The current season of "Eureka" takes place on the Syfy Channel every Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. Here, we discuss the show further with series regulars Colin Ferguson and Salli Richardson-Whitfield through a conference press call arranged by Syfy Channel.
Q. How are the two of you able to relate to all the unusual things going on in the show so that you can turn in a realistic performance?
Colin Ferguson: Thatís actually difficult. It requires a lot of communication and it requires a lot of trust. And you build that up with, for example, the visual effects guys, over time. Acting to green screen, if you donít know how to do it, can be one of the more humiliating things you can do, because you donít know how to ask certain questions. You donít know to say, ďWhereís the outline? How big is the explosion? Is everybody going on the same cue?ĒÖAnd itís all those sorts of tricks and necessities that if you donít do, youíll see the show--and Iím sure youíve seen it, where youíre like,Ē Wow, that doesnít work,Ē you know?
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: Yeah, and itís so funny that that stuff has become second nature for us now. And I think thatís itís helped us to direct this stuff, because you realize that you know how to direct it, because youíve had to act it so much that youíre not as lost as you may have been if you had never had to be an actor doing visual effects all the time.
Q. What do you think makes this show appeal to all ages?
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: For me, especially these last few years weíve been doing it, I think itís just really the mixture. We have comedy, we have love, we have drama, we have the big explosions, and I really think that thereís something for everyone. And itís also kept clean enough that you can have your ten year old watching the show and youíre not having to usher them into the other room, but itís not doing in a corny way where adults can still enjoy the show. They really found a happy medium where anyone, really, can watch and enjoy it.
Colin Ferguson: I remember the first season, the mandate came down and we were always being chastised, saying, ďThis is not a comedy. Stop doing that, stop putting the jokes in. This is not a comedy.Ē All the directors were told, ďThis is not a comedy.Ē Because [Syfy] was coming off ĎBattlestar Galacticaí and it was going to be serious and all that stuff. And I think the comedy that we throw in and the writers write in really helps. It helps us take the sting off of ideas and be a little more self-aware and make it fun. When the show began I really wanted it to be dark and edgy, but then we started hearing from people, like ďOh, we watched this with our parents or I watched this with my kids, and my grandparents watch it.Ē And I guess as Iíve gotten older Iím really proud of that. Itís a little better than it used to be, but for the last bunch of years it was all ďCSI" and murder and rape and TV was hard. It was really nice to do a show that people could watch together. It became a source of pride for us. So what makes that work? I think we got lucky. The right combo worked and we were on a network that was patient enough to keep us on the air and if we knew what worked we could probably do it again, which is impossible.
Q. Salli, one of the great things about Allison is that sheís smart, attractive and a traditional scientist. Can you talk about what itís like to be a role model in that way?
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: I seem to know all this science you know, I came in, I worked for the Department of Defense, but I was a medial doctor and somehow through osmosis now I know every bit of science that everyone else seems to know.
Colin Ferguson: Oh, Sal, hold up. If I remember correctly, we had deemed that episode that they were going to make you a nurse. Do you remember that?
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: Right. I was like, ďWhy a nurse?Ē Wasnít I upset about that? I was like, ďAbsolutely not.Ē
Colin Ferguson: You were pissed off, yeah. And now youíve made yourself a doctor and now youíre screwed. Youíve got to know everything.
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: And now Iím mad because I have to. But at the time I felt that, why wouldnít this really intelligent woman have gone all the way and gotten her medical degree? But I think itís wonderful for my daughter, who usually only sees a lot of my friends who are in the acting business, because she loves the show. We get to talk about that there are other avenues for women and other jobs to think about, and that our show shows that being smart is cool and kind of fun. And she really gets that and she likes that about the show.
Q. What have you most learned about yourself since you started the show? How has your life changed the most?
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: I feel like I have grown so much as an actress, and have learned that Iím better than I knew I was. Iíve just learned to really trust myself. Weíve been there a lot of years now and even though I didnít come in there as a 20-year-old girl, Iíve definitely grown up on this show, and I feel like theríes nothing you could throw at me as an actress leaving here that I couldnít do, and Iíve learned that from being on the show.
Colin Ferguson: Yeah, I would say Salli is doing the best work sheís ever done. I would say even between last year and this year itís amazing to see someone who you think is, ďOh, sheís Sal and sheís great and Sal, she knows what sheís doing, and she turned it up.ĒÖ.She would all of a sudden this year, say ďIím going to say this. Iím going to go over here. Iím going to do this, and itísÖamazing to see all of this, in her own way, add little bits to our repertoire as we go through things. Itís really encouraging.
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: And Colin has always had that, which is an amazing talent, he can come up with the line right there and change this and do that, and it just happens so naturally. And thatís something I was always afraid of, and Colin has never been afraid to be big and go there and try anything, and Iíve had to learn that.
Colin Ferguson: Well, I donít know my lines half the time anywayÖ.itís an intense lack of prep, letís procrastinate a little more. No, I would say for me, itís really interesting. It is something that you can mark the passage of time by because it has been six years and who you were six years ago and who you are now, theyíre very different people. I have a respect for my body that I didnít before. I really try not to damage it so much. And that may just seem like, ďOh, heís getting old,Ē but itís more. Itís respect. And I have more respect for God, I guess, life and emotion and all sorts of things that I didnít have before. I was all about work before And just the difficulty--this is not a fun answer--but the difficulty of shooting and the trauma and the tragedy of not being around those you love, while you are doing 14 hours a day for five months in a row. Sal has two kids, and we look to each other to pull each other through. And you end up having a huge respect for relationships and stuff like that.