WYNONNA EARP’s Katherine Barrell Talks TV’s Haughtest Couple

There has recently been a lot of controversy surrounding the loss of LGBT characters on TV. Syfy’s Wynonna Earp is bucking that trend by giving viewers an exciting new relationship that has the potential to go the distance. OHSOGRAY participated on a press call this week with Katherine Barrell, who plays Waverly Earp’s girlfriend Nicole Haught, about fan reaction to her character, the season finale, and what she hopes for season 2.

Wynonna Earp airs on Syfy.

Did you know before starting this project what the relationship between Waverly and Haught would be?

I mean, no. I didn’t know where it was going to go as far as the relationship. Originally I was kind of going episode by episode. When I was hired I thought I was only doing six episodes and then things just sort of continued from there. But I don’t know if that was something that was pre-planned and I just didn’t know about it or what was happening with that. So I didn’t know where the relationship was going. It was very much kind of like the fans are discovering it. As an actor I was kind of doing that while reading the script so just kind of reading ahead and just seeing where the whole thing was going to go and I am so beyond happy with where we ended at the end of season one.

I – yes working with Dominique is – was absolutely amazing. She has become extremely a good friend of me and I just only spoke to – at ease with her and she’s the most important thing for us. As actors was just to make this relationship between Waverly and Nicole feel as genuine and heartfelt as possible. I think the relationship – the writers on the show did a really beautiful job of making this relationship kind of so beautifully juxtaposed to what Wynonna was going through with kind of not really knowing what she wanted feeling really conflicted about her feeling towards other Doc or Dolls or men in general. I think the beautiful thing about Waverly and Nicole of the relationship seems to kind of – beyond that opposite side of the scale. Just this really pure, young beautiful pure love and I thought as a whole for the show it balanced the two extremes and a way to explore these two different kinds of relationships really nicely.

Can you just describe what the fans’ reactions have been?

The fan reaction has been beyond my wildest expectations. I don’t even think I fully comprehended, it, the extent of the fan interaction. I don’t it’s going to fully sink in until going to conventions or whatever is coming up in the future and meeting the fans face to face because I have kind of been on my computer watching all this happen. But I think very surreal and everything has kind of been happening through a screen for me and so I think once I see people in person it’s really going to sink in.

But it’s been beautiful. It’s been heartwarming. It’s been extremely encouraging and I think just very positive. I thought that I would maybe encounter some negative comments or some people trolling on the Internet and saying mean things. But I have been blessed with not encountering too much of that and it’s just been really beautiful experience that I feel just like such a strong sense of community with all the – of the Earp fans. It has been wonderful.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1

After the finale, do you feel like their relationship is at a point where she can even talk to her about it because she did not really tell her about the Revenants? Will they be able to really talk about that?

Oh I think definitely and especially because of the scene where Nicole was kind of deputized in the station with Doc Holliday and Dolls. Nicole knows now kind of what is going on and yes it’s a really quick explanation that Doc [gives] but she’s like OK, thank you. So it’s confirmed. I’m not crazy. I think the Waverly, like anybody – anyone who knows about what having a slightly strange family situation might be like can sympathize with Waverly. She really cares about Nicole and she’s probably really nervous about what Nicole’s going to think about her and that fear of being rejected I am sure would be a really real emotion for Waverly especially at the beginning of a relationship. But I definitely think – I don’t think it will be super easy for Waverly because she’s probably going to be struggling with a lot of different emotions about it but I would think Waverly would be at a place where she could talk to Nicole by now for sure.

Do you think Nicole will be able to join Dolls and Wynonna going forward?

Oh, I mean it’s all to our wonderful writing team and Emily, of course, but I think Nicole will want to be as involved. I mean she has been curious about what is going on the entire season, especially since the woman that she cares about so much is literally right in the middle of this. I would think Nicole would want to help as much as she possibly can. How much will be allowed to? I don’t know but… But first we have to rescue Dolls so hopefully that…

How was it for you when you read the finale? There’s been a lot of controversy recently about the loss of LGBT characters on TV.

I have read the whole script by the time we were shooting that scene obviously but certainly I mean as an actor I did not know what was going to happen with Nicole. Now keep in mind that we shot this scene way back in February, before any of the other events happened on many of the other shows that have really made kind of the barrier gate drove come really to the forefront. I think total it’s really crazy that I literally have a line saying I’m wearing a bullet proof vest because that was written and shot before, any of these other shows have those events. It was crazy because – yes it started airing everyone kept tweeting me, are you wearing a bullet-proof vest? I’m sure you’re wearing bullet – I was like, “What is everyone talking about?” I had to go and do some research and really figure out what was really going on within the community. So I think it is just – it is completely a coincidence that that scene happened the way that it did. But I – yes I feel like – sorry I’m kind of losing with my thoughts. Your original question was the trope and how did I feel about it, right? Yes so I guess for me – I mean for me Nicole always – she’s just my character. The fact that she’s gay is just an aspect of Nicole. So of course when you are reading a script and your character gets shot you go, “Oh, my God no. No, no, no, no, please.” Because it is you and you – when you love a show as much as I love working on Wynonna you want to keep going on it. Yes so I think shooting that scene I had no idea when we were shooting it, it was going to take on the kind of importance and significance that I feel it will – given what has transpired over the past couple of months in our media. So it was just a scene, when we shot it it was just a scene where my character got shot and survived.

If there is a season 2 will we see more of Nicole and will you be at Comic-Con?

I think the chances will go up but I know that we’re going to be making some announcements in the future so that’s hopefully coming down the pipe. Yes.

It seems like fans are looking for more positive LGBT characters. Are you feeling that?

Yes. I mean I’d say I have got nothing but beautiful, amazing, positive feedback and has been so incredibly embraced by this community and I feel really proud to represent a character that’s bringing so many young people – well, I mean in so many people in general but especially young fans. A good role model is someone to look up to because we – media expects our culture so much especially in North America and I feel like media really – is a place that kind of dictates our cultural attitude and I think we need to see ourselves on TV, everyone needs to feel represented in. We’re getting there and things are getting better and better but it’s an uphill climb to start an equal kind of representation and I’m just – I feel incredibly proud to see – to be a part of that and to be a part of the show that is helping to create some positivity and a character that’s a very three dimensional, fully fledged character who’s not just on the show to be, the clear representation but she’s on a show because she’s an amazing character. She’s amazing person. People want to watch her and the fact that she’s gay is just acts like just a personality. It doesn’t have to be everything that she’s about and I think for me that’s the most important thing in carrying Nicole. Hopefully moving forward as that I just wanted to just pick this in a sense. And the fact that I just wanted to be a role model for – as a – it doesn’t matter, it is not about this is a role model of clear representation. I wanted her to be a role model of a great person.

Nicole is a strong, complex character.

I love that episode seven with Wynonna because Nicole got a chance and for me as an actor, too, like you want to show different sides of your character, you want those – more different aspects of them and I think that episode was huge for Nicole and I especially been doing beautifully on part of the writers. That one’s – Waverly breaks up with Champ and Nicole just comes sweeping in [….]. She really has an episode where they don’t even interact. I think point with Wynonna we learn a lot more about Nicole and I think it’s perfect. Feels like that’s how it should be. It shouldn’t just be about when are they going to hook up. It’s got to be about more than that and we are not going to change anything. So yes I think it’s – we’ve got an amazing writing team and Emily’s just with her capacity to give the team that she’s worked on and the character she has brought to the screen. I have so much trust with Emily but she knows especially this fan base and she knows what kind of fix of fan base so – and I trust her and I trust her team and I think she’s doing a great job.

As someone who has worked both in front of and behind the camera how does having experience behind the camera affect your acting?

I think it only helps. I definitely notice a big difference in myself as an actor when I started working on behind the camera just because it kind of helps me see the bigger picture. It helps me start taking everything seriously, every audition you don’t book or you realize that there is so many moving parts within a production and so many people involved and so many decisions that have to be made that is often really not about you. And yes, so I think from that aspect also and it also just gives me much more of an appreciation for everyone on the crew and everyone who works on the show because, you really realize when you’re producing some rinky-dink little short films how much work it is. So it’s like multiply that by a million for a big TV show and you’ve just got so many people who have to work so hard. It just brings my kind of appreciation for everyone and that every job is important and if you’re missing one, block in the tower the whole thing is going to fall over and yes, so I think those are kind of the two things that being on the other side really helps me with them. And I love it. I love being on the other side and I think just as an artist in general it’s, you know, you don’t want to just work out your biceps. You got to work out your whole body and you’ve got to work out, you know, all of the different aspects of storytelling and I think being on the other side of the camera allows me to do that. In fact, it makes kind of a storyteller master in a different way.

Should the show be renewed for a second season, do you see yourself fighting revenants?

Oh my God, I hope so. I hope so, absolutely. I would love that. I’d be – I know whatever they do with Nicole is going to be their direct decision but of course I would love that. I think Nicole would, too and I think after the last episode, now that she’s been kind of privy to the secret of what’s really going on in purgatory I can’t imagine her kind of sitting and being like, “OK, you guys take care of it.” I’m sure she’s going to want to jump in there.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1

There’s a moment when Waverly is coming down the stairs and she and Nicole share a look. What were you thinking during that scene?

I mean I have so much love and admiration for that woman and she’s such a great and I think just like also watching her develop as a colleague and as a friend throughout the season, coming from – coming over from England to this penitentiary and she’s like totally – I don’t know comfort zone and coming onto this show. And just watching her kind of develop throughout the season and – then I see her in episode 12 and she’s just like developed and grown so much as an actor and I think just like we were getting to the under-filming at that point and I think just everything we had gone through together as actors and as colleagues and as friends kind of in that scene I remember thinking about a lot of those things. So thinking that I was just really proud of her.

What was your favorite storyline to act out?

My favorite storyline – do you mean like a favorite scene or episode? Yes. I love the episode with Melanie. I thought it was 7, when we did all that work in the morgue. It was really find also to just do a scene with her because I hadn’t really got to work with her very much. So that was one of my favorites and I would say definitely doing the finale shooting episode 13 because I got to be in the scene with every character. So that was my favorite. I think just like working with my colleagues in doing a scene where everyone was into the party scenes, those were some of my favorite to shoot because we were all together and we so really got to all be together working in one scene.

If there is a season two which are the actors do you feel you have a lot of fun working with that you haven’t already gotten to work with?

I mean I really love Tim. We have a great time together. Tim and I went to L.A. to do a Spanish talk show like maybe a month now to go with something. We got to kind of hang out for a day and spend some one-on-one time and we had a really fun time and I think – I mean the whole cast is just so much talent in our cast that I really love what Tim is doing with Doc Holliday. They think he’s a fascinating character and I think Tim does such a good job and I would love, love, love for Nicole to have more scenes with Doc.

To you what does Waverly and Nicole’s first actual date look like?

What their actual date, I don’t think they ever really get to a date. I think they kind of hang out at home and stuff. But I think for Waverly and Nicole I think they would have a lot of fun going to an amusement park. I could definitely see that being a really fun date for them so I feel like if I was going to pick one thing for them I would send them to like an amusement park with like roller coasters and cotton candy and the whole – well at least what’s fair. It’s not a big amusement park.

What do you think your character’s theme song would be?

Oh my gosh. Wow, it’s such a good question. I have no idea. I don’t know if it would be like something pretty powerful and I think pretty confident. I mean I love – there is this fan who asked me what one of my favorite song was and I said it was Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire and I hopelessly get attached to really – for a bit song for Nicole. So let’s go with that. Let’s go with that one.