Aaron Ashmore is no stranger to genre television. The actor may have kicked off his career as "Student in Pageant" in "Married to It," but he's since gone on to play Jimmy Olsen in "Smallville" and Steve Jinks in "Warehouse 13," as well as landing a recurring role on "Lost Girl." Now, he's traveling the galaxy and collecting fugitives in Syfy's "Killjoys."
The series teams Ashmore and co-star Hannah John-Kamen as John and Dutch, a pair of highly effective bounty hunters known as Killjoys. Their mission statement is simple: "The warrant is all." As you'd expect, that means nothing stands in the way of completing an assignment.
However, that well-oiled machine hits a snag when John discovers a level-five kill warrant on his long-lost older brother, D'Avin. After bringing him into the Killjoys fold, matters become complicated when the trio's moral compasses and personal demons threaten to eclipse their obligations.
Ahead of the Syfy series' debut tonight at 9/8c, Ashmore spoke with SPINOFF about why the show's lighter, "Guardians of the Galaxy" style tone drew him to the project, portraying a character who's good -- but not the best -- at what he does, and why he's perfectly happy to continue to work in the sci-fi realm.
Spinoff Online: You're no stranger to genre television, but what was it that grabbed you about "Killjoys?"
Aaron Ashmore: The one thing that I enjoyed about it from reading the script was, there's an element of fun in this show that is missing in a lot of the other sci-fi stuff that I've seen. Something like "Guardians of the Galaxy" had that tone of fun and action/adventure. The show can be dark, it can be serious, but I think there's a real action/adventure and fun to the show that is fresh, or that I haven't seen in a lot of the other stuff on the air right now.
John belongs to this team of Killjoys. Who is he and what special skills does he possess?
John is a level-three Killjoy, which is sort of a bounty hunter in this world rated by numbers. John is mid-level, which means he knows what he is doing, but he's also not the most dangerous or most skilled. He's an interesting guy. He's charming. He's sarcastic, and that sense of humor gets him in trouble sometimes. He has a big mouth, and he likes to shoot off some pretty funny jabs at people. He'll take the punishment for it, too.
As for special skills, I'd say he's the mechanic/tech of the team. That doesn't mean he's stuck on the ship all the time, and that he doesn't get into the fighting. He definitely does that. But he sort of has a special relationship with our ship, Lucy, which is the show's fourth character. He has a lot of interaction with Lucy, who talks and interacts with us.
In a typical show, John would be romantically linked to his partner, Dutch. But that doesn't seem to be the case here, necessarily. How would you describe their dynamic?
They are really close. They've been working together for about six years. Things are going really well with them. They are really tight. It's almost like a family unit. John doesn't really have that family or stability in his life anymore, so that's what they've become in a way. It's a partnership, but there's a family element there. There is a lot of love and loyalty between them.
John is a level-three Killjoy. Dutch comes in at level five. What would it take to rank above that?
There may be a secret level of Killjoy, like a black-ops level, that we may discover throughout the season. As far as most of us know, let's just say there's an urban legend that there's a higher level of Killjoy that none of us have seen, but is whispered throughout our organization. At this point, level five is as high as we go, and Dutch is incredibly dangerous and skilled.
How much of the series consists of standalone adventures versus a more serialized format?
We do have weekly storylines where we're issued a warrant at the beginning of the episode. We go out there, track them down, kick butt and by the end of the episode, that warrant is closed. There is also more of an over-arching storyline that happens throughout.
A lot of viewers recognize you from "Smallville," "Lost Girl" and "Warehouse 13." Now, you get to explore space. In what ways has "Killjoys" allowed you to do things you've never done before?
I was at a panel at Toronto Comic Con and people were asking me, "Are you interested in trying other things?" I'm like, "Of course I am. More traditional stuff like a cop or medical show." But, for me, the great thing about sci-fi, especially now, is we're making great television. Genre is some of the biggest stuff in the industry right now. The quality is really high. We get to play all the drama and all the stuff we would normally do on another show, but we also get to fly a spaceship or be on another planet. It's really exciting to go out in space. We have guns that are not of this world. It's a mix between a laser beam and a bullet. We have all this modified technology and weaponry that's fun to play around with. When you're reading the scripts, it's like, "How are we going to pull this off? How are they going to make this work?" But we have such an amazing team behind us as far as the visual effects and the props they're making. It's wild.
As you say, the Killjoys jump from planet-to-planet in search of their warrants, resulting in the need for a variety of sets and environments. What's most impressed you about the production value for this show?
The look of things is very unique. The show is set in the J-Cluster System; more specifically, the Quad Planetary System. There are four planets, and they all have very specific looks to them. One is incredibly industrial. One is a farming planet. Another is extremely wealthy. We have all these different visuals and lighting they created for all these different worlds when we're on them. That makes the show feel very big. We have all these different settings that they've created.
The other neat thing is, the look is futuristic enough and there's something very "Blade Runner"-ish about some of it that makes it dark and very grounded. Even as far as the costumes, they've taken clothes that are obviously made here on Earth, but they've changed them enough to give them a futuristic look and still keep them grounded. Everyone involved brought their A-game and did something creative.
Your co-stars, Luke and Hannah, are fairly new to the science fiction scene. How did it feel, being the genre veteran of the group?
I've done a lot, so green screen acting is part of my forte and I know what to expect. But acting is acting. Both Hannah and Luke are incredibly talented and really good at what they do. They embody their characters really well. The producers and writers did a great job of casting the right people for these roles. There's a slight learning curve when you are acting in front of a green screen or sitting on a spaceship -- even for me, because I hadn't done all those particular things.
As far as a team, we all really like each other. Hannah, Luke and I got along incredibly well. I'm hoping the chemistry we have in real life translates onto the screen.
"Killjoys" debuts June 19 at 9/8c on Syfy.