Hot off the back of getting renewed for a second season, Wynonna Earp – adapted from Beau Smith’s IDW comic-book series of the same name – follows the titular character (and descendant of the legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp), played by Melanie Scrofano, as she returns to her hometown of Purgatory, we she finds herself embroiled in a mission to rid the town of the demons who terrorise it.
Ahead of its UK airing on Spike, we spoke to actress Dominique Provost-Chalkley – who plays Waverly Earp, Wynonna’s sister and partner in crime – about what to expect from the new series… [mild spoilers ahead for those who haven’t watched the pilot]
Firstly, for those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about Wynonna Earp the TV series?
In a nutshell, Wynonna Earp is Wyatt Earp’s great-great granddaughter, and the show follows her in her quest to break a curse that has been put on the family over 130 years ago, and to break the curse she needs to find all of the revenants that have been resurrected and put them back down to Hell. It’s a cheery story! [laughs]
And likewise, can you give us a bit of a lowdown on your character?
Waverly Earp is Wynonna’s younger sister, and when we start the story we find her in Purgatory, which is their hometown. She’s been there her whole life, and she’s completely obsessed with understanding the history of her family – obviously it’s a famous family – and so she has suspicions that there is more to it than what we originally find out.
There’s a curse that has been hidden from us for many years, so she is delving into all the research, and when Wynonna comes back to the town after being away for so many years it ignites something, and the two of them together begin to try and fight the Earp curse once and for all.
There’s a lot of source material: the real life Wyatt Earp, the Lawrence Kasdan movie and Beau Smith’s comics, to name a few. Were you familiar with any of them?
Not particularly, if I’m honest – it’s not a part of history that I knew amount about – however, of course, Wyatt Earp is so famous, and I knew that we had Doc Holliday in the show, so I knew a little bit about him before starting.
But it’s nice, because my favourite thing about acting is when you get given a role that is something you don’t know much about. It’s all part of the fun: doing the research and understanding what it was all about, and looking into the OK Corral and all that sort of thing. So yes, it’s the part that I enjoyed the most.
What would you say the most appealing aspect of the TV series was to you?
The TV show interested me from the get-go, to be completely honest with you from reading the first script, mainly because I found it so unique, you get so many scripts coming through, and I just couldn’t get to grips with what this show was about.
It wasn’t until I met Melanie [Scrofano] that I fully understood what they were going for. But what really drew me to the project was these amazing female characters that were so well-rounded and interesting, which you don’t see so much on TV at the moment, so that really spoke to me.
From what I’ve seen, Wynonna Earp seems very much in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer mould. Would you say this is fair?
Absolutely. It’s funny, you obviously think that while you’re doing it, but it wasn’t until it came out that everybody started making this comparison quite a lot, and I think that you’re absolutely right: it does have aspects of the Buffy-esque genre, but that hasn’t been out for a long time, so that’s why it’s exciting to do something that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is also really fun and exciting.
Judging by the pilot, Wynonna Earp is unique in that the core cast seems quite small compared to most shows. Will it expand in future episodes, or stay pretty much the same?
That’s a very good question actually. When we end the series, obviously a lot more characters have been introduced as we go through, and I would say that naturally the mythology is very complex, so we realise that the world we live in is a lot more intricate than we once originally thought, so there are certainly going to be new characters introduced as you go along, and they may or may not stick around – you’ll have to wait and find out, I don’t want to give away too many spoilers!
But that said it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the second season – we obviously just got our pick-up, which was very exciting – so I have absolute faith in Emily Andras, our showrunner, that she knows what to do.
In the pilot, Waverly seems to be one of the few characters in Purgatory who truly gets on with Wynonna. Is this just a case of her looking up to her older sister, or showing her standing apart from Purgatory’s other inhabitants?
I think with Waverly she has been acting a certain way because of her surroundings for so many years. She has basically been trying to fit in with her little town, and what Wynonna brings out of her is her true self. She really connects with her on an intimate level, and I think that’s what makes the show so special: the relationship between the two sisters, because they really spark off each other, and the chemistry is so real.
She brings out her true flavour I suppose, and vice versa. So what you see in the series with my character is Waverly really addressing who she wants to be, not who she thinks she should be. And I think that’s mainly down to Wynonna.
In the same episode, Waverly narrowly escapes getting hanged. Does this put her off, or simply make her more determined?
Waverly is one of the most brave young women I have ever come across – it’s bizarre, I admire her in many ways because there’s not much that puts Waverly off, and you will see that progress through the season.
She is faced with all sorts of crazy demons and odd situations that she gets herself into, yet she’s still the main person that comes back the next time and wants to do it all again, which is very admirable!
And what aspects of her character would you say you related to the most?
I am actually quite similar to Waverly in many ways, I discovered that as I went through the season. When I first got the role, I went through all of this work to train and get myself into the character, but Melanie, she just laughed at me: “Dominique, you doing all of this work is so Waverly. You don’t need to, you are literally the character already!”
So we had a lot similarities in our bubbliness and being slightly geeky and fumbly mumbly at times, but I’d say one thing that I’d need to take a leaf out of her book in is her bravery, and if I could have been half the young woman she was – gosh, it would have been a lot easier.
I think that’s my favourite part of Waverly: how, even though there may be something ahead of her that scares her to death, she still goes for it and explores it, which is something that I would really love the younger generation to take on board, because you’ve just got to face these things.
What’s it like to work on a series that already has a built-in fan following, thanks to the comic books?
It’s fantastic! We just came back from Comic-Con, and it’s awesome having a following before you’ve even started the show. It’s like, “Wow, there’s all these people that are interested in what we’re doing before we’ve even got it out on TV!” I think it’s the best thing in many ways.
In fact, we went to WonderCon at the end of last summer, the show hadn’t even aired in the US and Candada, and there were people queuing up to have their comic books signed.
I just thought it was really interesting: “Why do they care who we are?” Now, what’s nice is that these two worlds have kind of mixed together – at Comic-Con there were people who didn’t know the comic before, and those who were comic-book fans, and they kind of merged together, now we’ve got this wonderful, strong fanbase of the two.
Wynonna Earp is airing for the first time on UK TV tomorrow – can you tell British viewers what to expect from the first season?
I would say to expect a fast-paced, sexy, fun, hilarious, demon-killing cowgirl show! [laughs]
Wynonna Earp will air on Spike in the UK from 29 July. For all the latest TV news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.