What an episode! Susan came back (in a vision, anyway), Vanessa and Axel were reunited, Axel got punched in the face by Julius, and Missy Peregrym showed up for a fight scene or two. Down, down the rabbit hole we go ...
We spoke with Neil LaBute about Van Helsing Season 2, Episode 6: "Veritas Vincit."
1. Hooray Susan cameo! How was it having Hilary Jardine back on set?
Neil LaBute: It was hell! I'm kidding, obviously, because it was the exact opposite — there was and is a lot of love for both Hilary Jardine and her character Susan in our offices, on the set and now on the Internet. She was a real joy to work with and developed into one of my favorite characters so far on the show. People who watch also seemed to hate seeing her killed off so we looked for a legitimate way to bring her back and I think we did that in this episode. She and Kelly Overton had great chemistry together — there's a world where those two go off and have a hit detective series or a romantic series together and everybody is happy — but the brutal landscape of Van Helsing is such that we lose a lot of people along the way. Who knows if she'll show up again (along with a few other alums) but I for one would be happy to make that work out in additional seasons. Hilary is the real deal and I think the world will be seeing a lot more of her talents in the next few years.
2. It's great to see Missy Peregrym — star of 2006's top guilty pleasure, Stick It — joining the Van Helsing family. How did she come to be part of the cast?
Wow, were we lucky to land Missy for this show! With Kelly's pregnancy being part of our shooting routine but not being able to bring it into the storyline, we found ourselves in a place where we needed to think of something quick and the solution was introducing a new female character to share some of the burden of killing vampires. This is something that the writers had been playing with as a possible plot point down the road but we moved it up a bit when we found ourselves trying to round out the story with the new circumstance at hand. I think Missy is a huge addition to the cast — she's got great chemistry with every single actor she's played opposite and she's ferocious and fearless in the action scenes. And so easy to work with — no fuss, no mess. Can't wait for people to see what she's capable of, even in the handful of episodes that she appears in this season.
3. I love the dark fairy tale tone and imagery of this episode, complete with Vanessa and Scarlett as long-lost 'sisters,' Scab coming across the hooded figures in the woods, and Dmitri and his gang of 'monsters' showing up at the end.
I'm glad that sense of a 'fairy tale' is there — it always has been for us and we've tried to capture it in the look and feel of the show, from the landscape to the costumes and even in the performances to a certain extent. Jonathan Walker wrote this episode and he's very good at creating a sense of mood in his writing and the actors really run with everything we give them — they aren't afraid to question us and know their own characters and fight for the most interesting ideas. That's a good thing. We're also lucky to have a brilliant DP shooting the series and great department heads who really take their jobs seriously and take the look of the show to the next level. If we had more money, we'd go even further but I think we put every last plastic Canadian dollar we have up on the screen and try to make Van Helsing feel both very real and very unreal at the same time.
4. Speaking of Scab, he's got some good stuff this season, and his unique physicality and distinct speech pattern always makes him an intriguing character. What can you tell us about the actor who plays him?
Rowland Pidlubny is a marvel. I don't know how he does it. He loves the show more than maybe any other single person working on it and that's from the first day he auditioned to every day that he tweets and champions the show in his own way. I remember seeing him in the hallway of our offices the first day he auditioned: roaming around and growling to himself as he prepared. He was all-in from the start and I'll tell you what, it makes a difference. We've used him to help us create videos to show other actors how to create movement for their vampires and how to scream and talk as well. He's always ready to help out and always ready when you need him to act. He cares about the story and not just his character. He's been a cheerleader for other actors and is just an all-around A-plus student on the set and in rehearsals. He is a great example for other actors: this guy came in for a relatively small part and so impressed us that he's still around this season and going strong.
5. Tons of shout-outs to Season 1 in this episode: Susan's cameo, Doc mentioning Gorman, Axel referring to Vanessa as "Sleeping Beauty," and even what I'm assuming is a set-up for the return of Wanda.
I think it's important to keep tying the strands of the story together and referring to the work that you've already done — it would be very easy to be a 'road show' with Van Helsing and just keep moving forward and never returning to characters or incidents from the past. I like connecting this season to the last one and I'd want to do that over and over if the show ends up having legs (going further with additional seasons). I'd love to find ways to bring actors that we've used back, not just as who they've played but in other roles or in heavy make-up, just to give the fans something to keep watching for. I also love going back to locations for real purposes like we do in this episode — it was a blast to be back in that spooky old military facility again (although we had to build it from scratch since the original location from Season 1 was not available to us). And yes, keep your eyes out for Wanda to make a return — how could we ever just leave that beautiful vehicle sitting by the side of the road)?
6. What was your favorite scene to film in this episode, and why?
It was a happy day to see Vanessa and Doc and Axel back together on the screen at the same time but I probably love the initial reveal of Missy's character as much as anything. From when she removes her mask until she and Vanessa stand toe-to-toe, ready to kill each other after a fight — that whole section was a lot of fun to watch come together. When Scarlet slashes Vanessa across the face and she then watches in horror as Vanessa's face repairs itself was a standout moment; Kelly Overton is at her best when showing the darker, more feral aspects of her character. She can play soft as well and sad and all those other emotions that we throw at her, but she creates some really startling moments when she is driven to anger (or after she has a drink of blood).