? In the last few years, vampires have been very much romanticized. Is there any element of “gorgeous” to these vampires? (Kelly, Christopher, and Pure Fandom affectionately called it.)
KELLY OVERTON: There are so many different levels and hierarchy of the vampires, and at the top you get some “gorgeous-ness.” [The higher up vampires] mainly feed off of human blood, and there are some vampires that feed off of animal-blood. The [vampires] change depending on the blood they take and environment they’re in. There are some called bottom feeders that live in the sewers and underground.
CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL: There’s the really low-level, more animus vampires, up to the vampires who have been around a little bit longer who have a very structured society.
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