At a recent press conference, Syfy unveiled Killjoys, its newest show from the producers of Orphan Black and the creator of Lost Girl. Killjoys is a 10-part series that follows a trio of intergalactic bounty hunters. OHSOGRAY attended a recent press conference with the cast Hannah John-Kamen (“Dutch”), Aaron Ashmore (“John”) and Luke Macfarlane (“D’Avin”) and showrunner, Michelle Lovretta.
Killjoys premieres June 19th at 9pm on Syfy.
Is it possible that the show will continue beyond the 10 episodes?
Michelle Lovretta: It’s very open‑ended. It’s just a ‑‑ the first taste is ten episodes over the first season.
There are various levels of bounty hunters. Can you explain that system?
Aaron Ashmore: Well, the higher the level, the more dangerous you are. So Dutch is a Level 5. Johnny’s a Level 3. And ‑‑
Luke Macfarlane: I’m Level 4.
Aaron Ashmore: So I’m the bottom of the barrel here, guys. I’m the least dangerous, but ‑‑
Luke Macfarlane: And it’s kind of hard for him because I join the team a little bit late, and I outrank him now ‑‑ and we’re brothers. That wasn’t mentioned. Yes.
How do you advance to the next level? Is there a test, or is it a certain number of kills?
Aaron Ashmore: It’s a skill set, I think, that they sort of assign. There is a test that you go through, and yeah, you’ve got to pass certain requirements to level‑up.
Michelle Lovretta: Unlike Earth bounty hunters, on our show, Killjoys are part of a governing body called The Rack. So that’s the people who will license them, make sure that they are sort of following their warrants, and escalating them as they get higher. And when you are a Level 2, there’s certain warrants you can do. When you’re a Level 3, you can do more. When you’re 4 and 5 ‑‑ so it goes up. Like 4 is live and dead, as you see in that little clip there, which means you bring someone in and ideally you bring them in alive, but if they happen to die on route ‑‑ You have a license; it’s fine. So it allows us, every week, to have a different sort of story and a different sort of warrant that we change.
Do you have aliens?
Luke Macfarlane: Not yet.
Aaron Ashmore: No aliens, no fairies.
Hannah John-Kamen: No vampires.
How far does your universe extend?
Michelle Lovretta: One of the things that I found really compelling about the concept when it first came to me ‑‑ obviously, I’m biased, but ‑‑ was the idea that space, to me, is an adventure because it’s limitless. We’ve all seen a lot of shows where you get on a ship and you go on your grand adventure, and every week is a new novelty, a new civilization. We have that novelty, but we’ve done a twist on it. And we’ve used that to help explore a more confined, what I would say, universe. We have a neighborhood that our people patrol, which is a planet called Kresh and her three moons. So as we get, every week, a new warrant to go explore those areas, we meet new people. We explore their cultures. But it’s all used to build a larger, more complete world‑building that we get to go to and meet those people again and again. So we retain the novelty of where you go on a mission, but we have added now a different sense of world‑building to it and a sense of community that, through these great characters, we get to explore.
What are the different crimes and conflicts that the Killjoys police?
Michelle Lovretta: Yeah, I mean, they’re not law enforcement. They’re warrant enforcement. And what that allows us to do is you guys ‑‑ if somebody were to do something in front of you, a crime, if you were to bond with your charge that you’re bringing in and someone were to shoot them in the head, they don’t have any power to do anything about that. They have limits. Their limits are if somebody gives them a warrant and they hire themselves on for it, they can sort of, I guess, break laws in pursuit of that. You can get a person. You can go get a thing. You can go arrest. There’s an infinite variety that they can do, but there are limits on their powers.
Luke Macfarlane: It was described to me ‑‑ and I don’t know if this is correct or not, but it was described to me a bit maybe like “Blackwater” if you think of “Blackwater” and their relationship to the military. So it’s a private entity that obeys within a system, but still has sort of not entirely strict rules.
Aaron Ashmore: Yeah. The rule that we follow, the sort of saying is “The warrant is all.” So we basically do what we need to do, bending the rules, if that be the case, to fulfill whatever the warrant is. So yeah, we can get into some trouble because of that, but ‑‑
Luke Macfarlane: And get into some fun.
Michelle Lovretta: I think what’s nice about the team that you guys have made is that you all have very different skill sets. And so whatever warrant comes out, you each get a sort of chance to shine and use your separate ‑‑
Luke Macfarlane: It’s also a show about sort of a family, because we all do travel together around on this spaceship. And we have very specific, you know, different personalities, but we also interact like a family. So he’s my brother. We fight. Me and Dutch ‑‑
Aaron Ashmore: Like every good family.
Luke Macfarlane: Like every good family, it’s totally dysfunctional. And there’s a comedy or a humanness to that part of the show. It’s not all just, like, us stabbing and killing and shooting people.
Michelle Lovretta: Some of that, though. There is some of that.
Aaron Ashmore: There is some of that.
Michelle Lovretta: We retain that, yeah.
Aaron Ashmore: But the other thing, too, is they are three very different people and complex too. They all have very different backgrounds where they’re coming from, and I think that’s interesting. We were talking about that it’s not just kickass, and it’s not just, like, a popcorn show. There’s a lot of that, but there’s also a lot of interesting character dynamics and really these three people trying to work together to achieve, you know, our job, our ‑‑ the warrants.
Hannah John-Kamen: Yeah, because my character Dutch, she’s very protective over Johnny. But when D’Avin comes in, there’s, obviously, tensions between us, too. But then we relate to each other because we both have very, very difficult, secretive backgrounds that are kind of catching up with us and we’re running away from.
Michelle Lovrette: I think, and I hope anyway, something that’s slightly ‑‑ something new about the approach, I think, that we have with you guys is that it is not a love triangle. I love love triangles. I’ve done love triangles. There’s something juicy about that. But what I find really compelling about you and Johnny is there is a platonic loyalty there. So it allows you to explore that and peers and partners, and then you bring in the complication of D’Avin. Sort of messes it up.
Luke Macfarlane: I’m messing everything up.
Are there different cultures and different sets of rules? Like on this planet murder is OK or ‑‑ do they have different codes and morals?
Michelle Lovretta: They do. It’s ‑‑ there’s definitely different cultures. There’re different countries. There’s ‑‑ I mean, there’s different moons and a different planet in the middle of it. So we have that variety. And there’s a lot of politics. We have a building mythology. It’s not simply an episodic sort of engine. We use those warrants to sort of build a mythology and, as you said, your backstories as well. So there’s a lot of ‑‑ there is that exploration. There’s that novelty of seeing these new cultures, but they are forms of humanity. We have, you guys, the Badlands and ‑‑
Luke Macfarlane: And there’s a lot of comment on class because often the thing that distinguishes one country or one planet from another is their level of wealth.
Michelle Lovretta: Wealth.
Michelle, are you a big fan of old classic westerns?
Michelle Lovretta: I don’t know if I should lie because I’m married to a Texan. Someone is going to hear me say this. I have seen more than my share, I would say, of old classic westerns. There’s a retro tinge that we intentionally have put into this show, lovingly. We have, I’d say, an homage more to ‑‑ I don’t know about you guys, but I loved “Simon & Simon” and those sorts of things growing up, in terms of partnerships ‑‑ and that sort of bawdiness and having fun. I think there’s more of that than the western motifs in it.
Is the show influenced by westerns?
Michelle Lovretta: I think that I would say it would be incorrect probably for us to paint it as a space western. I think that it does have western elements because all things that have a sense of adventure and size and romp factor to them, I think, you can correlate a little bit with that sort of world. But I think what’s different is that when we get together and we explore things, we do it ‑‑ it’s more of a science‑fiction bent to it. So it’s more towards the “Blade Runner,” I suppose, than it would be towards the western, although what I would say is one of my favorite episodes that we have is when all of you get together with your other bounty hunters. And I would say you guys are basically kind of cowboys.
Luke Macfarlane: There is, though, also the thing that ‑‑ the cowboy mythology is also the individual that operates without a system. We do operate within an organization called The Rack. So there’s an interesting political piece to that puzzle. We’re not just on the range.
Aaron, this is your second show you’ve done for Syfy where you’re playing a law‑upholding member of a secret organization. How is it to be back?
Aaron Ashmore: I have to admit that I’m very, very happy to be back working with Syfy. Working on “Warehouse 13” was a dream. Great group of people. And very much like this show, “Warehouse 13,” we were building this amazing world. And I think that that’s what we’re getting to do with “Killjoys.” It’s totally different, but like Michelle was saying, we’re working on building worlds and mythologies in this world, and it’s really exciting. So I’m very happy to be back, but no, it wasn’t just like, “Well, you’ve done one, and here’s the next one. Thanks for coming out.” No, I wish work ‑‑ it happened like that, but it doesn’t, unfortunately. But I’m very, very glad to be back.