Interview: ‘Eureka’s Salli Richardson-Whitfield Dances the Night Away with Colin Ferguson

Salli Richardson-Whitfield has her hands full these days. Whether she’s directing an episode of Eureka, acting in independent films in her “free time”, saving Eureka from itself as Dr. Allison Blake, or taking care of her real-life kids, Salli remains calm as a cucumber.

In all the commotion, she somehow managed to find time to take dance lessons from Eureka’s resident blue-eyed boy, Colin Ferguson. Of course, I know more than a few ladies who wouldn’t mind being swept off their feet by Sheriff Jack Carter.

Fortunately, we were there when she was able to catch her breath and chat about playing a character who’s just as assiduous as she is.

The Flickcast: While there are a lot of women in power in sci fi, Allison is one woman who’s feminine as well.  How do you and the writers balance the complexity inherent in Allison Blake: a mother, leader, scientist, and single woman?

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: Well it’s very funny, because when we first started out, the first season or two… When a new director would come in they’d go, “So, a little softer”. They wanted to make sure she (Allison Blake) was never too hard. Maybe it’s just my personality can be a bit hard and cutting. I don’t know, it’s a Chicago thing or something. I’d be like, “I’m not being hard, that’s just how I am.  If they’d come to me, I think that’s how I’d say it.”

But I understand now what they meant, because as we’ve gone on through the seasons, just me as a person has softened. Becoming a mother and getting more relaxed in the character and just naturally, it’s just occurred. Especially this season, you just really find the softness, but at the same time she can switch into work mode when it’s necessary.

It’s true, as all women we need to find that sort of middle ground… you can still be strong and be soft and kind of do it all.  I do a lot at home. It’s not that hard to play Allison because I feel like that’s my life.

I have two kids at home, well I have a husband though, and I have to juggle a lot of things, and I’m very busy and the kids miss me. My job is very important to me and I put a lot into it and you have to find a way to put on a lot of different hats.

FC: Nathan Stark, Trevor Grant, and Jack Carter all think Allison Blake is pretty hot stuff.  Out of the three, who is your favorite love interest?

SRW: It would have to be Carter. No matter who they bring in, Colin and I just have a natural connection. Even though we’re like brother and sister, when we’re in a scene together, there’s something that happens. His little blue eyes spark up.

I mean honestly, when we’re doing a scene it makes me feel natural emotion for him. It really works for us and I don’t have that much trust and connection with anyone else they bring in there. I love when we get scenes where we get to really connect. I think the audience always feels it when we get those really good scenes like that.

FC: What was your favorite scene from past seasons?

SRW: One of my favorite scenes is when I was very big and pregnant. I hate seeing the scene because I’m laying on the couch and I look very big (laughing). He’s rubbing my feet and I’m talking about (how he should) go be with Tess (from the episode, “Shower the People”).

We love those scenes. What was funny was every time he was touching my stomach the baby actually would kick. No matter what, whenever he touched my stomach and he had to say, “Oooh, he’s kicking,” He was kicking the hell outta me. I was not faking it. It was just kind of weird. Literally, he would put his hand and my little boy Dre would just kick really hard.

FC: The first episode and the finale are both set in a 1930’s military camp that was really well crafted. What was it like to shoot the first big episode of the season?

SRW: They really took a lot of time with that set, with the military base that we shot on. It was huge, it was really cool to shoot on that set, it felt like you were doing a big feature and they really took the time to make it look perfect.

I think Colin and I, we were so sorry they couldn’t put as much of the dance scene in there because we did some dancing in there and it got all cut up. We had so much fun. We were doing our whole little swing thing. (laughing) Colin’s actually a very good dancer. He’s a great dancer, so I just follow him. I’m like, I don’t really know what I’m doing but I can follow you.

Tune in to SyFy on September 10th to see Allison Blake don that nurse costume again as she heads back to 1930’s to save the day.

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