For the third season of the popular SyFy series Warehouse 13, young ATF agent Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) is recruited by Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) to be the new partner of Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock), since his last partner, Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly), left the top-secret storage facility. While intrigued by Jinks’ ability to detect when someone is lying, they cautiously accept him onto the team, as they go out to retrieve various strange artifacts, mysterious relics, fantastical objects and preternatural souvenirs for Artie, (Saul Rubinek), the Warehouse’s caretaker.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Aaron Ashmore (who played Jimmy Olson on the CW series Smallville) talked about the unusual way he came to the role, his nerves about the fan reaction to him coming in as the new guy, working with this ensemble of actors, not wanting his character’s ability in real life, and how he enjoys sci-fi, comic books and video games himself. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: Since you’re the new guy this season, how did you come to this show?
AARON ASHMORE: Coming to the role was an interesting process for me, and not normally how you get a job in this acting world. Usually, especially for a role like this that’s going to be a bigger part of the show, you audition and, if they like you, you do work sessions with the directors, and then you test for the network and the studio, and then finally, you get the part. It’s a big process and it’s pretty nerve-wracking. But, for the character of Steve Jinks, they’d been looking for different age groups and different ethnicities. They really had a wide scope, and they were having a hard time finding exactly what they were looking for. It was coming down to the wire, and I was up in Toronto, and I got a call from the casting director, who’s a friend of mine, who said, “What are you doing on Saturday? Do you want to go meet a guy by the name of Jack Kenny, who’s the executive producer and writer on this show called Warehouse 13?” And I said, “Sure, it sounds great!”
So, they sent me a couple scripts and I read them, and I really liked the character and thought it was an interesting role. I sat down with Jack and we talked for an hour, and I told him what I thought about the character and what I thought I could bring to it. By the end of the meeting, he said, “We’ve been looking at a lot of people and it’s been hard. We’ve been trying to narrow it down. But, I really like you. I can see you as the character, so I’m going to really push for you, for this part.” I was like, “I don’t know this guy. Is he saying that to everybody? Is he just being nice?” But, sure enough, it was only three or four days later when I got the part and I was on set.
It was an interesting way to go about it because, most of the time, you have to go through the process and it’s very nerve-wracking and difficult, so it’s really nice when you can sit down with somebody and just talk to them, and talk about your ideas and what you think the character is, and they respond to it. It’s a really nice way to do it, but it doesn’t happen very often. It’s not so much about the performance, but what you’re really going to bring to the role and what you see in the role, and that’s a good place to be. He’d seen some of my work before, and some of the people that worked on the show had worked on Smallville, which I’d worked on, and I think that helps as well.
Had you been familiar with the show at all, or did you catch up once you were cast?
ASHMORE: I’d actually seen the show before and had been very aware of it because it was shooting in Toronto, and I have a lot of actor friends who were always going out for it. And, I know that it had been doing really well on SyFy. I follow that world a little bit, and I had seen a lot of stuff about it. And, Jack gave me a ton of episodes so I could watch it and catch up, and really see where they were at in the story and how the show had developed. I’d seen a few episodes, but I hadn’t seen all the seasons, so he caught me up. And then, I had to just jump in and go to it.
Did you have any hesitation about signing on to play a character that you could be playing for awhile, or did it help that it’s SyFy’s most watched TV show?
ASHMORE: Well, absolutely! With a popular show, you know that there’s expectations there, so that’s a little nerve-wracking when you’re new and you’re just trying to find your legs on something, but it’s exciting too because that’s what we work so hard for. We put a lot of time in, and you want those big opportunities, so when they come to you, you can’t be anything but grateful for when they happen.
Are you nervous about fan reaction, since your character is essentially coming in to take the place of Myka?
ASHMORE: Yeah, that’s a big deal. I’ve been online a little bit and read stuff, and I’ve seen the show, and people have said, “The fans are going to be really upset that you’re replacing Myka as Pete’s partner?,” but what are you going to do? I could really stress about it, or I can do my thing and trust in the writers and the producers that they know the fanbase. They created the show that people love so much, so why would this be any different? I think it’s a different dynamic, definitely. Steve and Pete’s dynamic is going to be much different from what Myka and Pete’s dynamic is, but different can be interesting. Hopefully, people will give Steve a chance. If everybody is just going to be like, “Oh, we don’t like this guy!,” even before they see them, just strictly based on the fact that he’s replacing somebody, that’s difficult to think about. But, you’ve just gotta do the work and trust in the writers and people’s ability to give you a chance.
What can you say about who Steve Jinks is and where he comes from?
ASHMORE: Well, I love his last name. I think that’s a great last name. He’s working at the ATF when Mrs. Frederic catches wind that he has this ability to tell when people are lying. It’s very matter-of-fact. It’s not some big deal where he has to really stare at you and extract the information. It’s very much just conversational, when he’s talking to you and looking you in the eye. You have to be looking at each other, and he can just tell. It’s a very simple thing, which he doesn’t particularly think is a gift. He thinks it’s a bit of a curse because he can tell when everybody is lying. We know, as people, that we tell little lies all the time, and he’s constantly aware of that. But, Mrs. Frederic, being the intelligent woman that she is, realizes what a great addition this ability would be to the Warehouse.
Also, Pete needs a new partner, so that’s another thing that he’s coming in to do. That’s where things get interesting because Pete doesn’t necessarily want a new partner. He and Myka may have butted heads or had interesting differences at times, but they worked really well together and they liked each other. So, Pete is obviously bummed that Myka is gone and now this Steve guy is coming in, trying to fill those shoes. These two guys are opposites, trying to figure out how to do the job together, and they’re thrown into these crazy situations.
What does Steve think of the Warehouse?
ASHMORE: Steve is a very logical guy, thrown into this illogical world, and is basically trying to figure it out. They throw him out there and he has these big walls up around him, and he’s a little stand-offish at times, but they’ve done a great job, throughout the season, of just giving you little pieces of the puzzle of who he is, so that it peels it away throughout. Even at the beginning, when you’re not really sure what his deal is, you start to realize why he’s like that. There’s a big piece of that puzzle that comes out in the second episode that, when I read it, it really made me think about the character in a different way. There’s a lot of really interesting pieces like that throughout, where you really get to know him. It was interesting that they decided to do it like that because they could have just thrown the character in and told you who he is and where he’s come from, and then just have him solving cases and working with Pete, but they’ve really paced it out interestingly, so that you get to know him slowly. I think that people will be drawn into him a little bit, figuring out who he is and why he is the way he is. I think they have done a really good job of that.
What is Artie’s reaction to Steve?
ASHMORE: I think that he’s definitely like, “You’ve gotta prove yourself. We have expectations here. You can’t just come in and not do the work. We’ll see how you work out.” But, Artie is professional. He’s intelligent and he knows about all the artifacts, but he also understands that Steve has a talent that they can use. I don’t think he’s letting Steve off the hook, or anything like that, but he’s going to see what happens and let him prove himself. Artie is definitely not the friendliest, right off the bat, either. He’s Artie, so he’s a little cranky and a little scattered. It’s really interesting how all the characters’ dynamics start playing with each other.
What was it like to be the new guy coming into this ensemble? Did your experience being the new guy at Smallville help with that at all?
ASHMORE: I’m getting to be a real pro at coming into things midstream and trying to catch up. It was great. I was nervous because I always am at a new job, and especially something that is successful and is well-established. All these characters are established, the actors know their roles, and the crew all know each other, so you really are a new guy coming into a very successful, well-oiled machine that’s working. But, it worked because the character is the new guy who’s thrown into this totally new world. In that respect, I could really use it.
I was feeling a little nervous and a little thrown off because it’s this brand new thing, as was Steve, so it really worked nicely. But, everybody was super-nice. Jack Kenny, the executive producer and writer, is so inviting, friendly and open. You can ask him anything and talk to him, and he’s always there to help, which helped a lot because I had a lot of questions. It was a brand new world for me. I’d watched the show, but all the details and how you should really react to these things was brand new to me. So, that was great. Eddie [McClintock], Allison [Scagliotti] and Saul [Rubinek] were all super-nice too, and all welcomed me to the team. There was no tension. I was a little nervous before I started, but once I got into it, everything was great.
Have you thought about what it would be like, if you had the ability that your character has?
ASHMORE: I don’t think it would be a good thing. I don’t think it would be fun. I really don’t. I think it would be difficult. You’d probably get used to it, but going on a first date, or something like that, you’d always know that somebody was lying. I think it would make you cynical, too. Maybe that’s part of why Steve is a little more reserved. Knowing that people are lying all the time, that’s got to affect you, on a certain level. It’s a gift, or it’s a curse. It depends on how you look at it.
Do you find it at all strange that both of the actors (Aaron Ashmore and Sam Huntington) who have most recently played Jimmy Olson are now on SyFy in two of their hit shows?
ASHMORE: I don’t know. There are so many sci-fi fans and it’s such a big business now. So many people love sci-fi, and they’re so loyal. I would be lying if I said that the fact that I had been on a very popular sci-fi show and had some recognition in that world didn’t help me get this job on another sci-fi show. But, personally, I really enjoy sci-fi. I watch it, I read comic books, and I play video games. I love this kind of world, so too be able to work in it is a dream. I enjoy it. It’s all good. It probably is a little bit of a coincidence, but there are a lot of people that stay in the world because people know them and they’re recognizable in that world.
Have you had a favorite artifact that you’ve had to go after?
ASHMORE: One of the things that I really, really enjoy about the Warehouse and the show is the scope of all the artifacts, but I would really like a Tesla. I don’t know why. It just looks so cool. It doesn’t kill anybody, it just stuns them, and I think that’s really fun.
Do you have any favorite episodes or moments on the show, so far?
ASHMORE: I think there’s some really nice moments of getting to know Steve that I think are really good. For me, as an actor, I was really happy with those beats and I think people will really respond to it. I love working with Allison [Scagliotti]. I think she’s so awesome and so good at what she does, and a lot of fun to work with. Steve and Claudia have some good scenes and some good stuff together, too. Those are the highlights for me.