Already bouncing back from its long hiatus, WAREHOUSE 13 takes us back into the wacky world of the Warehouse, our favorite agents and all the crazy adventures they have tracking down renegade artifacts around the globe. With things seemingly back to normal, Artie, Pete, Myka, Claudia, and Jinx are back in action. In a recent press conference call, stars Saul Rubinek, Allison Scagliotti and Aaron Ashmore previewed what’s next for our intrepid heroes and talked about who may be joining them for this next round of adventures on WAREHOUSE 13 Season 4.5.
Do you have a favorite episode or story line that’s coming up the second half of the season?
ALLISON: The one that immediately comes to mind is when we go out in search of Beethoven’s clock and how much fun we had together.
SAUL: Oh, God. That was hilarious.
ALLISON: Wasn’t it great? It’s the episode where Claudia turns 21. I have a big musical episode at the end and it was nice. But I just remember looking back on that week and just remembering how much fun I had doing it.
SAUL: A little bit what happened was in order to build the relationship between Jinxy and Claudia, because they knew that his death was going to come and they knew that the stakes had to be really high, Artie’s and Claudia’s relationship had to take a little bit of a back seat because of what was going to happen. So this second part of the season we’re back in a way to where we were a little bit. Claudia and I get to do stuff that we did in Season 2 in a way.
ALLISON: Yes. I mean that’s what I think. That’s why that episode sticks out for me because it had been so long since we got to do our thing and do our little lightening in a bottle dance.
SAUL: Yes. That’s right.
AARON: So guys what I’m hearing here is basically because you don’t have to work with me…
SAUL: (Laughs) Here’s the thing. We actually had a blast. Aaron and I did a couple of things together when we were a B story and trying desperately to turn it into an A story. We had a lot of fun together climbing poles in the Warehouse, whatever the hell we were doing. Battling flying gargoyles. I have no idea. We’re like a group that’s in Heaven and when we have guest stars that come in — I know Jaime Murray’s coming back once her schedule is figured out and we’ve managed to find a way to get Kate Mulgrew back, and Joel Gray of course, which was really great for all of us, because it was kind of awesome to have him on our set. What an icon. We really had a great time this last part of the season because Artie could be Artie again and we could go back to what we were used to. Although, it was really cool doing a very dark arc. Really cool.
AARON: And there still is some interesting stuff even though things kind of get back to a little bit more maybe what we were kind of used to in the previous season and that. But also we don’t erase the things that happen, so all the characters have changed and then we’re all sort of still dealing with these things in these episodes coming up, so I think that’s really interesting for the characters as well. Not really a reset button to take away what happened to Artie and that’s really cool too is getting to play all those things and seeing how the characters change and adapt to that stuff.
SAUL: What’s really kind of interesting watching a lot of different kinds of series of TV, because of the mandate that Jack has set up and has gotten agreement from the studio network to do — because right from the very beginning, the show doesn’t take itself completely seriously — the show is able to pack so much story in an entertaining way. When you’ve got a really serious show, like [Aaron’s] brother is doing which I like, and it’s a very successful show, THE FOLLOWING, but they can only do so much. If they were going to do more, it would have to go comic, which is the last thing that that show needs to do. They can only set so much in motion. But you look at like some of the serious shows that are on, we do three episodes worth of their stories in 40 minutes. I mean I was looking at just the premier of our show, setting up two major characters, finishing an arc that had to do with the whole destruction of the planet, trying to figure out a way psychologically for Claudia to forgive herself, and setting up an entirely new premise for a season all done in 40 minutes. I mean, I was very impressed. I continue to be impressed with the storytelling. It’s probably why we have such a good time is because we bounce around like that from humor to seriousness. And this next nine episodes, I really want you to tell your readers about is probably the biggest chances that they’ve ever taken tonally from anything we’ve ever done. I can tell you this: you’re going to get to meet Steve’s ex-boyfriend. That’s a very interesting emotional and hilarious episode.
ALLISON: I was straight up mad I was not on that storyline.
SAUL: Yes, I know. Both of us were.
AARON: You guys would’ve just embarrassed me. I know it.
SAUL: The other thing and this is one of the most interesting parts of the arc of the whole show, from the very beginning of bringing Allison on as one of our team is that her growing up and getting older has become a part of the show for the character, and that’s been because I think Allison has fought for it. So now she’s going to have the responsibility of the Caretaker of the Warehouse that’s coming. That’s certainly been set up. And whatever that does for her, it’s something that she can’t help having this responsibility, and it’s a daunting one. I think is interesting is that they found a way, to make the series go on the air. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, one of the reasons it was such a great series was that it was able to talk about modern politics freely because they didn’t have to name any names and it was done metaphorically because it was talking about the future. In this sense, the writers have found a way of talking about what their concerns are. Whether it’s sexual politics, family dynamics, mother/father relationships, how grief plays out in a family dynamic, and how you have to find a way to keep a sense of humor or keep yourself going in the face of tragedy. These are the most important elements. The rest of it, the storyline stuff and how that plays out, how an artifact is found is fun and inventive for sure, and they have a lot of fun with history. And I doubt if any writer’s room uses Google as much as our writer’s room. But the most important part of it has to do with the way they’ve been able to talk about their concerns. I think any really successful show on television — even if you’re talking about THE WALKING DEAD — it’s because people care about how that family dynamic works and how the relationships work, and that’s what our writers have done. It’s why we’ve stayed on the air. It’s why I hope we keep staying on the air, which we’re not sure about. You got to get your readers to watch us, and hopefully our core audience will come back and tell their friends. We are not a sure thing.
We have heard that Kelly Hu would be joining the cast to run the bed and breakfast. Can you talk about what it was like working with her and what she adds to the dynamic?
SAUL: I guess I’m the one who worked with her most at the very beginning because she was brought in not only to run the bed-and-breakfast, but also – and I think you find this out fairly quickly, but to help Artie. She has the ability to help other people and not just Artie. But it’s the last thing that Artie wants is any kind of shrink-type character and he has to figure out a way to deal with her. Kelly had to come into a show after it had been on already for three and a half seasons, and a very hard thing to do. But luckily, she knew Jack beforehand and she’s such an accomplished professional and so funny, and easygoing, and really good that she got us right away. And she understood what was going on right away. What the temperature of the set was, so we were very, very lucky that she was able to juggle her schedule from ARROW, where’s playing a very dark character. So she was able to juggle and come on the show for quite a few episodes of the last ten. And she really worked out well. It was really fortunate for us that she was able to do it.
AARON: Yes. I got a chance to work with her a little bit kind of further down, and I think that she brings – I mean, she’s sort of playing a therapist — and like Saul was saying, to kind of bring Artie out of his shell or help him. But she’s also I think there for all of us. Because I think on some level the Regents are like, “We’re putting these people through an extreme amount of stress and they might need a little bit of help from time-to-time to sort of deal with these things. And maybe stuff that they can’t discuss with each other because of the relationships that are already sort of formed. It might be difficult to have those conversations,” or whatever. But I thought Kelly did an amazing job because she’s incredibly likable and warm, and I think just even meeting her, I was like, “Oh, if she was a therapist, I’d totally just open up to her and start talking to her.” And I think she just kind of has this energy that’s sort of different from anybody else in the show as well. I think that that is an interesting kind of take. There’s just something really, really warm about her. Not that other people aren’t warm, but there’s just something kind of very different about her energy that I thought was really interesting. So again, good job on the casting of bringing a new element in.
SAUL: Yes. I mean, the vulnerability of the character coming into a situation where somebody has died recapitulates an actor coming into a new situation where a character has been killed off. So what was really going on for Kelly personally was kind of going on for her character as well. And the writers are very aware of it, and were able to use that reality of what was going on in order to help what was going on the show. It’s why we have a good time. We never do anything by the numbers on our show, and that’s what I’m really proud of. That we’re always turning pages going, “They’re doing what? How? What? You’re kidding.” So that’s one of the most fun things about this job. It’s why we don’t want it to end.
You were surprised by the script and the things they continue to do. But you’ve been there awhile now, so what is it that surprises you and keeps you going?
SAUL: Aaron’s very surprised that people actually pay him for what he likes to do.
AARON: I’m constantly. “You guys want me to what? Oh, you guys want me to come back?” I’m surprised when they send me the script each week. I’m like, “Oh, I’m still in it. Okay, good. Good.”
ALLISON: Oh, whatever. It’s so funny.
SAUL: Four or five days during lunch, we all take our lunches up to a conference room and then we do a table read of the episode that’s coming up which is listened to on speakerphone by the writer’s room, by the network, by people from the network and by people from NBC Universal. And then after we’re done, then Jack Kenny and the writers listen to the notes from studio and network and address those. It’s our opportunity also if something is not making sense for us or if we have questions to put in our couple of cents. And what I mean by surprises – we enjoy those table reads. They’re never a burden. They’re never, “Oh, my God. I’d rather – give me a lunch or something.” It’s not like that. Again, we’re not doing a procedural where you just have to plug in an X or a Y or a Q, and basically, we say the same lines every week. It’s always a different situation. We’re always in the middle of a page-turner because we want to know how it turns out. We only usually ask, “What is a general arc for the season?” We have an idea of what’s going on so we can play it intelligently. We don’t really want to know too much because we want to take it as it comes. So in that case, it’s surprising that it’s not that what we’re going to do isn’t going to be inventive or interesting. It’s that it’s fun for us to turn the page and go, “We’re doing what? What happens? What’s the artifact? What’s the downside of this artifact? You’re kidding.” And that’s where we have a lot of fun the same way the audience does. We have that opportunity when we first read that script, and that’s good for us.
AARON: The table reads are fun too because we’re not always in all of the scenes obviously. There’s usually an A storyline and a B storyline. So to sit down and get to hear everybody read the stuff that you’re not actually going to be a part of, to see the guest stars that you might not. Because we get such great guest stars. And if you’re not in the scenes with them, some of them you kind of just pass by. So to get to sit down and see them and see what they’re going to do is also a lot of fun. Because again, there’s always different storylines. We’re off in different places, so it’s really cool to just sit down and get to hear everybody do their thing for the episode. It’s kind of exciting, especially when we have such awesome guest stars – I kind of nerd out sometimes, James Marsters and stuff like that. I may or may not have watched BUFFY from time to time. So like that kind of thing. Just to be able to sit down and see these people do their things. It is. It’s a lot of fun.
ALLISON: I’m always impressed with who we manage to get. I mean, we have Missi Pyle coming up in the noir episode. We have Joel Gray in our magic episode. Not to mention the cavalcade of Syfy personalities that we get. I think it’s a testament to like how much fun we are as a show that people want to come and play with us.
AARON: There are rumors that we’re fun, and then they come to play.
SAUL: And they do have fun. We do have a lot of fun.
Could talk about what aspects of your character that weren’t originally scripted for you that you added to your roles?
ALLISON: For me it was music. It was important to me because it’s such a big part of my life playing guitar and singing that we add this sort of artistic element to a hacker. Also because I spend so much time on WAREHOUSE 13, might as well kill two birds.
SAUL: Music for me at the very beginning because I wanted to play some classical piano on it. And also I decided to tell the universe that I’m really not Scottish. I’m Jewish. So I wanted that to be a part of the character for the very first time in my career.
AARON: Well, what did I add? I can tell you some things that I took away from the character, because originally he was a martial arts expert, and I was like, “No. I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that you guys, so that’s not going to work.” But it was a lot just talking with Jack at the start because we kind of spoke in the first episode and I said, “Like who do you want this guy to really be? Like there’s obviously you guys have a plan. Some sort of blueprint.” And he said, “Yes. But, we’re really going to figure it out together.” So I think for me, it’s like there hasn’t been a ton of stuff where Steve is like showing his interests or whatever. But I think Jack sort of is really good at sizing people up and just sort of bringing some of their natural things to it. So I can’t say that I definitely talked to him. It was like, “Look, I want to do this.” But, I think that he sort of finds little things in us and kind of writes towards them and stuff like that. So probably not anything that I really went out of my way to add, but just things that he sees and kind of puts in there. So I could guess at those, but I’m not exactly sure.
SAUL: The most important thing that happened for Artie is Claudia. I mean — and it’s probably one of the reasons Jack got the job, because Jack was not involved in making the pilot of this, and when they were interviewing the show owners, I know that he said, “Look, you got to give them somebody to talk to. This poor guy is going to be alone in the Warehouse sending people out on missions and then what? Who’s he going to talk to? Got to find a sorcerer’s apprentice here.” And that’s what was incredibly lucky is that Allison and I — and we spoke about this actually right at Comic-Con when we’d only met like about two weeks before Comic-Con. And when we first were shooting the first season is that we talked about the fact that we felt like we’d worked together for years. Now as I began to work with Allison, I realized it was because in many ways, she’s 50-years older than she looks. But that was the biggest thing was that Jack played on my being overweight and older, and her being young and slim, and how that worked as a father/daughter relationship for us was fun. And also, I’d been thrown a tremendous amount of exposition on this show and I have a quick memory. And I get away with it because I’ve learned how to do it for many years. But it was so much fun to say to Allison, to turn the exposition into an argument so that you find out stuff because of the relationship between Claudia and Artie on the set. Then the exposition would go by. You’d learn information without really realizing that you had just had a scene that was all about giving the audience a bunch of facts because we turned it into a humorous argument that had to do with who we were as people. And that’s the most important thing that was added to the character that didn’t exist in the pilot.
How do you think the show has evolved?
ALLISON: I got to say I think it was an ensemble right out of the gate. I think the family dynamic has changed and we’ve introduced new people and said goodbye to others. But, I think from the inception of it, at least Jack Kenny taking the helm, it’s always been about the group. Certainly Pete and Myka are the focus. They’re our number one and two. They’re on the billboard. But Pete and Myka couldn’t do what they do — they couldn’t exist without the support of Artie. Without the thrall of Mrs. Frederick. Without the assistance of Claudia and Steve. I think that’s why the fans keep coming back is because we’re a family and we’ve always been a family.
SAUL: Yes. I think it’s evolved only in the sense that not as a conception, but as the writers had more and more fun working with the ins and outs of the dynamic, the relationships, the comic potential, the dramatic potential of how relationships work.
There’s only so much you can do with the sexual tension between the kind of intuitive, goofy brain/soul that is Pete and the kind of nerdy by-the-book brave and very smart character that is Myka. There’s only so much you can do just with the two of them without adding in other elements. And they knew it right away, and they were cast because of the potential comic relationship/chemistry between them that already existed. But once everybody else got added, it was exponential. It was way more than the sum of its parts. I think that Allison’s right. Once Jack was on board, he always saw this. No matter who was on a billboard. Whatever they’re doing to PR it; we always feel we’re part of an ensemble. We always have operated that way. And I think it goes back and forth. For example, there is a noir episode that is coming up where certainly that story has an A story that involves Pete and Myka absolutely, and we are doing another part of the story that has to do with a whole other plot that is Jinxy, and Claudia, and I. And our story is fun and really interesting, but that is an example of like two leading actors getting to play a noir episode in black and white. But that happens occasionally, and then sometimes the tables turn in what they’re writing about. And sometimes we all go off together. So, there aren’t any rules. It doesn’t operate like other shows that do similar things. And we benefit from the fact that Jack insists that it stays ensemble.
AARON: I think it would’ve been a mistake if they’d sort of taken the show just to be like you have your “A” characters and then everybody else is just way in the background. And I think, like you said, if that’s the direction that they choose to go, Jack was like, “No. No. This is a family.” And obviously, that’s what the show is really about and really represents. But again I think that that’s just the decision making that people made. Whether it be Jack or the network to be like, “Yes. Let’s make it a family,” and you can’t have a family with just focusing on two family members. So I think that that’s one of the strong points. But again, if everything didn’t play so well together, maybe they would have to focus on one versus the other. But, everybody kind of fills and plays their part so well that it works so well together. So again, maybe that’s why it’s possible to really make it an ensemble.
Is a specific artifact you think that has really lent itself to that development, or that there is a favorite artifact your characters have had?
SAUL: So what I was just going to say was pretty obviously the whole last season, the artifact was the Astrolabe, and that was there’s nothing that can compare to the damage that that’s done. It precipitated the murder of a regular character and it destroyed Artie psychologically, psychically, and spiritually in every way. So there’s nothing that can compare to the downside. And there was no choice. Artie had no choice because if he hadn’t used it, even knowing that there was some horrible thing that was going to happen, I’m sure he knew given his experience, then certainly, Claudia and Pete and the Warehouse, and Mrs. Frederic, and H.G., and Steve, and everybody’s dead – and then he gets to use it. So there isn’t anything that compares to the Astrolabe for me.
ALLISON: I always say the same thing, which is that my favorite artifact is the Metronome because it brought Steve back. It’s true. I would not have had a very good time in Season 4 if we just left Steve for dead at the hands of Marcus Diamond. Also I’m a musician and I use Metronomes, so I’ve been bugging Jack for a while to let me take the stuff home.
AARON: I agree with Allison. I think on many levels, the Metronome, for Aaron as an actor, it was like, “Sweet. I get to come back,” because I was having a good time. But also, I think it helped sort of solidify and develop the relationship between Steve and Claudia because they were tied together and I think going through that with somebody, you’re always going to have something sort of special and interesting there because of that we were so tied together. So on two levels, that was really good for me. The other thing that Steve I think as a character totally changed his life and he couldn’t believe is when he saw Dorothy’s slippers. That just kind of connected to him on some level. His heart just warmed and grew a few sizes when he saw those ruby red slippers there.
What I wanted to know is what artifact that you’ve had on that you want to have back?
ALLISON: Jimi Hendrix’s guitar for the obvious reasons.
SAUL: I knew she was going to say that.
AARON: I think one of the first scenes I ever worked with you, Allison — was you playing Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. And I have to admit, I was impressed with the confidence and gusto that you just wailed on that thing. And you fully relished in it. I just remember being like, “Damn. This girl’s got some styles on that guitar.”
ALLISON: I did work on that. I worked on it for a while.
SAUL: Well, there is an artifact that we use constantly that’s never been really identified as an artifact, and it’s the secret artifact of the show. Do you know what it is?
AARON: I do. Can I say what it is?
SAUL: Yes, go ahead.
AARON: It’s your bag.
SAUL: That’s right. It’s Artie’s bag. I mean, don’t you find it interesting, you guys who are writing about this show, that Artie seems to have whatever he needs in that bag at exactly the right. That one of the things — I think that they say it to Jinxy, I think that Mrs. Frederic says before — when you’re going to try to bring Artie out of this whole thing, “You might need this bag.”
AARON: I guess it’s not really an artifact, but I like that it keeps coming back, and I guess it’s this season coming up I guess that we really see what it is the fish fixer. Because the first episode that I was in, Claudia gives it to Steve to carry in, and he’s like, “What the . . . ?” I mean like it just kind of shows up. I think that’s really a hilarious – but I think that in this season we find out, yes, what it does, so I think that’s really cool.
SAUL: We find out what the football does.
AARON: Yes. So I don’t know if the fish fixer is actually an artifact? I guess I don’t know. But it’s just cool. It’s weird.
SAUL: Yes. It connects to an artifact. It connects to all the artifacts actually in a way. But the football is an artifact.
ALLISON: Well, artifact locator so to speak, right?
SAUL: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.
Do you have any comments on the tone of the show or how you feel it’s developed over time?
SAUL: Well one of the things that happened was that we were all a little worried how dark the first part of Season 4 was going to be, and it looked like our viewership was down and we were all wondering whether or not it had to do with the tone of the show. And after it was over, the research showed that there was so much online viewing that it was a tremendous boost from the season before, and that there was no significant reaction to the fact that it was dark. In fact, people liked the fact that we had gone so dark. It highlighted whatever humor was there. So we were a little concerned. They took some chances. They’re taking chances again. I can’t tell you exactly in what area, but I can tell you that there isn’t a season that we’ve done that hasn’t taken some serious risks about where we’re going to take the viewers. And we don’t always succeed. No show succeeds 100% of the time. But you’ve got to fall down a little bit in order to succeed in new ways. And so that’s what I feel is that this show continues, whether it really continues to have a creative life is that the minute that they figure out exactly what a WAREHOUSE 13 show is and try to write for it, we’re screwed. That’s not where it exists. They continually are reinventing the parameters and the perimeter keeps stretching. Yes, we’re a show where you collect artifacts. I mean, that’s about as much as you can say that’s consistent. There are artifacts out there that are going to screw up the world today. We’ve got to snag them. We’ve got to bag them. We got to put them in the Warehouse. That’s it. That’s about as far as close as you can get to what a WAREHOUSE 13 show will have in it. And after that, we’re up for grabs. One thing that they have learned, and I can say is that if it’s only going to be funny, or if it’s only going to be melodramatic, or if it’s only going to be a thriller ride, or if it’s only going to do one thing, then it’s not a warehouse show. That we know. It’s going to have a variety of genres within every episode in a way, and they’ve got to meld somehow. So that’s the mandate. We say it over and over again in many different ways, but it’s what keeps us interested and I know it’s what keeps our fans coming back.
To see more of the Warehouse adventures, the amazing artifacts and the incredible group of friends that keep the world safe from it all, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of WAREHOUSE 13 on Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Syfy.