Over the course of its first four seasons, the Syfy channel series Van Helsing has been a consistent winner for the network. This past Friday, the network premiered the first episode of the fifth and final season.
At the end of the fourth season, the Van Helsing fandom was introduced to the Dark One, played by Tricia Helfer. For the fifth and final season, we will learn about the origin of the Dark One and more!
We had the chance to sit down with the very talented Tricia Helfer to talk about being the Dark One, what fans can look forward to with the final season of Van Helsing and her special message to the Van Helsing fandom.
Pop Culture Principle – You must be excited for this final season of Van Helsing?
Tricia Helfer – I am really excited! I haven’t seen any of the final cuts, but just from the experience of shooting Dracula’s backstory in the first three episodes that we shot in Slovakia, which was February of 2020 and feels like ions ago. We managed to be the first show in North America to resume filming and getting through the rest of the season safely feels like quite an accomplishment. I didn’t have anything to do with that personally besides doing my own part, but I think it’s going to be quite the season for the fans!
Pop Culture Principle – Watching the teaser trailer for Season 5, it looks as if the writers are pulling out all the stops and not holding anything back with the blood, gore and action for this final season. Would you agree?
Tricia Helfer – Yes. I mean there is always a lot of blood and gore on this show. Again, I haven’t seen the cut together stuff and some of the episodes I’m not in or some of the scenes I’m not in, I really don’t know how they finally come together, but I am sure COVID protocols did change some of that. I know certainly with a couple of my scenes, they were altered slightly to have less people in them and less physical interaction. There is going to be plenty of the gore and blood this season. I am the kind of fan that has to look away during those moments. I’m fine filming it, but I can’t actually watch it! For those who are looking for that kind of stuff, there is plenty of it this season!
Pop Culture Principle – Dracula has been locked away for a long time and now that she’s finally unleashed, it seems she’s going to have to reacclimate herself to this new world? Would you agree with that?
Tricia Helfer – It’s hard to answer that question without giving out spoilers. Definitely at the end of Season 4. I was only in the two episodes from that season and we meet the Dark One and then she is put back in the Dark Realm at the end of the episode. So, in the finale of Season 4, I certainly looked at it like she has a lot of catching up to do and she definitely has to figure out what the world is around her and what is going on.
But, because we start Season 5 with the origin story, it’s a different setting anyway and we really don’t get to where Season 4 left off until episode four. So, at that point and not giving away too much, yes there is an acclimation period for Dracula, but because of some stuff that happens in the first three episodes, there is an even exaggerated element to her reacclimation.
Pop Culture Principle – It seems very fitting that the first female to play Dracula is on a series that is a very female-centric series. Has it sunk in how important you playing this role has been?
Tricia Helfer – I think it is now sinking in a little bit more. I didn’t know of any other females who played Dracula, but I think this is the first and it would have terrified me if I thought about it too much. I just wanted to find the tone of the show and just have fun with the character. I purposely didn’t want to think about it too much because it might kind of freeze me so to speak.
Pop Culture Principle – How much input did you have on creating your own spin to this iconic character?
Tricia Helfer – In my first episode, there were more talks about the hair and make-up. I didn’t really talk with anyone really before my first day on set filming about the actual character. The discussions prior to me going up to Vancouver were about hair and make-up. They were sending images to me back and forth about the look of the character. Hair, make-up and wardrobe all work together and helps build the character and it’s so much easier to be that character when you have that stuff on. We have changed Dracula’s hair in Season 5. It suited her coming out of the Dark Realm, which was almost like a birth in some ways, and we wanted to change the hair heading into Season 5 which we did.
When we got on set, let’s try it and go from there. It was really Jonathan Scarfe and me. I chose to make the character quieter and more intimate that it was written on the page. On the page, the character is written big, and it sounds big, and you want to say it big, but when you get to the set and it’s a very intimate set, I made saying “I’m Dracula” to Sam very internal and Jonathan came up to me and said it needed that. When you read it, you read it grand, but in the moment, that statement felt like it needed to be intimate between Sam and Dracula and sometimes you really don’t know that until you get in there and play.
Pop Culture Principle – One thing that Van Helsing does really well in our eyes is the gender dynamic. Although the show is a female led series, it doesn’t take away the importance of the male characters. Would you agree with that?
Tricia Helfer – Absolutely and that is one thing that struck me from watching the show and being offered the role. I guess I kind of got spoiled with that because of my time on Battlestar Galactica. Battlestar had the same kind of gender equality. Adama didn’t want Roslyn to not be President because she was a woman, he questioned her ability to be President because she was 43rd down in the line of succession at the very beginning.
So, with Van Helsing, it was a treat to be part of a show that has that kind of gender equality. Sometimes it can be a trap that shows fall into. We are going to make this female led or female strong show, but then it means we can’t have great strong male characters as well and that’s not true. Let’s just make badass characters and vulnerable characters and make everyone well-rounded and I think that is one thing Van Helsing has done very well.
Pop Culture Principle – Touching on Battlestar Galactica again, Katee Sackhoff did receive some backlash initially playing a female Starbuck, but it seems there has been no backlash towards you playing Dracula. Do you feel that has to do with the fact that Van Helsing is a female driven series?
Tricia Helfer – I actually said on a panel the other day that I so appreciated the fans accepting me as a female Dracula. I mentioned the story about Starbuck. I remember that Battlestar hadn’t even aired yet and we were at our very first Comic Con and Katee got death threats. I don’t know if they were serious, but she did get death threats. I remember telling this story on that Van Helsing panel and Jonathan Scarfe and Nicole Munoz were shocked. I have not received any of that. I am sure there are people out there that may not be happy with me playing this character or wanting someone else playing the character, but I haven’t heard any of it.
Pop Culture Principle – Van Helsing will be one of the shows that gets to finish the story and end on its own terms instead of being cancelled. How important is that for the series and for the fans?
Tricia Helfer – It is super important, and it happens so rarely actually. I think it’s the biggest treat for the fans, the actors and the creators. With Battlestar, we got to tell the final story, but with Lucifer for example, they have had a wild ride. The show was cancelled after Season 3 and then the fans helped revive the series for a fourth season and then the fifth season was going to be the final season and they were literally in the last day of the writers’ room and were then told there was going to be a sixth season!
They were writing the fifth season as a series final and now they have to expand the story. From what I hear from my friends on the show, they have done that remarkably well expanding the show into a sixth season.
So, to be able to do that is a real treat because it lets the creators and writers go back and really make use of all the mythology or the little tidbits that they planted in earlier on that if you don’t know you are finishing, you don’t necessarily bring out yet. It allows them to wrap up the story and I know the team is really happy that they got to do that.
Pop Culture Principle – In Van Helsing, your character is called the Dark One more than she’s called Dracula? Was that a conscience decision with you and the writers?
Tricia Helfer – When I was first offered the role, it was offered to me as the Dark One. I got the script and I am reading the script and I see that I only have the one scene and I was wondering where the Dark One was coming in. It wasn’t until I say that line to Sam, “Your master Dracula”, I realized that I was playing Dracula and wondered why they didn’t just say that.
In Season 5, the origin story will understand that more and I really can’t say anything else about what happens in the first three episodes. I think part of that will be answered at the beginning of the final season.
Pop Culture Principle – The Van Helsing fandom has been one of the most vocal and supportive fan bases out there and they welcomed you with open arms. As the series draws to a close, what would you like to say to the fans of the series?
Tricia Helfer – Just a huge, huge hug and thank you! It’s always exhilarating and terrifying starting a show, especially starting a show that is wrapping up because you know that the fans are already invested. Also, to come onto the show as the big “baddie”, you know you are going to be hated, but the fact that the fans have been welcoming to the female aspect and our version of her and how she fits into the story, we couldn’t do it without the fans. That’s what we do it for. We are telling the story for the fans and the Van Helsing fans have been incredible
Pop Culture Principle – Can we assume that there will be a decisive confrontation between Dracula and the Van Helsings at the end of the series?
Tricia Helfer – I think your assumption is probably pretty spot on. Dracula was introduced for a reason right? I think that is probably a given that there will be some sort of show down and I won’t tell you what happens or how it happens. There’s a very uniqueness to how they did this inevitable showdown. Stuff that is planted in the first part of the season affects the quality of the attraction between the Van Helsings and Dracula. It’s certainly affects how it will all ultimately play out. Also, there is a real nugget at the very, very end of the season that will be a really fun piece for the fans I think.
You can watch brand new episodes of Van Helsing every Friday night at 10/9c only on the Syfy Channel!
**Main photo courtesy of Manfred Baumann**
**All Van Helsing photos courtesy of Mayo Hirc/Nomadic Pictures Inc./SYFY**