Interview: ‘Krypton’ Star Wallis Day Talks Nyssa Vex, The UK Premiere, Comic-Con & Season 2
With new DC show ‘Krypton‘ due to premiere Sunday, 19th August 2018 at 9pm on E4, we had the chance to chat with one of its stars, Wallis Day, who plays Nyssa Vex on the show.
Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton follows Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe – ‘The Halcyon’), the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, who is faced with a life and death conflict. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray and the House of El ostracised, Seg is prompted into action by the arrival of Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos – ‘The Vampire Diaries’), who’s travelled from present-day Earth to warn Seg of an insidious plot to change the past and prevent the birth of the last son of Krypton – a plot he believes to have been orchestrated by the Super-Villain Brainiac (Blake Ritson – ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’). Fighting to redeem his family’s honour and protect the ones he loves, Seg is also entrusted with protecting the future of his legacy – a destiny that will see the birth of the greatest superhero ever known.
Wallis will be a familiar face to a number of UK fans, having starred as Holly Cunningham in ‘Hollyoaks’. She went on to star as Olalla in the ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ mini-series, US take on the royal family, ‘The Royals’, and popped up in ‘Will’, the drama about the lost years of young William Shakespeare.
On ‘Krypton’, Wallis takes the role of the somewhat Machiavellian Nyssa Vex. The youngest daughter of House Vex is a brilliant lawmaker, ambitious, fearless and highly intelligent. In the interview below, we discuss getting into the role, working in Belfast, doing her first Comic-Con, and some little bits about what could be coming up in Season 2 of the series.
GT: Are you excited for the fact that it’s actually launching in the UK finally?
Wallis: I’m just really excited because it feels really real when your friends and family are talking about it and they’re finally going to see it. It just feels really real when it’s out in your hometown.
GT: One of the weird things about the show is you think, “Well, that’s a very American looking show. It’s probably shot in Vancouver,” but it’s actually shot in Belfast, which does make sense, as it’s also a very British cast. David S. Goyer (showrunner) commented that having a British cast on that sort of American show gives it a kind of other-worldly feel to it. I wondered how well that would work in the UK, but it does seem to still come across to me, just because we’re so used to seeing those sort of shows with an American accent.
Wallis: I actually agree with you. I think that also in the UK we’re so used to having UK shows with British accents. If an American show comes on we just associate it by being an American show. So, I don’t feel like they would feel that other-worldly vibe as much as America would. I’m hoping that it works in our favour, where people just look past that and actually look at the storyline and don’t even think about … because we don’t even think about if it’s an American accent or not. Unlike the Americans, do you know what I mean? Because there’s only one accent that really gets used in the UK.
GT: Having seen the first episode, I actually think it does work because, as a British audience, your brain is sort of trained for thinking, “Oh well, this is an American show.” Then they all come on and speaking completely English accents. Those superhero shows, you’re always expecting it to be American. I think it does still come off, I think that still works, which is nice.
Wallis: I’m hoping that Brits feel a bit proud of it as well. I’m hoping that they can associate themselves with it more, because, at the end of the day, we are a British cast. We’re from here, and I feel like British people should be proud that Brits are working with American production.
GT: Ever since ‘Game of Thrones’ moved to Ireland it’s become a sort of Vancouver-esque hub for sci-fi, but this side of the Atlantic. Especially with them looking at a post ‘Game of Thrones’ world. You’ve got ‘Krypton’ shooting there, and you’ve got ‘Nightflyers’ shot there I think as well.
Wallis: You’re right about that. Don’t get me wrong, I was a little bit upset that we didn’t get to shoot in Vancouver, but I shouldn’t worry about that. It’s great. I don’t wear a wig for the show, so I have to fly back every week, pretty much, to get my roots re-done. If we were shooting in Vancouver, flying back to England every week would have been a lot. So actually, there are a few benefits around for us [Laughs].
GT: Yes. That would be a lot more expensive to do if you were shooting in Vancouver!
Wallis: Yeah [Laughs].
GT: So, do you want to just explain a bit about your character?
Wallis: I’m the junior magistrate, so the chief magistrate is Daron-Vex, who’s kind of the big cheese. I guess you can call him the prime minister of the society. And I’m a bit of a princess next to him, I suppose. We’re in the Lawmakers Guild, and Krypton’s split up into different guilds, but we’re kind of, I guess, the politicians of Krypton. And my character, Nyssa, has had quite a sterile cold upbringing and has never really developed a meaningful relationship, or really had any kind of relationship with anyone that hasn’t just been a commodity to her.
I think that when she meets Seg at the start, that is what he is to her – a bit of a game piece, but that changes. For most of season one, she just grows and develops in such a different way to as you would imagine in the first few episodes, and their relationship really flourishes. I can believe how much the audience had changed their mind about my character Nyssa.
I think for her personally, she’s involved in a journey of self-discovery – Breaking away from her father, and the society that she’s been brought up in. Then towards the end of the season, we’re left on a cliffhanger which is even more exciting for me right now. But yes, that’s a little bit about my character. I don’t wanna give away too much.
GT: It must be slightly weird for you having to go back to the beginning when you’re starting to focus on season two I guess?
Wallis: Yes it is, actually. Because obviously now we’re speaking to a UK population which is amazing, but it’s so weird because my head is in season two. As you know, we start filming next month, and I’m really excited. It’s really weird going back, but it’s a really good thing that you get to see how far your character has come, and it just makes you more excited I think for the next stage.
GT: Definitely. Given your character’s relationship, you’re shooting quite a lot with Cameron Cuffe on the show as well. How’s it working with him? I guess he’s the person that you’re probably working with most.
Wallis: Yes he is. Honestly, he’s been fantastic. Cameron and I have both done a similar amount of work before, which isn’t too much. But I think it was quite new for both of us, and we really got to grow together as actors and push each other, and push each other’s boundaries. Honestly, he’s such a giving actor that it makes my job so easy. You know, doing scenes with him. And also he works so hard as well. Nothing’s forced, he’s just one of my favourite people I’ve ever worked with. Genuinely.
GT: You’ve done various other shows before like ‘The Royals’ and ‘Hollyoaks’ and that sort of stuff. But a show like this comes with its own pre-built fandom and you have things like San Diego Comic-Con, which you did recently. Was that your first experience of a Comic-Con, and how was that?
Wallis: Crazy. Yes, it’s crazy. [Laughs] Obviously I have done these shows, and have bit of a fan-base from things like ‘Hollyoaks’ for example, because it’s such a long-running show. However, something like ‘Krypton’, because it’s DC and it’s comic book related, the fans are just … it’s such a strong feeling and a sense of community of being at something like Comic-Con. But it’s amazing to get feedback from the fans and you know, it’s quite overwhelming but they’re such a strong community and a fan-base but I’ve just never experienced before in my life. And it is good because they know a lot! They know everything! And it’s just because they’re questioning your knowledge and kind of push you to work harder, and often you want to do justice for the fans to the character in the DC universe. But it’s really nice to feel like you already have support and people on your side that want the show to be great. Fans are invested in the storyline as much as you are. It really changes everything actually, because you’re not just starting from scratch, you’ve kind of already got it there. And we’re really lucky to have that.
GT: I always think that an actor getting into this, if they don’t know quite what they’re stepping into when it comes to that sort of fandom, must be quite overwhelming.
Wallis: Very overwhelming [Laughs]. I remember the first time after the show and I flew into LAX and there was a comic book superfan or something on my flight who Tweeted that I’d got on the plane. And I just remember there were about 20 comic book fans at the airport after a long flight. And that was the first time I was like, “Oh shit. This like, they’re serious, they’re not messing about here.” Yeah, it’s very weird if you’re not used to it. And I wasn’t… But it’s great. Like I said, everyone really lovely and they’re just really passionate something so you know, it’s harmless and is really really nice.
GT: Well I always say to actors. if you ever get offered a role on a show like this, even if it’s a tiny, small arc, take it. Because even if you don’t do anything else for the rest of your career, you can spend your time making money going to conventions and signing things if you have to.
Wallis: [Laughs] Yes, A lot of shows have conventions. I didn’t realise half of them existed. You’re right. You’re right.
GT: If you can make money 30 years later, as “third stormtrooper from the left”, signing things for like £5 or £10 for a headshot, then you know, it’s gotta be worth doing like a small arc on one of these shows.
Wallis: [Laughs] Sorted! Better than working in a coffee shop, I say. [Laughs] We’re all really grateful for it.
GT: Absolutely. So what was the most fun experience working on season one of the show?
Wallis: I think one of my favourite times was when we all first met each other. We started off out in Serbia. It’s just such a different country to England, and it’s like being in a totally different world out there. There were six to eight of us, and we were just all staying in this massive hotel for a whole month together. We really really got to know each other, and bond. There was a lot of fun times in that hotel, that I’ll always love.
But I think on set, actually doing the whole season, I think my favourite times there are all the green screen stunts and things. You know, obviously when we’re in the Skimmer, which is like a spaceship on Krypton, it’s not real but it’s like a simulator, so it is actually moving and although there’s green screen around it like you are actually in a simulator and you’re trying to act and it throwing you around. I know there’s a lot more of that coming up in season two. But I’d also say group scenes, because we all get on really well, and kind of our action stunt scenes like they’re always fun. You never know quite how they’re gonna go. Unpredictable every day.
GT: You mentioned green screens there. Have you worked with green screen much before? I’m told that a lot of the sets are physical sets, rather than green screen sets as well with this.
Wallis: Yes, all the sets really are there. There’s only a couple of sets that are green screen. It is actually only when you need to see out to the atmosphere, when we leave the planet kind of thing, so we’re in a spaceship or as you see in the first episode, when he’s kind of walking the plank, that bit is obviously green screen. The sets are just incredible. It’s very easy to act in on a set as realistic as they are, because when you get inside the set, it actually is the place that you see on TV. The lighting is already rigged, and it’s not just a big crew. The fact you’re actually there does make it a lot easier. They’re the best sets I’ve ever worked on.
Actually, when I did ‘Will’, they re-created the Globe, the Shakespeare Globe in Dragon Studios up in Wales. Which was the coolest set I’d ever been on. But for me, this, for me personally this is even cooler. So yeah, I love the set. They’re amazing.
GT: So what was the most challenging thing for you this past season?
Wallis: A lot of my cast members are hilarious, so sometimes it’s simply trying not to laugh when someone’s making a joke. But I think it’s always challenging doing a deep emotional scene. Nyssa has a lot of feeling with her dad that get quite heavy. And I think finding the right balance in those scenes, where it’s not too much, but you need the audience to understand how hurt the character is, and how genuinely the end of this relationship is for her. II think those scenes are always quite tough because sometimes you need to go somewhere as an actor. And sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get out of them or just go to the next scene which is you know, happy and jolly because obviously, we don’t film in chronological order. So I’d probably say heavy scenes, and then going on to something much lighter straight away is always a bit challenging for me personally. Do you know where I’m coming from with that?
GT: I mean it’s a bit of a mental leap.
Wallis: Yes, it totally is a mental leap. You kinda go home, and you’re a bit confused. But it’s great because we all do socialise a lot. So you’re never just at home. But yeah, I think a bit mentally challenging is jumping from scene to scene.
GT: I get that. So you’re going back to shoot season two fairly soon. The one bit of information that has come out about season two is that you’re adding in Lobo.
Wallis: Oh yes!
GT: How much DC stuff were you aware of before you got the job? Do you know much about Lobo as a character?
Wallis: I knew a little bit about Superman and DC because I grew up with a brother who was really into it. Then we all got cast, so Warner and DC gave us a shit-ton of comics on Krypton. And then loads of research and homework which obviously we had nine months to do, because we had a gap between the pilot and the series. But yeah, about Lobo in particular, I know that he’s a villain and I know a little bit about him. I know that the fans really love him, even though he is a bit of a baddie. And yeah, I know that he’s got quite a tough history. And I’m excited to see where and how he slots into Krypton because it’s really exciting having a massive character like that now involved.
GT: He’s a really interesting character. I think there was a lot of people quite surprised that ‘Krypton’ was the first place where Lobo ended up on a screen anywhere. Because I think people expected him to show up in a movie, or maybe one of the CW shows… Although he’s possibly a bit adult for the CW shows. That was the other thing that surprised me. There is a very definite distinction between those sort of DC CW shows, and this show.
Wallis: Oh yes, for sure.
GT: This certainly feels like it has a more adult feel to it. Rather than a sort of teen feel to it, if that makes sense. So I think this is probably the better place for Lobo, definitely. Given the type of character he is.
Wallis: I think he’s gonna fit in very well in the Krypton universe. And I saw somewhere that he was I think strongly a favourite DC character ever, which was pretty cool. He’s got his own fan-base, which is awesome.
GT: I’m very interested to see what they end up doing with him, because I think he’s a hilariously entertaining villain character.
Wallis: Oh yes, me too. And I’m actually excited to see who’s gonna play him. I’ve been hearing rumours and I’m really excited.
GT: Yes, I’m very interested to see who they cast, because that’s going to be a big one I think.
Wallis: Yes, from what I’ve heard, I think so. Hopefully.
GT: So last couple of questions for you, which I always ask people when they come on to talk to us. The first question is what TV shows are you watching at the moment?
Wallis: I mean, on British TV, I’m really into ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ right now. But when I was in America I started watching ‘Atlanta’ which I’ve only just got into, but I’m really enjoying so far. So I’m excited to see where that goes. And I haven’t actually watched that many superhero TV shows recently just because I’m kind of superheroed out all the time.
GT: Yes, that’s understandable.
Wallis: Understandably, right? But you know, I’ve just started ‘Atlanta’ and I feel I’m gonna be binge-watching that for a while.
GT: Well there’s two seasons of that to get through. So yes, you’ve got a few to watch. It’s very good.
Wallis: Believe me, I get through TV series very quickly when I have time off.
GT: That’s good. And lastly, if you had the opportunity to work on any TV show, can be from the past, the present or some future TV show, not one that you’ve already worked on, which one would it be?
Wallis: Oh my gosh. That’s such a good question. There have been so many that I just absolutely love. Can’t just spring something like this upon me. This is not fair [Laughs].
GT: This always stumps people, so don’t worry.
Wallis: Does it? I really hard, isn’t it? I really, I’m trying to think of TV shows that I would have liked to have been involved in. Not even just the storyline, but generally like it looked you know, like amazing. I think obviously something like ‘Game of Thrones’ has to be up there because it was just you know, amazing. I think actually ‘Westworld’ is pretty cool. I’m really into that.
GT: I could see you popping up in ‘Westworld’.
Wallis: I did quite like all the Netflix so like ‘Jessica Jones’, I feel like that would have been a cool one to play you know, those kinds of shows. I think to be honest a superhero show for me. I also enjoyed ‘Luke Cage’, but I think superhero shows for me are the most fun, because there’s action, but then you get superpowers on top. So you know, it’s like where’s it kind of end? So I’d probably say something like ‘The Flash’, but I’m not sure because I mean it depends what mood I wake up in. [Laughs] You can use any of them.
GT: Right well I shall let you get back to your day or sleeping off more jet-lag!
Wallis: No, I wish I could. When I’m up, I’m up. That’s it. We should do this again sometime because I’m a massive fan of Geektown.
GT: Aww. Awesome. Great. Talk to you soon. Cheers, bye.
Wallis: Speak to you later!
‘Krypton‘ premieres Sunday, 19th August 2018 at 9pm on E4.
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.