When Bleeding Cool sat down with Wynonna Earp star Melanie Scrofano in December, she rushed over to hug creator Beau Smith as he was leaving the studio. Returning to the table, she said, “He’s like the dad I never met.”
It was a notion echoed by showrunner Emily Andras as she also left the building. “I love that woman,” Scrofano said of Andras. “What she writes, it’s like, ‘oh yeah, that’s my mouth talking.’ It doesn’t feel foreign.”
While their collaboration on the show was a meeting of the minds, Scrofano was convinced she would not get the part when she auditioned. “I read this and thought, ‘Oh, I’m not going to get this.’” Believing that doubtful outlook, she decided to have fun with the audition.
A few months later at WonderCon, Andras would say Scrofano chewed gum the entire time, though the actress had no memory of it. But the actress did recall a freedom that came with the thought that she wasn’t “like that superhero.” The only thing she shared in common with the comic book version of Wynonna was blond hair. Both would change from that by the time production started.
As the series begins, Wynonna returns home to the town of Purgatory following the death of her uncle. Though compelled to return, it is not something she relishes. “She’s had a rough go,” Scrofano explained. Witnessing the death of her father at the hands of the Revenants involved in the Earp Curse, Wynonna’s testimony was disregarded and she ultimately found herself institutionalized. “This kid in a small town, it’s like being in high school with everybody judging you and so she left as soon as she could,” she said.
But upon returning to Purgatory, she leans that she is next heir of the curse; chosen by mysterious forces to send the men Wyatt Earp killed in his lifetime — now known as Revenants — back to Hell.
Scrofano said there is a strength about her to “face the unimaginable.” The character also has an individual streak she admires. “If I were a teenager, I would watch and try to emulate her,” she said. “I mean, I wouldn’t become an alcoholic, but in the sense that she’s just so brave. She’s scared [a lot], but she just does it anyway.”
“She uses humor as a defense, and so do I,” she continued. “I’m never funnier than I’m heartbroken or terrified. There were just so many things I relate to.”
The actress wished the character, or someone like her, had been on television when she was growing up. “I remember being in high school and a boy telling me I’d be good looking if I didn’t joke around so much,” she said. “It really effected me and I stopped joking around and being a goof because I thought people would like me better.” And though she regained her sense of goofiness, she said the shows illustrates “you can be a bit of a goof and a bit of a f*ck up and it doesn’t mean you’re not strong or not beautiful. You can be both sides of the coin.”
At WonderCon, she praised Andras for allowing the character to have so many sides. “She’s really strong in some ways and really weak in others … Not a lot of people let you play that, but Emily lets us play that. You can be vulnerable and still kick ass,” she said. “She does some stuff I wouldn’t want to see my little sister take after, but it wouldn’t be true to life if she was this plastic, perfect character.”
Part of those Wynonna’s complexity is her relationship with her little sister Waverly, played by Dominique Provost-Chalkley. Waverly studied the family history while Wynonna was gone, and Scrofano said it lead to a mutual jealousy between them “There’s a love,” she said. “But I don’t know [her] because I’ve been gone for so long.” The complicated relationship is further tested by Waverley’s unspoken wish to take on the Revenants herself.
Making things even tougher for them, neither of the Earp sisters were intended to be the heir. Their father trained a third Earp, eldest sister Willa, to take on the curse. But after their childhood trauma, Willa was gone and Wynonna left town believing it may have all been in her head. “I come back with the sense that this is all real, but I’m in denial about it,” Scrofano explained. “Maybe as a protective thing, I assume they were right. Like you do when your a kid and everyone tells you you’re fat or crazy.” She also called the curse a family business that “that nobody [should] want to be in.”
To prepare for the role, Scrofano completed some martial arts and weapons training. But at the same time, Wynonna is a novice at everything, allowing Scrofano a lot of leeway as a action hero. “She comes in and she can suck,” the actress said. “Emily said ‘you can suck at it all because as Wynonna gets better, you can get better.’”
But Wynonna will have to become confident with the Peacemaker, Wyatt’s gun and the only weapon that can put down the Revenants. “But it only [works] in the hands of the heir,” she explained. The curse also requites that she shoot the men, known as Revenants, between the eyes. “I haven’t seen the special effects,” she said at the time. “But I hear it’s great.”
Wynonna Earp premieres this Friday on Syfy.