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Allison Warnyca GALACTICA.TV interview
Written by Marcel Damen   
Sunday, 01 August 2010

Some time ago Marcel Damen interviewed actress Allison Warnyca. Many Battlestar Galactica 2003 fans might not remember her, since she had such a short role. Allison played Lt. Jaycie McGavin, the love interest of young William Adama (played by Nico Cortez) in the first episode of Razor flashback series. In the second episode McGavin returns fatally wounded from a mission, leaving young Bill Adama in anger.

First of all, I'd like to take the time to thank you for doing this interview.

No problem.

You got your acting start in music videos for Damn the Diva and Cactus Pricks. How did this came about and what was that like for you?

That was both kind of by fluke, but originally I started acting in theatre in both high school and University. I was working at a restaurant and met a band member and they asked me to be in that music video. The other one, was when I was just out of University. They're super fun, little shoots. In one I got to pretend I was a rockstar and play the guitar. It was kind of my first intro to being on set. It was good, it was a lot of fun. It wasn't a really intense acting experience, but I got a good feel how everything worked.

You graduated from both the University of British Colombia and the University of Victoria.

Yes, I started at Theatre School at Quebec and I finished at UBC.

Did you also do a lot of theatre afterwards?

I did, I went to New York and started at the Atlantic Theatre company in New York. I did their program there. Then I came back and worked at some local theatres in Vancouver. I did one United Players show and some work with the Beaumont Studio. Mostly it was film and TV after that.

What kind of roles did you prefer to play in theatre?

Theatre is fun, because you get to play anything. It's way more far reaching. I loved doing the Shakespeare plays, I loved doing comedy too -- that was fun. I also liked playing more darker characters that I don't often get to play on TV.

Is it a lot more different from playing TV roles? Do you get more various and different parts than you'd get in TV?

Oh yes. Just because it's not so specific to a look. It's really more about your range and what your strengths are as an actress. It more about suspending disbelief. You can play anywhere from 10 to 40 when you're on stage. While on TV, you're often bound to a certain category.

You also did a Moosehead beer commercial together with Leah Cairns (Lt. Margaret "Racetrack"Edmondson). Big coincidence or is Vancouver really this small?

Yes, with Leah. Vancouver is really small. That was the first time Leah and I met. We've been in each other's circle ever since. The other actress Fiona, is also a friend of mine now. We do some voicework and stuff together. That was a great experience. I was freezing -- I think they were shooting at Halloween -- running through the forest, but it was really a good group of people.

 

Moosehead beer commercial, starring Allison Warnyca (left) and Leah Cairns (right)

Moosehead beer commercial, starring Allison Warnyca (left) and Leah Cairns (right)

 

 

Check out the Moosehead beer commercial below by clicking on the "PLAY" button below to start.

 


Moosehead beer commercial, starring Allison Warnyca and Leah Cairns

 

Leah said it was her worst acting experience ever. It looked like summer, but was shot in winter and it was so freezing cold.

I don't know if it was my worst. I don't mind the cold. I remember it was freezing, but I also kind of live for that sort of adventure. I thought it was so much fun. I love being outside, even when it's cold. (laughing) It's always better to be outside than in some studio. It was beautiful -- a blue sky that day.

She also said, they'd sent you to a tanning salon to get a better color, but you all got sunburn which again hurt when you were raking your clothes off.

(laughs) Oh yeah, I remember that. They also put this fake sweat on us - we're freezing with this oily fake sweat and all this make-up on us. And this campfire (laughing) Well, it could be worse.

Leah told me you became friends during the shoot of I Want to Marry Ryan Banks and also did waitressing together at Nevermind in Vancouver.

That was a really fun shoot -- one of my favorites actually, because we had this big group of girls and we were all in the same hotel on the island. They'd fly us back and forth on the sea plane when we had our days to shoot. It was like a big girl sleepover party. It was such a big cast and we were all good friends. It was great.

How was Jason Priestley like?

Oh he's a sweetheart! He's really nice, actually. He's super funny. It was kind of trippy because we were all Beverly Hills 90210 fans when we were younger, so to actually meet him was great. I had a kissing scene with him actually! I was so stressed, but he was a total gentleman. He was great and would hang out with us once and a while in the evening. We'd just sit around, drink wine and have some laughs.

I've read you got your film break in the independent movie 2 Minutes Before Midnight. Can you tell us a bit how you landed that role, and what the role and the movie was about?

That movie never actually came to anything, but it was again through a restaurant thing -- through a friend of a friend. He held auditions, I just went and read for it. I got the part. It basically was one long huge shot. It was a short film about this couple, fighting the majority of the movie. I ended up smashed against the wall. It was riveting.

You did some episodic television and had guest parts on shows like Cold Squad, Smallville, the 4400. Supernatural... and of course Battlestar Galactica, on which we'll get into a little later. So aside from Battlestar Galactica, anything that stands out in your mind as something you really loved working on or someone you particularly liked working with? Either director or actor?

I always loved doing stunts -- I loved doing the combination of stunts and acting. Dead Like Me was really fun, because it was super kitschy and the lead actresses were hilarious to work for. We're all in this little plane, they all got into this little set. Oh, and doing Smallville was actually great, because I'm a big fan of Tom Welling. He was lovely. It was really fun to work with him.

I love doing stunts whenever I can, so Supernatural was super fun, because I actually got to choreograph a fight scene. We do this sequence where I smash her head into a car window and the director wanted me to get really into it. The actress, Monique, she's a stunt girl and she kept saying: "It's fine, I'm in control." and I was like "Okay. Let's really go for it." Then on the third or fourth take they really got it and then when we pull her up she has all this fake blood on her face but she also had this huge gash in her chin. I'd actually smashed her face into the wind shield. We were shooting out of order and in the next scene she was supposed to be fine. So it was kind of an ordeal and I felt horrible. She took it like a trooper.

Did you get any training for doing stunts?

No, I never have actually. I'd just done fight scenes in theatre and stuff like that. I'd like to, but I've never got any professional stunt training.

 

Allison Warnyca as Lt. Jaycie McGavin on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

Allison Warnyca as Lt. Jaycie McGavin on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

 

Then coming to Battlestar Galactica. Had you heard or seen the series before you got involved and what did you think of it?

I had heard of it, because I had all these friends on it. Again: small town. Friends like Nicki Clyne and Grace Park were on it. So I'd seen and heard about it through them. I've never been a huge scifi follower until then, when I started seeing the show a little bit. I thought: "Oh, this is a lot different than what I expected." I definitely had a respect for the show before I got to be on it.

Did you just read for the part of Jaycie McGavin or did you also read for other parts?

No, that actually is the only part that I went in for. I went in, got a call back ...I don't even know if I got a call back, I might even have booked it off page. I think they'd been searching for that character for a while. They'd found one girl that they liked but they ended up casting her in a different part for that episode. It all happened pretty quickly. It was a great part, loved her.

What was it like to act with Nico Cortez?

He was lovely. He came up from LA and he'd been a huge fan of the show. He really studies the characteristics, because he was supposed to be a young William Adama. He had really invested in doing that and he was great to work with. We became friends. He had to do a lot of work, stunt work and with the planes and stuff. He was also kind of a newbie on the show, so it was nice to be working with someone that was also new too, because we were both kind of in it together. It was really good.

 

Allison Warnyca as Jaycie McGavin and Nico Cortez as young William Adama on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

Allison Warnyca as Jaycie McGavin and Nico Cortez as young William Adama
on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

 

Some people suggested that Jaycie's callsign might be "Goldbrick" as William Adama is using the term as a tease, a joking reference to her shirking her duties because she's injured, though I must add writer Bradley Thompson confirmed that McGavin's callsign was never specified in the script. Have you ever heard that or discuss this or any of her background with anyone?

No, I didn't know that at all. Really?

When Jaycie is injured he says "Goldbrick", but you can't barely hear it.

Right. Sorry, I didn't know that. Fans know a lot more than I do -- the inner workings.

Did you make up a background story for her yourself to get into the character?

Yes. I kind of thought about where she was coming from and her upbringing. She seemed to be sort of a tough cookie for me, so I invented her back story as that it was kind of hard growing up. She had to have this tough exterior, but she's actually quite vulnerable on the inside. I remember thinking that. She really enjoyed being in the position that she was in. She was ahead and he was a rookie compared to her. She's the kind of girl who really enjoyed having the power position. (laughs)

Jaycie is part of a mission to attack a Cylon outpost on an unnamed Ice planet. I wondered if you ever saw the original Battlestar Galactica series, since in that series was an episode called "Gun on Ice Planet Zero", which was about a remote Cylon outpost on an icy planet.

Really? No, I haven't seen it. I should. (laughs)

McGavin gets injured during that attack and presumingly died of her injuries. Where you sorry your storyline was so short?

Yeah! It's "presumingly" died, so she might not have died. You can't really tell. I talked to the director about that and he was like: "We'll leave it open, so you can come back for the next spin-off." which would be great. It was great and a great scene to do. The prosthetics and such were amazing. It was really unreal actually to have all of that on my face. It scared a little kid when I came out of my trailer. It felt really bizarre and deformed. But yeah, I was sad that it ended there. I hoped I could continue for sure.

 

Allison Warnyca as Lt. Jaycie McGavin on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

Allison Warnyca as Lt. Jaycie McGavin on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

Allison Warnyca as Lt. Jaycie McGavin on Battlestar Galactica's Razor flashbacks

 

In some ways it also nice to go out like that, because you died in combat and gave William Adama a lot of strength to become the man he later becomes.

Yes, that's very true.

What was it like to work on that set, with that crew?

They're amazing. Everyone was really helpful. I remember the first day I came, I got my wardrobe and my suit fitted up. They took me into the big warehouse studio and showed me where all of my transportation would be. They introduced me to everyone. It ran a really tight ship there. Everybody was really accommodating and great.

Did you get along with director Wayne Rose?

He was great. He's super laid back, funny and easy going kind of guy.

Did you also read for a part on the new Caprica series?

No, I haven't. I'd love too. I really enjoy doing the scifi stuff. I feel like there's more room . It's more almost -- in some ways it's very played, very straight and very real -- it does bring in those theatrical elements that I enjoyed, because it is somehow beyond ordinary reality, so you do get a license to kind of go into this fantasy world, which I love.

You also played on a scifi horror movie called Project Grey. Can you tell us a bit that?

That was a love-hate project. It was great, but it was a tough shoot. It was two weeks out in Pender Harbor on Sunshine Coast in November, I believe. It was dark and rainy, there were little cabins and it was a very low budget shoot. I met some amazing friends that I'm still really close with on that shoot. I also had some tough days, being dead in the mud, in the rain, but it was a good bonding experience for sure.

Your character name is Alli, is that coincidence?

No, everyone uses their real name actually.

 

actress Allison Warnyca

actress Allison Warnyca

 

What are your future plans? What are you working on right now?

I'm doing some hosting stuff for a yoga show. I'm also working on an adventure travel show. It's kind of my dream to host something with adventure travelling. As far as acting goes, I'd love to get back on stage eventually, but we'll see.

On the Project Grey website in your bio it said you went to London to pursue and acting career?

I did. I went to London and I ended up doing a lot of voicework and I did some theatre there -- I worked for a theatre company there. I did a voice series for the BBC, which was great. I play this American girl. I'm always a bit typecast as the dumb American girl in London. (both laughing) But it was fun. It was definitely an adventure.

What was it called?

That was called Atomic Tales. I was a radio drama. They're not really big here, but they somehow work in the UK.

What kind of parts are you particularly looking for as an actress?

I love things that are a little bit of a stretch. I love character roles and would like to do more of that. I'd also love to do more kind of action-hero stuff -- superhero, but a little corkier; the ones that don't take themselves that seriously. That would be a great role -- where I get to do a lot of crazy, outdoor, adventure stuff, like climbing and fighting.

If you were a superhero, what kind of power would you like to have?

Definitely flying. I love flying and heights. Hmmm... Invisibility would also be good. (laughs) That would be nice.

Would you use your powers for good or bad?

Of course for good! I'd be saving the world, really. A bad guy would be fun to play, for TV.

What actors do you admire, look up to or would you still like to work with?

Oh, I love Kate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and those kind of classic actresses. I'm also a huge fan of Parker Posey and I love her kind of style -- dark comedy -- and how she plays and delivers it. I'd love to do more stuff like that.

What roles are you usually typecast at, besides the American blond?

I'm often typecast as sort of a rich bitch (laughing) or as a toughie. Lately it's been more as a toughie, but usually as a strong character. I don't know if it's the jaw or something. I'd really like to play the insecure sweet one, but I'm usually cast as the controlling dominatrix.

Any interesting hobbies besides acting?

Yoga is a big one. I don't know if we can call it a hobby, it's more like a way of life. I'm busy working on a yoga project. I'm shooting a pilot for a yoga show and I'm hosting it. I'm covering all the different yoga events in the city. We have this yoga thing coming up. It's a 24 hours yoga relay and I'm teaching, hosting and interviewing.

 

Allison Warnyca

Allison Warnyca

 

So are you really good at yoga?

I'm fairly good. I've been doing it for ten years now. I've been teaching for about five years. I've always been very sporty and then I started doing it a bit in University and loved it. When I was acting I wanted something else which was a little more steady that I could kind of do on the side. So I decided to do this course in Thailand and went away to Thailand for a couple of months. I trained there and got my certification. I've been teaching ever since.

Snowboarding, I'm really into that too. I just started paragliding -- my friend has been teaching me, but it's kind of dumb for the winter. And anything out in the wilderness. I love camping, hiking, travelling and going to the mountains.

Have you travelled a lot?

I have in the past, but not a lot recently. I'm hoping to go to India soon.

Great. Thanks again for taking the time to talk.

Oh, thank you!

 
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