Syfy's Alphas team is about to change forever, thanks to a tiny new kick-butt recruit with mad skills and some big-time challenges. Actress Erin Way joins the Alphas team as Kat, a surprising new character who can absorb any skill she reads or sees, but with a catch.
"I play the character of Kat, and she meets Harken and Hicks both at an underground Alpha fight club," said Way. "And her special ability is that she basically learns any skill instantly, so that includes knowledge and muscle memory. It's essentially like she can just download it almost instantly. And the only downside is that she has a bit of a memory problem. After about a month or so, she starts losing memories of the past. While she retains her memories, she can't remember how she learned them or who she knows or where she came from, which, you know, is a little problematic."
We'll meet Kat on tonight's episode, "Alpha Dogs," and she's a character who's as mysterious to herself as she is to the team.
"She retains the abilities. She doesn't remember that she knows how to do them. But if you put in the appropriate situation she can recall how to do them. So, for example, you could put her in a helicopter and she could very well have the reaction of like, 'Oh yes, I totally know how to fly this thing.' But she wouldn't be able to tell you unless she was put in the situation."
And considering she can't remember more than a few weeks of her life at a time, "She essentially has no past really that's written, and it's all discovered in the moment. She's a very, very strong female character, which I not only enjoy watching but I enjoy playing. She can fight, she's tough, and I think it's a cool thing that Syfy tends to do for females in general, is that they tend to have really strong female characters."
Beyond having a powerful ability, Kat also has a unique personality. According to Way, Dr. Rosen's team can be a little on the serious side.
"Kat just comes in, and because of her ability or the downside of her ability, the way she's chosen to survive with it is just to be very live-in-the-moment, not get too heady about stuff, because she's not burdened by anything really in the past, because she forgets everything," said Way.
"Essentially she just comes in and really mixes it up. [She] doesn't really care about the rules, the protocol, how you're supposed to behave ... kind of makes fun of them for being so serious. And in a sense, because of that, kind of just ruffles everybody's feathers a little bit, which I think just makes for not only some comic relief, but also maybe helps some of the characters find a different perspective on their situation," she added.
Initially she butts heads with Gary, who is autistic. But she also has challenging moments with all the members of the team before she manages to win them over this season.
For Way, Kat complements each of the team members in a different way, "but it's all through that same kind of irreverence that she approaches life with."
The diminutive actress is a former ballet dancer who's starred on television in Detroit 1-8-7 and Hawaii Five-O, and in film in The Collection and Not That Funny.
While she was intrigued by the possibilities of playing someone who had a new skill on a weekly basis, she was also surprised to hear what the writers had to tell her about Kat.
"When I first met all of the writers I was like, 'Okay, so how about we talk about this girl's history? You know, where does she come from, so I can like start to get to know this girl?' And they were like, 'We don't have that, sorry, to give you. So, basically, blank slate.' And I was like, 'Awesome, guys.'"
While Way found that hard initially, now she feels she's appropriately in the same shoes as her character. "Kat doesn't have that, so it's not really fair for me to have any of that information. So basically I had to build it on instinct," she said. "You've got to keep it simple with her, because none of that other stuff comes into play. It's where I had to start, and then from then on it was a matter of trusting myself that I knew who this girl was."
Finding out who Kat is has kept Way on her toes learning a variety of skills she's had to pick up quickly for Alphas.
In tonight's "Alpha Dogs," Kat is involved with an Alpha fight club. Here's an exclusive picture:
"I'm a very tiny person, and Harken is a very large person, and we have to fight each other in the episode. And so what I learned how to do is a style and a form of kickboxing, basically, that, instead of relying upon size, it relies upon knowing where the pressure points are and how to use one's own weight to counterbalance or use it against the other person. So, basically, finding their weak spots and winning in that way," said Way.
"And then in another episode I had to learn how to reassemble a carburetor, which I'm not mechanical in a car kind of way at all, so that was cool to learn where the plugs go in and stuff like that," she said. "Each week they bring me something new. I usually end up having to learn it within a few minutes of filming the scene, unless I know beforehand, and then I can do some research online."
It's added up to a cool new gig for this "sci-fi fan," who's never done a sci-fi show before. "It was kind of a surreal experience. You name the sci-fi shows and I'm a huge sucker for them. So that was awesome. I had to pinch myself on a couple of occasions that I was going to be a part of that genre finally."
As far as where she hopes Kat's future will take her, Way has some thoughts on the subject.
"I think it would be super-cool if at some point she could hone her ability to such an extent where it could be like The Matrix, where she just like touches a book and downloads all the information inside. I think that would be really rad," said Way.
And if Alphas gets a third season, "I am intrigued about where Kat comes from and who her father is. And who she's been aligned with in the past. And I am hoping and praying that it is all bad people. That's my hope, is that Kat discovers that she was affiliated with really bad guys. Because I think that's just so fascinating. It opens up just a variety of questions. I mean, just like think about that, and then your brain just like goes crazy. So that to me would be so exciting to play, for those things to be revealed," she said.
"And then I think she needs to have a boyfriend, because I think it would just be hilarious, because she'd forget who he was all the time."
Here's a sneak peek at Kat in "Alpha Dogs":
Alphas airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.
What do you think of Kat and her superpower?