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Missy Peregrym on Scarlett Harker and Syfy’s ‘Van Helsing’
November 9, 2017  | By David Hinckley

Missy Peregrym doesn’t waste a lot of time warming up before she jumps into battle on Syfy’s Van Helsing.

More specifically, here’s a glimpse of what Peregrym’s entrance looks like when she joins the show as Scarlett Harker Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.

Scarlett’s sparring partner is Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton, below, with Peregrym), around whom Van Helsing revolves. Vanessa is the granddaughter of Alexander Van Helsing, the archenemy of the original Dracula back in the late 19th century, and now she alone may hold the power to save the human race from The Rising, a plague of vampires that is quickly rendering humanity extinct.

Scarlett, who is also human, shares Vanessa’s goal. What she also shares with Vanessa, however, is a deep appreciation for the fact that the world now presents constant physical challenges.

Which may explain why their first exchange involves fists and weapons rather than, say, words.

“Scarlett is used to taking on all this stuff by herself,” says Peregrym. “But Scarlett has also been following Vanessa because everyone knows about her and her abilities. Vanessa is fierce. She’s had no choice but to become this thing, this warrior.

“Scarlett’s world is completely rocked when she finally meets Vanessa.”

You could say their first encounter is consistent with etiquette and protocol in a vampire-dominated world, the way tea and a biscuit would be protocol in Downton Abbey.

It’s no big spoiler, accordingly, that Peregrym says we can expect more confrontations involving many characters over the remainder of the season.

What subsequently happens between Vanessa and Scarlett remains a bit more shrouded. Peregrym says only that it’s “a lot. . . . the season is about trying to find out what their pasts really were.”

That includes a striking backstory for Scarlett, but more to the point going forward, Scarlett’s and Vanessa’s interaction has a considerable impact on the battle against the vampires.

The 35-year-old Peregrym, who is probably best known from six seasons as Andy McNally on ABC’s Rookie Blue (left), says she’s not surprised by the degree of physical conflict in the show, which she had not followed before signing on.

In fact, the physicality turned out to be a selling point.

“The weaponry really interested me,” Peregrym says. “It helps create the path of the character. In fact, it wasn’t until the costume fitting that I got really excited about the character. And nervous.”

When the shooting starts, she says, “I try to do as many of the fight scenes as I can. I have an amazing stuntwoman who really makes me look like a badass, but you always have to be involved, to make things look as natural as possible and be sure the action matches the dialogue.

“There have been a lot of scenes where you’re thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve never done this before, let’s go.’ And once you start actually filming, there’s no slow-motion, no softness. It’s easy to hit someone.”

That sort of potentially awkward moment aside, Peregrym says she’s looking forward to burrowing into Scarlett the way she did with Andy McNally.

“When you’re a guest star, you’re on a set for three days, you hope to God that what you did was good, and just as you’re getting comfortable it’s time to leave,” she says. “I’m always glad to get guest spots, but I love living with a character. That happened with Andy, and it could happen with Scarlett, especially if we get another season.”

Nor does Peregrym think it makes any difference that Van Helsing revolves around mythical creatures.  

“With supernatural shows, it depends on the context,” she says. “Personally, I believe there could be something to the supernatural. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that we hear about and I don’t think we fully understand.

“I enjoy watching some shows about the supernatural. But if it’s only dark, it gets a little too close for me. The Exorcist has a feel like that. I’m not going there.”

In Van Helsing, she suggests, vampires are a great dramatic device.  

“We can all relate,” she says. “Vampires replace killers in a different form. It’s about survival and betrayal.”

While Peregrym has spent time in other supernatural dramas, including the CW’s Reaper, she has also played in other types of shows, like the high school series Life As We Know It. At some point, she says, she’d like to play a mother.

“The glamour of this business for me has nothing to do with what most people are seeing,” she says. “It’s finding a great character and bringing out more in them.

“On a show like Van Helsing, you work so hard for months. You can’t know what it’s like until you go through it. Then you can have months when you’re not working at all. I had to get used to that, feeling like you’re not doing anything. But that’s when I have the time for the things I really care about.”

And then Scarlett Harker comes knocking, with all those weapons, and the vampires, and it starts over again.

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