Warehouse 13 is back on Tuesday, with a brand new holiday special on Syfy. And we were lucky enough to talk on the phone one-on-one with Joanne Kelly, who plays Myka Bering. She told us why the H.G. Wells-Myka sexual tension was the actors' idea, and just how far she'd like to see that relationship go.
Minor spoilers ahead...
In Tuesday's new episode, Pete winds up in a kind of It's a Wonderful Life scenario thanks to a stray artifact, and this means Pete gets to see what the world would be like without him. Not surprisingly, it's a bit of a mess — and Myka is still the frosty, uptight agent she would have been if she'd remained in Washington, D.C. instead of going to work at the Warehouse.
Kelly tells us that this was a lot like playing the version of Myka from the pilot — "Myka before she had a family, the Warehouse family." She's lonely and isolated, and generally the closed-off person that we saw in the pilot. In general, we discover that Myka's life would have been "not a very fun life" without the Warehouse.
"We got to backtrack the [characters]' journeys," she adds. "It was a lot of fun."
But over the course of the episode, even though Myka still doesn't remember the version of events with Pete in it, the more time she spends with Pete the more she loosens up and becomes like "our" Myka. "That speaks a lot to the relationship that she and Pete have," says Kelly. "He brings out that side in her. He's almost like a part of her in that sense... She just finds herself enjoying herself a lot more, and just opening up a lot around him. And that speaks to the kind of chemistry that Eddie [McClintock] and I have as actors."
In general, Kelly says she has no clue what will happen in season four, and she's as curious as everybody else to see what happens next. A lot of actors tend to ask questions about upcoming episodes, or pitch story ideas, but Kelly is always just happier to let the production team do their thing.
With one exception — when H.G. Wells was introduced as a character, the writers thought of H.G. and Myka as becoming friends. Which was already sort of a revolutionary notion, Kelly points out — usually on television, two strong women will always be portrayed as hating each other or having a "bitchy" relationship, so showing the two women forming a healthy friendship was somewhat unusual. "They [usually] resort to these stereotypes of cattiness and bitchness."
But the actors, Kelly and Jaime Murray, decided to take it a bit further, and introduce some sexual/romantic tension between the two women. "Jaime and I decided that [on our own]," says Kelly, "and then once the writers saw what we were doing, we they kind of went with it. But that was Jaime and my idea. We decided, 'Wouldn't it be fun if they were kind of in love?' So we fell in love."
When asked if she was sad that the H.G.-Myka relationship didn't wind up going further, Kelly responds in a kind of no-shit-Sherlock voice, "Umm, yeah — it's Jaime Murray!" And laughs. "You know, being an actor, you explore relationships. And anything that makes the dynamic between two actors more interesting [is something] I'm interested in exploring, whether female or male."
And Kelly would still love to see Myka and H.G. get together:
Oh god, yeah. I would love that. With Jaime? That would be awesome. [Laughs]. It's the only romantic relationship that we get to see Myka [have.] And it's not even romantic in the traditional sense of romance. We see this deep, deep bond with thse two people, and the only other relationship that I've really explored like that was with Sam, my partner who died. And we just kind of touched on it. But H.G. is a much bigger storyline.
Kelly says she's really proud of the fact that Warehouse 13 had an openly gay character in Steve Jinks, and his sexuality wasn't made the main issue about his character at all. A lot of the people who work on the show are queer, and the show very much advocates for equality. "I love our show. I think there's a moral and ethical thing that runs through it," and advocating LGBT equality is part of that.
(When I point out that the show doesn't have an openly gay character any more, because they killed off Steve Jinks, Kelly says you just never know what'll happen, in a world of artifacts.)
Kelly is currently starring in, and producing, a production of the stage play Proof in Toronto, in between filming. And she also appeared a while back in a production of David Mamet's Oleanna. When asked if she feels Oleanna has aged well in its discussion of sexual harrassment, she admits:
It is a bit 20 years ago, but it also is very relevant, in the sense of [talking about] how things are perceived. Like the fact that what we see and what we hear is fluid, it's not definite. Our perception is something that's so shaped by who we are. What's the truth, and whose point of view is the right point of view?... And I think that's one of the really important messages of Oleanna: there are two sides to every story, and which story is right? It's not black or white, it's gray.
I ask Kelly what artifact David Mamet would leave behind, and she's kind of stumped — Eddie McClintock and Allison Scagliotti are way better at coming up with imaginary artifacts than she is. She also likes to leave a lot of the humor on the show to McClintock. "Jack Kenny gives me a funny line on the show, and I give it to Eddie."
Kelly's way more interested in playing the serious, emotional stuff on Warehouse 13, although she enjoys the lightness and the humor. "I love that the show's so light. I love the tone of it. I didn't really understand it [at first], but last year, it clicked in for me how the levity saves the show."
And Kelly feels like a big part of her job on Warehouse 13 is "to give the situation gravitas" and help the viewers feel the stakes — the fact that even though everybody's laughing and clowning around, this is a serious situation, and people could die. That way, when the show goes for the light moments, she feels as though they've been earned.
Warehouse 13 airs on Tuesday night at 9 PM on Syfy.