As the descendant of Wyatt Earp, Wynonna Earp is destined to eradicate the demonic Revenants from the face of the Earth. But as the Chosen One has quickly learned is, fighting evil is a group effort.
So far, Wynonna’s younger sister, Waverly, and her father’s best friend, the ageless Doc Holliday, stand in her corner. And then there’s no-nonsense Agent Xavier Dolls, played by Shamier Anderson. As the Black Badge Division’s top operative, Dolls may be the one man who can ensure Wynonna’s mission is a success — or total failure.
On the set of Syfy‘s “Wynonna Earp,” CBR News spoke with Anderson about developing Dolls’ character while hinting at his enigmatic past. We dig into his his conflict/mentorship with Wynonna, and what, exactly, makes his character such a badass.
CBR News: Tell us a little about your character, Agent Xavier Dolls.
Shamier Anderson: The best way to describe Agent Dolls is he’s intriguing, mysterious, has a lot of layers, is straight to the point, and is a very principled guy. He’s top of his class. He literally gets “A-pluses” in everything, and makes it look cool. He works for the Black Badge Division, which is an organization — a cross-border task force that deals with paranormal activities. It’s a top-secret division of the government. He’s one of their top guys.
You are going to see more of his backstory, slowly but surely. You are going to learn why he’s there, who he knows and why is so different. I want to stress that. He is so different, without giving anything away. As the audience, you are going to want more. You’re going to think, “This guy doesn’t give us anything.” You have to keep watching. Slowly, he begins to smile a little more and laugh a little more, cracking jokes here and there. He even plays games, or lets Wynonna off the hook when she gets into trouble.
Dolls actually recruits Wynonna into his organization. What is their working relationship, and how does it evolve over the season?
Working with Wynonna Earp, Dolls gets intel saying, “This is the Chosen One, pretty much the answer to all the problems.” He goes into the town [Purgatory]. Obviously, Wynonna being the rebellious badass that she is — and Dolls, who is a straight shooter and no joking around and no B.S. kind of guy — there’s a bit of conflict there because of the difference in character. A few episodes in, they get to know each other and have a shorthand and become partners. They do what they need to do in order to bring Purgatory where it needs to be, which is to a positive state.
There’s the encouragement of letting Wynonna know the importance of her job — that with great power comes great responsibility — and informing Wynonna and letting her know that if she does not do these tasks, it could be detrimental to the entire world. You see those elements of the struggle and the conflict and the encouragement like in an older brother/younger sister relationship.
How does Dolls size up Doc Holliday?
Dolls and Doc Holliday don’t really get along. There are a lot of reasons why. Wynonna is a reason for that. Maybe it’s a love triangle — who knows? The relationship between Dolls and Doc starts off in a certain way and develops throughout the season. Positive, negative — maybe it’s just business. At the end of the day, I think Dolls does have a small like for Doc, for certain reasons, of course.
Wynonna Earp kicks a lot of butt. How much punishment does Dolls dish out?
He kicks a bit of butt. He does do some cool stuff, some cool fight scenes. You can look forward to some chases and driving trucks really fast. I would say Dolls is definitely the muscle of the show. He’s the guy that you look at and go, “Hmmm. He’s kind of intimidating. Who is going to go toe-to-toe with him?” When Wynonna slips up, Dolls is there to clean up the mess.
Throughout the entire season, you are definitely going to see a lot of different levels of where Dolls goes physically, mentally and emotionally. Yes, believe it or not, he’s not just a straight shooter who is one-tone. He definitely has an array of emotions. You’ll see him open up a bit later on in the season.
Is it fun to explore how an authority figure becomes a person in Dolls’ position and breaking him down?
Oh, yeah. A lot of people — by watching Dolls in the pilot and second episode — think this guy is just one-tone and maybe one-note. Really, there are layers to that because he has a strong past. That may not be established right away. You slowly learn and discover who this guy is and why he is the way he is, and why he’s so mysterious. Breaking that down is a lot of fun. That’s the trick to being so stoic and having so much behind the eyes. That is the most incredible part about playing this character of Xavier Dolls. I promise you, later on in the season you’re going to see some twists and turns that will hopefully surprise all the viewers and fans.
Did you take a look at the “Wynonna Earp” comics beforehand to get a feel for this world?
To be honest, I did not. I looked it over. I had a comic on set once. It was like a rarity and people were like, “Oh, gosh. A ‘Wynonna Earp’ comic.” Hopefully I get to read them.
That being said, I do understand the Wynonna Earp story and the Wyatt Earp story. With my character Dolls, I almost wanted to stay away from them. Dolls is not a part of the comics. He’s also not part of that world, so it kind of makes sense for him to come in with a new perspective, rather than having that preconceived notion, and that helped me build this character from scratch.
Which has been your favorite creature to throw down with?
These guys [the Revenants] are not necessarily creatures. They are just like you and me. You never know. They could be walking among us. Wynonna could be a demon. I do have a favorite one that I really enjoyed working with, which is Bobo Del Rey, played by Michael Eklund, who is an incredible actor and artist. The character has been so much fun. You’ll definitely see some interaction with Dolls and Bobo, and how they go toe-to-toe. He’s definitely somebody who is Dolls’ match, physically and energy-wise. It’s going to be an interesting dynamic when those two go toe-to-toe.
How familiar were you with firearms before you took on this role? Has it required you to log time at the firing range?
I’ve always loved law enforcement and watching cop shows. Coming into the show, I was very familiar with firearms, tactile training and hand-to-hand combat. I went to school for criminology. I wanted to be a police officer growing up. My grandfather was a police officer, my mother was in the military. It’s always been a passion of mine. So getting the call saying I got the part to play someone from Black Badge Division, it was like, “Yes!” I take so much pride in what I do.
Dolls is a perfectionist. He knows his craft like the back of his hand. That definitely helped in building this character and coming to the show and having that. We have a great prop team that gives me some cool toys to play with every day.
Which of Dolls’ arsenal of weapons stands out for you?
My favorite weapon is Dolls’ sidearm, which is a Glock Generation 3 with a Maglite on it. It’s pretty incredible. Then, to be honest with you, Dolls’ favorite weapon is his hands. When you start watching the show, you are going to see some cool fight stuff. He was definitely a Kung-Fu master in his past — and current — life.
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