Television fans already know Kelly Overton from True Blood, but she’ll soon make a splash on another horror-related TV show, Syfy’s Van Helsing. on Van Helsing, Overton takes on the role of Vanessa Van Helsing, a vampire hunter who gets re-awakened from a coma because she is mankind’s last and best hope against the day-fearing creatures.
In an interview, Overton recently spoke about her role in the series, as well as what it’s like playing such a tough and independent female character.
Describe the character you portray on the series, Vanessa Van Helsing. What’s she like? What motivates her?
Vanessa is, you know, she’s a mother, first and foremost. And I think what motivates her, big-time, is her love for her daughter and is taking care of her. And when we meet Vanessa in the pilot, she’s been in a coma for three years and she wakes up to find out that the world has seen the apocalypse and the world’s been overrun by vampires. Vampires want her for their own purposes and the humans want her for their purposes. She really goes on this journey of acceptance vs. rejecting of learning who she is and will she be a savior or destroyer?
Being in a show like this means you spend a lot of time with special effects, including practical effects. I’m guessing there’s a lot of blood on set. What’s that like working with all that blood and gore?
Oh, it’s great. There’s so much blood in the show. It’s very, very bloody. It’s great. It’s so much fun. Just adding that level of fantasy to the job, it’s hard not to really enjoy what the characters are doing and what it feels like: playing in the best sense of acting.
Vanessa is a good strong and independent female character, something we still don’t see a lot of on TV. Do you feel that as a responsibility in the way that you portray her for female viewers?
I mean, yes and no, right? I feel like the majority of my career has been playing mostly strong women. So I feel like that there are lots of strong roles out there and my experience has been playing them in my career. I think there’s a trap: if you focus too much on the responsibility and is representing in the way that you play what a strong woman should be, it raises the question of what is strength – what does that even mean? And I really just focus on playing her kind of as true as I could in the respect of just making her a well-rounded human being that has strengths and weaknesses. And I think that what makes somebody strong is their ability to overcome their weaknesses.
From the trailer, Van Helsing also seems to have a lot of action scenes. Did you do any of your own stunts and how do you prepare for such a physical role?
I’ve been an athlete most of my life and so, I think it’s just sort of a priority for me and it’s also become a big part of my work, so I’m always doing something to stay ready to have the next job that’s going to incorporate my athleticism. But for this job in particular, I focused more on boxing and strength training, so I did a lot of lifting heavy weights to try and kind of bulk up and get as strong as I could be. I love to do as much as I can. Being able to incorporate the physicality and athleticism into my work is combining two of my passions, so I love when I get to do that. And this job, in particular, was like a gold mine of riches in that way. The fight scenes are amazing. There’s so much action.
So I do as much as I can… safely. I try to be really smart about when to use my stunt double and when not to. But I definitely try to do as much as I can.
Vampires have always been an important part of pop culture, ever since Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. Why do you think we are still so interested in vampires and stories based on them?
I’ve kind of always wondered about – I think there’s this inherent fascination and obsession with immortality. I think we all, on some level, fear the inevitable death that we’re all going to experience. So I think there’s something really fascinating about this idea of living forever that resonates deeply on a human level.
And they’ve always been so tied into romance, so I think that’s another one of these really core human needs: to be loved. And what’s more powerful than finding someone who wants to spend eternity with you?
I think those are a few things that are really compelling.
Don’t miss the premiere of Van Helsing on Syfy on September 23.