Interview - Eureka, Season 4.5, Beginning

Interview - Eureka, Season 4.5, Beginning
The current season of "Eureka" takes place on the Syfy Channel every Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. Here, we discuss the show with series regulars Colin Ferguson and Salli Richardson-Whitfield.

Q. How do you think the dynamic within the cast has changed as the show has progressed, now that you’re in the fourth-and-a-half season?

Colin Ferguson: It’s been an amazing thing to watch, actually. We obviously have actors of all different ages in the cast, and so we’ve watched the younger members of the cast grow up and become artists in their own right, and that’s been an amazing journey to follow. But I would say, as far as all the adults go, it’s stunning that we haven’t had more problems…I think we get along better now than we ever have, and that’s a really odd thing to be, for our calendar of six years, into a process like this and find everybody’s going above and beyond to respect each other’s processes and respect the foibles and complications of working together. So far as the people go, we’ve never gotten along better.

Q. Colin, do you find acting or directing more challenging? Which do you prefer?

Colin Ferguson:
At this point, I don’t know. About a year ago, I would have answered the question saying, “Hands down, directing.” It was new, it was fresh, it was so exciting, and now (there have been) three episodes and a movie and I get it, and I really embrace both in the same way now. It really is project by project, scene by scene, in what you can really do. I think I’m tired at this point, to give you honest answers. I’m looking forward to a break so I can re-plug in and get more energy to do anything at all. But what I like about directing more is that you get the story earlier, you can affect change in a more profound way and stay with the story longer, and that’s a really rewarding process to go through. As an actor, you really are a professional athlete or a hired gun. You show up on the day and you do your little magic and that’s what goes on tape. And it’s a gunslinger-type job. The problem is you show up so late that sometimes you can’t affect the change that you’d like to. It’s good and bad both, but I think we’d all have the same answer: we really, really enjoy doing both.

Q. Salli, you directed an episode this season too. How’d it feel to lord it over your castmates?

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: Oh, I love it, lord over. I did one last season, I guess you guys will be seeing that coming up this season. And I just finished the one I’m shooting this season. Actually, just finished editing it yesterday, and I just love it. It’s such a different thing from acting. My micromanaging in real life works very well for directing, and it’s something that I would like to be the next step in my career. Luckily, I have wonderful actors. You don’t really have to direct that much more than saying, “Can you tweak this one line?” And I just found that…it’s something that comes naturally to me, and you don’t know it until you get in there and do it. I’m hoping to do more and more of it. Really, directing on Eureka has to be one of the best training grounds that any director could have because you get to do these wonderful dramatic story lines, but at the same time you get to learn about visual effects and green screen and you have stunts, you have comedy. I’m learning these great skills to go to any other show that, particularly, not very women know how to do, let alone black women in this industry. So action and visual effects stuff is usually the job they hire men to do. So I feel very blessed to learn these skills that I can take on and do—hopefully do a lot more things.

Q. “Eureka” is such an unusual show that beforehand, you have no idea what direction it’ll take. It ranges from comedy to romance to serious drama. What’s it like when you pick up a script and find one of these weird surprises?

Colin Ferguson: Well, it depends on the surprise. Sometimes you open up the script and go, “Oh, that’s going to be amazing.” And then you open up the script and you go, “Really? Like, really? And we’re going to—all right. All right.” Because it could be the middle of winter and they’re like, “Okay, you’re stuck in t-shirts on the top of a blizzard.” And you cuss them.

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: I was going to say that what’s so fun about doing the show is that we’re not stuck in a goofy comedy all the time. You’re not stuck just doing straight drama or straight little get-ups. You really get to do different things all the time, and I think that’s what keeps it fresh for us, and why we continue to get better. You get to stretch, and you get to do different things, and I think that’s why the fans like the show. You’re not bored by the same thing every time.

Q. Has it been fun to know that you’re having a relationship with no issues, at least for a little while? Are you waiting for the shoe to drop every time you look at a script?

Colin Ferguson: Yeah, it’s never straightforward. I mean, that’s what I really liked about it, and that’s what Sal and I fought against really hard for a long time, because the temptation is, “Oh, they’re together. Now you guys kiss in every scene,” and we’re going, “No, no, no, no, no, it’s not realistic and it’s not interesting.” And they’ve done a really good job of having very real problems that you deal with in relationships that keep it both, I guess, affectionate and clear that there’s love there but at the same time very clear that it’s not easy, and life is not easy and relationships aren’t easy. I appreciate the realism of that.

Q. You two have great on-screen chemistry. Can you talk about that, how it evolves and what you like about working with the other person?

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: You never know if you’re going to have chemistry with someone, and ours, it’s just naturally there. I feel really corny when I say this, but there’s something that clicks, because obviously off-camera we’re very brother/sister, jokey-jokey,” Oh, God, we’ve got to kiss.” But as soon as that camera rolls and I look into Colin’s eyes, there’s something that clicks and I always find an instant connection that makes all of my feelings just come up right to the forefront, and I feel everything I’m saying with him. It’s very lucky for us and for me—I just naturally have a wonderful connection to him when we’re working. I love it, we know how to work with each other on- and off-camera. I know what he needs to do to get what he needs, and he knows what I need, and we make allowances for each other and we try not to step on each other’s toes.

Colin Ferguson: And that definitely attributes to Sal. We haven’t had a fight in six years of working together. And that’s not because I’m easy to work with—that’s because Sal’s amazing to work with. She’s just top-notch, and Sal, I’m actually really flattered and floored by your last answer to that question, so that was really sweet. Thanks.

Q. For this second half of the fourth season, what are you getting excited about for the fans to see?

Colin Ferguson: We pick up right where we left off with the big arc of the season—basically Eureka going into space. I was concerned when we started it that it was going to be just a path like, oh, this is the mission du jour that we’re going on to for 13, but it actually balloons and blossoms into this fantastically complex plot. At the end of the season you’re about to see, it kicks into the whole next year in a way that you completely don’t expect. So what I’m really looking forward to is everyone next summer going, “Oh my God, really? That’s happening now?”

Sally Richardson-Whitfield: I think that’s what so hard for us is that, all these episodes that we’ve shot that you may not see for a little while—everything is getting so much better and you just want everyone to know, and you want them to see all this great stuff that’s coming. They’re really put together everything so well, it’s hard to hold back and not tell you everything that’s going on because it’s so exciting.

Q. Can you talk about how things changed when you rebooted and started the new timeline? Are you surprised the show has lasted so long?

Colin Ferguson: I think the show is as good as it’s ever been. That had to do with a big shift down here in the writers’ room, and finally finding our footing and getting our way back after the writers’ strike and all of the big Hollywood problems that happened. It made it really difficult to know if you were going to have a job. We have a really solid group of writers and a really core group of people that hasn’t changed, so that’s why it feels really energized and is really firing on all cylinders.

As far as the reboot, I think that’s symptomatic of the changes that happened. We found our footing and the reboot was sort of this symbolic gesture on behalf of the network that we were allowed to do what we wanted to do. I mean, they went to the network and said, “We want to go back in time, and then come back and change everything and never address it.” Normally when you go to a network and say that, they say no. One of the biggest characters in the show is the town, and to change the town is a really tall order. It was a big sign-off on the part of the network, as a gesture to say that the writers knew what they were doing. And I think the writers, when they got that gesture, [got] filled with confidence and it just redoubled on itself until we had the energy we have now.

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