On the supernatural drama series Lost Girl, premiering on Syfy January 16th, actor Kris Holden-Ried plays Dyson, a sexy homicide detective who also happens to be a 1,000-year-old wolf-shifter. While he works to help keep the existence of the Fae a secret, he instantly develops an attraction for Bo (Anna Silk), a Succubus who was raised human and only recently learned what she is, and attempts to ensure her safety, especially since she has a tendency to place herself in danger.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Kris Holden-Ried talked about what drew him to Lost Girl, his approach in bringing Dyson to life, that he physically carries himself differently to play a wolf, how lucky he feels to be working with an ensemble of such fantastic individuals, and how amazing it is to have such loyal fans. He also talked about playing a much more vicious werewolf in Underworld: Awakening (the latest installment to the franchise, opening on January 20th), being the antagonist to Kate Beckinsale’s character Selene, working with two directors on the film, and being naked in 3D. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: What initially attracted you to Lost Girl and the character of Dyson?
KRIS HOLDEN-RIED: All I had to go on, when I first agreed to do it, was the pilot script and that they were going to be shooting it in Toronto. I really liked the script. The original pilot script ended up being Episode 8 in Season 1. It’s probably the darkest episode, and I was really attracted to that. I liked the possibilities that the storyline and the genre offered. I liked the character of Dyson and the chance to play something that’s so outside of myself. He’s superhuman and 1,000 years old. Those are very interesting challenges, as far as acting goes, and there’s also a lot of freedom of personal expression, within that. I really enjoyed that.
For a show that could have easily been really cheesy in the wrong hands, as there something that sold you on the concept and tone of this show?
HOLDEN-RIED: That’s an interesting thing that you bring up. Originally, that darkness of it was what attracted me to it, and I think what attracted a lot of people to it. Some people want it to go towards the cheesier side, and some people want it to go a little darker, and I managed to keep a nice balance between the two. Hopefully, we’ll continue to maintain that. If it switches to cheesiness, then that’s not a show that I’m interested in watching.
Are you normally a fan of the sci-fi genre, or was it just this particular story that appealed to you? Is this the kind of thing you would typically find yourself watching, on your own?
HOLDEN-RIED: Yeah, I guess so. I grew up reading a lot of fantasy/sci-fi. It was really all I read – anything from Dragonlance, when I was 12, to The Wheel of Time and Robert Jordan stuff, to George R.R. Martin, who did Game of Thrones. I always gravitated a bit towards more of the fantasy, and Lost Girl really fits in with that. We pulled from a lot of superstitious and cultural backgrounds to find our Fae creatures. It wasn’t a werewolf, specifically, that I was drawn to. I was more interested in dragons and sorcerers. But, it’s not a far fetch.
What is your typical process for getting into a character, and is that different when you’re playing someone supernatural? Do you have to always think about that aspect of Dyson, or do you just play the human side of the character?
HOLDEN-RIED: For me, I have to take the supernatural into account. How does that affect the way he behaves? How does that change or affect his decisions, or his perspective of the world? In my opinion, when you’re playing supernatural, that’s the major focus point of the characters. So, it was about, “How do I embody super-human strength and longevity?” He’s 1,000 years old. Those were really interesting challenges, and really fun to explore. The physical work that I did for the character, and the energy work, and then the psychological positioning helped me create three-dimensional Dyson, which people have been responding to.
Do you carry yourself different physically, knowing that he’s a wolf?
HOLDEN-RIED: Absolutely! In fact, it’s funny you mention that because I’m just getting out of an ultrasound where they were checking my back. The posture that I created for Dyson is very animalistic. An animal would be standing on their toes, so I created this forward-position body mechanic for him. But, I had no idea that, after doing it for two years, I would have severe problems with my back. It’s funny, when Ksenia [Solo] played Dyson for that one episode, when we body switched in 209, she said her back was killing her.
How would you describe the relationship between Bo and Dyson? What does he really think of her?
HOLDEN-RIED: In the beginning, he’s definitely attracted to her, but he’s trying to cover that up. He doesn’t want to engage in that because he knows a bit of her history, that we don’t really reveal until the end of Season 1. Dyson is a bit of a rogue. He’s bound to Trick. So, he’s not really interested in pulling Bo towards the light so much, but is much more interested in just keeping her safe. He wants to keep it platonic, but how do you resist a Succubus? It’s an interesting relationship.
What’s it been like to work with Anna Silk and develop the relationship between your characters?
HOLDEN-RIED: Anna has been fantastic! This is her first big lead in a series and she has applied herself like no one I’ve ever seen. She has an amazing work ethic. She is also one of the most sincere and lovely people I’ve ever met in my life. She’s a fantastic lead of a show because she really works her ass off and is everybody’s friend. Her and I have had a great time developing our own relationship, outside of the show, which is very respectful, and that’s really helped us with our positions with our characters on the show as well.
How has this entire ensemble of actors been to work with? Was there a moment when you guys really felt things start to come together?
HOLDEN-RIED: We’ve been so lucky. All of the actors who work on the show are fantastic, outstanding people, in their own right. Sometimes you hear these nightmare stories about big egos, but we have none of that on our show. We have a great crew. They’re fantastic, from the production designer to the lighting to the director of photography. Our producers are supportive. We have a really lovely working environment, and we’re really realizing just how fortunate we are to have this.
How weird is it that viewers in the States are just now going to be starting with the show, when you’ve already aired two seasons in Canada and have been picked up for Season 3? Does it feel like Season 1 is really far away, or does it all feel like part of one journey?
HOLDEN-RIED: It’s a bit of both, to be honest with you. With Season 1, it’s kind of hard to remember what we did because we’ve finished doing 20 episodes of Season 2. But, it’s the core, beginning story, so we’re all still living extensions of that story. In fact, it sometimes feels like more happened in Season 1 then Season 2, just because there were so many introductory things happening. It doesn’t feel weird that the States are going to see it now. I just have to remember, when I’m doing interviews, what season we’re talking about, so that I don’t give away Season 2.
Is it reassuring to know that SyFy is pairing Lost Girl with Season 2 of Being Human, which already has a devoted following that will be tuning in?
HOLDEN-RIED: I think it’s really lovely that SyFy believes so strongly in Lost Girl that they’re putting it in that position. Lost Girl has just proven to be one of those shows that people enjoy watching. It has an alchemy about it. It’s an escape or a release for people, and that’s the best we can hope for.
Are you surprised with how supportive and loyal the fans have been with the show, or did it always feel like you were a part of something special that people would latch onto?
HOLDEN-RIED: I always thought I was doing something special with Lost Girl. How that would be reflected or responded to by the fans, I hadn’t really considered. That they are so loyal is amazing. We have such lovely fans. They’re really supportive of the show and they tune in regularly. I just think it’s fantastic, and I look forward to meeting them whenever I can, at any sort of conventions or whatever we do. But, did I know beforehand? Hell no!
What’s it like to also have Underworld: Awakening opening within a week of the show premiering in the States?
HOLDEN-RIED: That is a little bit strange, and I didn’t realize it was going to happen like that. It turns out that I’ve become a pretty good werewolf actor. I’m going to have to try to get myself into a different position, at some point in the future, but I’ll take werewolf. Werewolf is pretty damn fun to play.
What are the differences between your Underworld werewolf and the one that you play on Lost Girl?
HOLDEN-RIED: The character in Underworld, Quint, is much more violent. The physicality was more ferocious. He’s also not a complicated character like Dyson is. Dyson is a fully engaged character, in that we explore his loves, his relationships, his past, his present, and now we’re starting to explore his future. With Quint, he had a purpose to play in Underworld and it was very specific. He is the antagonist. He is the danger to Kate Beckinsale’s character, Selene. There wasn’t a lot of exploration of that character, which was totally fine. They’re very different characters, and they were very different experiences in acting. But, honestly, Underworld was a huge amount of fun, too. Because of that specificity, I was able to get really deep into that violent, vicious werewolf. Dyson is not so much a werewolf as he is a shifter. He doesn’t lose control of himself at a full moon.
Had you been familiar with the Underworld films?
HOLDEN-RIED: Yeah, I loved Underworld. I had watched them from when they began, years ago. I think they’re one of the best genre franchises going.
What was it like to work with two directors?
HOLDEN-RIED: I think it really depends on who the directors are. Luckily, these two Swedish guys, Björn Stein and Måns Mårlind, were so amicable. They just worked so well together. Often, one would be directing one day and the other one would mostly be looking at the post or prepping. They switched back and forth with who was leading and who was doing the background stuff. But, it was a lovely experience for me. I didn’t really feel a big difference, to be honest, just because they were so united in their vision of the film.
As an actor who doesn’t particularly like to watch yourself, is it strange to have to see yourself in 3D?
HOLDEN-RIED: I am worried about that, to be honest. And I’m naked, so there was a lot of pressure for me to hit the gym. I don’t know. As long as other people like it, I’m fine. It’s a bit bizarre, that’s for sure.
What led you from going to business school to auditioning for acting jobs, to then really studying the craft and taking it seriously, as a career? Was there something that took you down that path, or did it just kind of happen?
HOLDEN-RIED: It was a means to an end, in the beginning. I was on the national team of a sport called pentathlon, which is a little known, mostly European sport. There’s very little funding for athletes in Canada, so I had gotten myself into a massive amount of personal debt, just for having to World Cups in Europe. So, I joined this little modeling and talent agency to try to get some money going. I had no idea if I would be able to do it or not. It was just an idea, so that I didn’t have to work at a bar, which I was doing also. But, the first audition that came along was for a kids movie called Young Ivanhoe, and I had these skills with the horseback riding and fencing, so I got into it very quickly.
But then, I really didn’t know my place in the industry, for a good time after that. In fact, I had a real collapse. I actually left the industry, a couple years later, and went to live back home and worked at a Kelsey’s. I was so insecure. I didn’t know how to act. I had never taken any training. Luckily, an older Canadian actor, named Michael Ironside, who I’d worked with on a film, saw something in me and he connected me with his acting coach, who was a lovely woman, named Janine Manatis, and she was an alumni of the Actor’s Studio in New York. So, I trained with her for about four years, and she really taught me respect for the craft and gave me the foundation of everything that I do today. It was from there on that I started building a career, and felt that I had something to offer. Really, acting is like anything else. The more time you put in, the more you learn and the more you can give back to the industry. Now, I’m at a point where I actually feel very good within the industry, and I’m really enjoying it.
Is there a type of role or a genre that you’d love to do, but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?
HOLDEN-RIED: I’m hoping that the more I put it out there, the more it will come back, but I would love to do some of those big historic pictures, like the Ridley Scott type of movies. I love period pieces. It’s where my skill sets lie, with the horseback riding, the sword fighting and the accents. I love that world, and I love working on those big, epic shows. That’s what I hope to find myself in, in the future.