Published: Wednesday, 23 June 2021 13:05 | Written by SciFi Vision
Friday Syfy airs the series finale of its thrilling vampire series, Van Helsing. In the final season, the show follows Vanessa (Kelly Overton), Jack, played by Nicole Muñoz, and Violet (Keeya King) as they fight the Dark One (Tricia Helfer) to save humanity once and for all. Now that the Dark One’s life force has been returned from the amulet and she is back to full strength, it all will come down to the epic final battle between the Van Helsing family and Dracula.
Muñoz recently talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about her final season working on the series, filming in Slovakia, Jack’s costume, reuniting with Overton, and more.
Be sure to check out the transcript following the video interview.
Zoom Call Van Helsing Nicole Muñoz
June 10, 2021
***Some unrelated content from the video was removed from the transcript*** SCIFI VISION: So, obviously, you were in the show last season, but Vanessa was still more of a part of it. When did you know that you guys were going to kind of be more of the leads of the show? And what was it like finding that out?
NICOLE MUÑOZ:I think that was kind of discussed, but not out loud, in other ways. When we first got hired, I think we knew that Violet and Jack were going to grow to be in a little bit more, to help move the show forward while Vanessa was busy.
And when I found out about season five, Slovakia was an incredible surprise to me. That was quite the phone call that I received. That was closer to the filming of season five. So, I think it was around December of the of that year, which we would have wrapped season four around October.
So, there was some unknown as to what was going to happen in season five; they kept that storyline very quiet, I think, as to avoid spoilers…but yeah, season five, the first three episodes [were] a huge surprise to me, and I was very excited. I didn't know that was going to be like its own kind of story. The whole idea was to film it more like a feature then like kind of a standalone situation. And yeah, I think Keeya and I both knew that we were going to be putting a little bit more on our plates for season five to sort of carry this narrative until the possible return of Vanessa.
I was looking over the interview we did last time. I know how originally you were saying that Jack was supposed to be a boy, but you knew he was maybe going to come back, but that has to be though a pretty big thing, going from, you know, auditioning to to suddenly being the lead of a show. I mean, that's [big].
Yeah, that was big. Yeah, because I had auditioned for Violet, because we're twins, but one was a boy, and [one] was Jack and one was Violet. So, I had originally auditioned for Violet. And I think it said, recurring or maybe -
I think you said you thought a few episodes, but you definitely didn't know you were going to be the lead. That's why I said, that's a pretty big leap from that.
Yeah, I think it was, and I think just kind of as the ball rolled throughout season four, I think, as Keeya and I did our work, they realized we are capable, and then they wrote more stuff for us, which is usually how it ends up working with a lot of TV shows with those recurring type characters. Like even Jesse [Stanley] and Jen [Cheon Garcia] have a really good story of how both their characters started as a smaller characters, but because they showed up to set like, prepared with a really cool character, they became [bigger characters].
So, you were talking about you had to film in Slovakia. That's crazy. What was that like?
Filming in Slovakia was crazy. I was blown away to get that news. Filming in Europe has a life goal of mine, and I'm hoping to keep going with that, but it was an incredible experience just meeting with the local crew who are all incredibly helpful and well rounded and very talented at what they do. They have a lot of productions out there as well, so it's not like they were unfamiliar with what the film industry was. So, it was really cool to work with them. I think the biggest hurdle was maybe a bit of a language barrier, but I didn't really notice that. I think that maybe Jonathan Scarfe had to deal with that a little bit more in terms of like, getting specific shots with the camera crew and things like that.
Filming in Slovakia was incredible. Jesse and I got to go around and explore. On our days off we went to Vienna, and we also went to Prague, which I think was my highlight. But, I mean, I'm sure that you get to travel a good bit just going around like for press, but just not necessarily to film there?
Yeah, filming has never taken me out of Canada, except for Van Helsing.
Yeah, I only had to go to LA for some audition. So, I've never filmed in the States. I've gone all around Canada. I mean, currently on my new project, it's taken me over to Halifax, which has been the most incredible experience.
Can you tell me what this is, by the way? Or are you not allowed?
I can now. So, this is a show called Diggstown, and it's a CBC show. So, it's a Canadian law procedural drama.
So, I won't get to see it, [laughs]
Actually, Fox picked it up.
Really? Wow. Usually we don't get to, so that's cool.
But [I want to ask]; I never really think to even ask this, but do you get to travel a good bit though, just going around to like, I mean, conventions and things, I assume? I mean, now, obviously not, because of COVID, but I assume with Defiance you've probably at least gone some places doing press or doing conventions, or am I wrong?
No, with Defiance, the only convention I did with Defiance was Fan Expo in Toronto - The one I went to.
Yeah, the one you went to, and I don't know if you remember that story, but I wasn't supposed to be on that panel. I went to go watch everybody, and they were giving away tickets to go see the panels. I thought you could just walk in, but, apparently, you needed tickets, but to [get] a few free tickets you had to answer these trivia questions. So, I answered all the trivia questions. [laughs] I got the free ticket, and I went to the room where you watch everybody, and then Julie [Benz] recognized me in the audience, and she's like, “What are you doing there? Come back.” And she set up a chair at the table for me, and that's just one example of how she always looked out for everybody.
Yeah, I was doing press rooms, so I never got to most of the panels.
For the record, I did tell them that I kind of cheated, because I'm on the show. So, they gave another ticket to somebody else.
I mean, when you were invited to do [it] though, they just what? They invite you to do press, but not necessarily the panel?
No, I wasn't invited to do the press either.
Oh, you weren’t invited to the convention at all, you mean?
No, no, no.
Oh, wow. Well that worked out well [laughs] Fake it til you make it, right?
That's kind of what the idea was. I said, “Well, you know, if they're not gonna invite me, I'm gonna go, and I'll support my friends, but, you know, I figured make your own press right? [laughs]
So, I did want to ask though, I started to say, I know probably even now traveling would be different. How did COVID affect your filming?
Yeah, we got very lucky with Slovakia. COVID was just like a rumored whisper towards the end of our last two weeks. We knew it was a thing coming up. There had been a few articles, and then some one of our producers kind of mentioned, “Oh, well, the airports might lock down. We might be putting you guys up Germany. How do you feel about that? For an undetermined amount of time.” I was like, “Well, that sounds fun, so, great.” [laughs]
Hey, free vacation, right?
We ended up making it - I think it was on a Friday we flew out, something along those lines, and by Monday, almost all the airports on that side of Europe had totally locked down. So, when we got home, we got a notice from the crew, from the producers or the crew, saying, you know, “If you feel sick, it’s called COVID; it's out now. Go check yourself at the clinic and all that,” and I did go and check, because I was sick, but I passed, and it wasn't COVID.
It must not have been at the height of it yet, then, I take it, that they were [only] like “Oh, you feel sick? Go check it out.”[laughs]
No, it wasn't. This was just the beginning. So, I wasn't going to be in those next episodes, but the rest of the crew were supposed to head out pretty much that week to go film in Kamloops the rest of those episodes.
Then, I know they made the executive decision to just stop, halt everything to wait and see how everything was going to pan out. And it was kind of like silence while in the background they organized everything. And I think it took a few months or something to get Kamloops back up and running.
Then, we were the first production up in BC, I believe, to be filming with COVID regulations. So, we had a lot of eyeballs on us to see if we could do it or not, because if we got shut down for COVID violations or a positive test, then that means that a lot of the other productions in Vancouver wouldn't have been able to start up. So, it was a lot of pressures on our shoulders to follow all the rules and be very safe, very vigilant. I know a lot of people were pretty much in self isolation at home, and then they would just come to set and that was it. So, it was a very interesting experience. It really made us appreciate the family we did have on set, because that's the family we could see. And we did it. We made it without any positives, and also no violations or anything like that. So, we set a good example, and Vancouver was able to start filming again.
That's cool…I remember Trisha saying something before about about being [one of the first]. So, that's pretty cool you guys got back.
[I’m not sure where] I actually learned that stat. I want to say in BC, but it could-
You were one of the firsts.
I know we've set a lot of good examples.
So, do you get a lot of input on Jack's look?...I mean, obviously, you’ve not changed a whole lot since the first time you were there, but I'm just kind of curious, like her clothes and that. Do you get much input on that?
Yeah. Well, there wasn't much input I had to put in, because I loved every outfit they gave me. Besides, the only requests I ever had were were, “shoes I could run in and do stunts with” and “sports bras instead of real bras,” because I don't like wearing them. [laughs]
[laughs] Instead of what?
Instead of like real bras.
Oh, regular bras.
Sports bras instead, because, I mean, we're running around, so it made the most sense to me.
You would think they would know that. [laughs]
They got clued into that real quickly.
[I guess] they're not the ones doing it, so they don't think about it.
I had gotten a question from Twitter. Do you have a favorite outfit?
My favorite costumes would definitely be, I think, Jack's initial kind of season four outfit. It's a black turtleneck with the army jacket and the blue cargo pants and just the good shoes, the heavy shoes. I took the pants home, but I own those now. I didn't take the black shirt, but that's because I own pretty much the exact same one. So, that might be why that was my favorite outfit, because it just felt like something that I would wear.
Well, that's good. And that was the other thing I was going to ask, is there anything else, any props or any other even any other costumes that you got to keep or either you were given or…you ended up with?
I definitely, permanently borrowed a lot of the socks they gave me. They're good socks. They're like those thick ones that keep you nice and warm. And a few of the sports bras, actually, because it's hard to find a sports bra that like does what it's supposed to do, and we really nailed it. It was a lot of trial and error on the show. [laughs] But Jack finally found the perfect sports bra.
But you didn't try to take or try to get any like props or weapons or anything? Because, I know, yesterday [during our interview], Kelly told me she got her knives from the one season.
Oh, that's cool. I didn't think to take anything. I was happy to not see that bow and arrow ever again. So, there was not much I wanted in terms of like -
Well, free clothes. I mean, free clothes aren’t bad! [laughs]
I took the clothes. And I mean, we have the show to remember. And Elliott [Montello], who is the prop master, he drew me the sketch of the original pump action shotgun bow and arrow that I had, and so I have that, and I plan to blow that up and frame it or something, I think.
That was cool.
Last time when I had talked to you, you had said they didn't really tell you how to use the weapons, just how to hold it. Have you've gotten any kind of training since then, or is it still kind of the same, just figure it out, and make sure it doesn't look too bad?
Yeah, there was definitely weapons training in terms of, if I was fighting with - actually, not really. A lot of hand-to-hand combat training and good choreography with that kind of stuff or definitely with any guns I had to hold. Lots lots of people on set knew how to do it, and would show me how, and if not, I mean, hopefully I'm holding them right.
But nothing formal? It sounds like you didn't get a lot of formal [training].
No, if there was training, It was kind of on our own time, and it was just - a lot of the cast got together and would do it, because we all like that kind of stuff anyway, so that was fine. But for the bow and arrow stuff, I only took like maybe three classes, because I knew I was never gonna actually need to shoot it. Like even in the stuff in Slovakia, to even get the bow up, and to get the bow from my back, my costume wasn't giving enough for me to reach that far behind me. So, either way, it wouldn't have been able to happen. And if we had to wait for me to try and get a proper shot off, we would have been there forever. [laughs]Van Helsing moves too quick for that kind of accuracy.
Well, I mean it's not something that you notice or anything. It's not something that stood out that I ever thought about. So, as long as it looks good, that's what matters.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I'd like to take more lessons like that. I did really enjoy the time I had, it’s just, while you're filming, you don't really have that much time to go out and learn things. That type of preparation should happen before filming starts.
Well, you never know. It doesn't always work out that way. So, what other kinds of challenges did you still [have] towards the end of filming. What were some of the kind of things that were still challenging for you?
Towards the end, I think something that was always like, odd to me, but it’s kind of the best part of sci-fi, so it's a bit of a double-edged sword, is working with all of the green screens, like a monster in front of you that's maybe supposed to be projectile vomiting, but you just see an actor just kind of heavy gagging in front of you, or a portal is supposed to open, and it's just a door with a piece of blue tape. We have to look so in awe, and we're all figuring out where to look and how long to look. That's always a little bit challenging on set, just logistically, but that's the part where I get to use the most of my imagination. So, that's kind of when I get to feel like a little kid again and picturing whatever I want to picture. And then, it's kind of fun to see what it looks like when I watch the episode, because there's like a portal later, and what I pictured in my head and what I've seen now are two totally different things, but it looks like I'm looking at it, so it all worked out.
So, I guess, Jack's goal is to get to Bathory and turn her and use her to read the scroll. Can you kind of tease all about kind of that confrontation?
So, one of Jack's goals is to track down Bathory and to turn her, because Jack has a master plan, and she really thinks that what she has in mind is what's going to save everybody. But as we know, Jack, whenever she makes a plan, things don't go according to plan, so we're going to run into a lot of hiccups to say the least and some possible heartbreak. …A lot of people really like the relationship between Jack and Ivory, can you talk a bit about that?
Yes, there will be more scenes with Jack and Ivory, and I agree, I also cherish that relationship. I know Jenn finds it very important as well. We spent a lot of time talking about it behind the scenes to make sure we were putting as much realism behind it as possible and to give it the weight it deserves. So, whatever scenes we do have together, you can know for sure that both Jenn and I have put our hearts into it to make sure that every moment is special between Jack and Ivory.
Can you talk about Jack's reunion with Vanessa, even though it may not be Kelly we found out at the end of the episode?
Yeah, Jack meets a stranger who she's very nervous about at first, but learns very quickly that this is somebody she can trust, and somebody that she loves dearly. And Jack will fight, and has been fighting her whole life for this person. What was it like finally getting back to [working with Kelly though], because she's been gone a while, obviously?
Yeah, she had been gone a while; we all missed her. And I think the reunion of Jack and Vanessa, on set it feels like the reunion of Nicole and Kelly. It's just like, you know, you're excited to work with somebody, again, somebody that you look up to, and somebody that you care about and that has so much to teach you. So that's kind of exactly the same feeling Jack has for Vanessa but, you know, on a larger scale, because that is a mother-daughter relationship. So it felt, it feels good. And even though in the show, it's high stakes, I do think Jack and and Violet are both very excited to be working with Mom once again.
I assume that they're going to meet up with Dracula at some point and there's going to be some kind of showdown. What can you tease about that?
I think this whole five seasons have been leading up to what's going to be a very incredible showdown between the Van Helsing family and Dracula, and it is a big showdown, and it's going to be louder and windier and more powerful than you can imagine. And I do think that the fans are going to be really happy with just the excitement and the entertainment level of of the big fight and hopefully the result.
Yeah, and that's what I was going to ask, were you satisfied with the ending?
Yeah, I was satisfied with the ending, I do feel that the writers did a really good job at tying up all storylines and making things come kind of wrapped up in a nice package at the end. [There’s] still a little bit of unease, but I kind of appreciate that, because it is a post-apocalyptic show, and it's sci-fi, and not everything has to be a happy ending, and not everybody gets to walk off into the sunset. So, I do think that they did a very good job finishing up the storyline with a satisfying enough ending, and I am looking forward to the fan reaction. I hope it's as positive as mine was.
I'm sure it will be, but…there's two I haven't seen yet. So, so I'm still in the dark of what's going to happen there.
Yeah, you haven't seen like the two best ones.
Alright, now this next question, this was actually a really good question. This came from somebody on Twitter. They asked what do you think Jack's dynamic with Scarlett (Missy Peregrym) would have been had she originally met her? That's a really interesting question.
I think Jack would have really liked Scarlett. I think just from, you know, the Vanessa relationship, it probably would have been like a cool aunt situation. I think there would have been maybe a fun like montage where Jack learns all of Scarlett's cool moves. I think Scarlett would have been maybe someone Jack might have been into, maybe, [laughs] and I mean, I know the actress, and she's really cool, so it would have just been even someone you look up to and just want to take all their information and study everything they have to offer, and, yeah, I think it would be a cool aunt vibe type scenario.
The only reason I thought of this [next question] is because I had been talking to somebody that did a musical episode of something, and it made me wonder, what do you think Jack's theme song would be? If she had a song, like if you had a musical episode or something, I'm just curious, what song represents her?
Oh, no. [laughs]
What song represents you? How about you? It doesn’t have to be Jack if you can’t think of it.
I would have loved to put maybe a more well thought out answer to this, but the first two that came to my head were “Eye of the Tiger” and “Taking Care of Business.” [laughs] Now I don't know how accurate that is, but maybe she listens to that before she gets up and goes out.
That works, that works.
I put those on in my trailer to kind of pump myself up for any sort of action scene.
Somebody asked me…how do you think the death of Shelly (Jessica McLeod) affected Jack?
Oh, yeah. That did affect her. Yeah, that was Jack's girlfriend/not girlfriend. Not official.
Not official girlfriend. All right.
First love I think is what I decided at least narratively for myself. I think that put a lot of guilt into Jack's personality. It caused PTSD, and I think it was her first real loss. Yeah, it kind of kicked off Jack's personality of guard up and protect yourself first and, you know, get them before they get you type personality. Yeah, I think Jack carries that sadness with her throughout the rest of the season.
Okay, I do have another question, because I was thinking about it when I talked to Kelly. I know you don't necessarily have a whole lot of, I mean, you get stabbed I think sometimes, but not necessarily as much as maybe other people's blood effects and that, but you do get blood in your mouth a lot. That does not seem like fun. [laughs]
You know what? It tastes kinda like mouthwash. So, it's not that bad. I like having more; I always ask for more, just because like, when we start doing it, my anxiety goes up a bit, because I worry that there's not enough in my mouth for the shot. So, I always like to have more in there than not enough, which kind of sometimes leads to too much coming out, so we have to do it again. It's quite the cleanup situation, but it doesn't taste that bad. I've been having blood in my mouth since I was like twelve. I had to fake losing a tooth or something in a movie, so I'm pretty used to it. It's just, I don't like it when it gets in my hair, or I always feel bad when I miss my aim and it gets on the costume or something, because that's kind of a bigger reset, but it's not too bad. It's a healthy snack. [laughs]
[laughs] All right. So, would you ever be interested in writing or directing, kind of doing that side of things?
Yeah. I would really like to get into directing. Actually, towards the end of season five, I had been talking to Ali Liebert about it. She's a new cast member on the show for season five, and she herself is a director, so I really look up to her in that regard. She's really made her way and made her name in Vancouver. So, she's somebody I look up to and kind of wanted to pick her brain about it. I think there's a lot of room for female directors in Vancouver and in Canada, really. So I would like to take that opportunity. I feel like I've definitely put the hours in on sets, but of course I have lots to learn. And writing is something I've always wanted to do, and I have some projects in mind. And there's one that one day hopefully I can get it done, but I want my writing partners to be my cousin and my sister, so that's gonna be a personal project.
Is your your sister an actress?
No, she's not. I have two sisters and it's the older one, and she is not an actor. She's an elementary teacher. So yeah, she's the, I think, real hero in this COVID pandemic, at least in my family. She's been through a lot. It's been really interesting watching her navigate the online school situation. She's the oldest. She's same age as my cousin, and they're both kind of the story gatekeepers of our family, so they have the most most information. [laughs]
Do you want to quickly tell me more about your new project? I cut you off earlier. We kept talking about Van Helsing.
Yeah, it's a show called Diggstown. It's a CBC show it films here in Canada. It films in Halifax, the show is actually based in Halifax. So, I work as a crown prosecutor on the show. So, it's very different from Van Helsing. I was shocked to have booked this. I have been a fan of Diggstown for a very long time. I think it's a very important show that talks about a lot of important topics that are needed to be discussed, and they don't shy away from them. It's not kind of a metaphor situation where you actually talk about what needs to be talked about. And we deal with the legal system in Canada, and it shines a light on the flaws of it, and also the good parts, but mostly, you know, I think audiences that watch the show will very quickly realize that if you want things to change, it has to happen from from the courts, and we kind of show you how to do it. So, I'm really excited to be part of the show, because Van Helsing was like saving the world during the apocalypse and very sci-fi fantasy, and this one is actually shedding the light on real world problems and giving people an opportunity to provide real change.
…I'm a lead for this season. So, it's fun. It's really fun, and it's such a different role. I'm really interested to see what people think about it.