Tricia Helfer – Con Man
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) We recently saw you guest starring on “Falling Skies.” What are the other recent projects that you are working on?
A) That was fun to do! It was a quick thing and I got a call from the producers on the show that I had worked with on “Battlestar Galactica.” They said, “We need an evil queen alien voice.” I said, “Okay…I’m glad you think of me for an evil queen alien voice.” [laughs] I also have a movie coming out called Isolation with Dominic Purcell, Luke Mably and Stephen Lang. I also think I have another extension of “Star Craft” coming out, where I play Queen of Blade. It is called Legacy of The Void.
Q) We often see you as a quick guest star these days. Do you prefer that kind of appearance to a starring role?
A) Obviously, I’d like those as well. But, unfortunately, my last couple of jobs were limited series kind of things. I’m definitely looking for my next piece. I’m also working behind the scenes this year on something that I’m trying to get made into a television series. Hopefully, next time we have a chance to talk I’ll have some news in that respect. It’s too early to say at this point.
Q) Please tell us the premise for Con Man and about your character.
A) Con Man (which is short for “Convention Man)” was created by Alan Tudyk. I think around Christmas time Alan emailed me and said, “I’m doing this web series thing and I thought of you for this role. Would you mind reading it?” I told him of course I would read it because I think he’s fantastic, very talented and a really nice guy. I read it and thought it was hysterical! It’s based on kind of a spoof of the convention circuit. What I liked about it is that it makes fun of everybody. It makes fun of the actors, promoters and everybody. It is an interesting spin on the circuit that is conventions. It is actually based off of a true story. Alan said that he was at a convention once that was a dual convention where one was a doll convention (for reborns) and one was a science fiction convention. The doll convention had very life-like babies that they care for as real children. Just like with science fiction fans, sports fans, etc. the fans run the gamut of people who just do it for fun to the extreme. I play a woman at the same convention and it was a character I had never played before. Certainly, I haven’t done as much comedy as I have done drama and it was a no-brainer for me to sign on. It went away for a while because they hadn’t even started their crowdfunding yet. I said, “Yes, when you do this totally count me in. Quite a few months later when they did their crowdfunding and it just blew through the roof they ended up taking a little more time because they wrote a few more episodes since so much money came in. Then, we ended up filming it. I just have a guest role in it. I’m in one of the four scripts that was written and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Q) Was this a character specifically written for you or one Alan said he’d really like you to play?
A) The actual dual convention was something that was real. What happens to our characters in the script I don’t think actually happened to him. So, that’s fiction, but he said he thought of me when he wrote the character. Again, it was one of those circumstances where I said, “You thought of me when you wrote this character? Okay…” I’m happy he thought of me because a lot of people think of me for the Evil Queens and not for comedy. So, I was really happy to do it.
Q) Did knowing your costars already help to develop the character chemistry?
A) I think when you know someone it definitely helps because you can pass through that initial phase of sussing each other out, so to speak. Alan and I didn’t know each other extremely well. We met when I first moved to LA and started acting (when they were first doing “Firefly”). So, we’d run into each other throughout the years, but it is not like we know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets. This is Alan’s baby. He wrote it, directed, acted in and produced it. I just trusted his judgment on it, but certainly all of Con Man is littered with a lot of their friends, acquaintances and even people they didn’t know. Always when you know someone it is easier to start working, but sometimes if you know someone too well I have trouble putting myself on tape for an audition because then it is hard to see them outside of a character. When you are on set it is different.
Q) Based on your experiences at conventions, were you able to recognize people in the script?
A) Yes, sure. I’m one bit in the convention – the reborns. So, it’s not like it’s a bunch of things that I know, but I’m sure watching it I’ll see elements of all aspects of the convention. Again, it’s comedy so it’s heightened and exaggerated. His convention agent played by Mindy Sterling is exaggerated. I have a convention agent and she is not anything like that. That’s what comedy is – an element of truth that is exaggerated upon for comedy. I think people are really going to enjoy it. It may show a side that people don’t necessarily know. Certainly from the explosion of crowdfunding, there is a lot of people on the circuit looking forward to seeing it.
Q) Was the script open for improv at all?
A) Oh yes! Alan was certainly open to that and he would more come up with that in the moment. There is a certain way that my character kisses and it wasn’t written in the script, but when we got there that day he decided to add that in. He said, “So, I was thinking about this. What do you think about it?” I certainly trust his judgment so I just went with it. That’s the fun part, when you can adlib or do takes different ways. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t work. If you don’t give it a shot, you are never going to find out.
Q) What were some of your most memorable moments from filming?
A) The scene where our characters meet was funny because there is a bit of a stunt in it – a gag type stunt. They brought in a stunt double for me and at the end of the day I’m glad because she ended up falling quite hard on her tailbone on to the marble, but I do most of my own stunts unless it is really difficult. I enjoy stunts so I insisted on having Alan let me do my own stunts. He was so worried about me hurting myself and I said, “It’s not that hard. It’s a pratfall. You just fall forward. I can do that.” He was so nervous about me doing these falls that he almost didn’t let me do it. I almost had to fight him to get me to do it and they told me thankfully I did it because we can use your face since we see it is you falling. I said, “That’s the point!”
Q) What would you like us to be sure we share with fans about Con Man?
A) I’m super excited to see the whole thing. I think it is going to be funny. Definitely the people who donated are going to check it out and if you didn’t definitely still check it out. It could lead to something else. I think they are doing a book, graphic novel and a game. I think the fans that donated are definitely going to get their money’s worth. It may even turn into a more on-air series! I’m proud of the guys for doing this and putting it together. Alan worked so hard to put this together and it’s really his blood, sweat and tears. Hopefully, people like it and he gets to do more of it.