Pointy ears & guitars: Allison Scagliotti's wild 'Warehouse 13' ride

EntertainmentGamingAllison ScagliottiDanceSyfy (tv network)Eddie McClintockNintendo Company Ltd.

Allison Scagliotti isn’t quite herself in the latest episode of “Warehouse 13.” Actually, I should say her character, Claudia Donovan, isn’t quite herself.

In “Don’t Hate the Player” (8 p.m. Aug. 15, Syfy), Claudia and Pete (Eddie McClintock) jump into the fantasy world of an online game created by “Eureka’s” Dr. Douglas Fargo (guest star Neil Grayston) and they become avatars of their own choosing.

Pete asks to be a gladiator, while Claudia says she wants to be “herself.” Poof, suddenly she’s an elf. (“Enunciate!” Pete tells her, but too late.) Claudia also appears as a different avatar, which is more to Fargo’s liking.

“Oh my God. I don’t want to spoil that for the fans,” Scagliotti said last week about the other image. “But the thing with playing an elf is that—so pointy ears was really good, right?—putting on those ears was an hour-and-a-half process and that was before the hair and makeup.

“So there were a lot of mornings filming that episode where I had to be in at, like, 4 a.m., which meant getting up at 3 [a.m.] and going to bed early … But it was really fun.”

Scagliotti said the Ian Stokes, who wrote this episode and last season’s “Eureka” crossover, “apologized to me over and over about the ears and how that cut into my sleep.”

But, she said, she couldn’t be made at the 28-year-old Stokes.

“I love what Ian writes and I love the way he writes my character actually,” she said. “I think that Ian, being our youngest writer in the room, really kind of just gets my voice and so I’m always excited to see what he writes next for me.”

Even though the episode has all kinds of comic moments, Scagliotti shows her dramatic chops as well. Claudia is forced to face her fears about some episodes in her past. Scagliotti said that acting in those carthatic Claudia scenes often helps her to deal with her own issues.

“I think that’s ultimately why being an actor works for me,” she said. “As a kid, it was a way for me to express what I was going through with a troubled home life or with depression about where I was living and my school. And it was a way to express myself safely behind the mask of a character.”

“Don’t Hate the Player” is Scagliotti’s “favorite episode of the season so far.” She talked more with reporters about playing guitar and singing in the episode, working again with “Eureka” star and her bud Neil Grayston and about her work on the show in general. Below is a partial transcript from the call.

OTHER QUESTIONS FROM ME
Were the ears the only difficult thing about the episode?
AS: The hardest part was running around in those fancy gold heels while they pumped dry ice through the stage. A lot of us fell. A lot of us got hurt. A lot of us got bruised up during the filming, but I think all of that madcap energy really shows.

Were you surprised by the whole idea that he came up with you guys existing in the game? Or did you just think, well that makes sense that Ian would write that?
AS: It made sense coming from Ian. I mean, given that our writer Ian Stokes also wrote the first crossover last season and the computer system sort of taking over the Warehouse. So I’d say this is definitely in his wheelhouse.

You get to sing and play guitar. Are we going to see an album any time?
AS: No, no. I mean, listen, never say never. But at the moment I just play a lot of covers. I just bought my first bass I’m really excited about. And I’ve been playing it non-stop. I think I’m kind of a natural at it. But, one day when I’m ready, I’ll be writing and we’ll see where that takes me. Right now … I’m just doing it for fun.

Are you self-taught or were you taking lessons for the guitar or?
AS: Both. I started teaching myself five years ago and I just started taking lessons regularly about a year ago. So I’m back into it now that I’m back in L.A.

Does this mean that you’ll probably be offering up more ideas and seeing if you get to do all your little fantasy things you want to do on the show?
AS: Oh, you know it. I never stop.

You said you’re obsessed with “Wilfred.” I knew I loved you, and now I do even more. It’s a great show.
AS: Oh great, because that show is so foul and just hilarious.

Yes, it is. Do you ever look at dogs now and wonder, “OK, I wonder what’s going on in his head?”
AS: Oh, I always wonder a lot about my dog. First of all, my dog thinks she’s an actress. And maybe she is. She definitely knows how to use her cuteness to get what she wants. So maybe I could take a lesson from her.

My last question is sort of a serious one about Claudia. She’s sort of more willing then ever now to talk about her past. And in this episode she has to face up to her fears. Do you think doing those kinds of cathartic scenes sort of helps you work things out in your personal life too?
AS: Always … Playing those cathartic Claudia scenes is … telling the Allison truth within the context of a character, as Saul would ultimately say, because I think the best performances are ones that come from a place of truth and vulnerability, so I try to bring that to Claudia as much as I can. It’s rewarding. It’s fun to play these cathartic heavy scenes.

QUESTION FROM OTHERS
What has it been to work with Neil again?
AS: It’s always a pleasure to work with Neil. I’ve said in the past, Neil is one of my best friends, and so having the opportunity to work with him on set is just a joy. It’s like summer camp but we’re getting paid to run around in crazy costumes.

He’s an incredibly professional, hilarious comedic as well as dramatic actor and is never afraid to have fun. I think I speak for the entire cast and crew of Warehouse when I say that being able to bring Neil Grayston onto the show is nothing but fun. … I can honestly say it’s my favorite episode this season so far anyway.

Do you think Claudia is going to be going out in the field a lot more then kind of that second string team on the show?
AS: Yes, I think so. You’ll see in plenty of episodes that the episode between Claudia and Steve becomes very pivotal emotionally as well as professionally, you know, in terms of the Warehouse teams.

Claudia’s at this point in her life where she wants to prove herself as an adult and she’s sort of like all 20 year olds, figuring out who she is and what she wants to be. And that’s been really, really great for me to be able to bring that sort of part of my life and me discovering who I am to the character.

So in terms of Claudia’s destiny, I know last season we sort of touched on her becoming and (ex-friend) with Frederick, and what happens to her at the end of this season is really emotional and intense. I think the world is sort of Claudia’s oyster. We can see her go in a couple different directions, so I’m really excited to explore that going forward.

Can you talk about some of the things we’ll see inside the Warehouse 13 video game?
AS: Yes, it’s a very tongue-in-cheek sort of lampooning of video games in general and their depiction of women as well as what the warehouse could look like to an outside viewer or from an outside perspective.

The theme of the Warehouse video game, it’s called Fortress 13, and it’s the sort of castle medieval aesthetic. And so all the women have cartoonishly large breasts and … it’s actually a little bit conflicting because there’re gladiators as well as knights and wenches. What you’ll get to see is your sort of staple warehouse characters but as Fortress 13 avatars, so cartoonish representations of our normal characters.

It’s really fun. Fargo sort of plays with the mythology of purple goo and artifacts. And I don’t want to give too much away but given that Fargo had seen the inside of the Warehouse, you know, don’t be surprised when you see the disco ball from Studio 54 make an appearance. And is there a dragon? Maybe. I’m not saying there isn’t.

With the recent news about “Eureka,” has there been any talk about getting Neil on Warehouse 13 as a regular?
AS: I honestly have no idea. I don’t know a lot about the news about “Eureka.” I mean, it would certainly be great to have Neil on but I think it’s really early to say that kind of thing, and more than anything I hope that “Eureka” fans just tune into this episode of Warehouse because I think they’ll really like it. Neil gets a lot of screen time.

If you were to play a game, what would you play?
AS: I have no idea. Let me start by saying that growing up, I never had a gaming console. All my friends had Nintendo or Play Station or those little cartridges you had to blow into because they got dusty.

And that was never a part of my childhood. I mean, I was in every sense the theater kid who would just play dress up all day and then sit down at the piano and play for a couple of hours. So gaming is a whole culture that I have sort of no way to relate to.

But if I did play, I’d probably play some adorable little Indy game or if not, then the “Legend of Zelda” because that’s as close to this episode of Warehouse as I can imagine.

You also had to kind of share the screen with Eddie’s pecs for most of that episode. What was that like for you?
AS: Well, you had to be careful not to bump into him because you’ll bruise. And I was worried that his pecs were going to be scene stealers but in terms of augmented body parts, I had pointy elf ears for much of the episode so I felt like I could contend to a certain degree.

What are some of your favorite artifacts so far? And is there one that you wanted to do that they haven’t done yet?
AS: My favorite one this year has definitely been Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar because it was the first opportunity they gave me to sort of play guitar on the show, which is actually something I want to add.

For those of you who’ve seen the episode, you’re expecting this. But for the people reading this article who haven’t seen it yet, the writers and the network has been really supportive of my wish to play guitar and sing on the show. And this episode that’s about to air is the first time I do get to do that.

So at the end of the episode, Claudia goes to an open mike and gets out on a limb and covers one of Claudia’s, I mean Allison’s favorite songs. … I think I pitched the red shoes this year, based on the ballet. I mean, before that, the short story of the girl who dances herself to death or a pair of red shoes. I think that would be really interesting if some shoes sort of wound up on Claudia and she had to find a way to get out of them and they have some sort of emotional resonance.

But yes, the great thing about this show is that it’s kind of past the limit. I think we can almost do anything in terms of artifacts, and even this year, we explore so many different themes that I don’t think any two episodes are alike.

We’ve got this video game sort of “Tron”-esque episode and then two episodes later we’ve got a sort of “Die Hard”-type story line going on. So we’re keeping it fresh.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EntertainmentGamingAllison ScagliottiDanceSyfy (tv network)Eddie McClintockNintendo Company Ltd.
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