Varun Saranga – Wynonna Earp
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) It must be quite interesting for you to come on to a show with quite a large and active fanbase.
A) They told me a lot of stories. They said they never expected it to be this big and resonate this much with fans. It’s probably such an incredible journey as much for them as it is for you, as a fan. I’m sure.
Q) Your character is still a bit of a mystery. What can you tease about the original breakdown for your character and maybe how it evolved since that time?
A) It was a generic breakdown that like anyone could have gone in for this role. The age was kind of also in flux. It was always this kind of millennial guy. The breakdown (without giving away too much) was that I work for Black Badge as this lab tech, essentially. That was always in the breakdown. He’s quippy, self-aware and fits in this “Wynonna” world as this new comic relief. As you know very well, Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) is the most quippy of all of them so it was kind of fun to be in that context of that. You know what these characters know what they are doing, but are always kind of commenting on it to the audience. If you’ve spoken to Emily Andras for five minutes, she’s like an endless stream of quips! She’s the wittiest person I think I’ve ever met. She is 100% one of the wittiest people ever. So, to keep up with her is a feat. So, I got to say hilarious lines that all came from her mouth!
Back to the character, it’s very much similar to the breakdown. I’m sure they have always kind of had this character in mind because this season was arced a lot in their mind. So, now we’re going to explore more about Lucado (Kate Drummond) and what she has done and what Black Badge is and how they are playing a part in all of this and what they are, ultimately. They are the big bad in some ways. They are the unknown factor. They have always been teased at so it’s kind of cool to get that payoff.
Q) Now that Nicole is a member of Black Badge things are going to get a bit messy for her and her relationship with Waverly.
A) It’s interesting how we all kind of fold in there. I don’t want to give away too much. It’s totally darker. Everything is darker. Everyone is questioning their moralities all over the place and have to make sacrifices, unwillingly. Most of the time they are doing things…Emily touched on this being about free will and being forced into situations and having to make forced decisions. It comes down to a lot this season.
Q) We got this tease from you where Waverly hits you upside the head. What will the dynamics be as they come to investigate the weekly big bads and maybe even Waverly for having touched the goo?
A) You don’t know if he is good or bad, for obvious reasons, because you don’t know whether Black Badge is good or bad. So, a lot of his relationships are where they are a bit skeptical of him. They don’t know whether they can trust him or not.
Q) Was there any moment you specifically added as improv?
A) I get asked this about improv, but there is not a crazy amount of improv because it is so tightly scripted that they have to make the forty-two minutes. So, a lot of the time…There are moments where I try to sneak it and I say, “I’m sorry! I did it! It’s too late!” I think they used it so kudos to me. That’s what I’m going to say about that. [laughs]
Q) Is there a moment you are most waiting for fans to see?
A) There definitely is a specific moment. I don’t want to give it away, but there is something and I’m sure you’ll know it when you see it…There is more to my character then he gives off.
Q) You come from a comedic background. How does it lend itself to working on a sci fi series like “Wynonna Earp?”
A) A lot of my projects are definitely comedic and my character being the comedic relief of the show. It was interesting coming into this genre since I have never been a genre fan, to be perfectly honest. I just never really attach myself to things – maybe Star Trek. I had maybe a tacit understanding of it. I would watch it, but I never experienced the level of fandom that I am now. By participating and acting in “Wynonna” I get it. I understand. These are characters you love, ultimately, and invest in and relate to – regardless of the genre. The genre is kind of this backdrop for all these amazing characters to go and play with each other. The kind of amazing thing about doing the show was that Emily doesn’t forget you. Everyone gets their moment to shine. Every character. And every character will end up interacting with one another! And it’s kind of fun to see what this character would do with that character. It was so fun to act throughout with all the cast members. I think she creates really strong dynamics and characters with depth. When you pitch someone “this is a sci-fi Western” it’s easy to dismiss. I think these are very heartfelt three dimensional characters. It’s also great how they write the male characters. And I love the male friendships as well. But I really love the female relationships, especially the sister bonds between Waverly [Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Wynonna. But Doc (Tim Rozon) and Dolls (Shamier Anderson) relationship is as bros and is a celebratory that they really care about each other. Begrudgingly so in the only way that men can. It is going to be fun to see me thrown in the mix and how I develop relationships with the characters.
Q) Is this shift in genre a natural progression for you or were you seeking deeper roles?
A) I don’t really discriminate with roles. I think every role is kind of a learning experience. I think in a lot of ways it has built to this moment. I’m now part of this show with this big following and I still get to be funny. I’m not sacrificing that. There are just sort of layers on top of that. It’s nice because comedy is my home and I love it. I love making people laugh, but “Wynonna Earp” is going to become a change in tone and maybe change me a lot as an actor, which I’m excited about.
Q) You got to meet and interact early with Earpers through attending C2E2. How has the fandom embraced you so far?
A) It’s bizarre simply because it’s weird to see people dressed up around you as your comic book character. Bizarre in the coolest way! I understand it because I’m such a fan of video games. That’s my big thing. I can totally see myself doing this and going to these things dressed as a character. When I went into C2E2 I had no expectations and Tim would tell me daily “You have no idea what you’re in for.” I was like, “Alright, alright.” When I went there and got to meet everyone, they were the sweetest, most loving people. It says a lot about the show that those are the types of fans that are attracted to it.
Q) You’ve also done some directorial work and work on “Wynonna Earp” now as an actor. Personally, as our political climate is unsteady, where would you like to see arts & entertainment go to push the envelope and provide representation as well?
A) I think we’re doing it. I think the discussions are being had and I think we’re making progress every day. I see it when I act and when I’m auditioning. I’ve been doing it for nine years and it’s only evolved in a good way. That’s a big thing. All the roles I have done have never been attached to my race. So, I’ve been very blessed that way. I think that’s showing the larger industry is growing and it’s not about that. It’s just about people being people. I think as long as we’re talking about it now it’s kind of proof that we’re starting to change.
Q) We talk about “Wynonna Earp,” Syfy and Emily who are known for pushing these boundaries. Can you say what we can expect from “Wynonna Earp” this season in regards to that?
A) Lots more WayHaught! [laughs] I think it’s good because they announced they are not going to kill them off. They are going to grow this relationship and whatever happens with their relationship. That is going to be fun to explore because more often than not LGBT characters get killed off of shows and the fans get really upset. Emily understands what the fans want and they want to see these character grow throughout the season and learn things. I think you can expect Emily Andras to keep pushing the boundaries on that.
Q) Are there any other projects you have recently been working on?
A) I did “Schitt’s Creek” recently and a show called “People of Earth” by Conan O’Brien. I am just working on a couple other things. I’m doing quite a bit!
Q) What have you taken away from your time working on “Wynonna Earp?”
A) In a lot of ways I think my experience is just beginning because I’m just as excited to see the show as you guys. I’ve only seen things that I have done in ADR and it brings back all these memories. I’m really excited to see the show and watch it with the fans. You want to see the audience enjoy it and Twitter is the best way to enjoy that. They are going to give me feedback. They’re going to criticize me. I get it. I understand. It’s okay.