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This week we were invited in on a SyFy conference call with Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary,) Sharon Taylor (Stargate Atlantis, Smallville,) Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary,) and Allison Mack (Smallville) to talk up their newest project RIESE: KINGDOM FALLING that premiered this Tuesday on Syfy.com/Riese. Below are the highlights from the conference call. More detailed transcription notes will be available tomorrow in the second issue on our online SMALLVILLE publication: OSCK MAGAZINE. Along with these transcription notes the issue will contain an additional, exclusive interview with Sharon Taylor! The first two episodes narrated by Amanda Tapping are available now on Syfy.com.
Question: How did you get started working on this project?
Ryan Robbins: The project got started a while before I got involved, I had Kaleena Kiff and Ryan Copple for some time and they approached me about this character that I was sort of chomping at the bit to play. I was really excited about where the show was going and we sat down and talked over a bite to eat and I wanted in immediately, I just thought that I’d never seen anything like this show and I just couldn’t wait to get involved.
Sharon Taylor: I’d worked with Kaleena previously and had done a short film with her and Allison Mack (“Alice & Huck” 2008) and Kaleena suggested that I audition for the part of Amara. So I came in and auditioned and got the part. I’m so happy that I did because it’s an amazing project and I love the character. I think that it’s probably my most favorite character that I’ve ever played.
Emilie Ullerup: I was actually doing another interview and we were talking about SANCTUARY and things like that and RIESE came up. It just sort of kind of got my attention, I knew that they’d shot some of it and had heard it and my friends were on it. She was like, “You know you should really be on RIESE.” And I was like “Yeah right, I’m not going to be on RIESE, they don’t even know who I am!” And she said, “I’ll email Ryan Copple” and sure enough after our interview she did and the next day I got an email from Ryan saying we’d love to meet with you. We have a part that might be perfect so we met for coffee and I was like “Oh my god – you knew [who I was] and yes please and there it was.”
Allison Mack: Kaleena Kiff has been one of my best friends and collaborators for almost ten years now. And I always told her that I would be her Bill Murray to her Wes Anderson so basically anything that she was a part of or creating, I wanted in! And she was generous enough to allow me the opportunity to hand select the part that I got to play though the show. And she asked me if I’d like to continue to be around for as long as I wanted to be around! So I was like, “Of course!” Say that to an actor and we jump.
Question: What’s your favorite part of working on the show?
Ryan: I’d say the fact that there’s this incredible, powerful, and genuine excitement about the show. The cast is amazing and the crew is incredible. And I guess that for me, I think that it’s just something that’s unique and hasn’t been done before. Sort of to echo what Sharon had said, this is probably one of my all time favorite characters that I’ve ever played. And it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences that you just get really excited about right off of the hop.
Sharon: It’s so exciting to be a part of a fantasy based project, I’m a fan of science fiction so, this steam punk sub-genre of science fiction is exciting because you get to wear these amazing costumes, and the storylines they really can take you anywhere. The character that I play, Amara she gets to wear amazing clothes and fancy hairdoos, and she’s a lot of fun. I get to be evil which is very exciting for me too.
Emilie: You know the fact that it feels like we’re all working with our friends. I think that for me that always makes the actors, the producers, the writers, whoever, it’s our biggest dream to always get to work with people we really wanted to work with for a long time. And a couple of these people, like Allison Mack I’ve just met her for the first time on the phone today, but it feels like we’re all friends working together and that’s quite spectacular.
Allison: Yeah I would definitely say that my most favorite thing about working on this show is that it’s a creative collaboration with those who are involved with the show. Kaleena Kiff and Ryan Copple are always so incredibly collaborative people. They really wanted us to have the opportunity as actors to do things that we didn’t get to do normally, you know in the industry there is a pigeon hole that you can kind of find yourself being placed in and so the fact that we have the opportunity to kind of step out of that pigeon hole and try something different and new it was definitely a luxury. And we get to wear really cool costumes! That’s so much fun. And Sci-Fi is amazing because it’s a very freeing opportunity to use your imagination and find the reality in the fantasy and that’s always really fun to just push the envelope with what’s possible and where your imagination will take you.
Question: Can you tell us about each of your characters for those who might now know about them, and what would you like to see done with them in the future?
Ryan: I play Rand, the leader of the Resistance. It’s my opportunity to play a Braveheart character or Leonidas from 300. It’s a lot of fun. He’s very conflicted, he’s clear in what he thinks and wants but there’s a lot of passion, a lot fire, and anger which is always fun to play. He’s maybe not the best at relationships. He’s badass with a heart of gold. And what would I like to see? I like everything that’s been going on I think that he’s headed in the right direction. I think that the writers have a great vision for the character. And I’m just excited to see where we go from here. Definitely think that he’s on the right track.
Sharon: My character is Amara, she’s the Empress of Eleysia, but she’s not actually the rightful heir to the throne. She originally joins forces with this religious group called The Sect who then overthrew the rightful king and queen of Eleysia. My cousin was the true heir and Queen of Eleysia and I’ve taken her position as Empress. My character she’s ambitious and powerful and ruthless. She’s power hungry, so she’s expanding the borders of Eleysia, taking over more and more land. And being a woman in power she actually gets to use her femininity and sexuality to her advantage to gain even more power and her relationships with men around her. And I really like that what Kaleena and Ryan have written for my character so I’m just so excited for the audiences to see what’s to come from Amara and that I also think that where she’s going is very exciting and right exactly where I want to be and that’s what makes this so great is the collaborative process that the writers and creators are so willing to listen to what we want to see where our characters are going and they care about what we think our characters are going and what they would do. It leaves it very open to play and is such a rewarding experience from an actors perspective.
Emilie: I play, you know I say Aliza (her pronunciation: Aleessa) some people say Aliza (Aleeza) I’m just going to put this out there that she’ll always be Aliza to me.
Ryan: I screamed Aliza (Aleessa.)
Emilie: You did right? OK well then I guess that I got scared that I said it wrong. I play the second in command to the Resistance that Rand runs. I think where Rand has a bit more of everything in him, he’s a bit more torn between what might be good and what might be evil, Aliza is much more stuck in where she comes from. She lost her parents, she lost her whole family to…well we’ll get into that at another time but, where she comes from is a lot of hate and anger and a lot of revenge and it’s very black and white for her as to who should be in power and who definitely shouldn’t be. So she’s an interesting pull on the Resistance in one direction and probably a bit of a thorn in Rand’s side from time to time. And that’s what I think makes it so interesting is that all of our characters are all so flawed and all troubled but if you look at it morally and ethically you can understand where everyone comes from, even terrible characters like Sharons. And I think that as long as they stick with that it’s going to be a fireball of a show.
Allison: My character is called Marlise and you don’t really know what Marlise is about or what she’s up to other than she’s incredibly self-serving and very smart. So those two things make for a deadly combination and like I said I wear a mask which kind of covers my face and I’ll keep that up over my mouth for this interview to hide my intent because the fun of Marlise is that you don’t know what she’s up to. But I will say that she’s power hungry and utilizes everything that she has in order to get where she wants to go. So she’s fun and mysterious and dangerous.
Question: What do you find is the hardest part of working on the show?
Emilie: Maybe the fact that we haven’t worked on it for so long and we miss it?
[Sharon & Ryan laugh]
Ryan: The hard part is the waiting and waiting to see the future holds. You know, that’s the hard part. I mean we had battle scenes in the freezing cold, Emilie and I were not well clothed and it was freezing cold and it was real snow that we were battling in and yet it was so much fun! I don’t think that there were any bad moments, just the waiting…
Emilie: It was all about the love, really.
Emilie: I know that I sound like a hippie but it’s true!
Question: Can I get your take on what it’s like being on a series that Steampunk?
Ryan: I think that it’s absolutely amazing you know early on in SANCTUARY we toyed with some Steampunk inspired weaponry for my character, Henry, and so I learned about Steampunk a bit before going into RIESE, but RIESE has just taken it to a whole other level. The future of RIESE when this show goes and continues and with the help of fans you’re going to see a lot more of that. You’re going to see a lot more steam powered vehicles. There’s so much further that we can go with the genre and I think that we’ve only scratched the surface but so far the surface has been yummy!
Emilie: Yeah I mean the cool factor of Steampunk just blows my mind! I knew very little about Stempunk before RIESE and you know every time that you see something new on set it’s like, “Oh WOW that’s so COOL! What is that?” And everyone’s like, “It’s Steampunk.” And you’re like, “Of course it is!” And I’m surprised that it hasn’t been used more because it’s just so fricking cool. I can’t wait to see the new things that they thought up. Like the crossbow that Aliza uses is all mind-blowingly cool…for lack of a better term.
Ryan: The intricacies and details on these things that you can’t even [believe,] you really have to see them close up, they look amazing on screen but like, close up even it’s just like, “Holy crap!” It’s just so intricate and so detailed.
Sharon: I ask the audiences to take a good look at Patrick’s eye in some of the scenes, his mechanical eye is amazing. What I also find interesting about the Steampunk genre is because it based in Victorian Britain, that kind of technology that existed in the Victorian Age, which I think that people could see as limiting but sometimes with some of the limitations that’s where the creativity grows. You can think that about many things that if you start with some boundaries and then start thinking outside of those boundaries that’s where all sorts of cool and crazy ideas come from. And I know in Steampunk people often have these stories that they’ve explored futuristic Steampunk, to where those steam powered vehicles will take them. And that’s where the imagination factor comes in. And the sky is the limit.
Ryan: And all of the credit in the world to the Steampunk community who have absolutely embraced the show and have been really, really helpful and offering great insight. Some of the most amazing, amazing talented people reside within the Steampunk revolution and the cool stuff that they come up with where they can take something like Sharon said from the Victorian Era inspired for cosmetically, but now there’s things that are completely useful to the modern day age that look cosmetically like it’s a Steampunk device it’s very, very cool.
Emilie: Say “Cool!” That’s the word for Steampunk!
Question: Do you think that if the show does well that it’ll be moved to a regular series?
Ryan: I think it’s safe to say that the goal ideally would be to move it to a TV series. The one thing about a web series, it’s getting better, but it’s very hard to maintain the capital to make the series. It costs a lot of money to make a show, and especially a show like RIESE. It’s not exactly a cheap show to make and to make the revenue to maintain a show on the web it’s still relatively difficult. It’s easier than say back when SANCTUARY started but I think that RIESE would be such an amazing show on television. I do believe that there are lots of brilliant web series that do stay on the web and should stay on the web because they’re perfect and amazing there, but I just think that RIESE is one of those shows that could transition to television extremely well. I think it’s safe to say that’s the hope.
Question: For Sharon, do you ever want to steal Amara’s boots?
Sharon: You want to know something really funny? Those are my own boots that I wore for that!
Ryan: [Laughs] Amara stole YOUR boots!
Sharon: Yes they are my boots and I do wear them.
RIESE: KINGDOM FALLING is available to view online at http://www.syfy.com/Riese. New episodes air every Tuesday & Thursday.
Support original, creative programming. Be a part of the RIESE REVOLUTION and spread the word online. The more fan support that gets behind the series, the more likely the show will get picked up as a full time series on SyFy.