Actress Tricia Helfer is no stranger to the world of genre television. Over the years, she’s starred in Battlestar Galactica, Van Helsing, and Lucifer, and now fans will get to see her in an upcoming episode of the Creepshow series, which premieres on Shudder on September 26th. Helfer was on hand for the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con to celebrate Creepshow, and before the show’s panel, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with her in a roundtable interview about what we’ll see in her episode later this year, her experiences collaborating with both director Roxanne Benjamin and showrunner Greg Nicotero, and some of the challenges that she faced during the ambitious shoot.
Can you talk about your episode and walk us through what we can expect from it? Obviously, without giving too much away.
Tricia Helfer: I play this high-powered CEO named Lydia Lane. She was giving a promotion and she chooses to give it to one of her employees over another, which really upsets the young protégé. There may be a little bit of selfish reasons involved, and things go awry, arguments ensue, and somebody gets killed.
Then a lot of the episode takes place in an elevator. There's also another decision that she makes to try and cover it up, as opposed to just come clean, even though it was an accident. So, there's a lot of guilt weighing on her conscience, and when she's locked in an elevator, you're flirting with the line of is she just losing her mind out of guilt, and out of the decisions that she made? Or is this woman really coming back to life in this? Is she in a supernatural-type environment that she doesn't know of? But you think this is happening, so which is it?
It's the struggle for somebody that is an intellectual where they aren’t sure if they are losing their mind or not, and that’s almost harder for themselves to comprehend than something supernatural happening and outside of your control. This episode was really molded after the story in Creepshow 2 with the Hitchhiker, where this woman is losing her mind, but doesn't understand what's happening. And this guy just keeps showing up and how is this happening? But yet it feels real and seems real and is real to her, and so what's happening? Is she just losing her mind or is she in some really bad situation?
How was it working primarily in one location?
Tricia Helfer: It could be a challenge. We shot the entire thing in three days. So, the first day was a massive day where we shot everything leading up in the office, the accident, and the trying to cover it up of everything. Then, for two days we were in the elevator. And granted, it was a set elevator that all of the doors moved, the walls moved, but it can be confining, it can be limiting. And you're also like, "Oh god, how do I make this different from the last take that we [had] of five seconds earlier in the elevator?" But it's just that my character is slowly losing control of herself. There’s also the decomposition of the body, thanks to Greg, which is slowly getting worse along the way. And it was exhausting. In the elevator, why we're locked in there for so long is there's an earthquake that happens. It's set in LA, and we all know that fear far too well right now [laughs].
And aftershocks happen while we're in the elevator, so I'm flinging myself across the elevator and slamming into walls and being pulled across, as the elevator drops—things like that. So, it was actually quite physically demanding, and it didn't necessarily read that way in the script. When you read it and you're like, "Okay, yeah, there's some stunts, whatever," and then you're flinging yourself across and crashing into walls and going home all bumped and bruised and exhausted. But I get off on that type of stuff, too, I really enjoy doing stunts; it's fun for me.
I'm curious, did your perceptions of horror then change after this experience and open you up a little bit to the genre as a whole?
Tricia Helfer: Absolutely. Maybe now that I have a little bit more experience with it that I could separate my fears when I watch it. I'll have to try some time with some people with me. But definitely like the Creepshow angle, it has really opened my eyes to what you can do with stories in horror and I really enjoy it.
How was it working with Roxanne [Benjamin]? She's been cutting her teeth in horror for quite a while, so it’s always fun to see her in the director’s chair.
Tricia Helfer: She was wonderful. I had a really great time with her. I flew in. I'd been working on something, so I couldn't get there earlier and I literally flew in on a Friday, went straight to the production office for a couple of hours, did a fitting, met with Greg, met with Roxanne, and then I hightailed it back to the airport and had to fly to Pensacola for a convention.
It was a crazy weekend, too, because I actually then got turned around. When we landed in Pensacola, there was fog and they turned us around, sent us back to Atlanta and production got me a hotel there and I stayed overnight. And then I flew out the next morning, got there halfway through the day at the convention, did the convention on Sunday, and flew back to Atlanta Sunday night. And then we filmed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So, there wasn't a lot of prep time with Roxanne, but it was great because she's so open and obviously knowledgeable in her field.
And then there was Greg [Nicotero], who's just amazing to work with. He wasn't on set all the time, but he was writing the script, and so he was on set quite a bit. So, it was really nice to get to work with both of them. And even though I didn’t, it felt like I had had a lot of prep time with Roxanne because we just immediately developed a shorthand.
I'm an actor that sometimes likes to do my own prep, but I also really like sitting and talking it through. And once I'm on set, a lot of my decisions and things come in the moment, because I feel it's like once I'm in the world, once I see the set, I can live in that world. So to me, when you have a connection with the director where you can get that immediate shorthand with, that's key. And with Roxanne, we got that right off the start. She's great.
In case you missed it, visit our online hub to catch up on all of our San Diego Comic-Con coverage, including our Creepshow roundtable interviews with Greg Nicotero, Giancarlo Esposito, and DJ Qualls.
[Photo Credit: Above Tricia Helfer photo by Heather Wixson / Daily Dead.]