Somewhere between the cockpit of a fancy space vehicle and a galactic bar where everyone in the galaxy knows your name, Michelle Lovretta is asked what type of guns are going to be used by Killjoys, the titular characters at the center of her new series.
“AWESONE ONES!” she blurts out.
On the set of Killjoys, Syfy’s new original series debuting June 19th, Lovretta is busy injecting her style into the space fantasy. Coming off a five-season run as showrunner of the hit Canadian series Lost Girl, Lovretta brought the light-hearted humor from her the supernatural series with her to space.
“There’s lightness to the show,” she says. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a “fair amount of ass-kicking.”
When we visited the set back in November, Syfy was filming three shows on location in Toronto. Along with Killjoys, the Thomas Jane-led space opera The Expanse, which debuts later this year, and 12 Monkeys, a breakout hit by cable standards, the shows were a major financial gamble for a network looking to invest in high-quality sci-fi dramas.
While Killjoys is a bit of a departure from the more serious tone of the network’s other new originals, you don’t have to spend more than a few minutes with Lovretta to understand her passion for the genre. Some of the inspiration for the show comes from her love of Alien. “The fact that somebody gave me Ripley is key to me,” she says. “As a kid, seeing that I could see my gender in space, doing some of the kicking ass is something that… I’m definitely investing in Dutch as our lead.”
The bounty hunters at the heart of the series are Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), and brothers John (Aaron Ashmore) and D’avin (Luke Macfarlane). They live in “The Quad,” a planetary system that seems to be run by a corporation, giving the show a dystopian feel. “The Quad,” however, is not earth. “In my mind, this is a future colonized area,” Lovretta says.
So who exactly are these awesome-gun-toting Killjoys?
“They’re technically called reclamation agents,” Lovretta says. “They go out and reclaim things under warrants. The way that some people call cops ‘pigs,’ that’s what Killjoy arose from. And if you are a level 5 Killjoy, which is the highest, you assassinate whomever you want. That’s why they’re called Killjoys because they can kill for joy.”
Killjoys are equated to bounty hunters because that’s the most obvious earth corollary, but there’s a little more depth to the world Loveretta is building.
“They’re kind of guys for hire,” says actor Luke Macfarlane. “They are operating within this company’s rules. Their moral stuff is on top of the job that needs to get done. They’re not out to fight the system the entire time. They’re there to get the job done.”
A space bounty hunter who can kill for joy is no laughing matter, though the first time Macfarlane stepped into this world, it was a little surreal.
“I couldn’t help but giggle because we’re in a cockpit and we’re flying in space and I had to be serious,” he says. “It asks you to be more expansive with your imagination.”
At a press roundtable in Toronto on the set of Killjoys, Den of Geek, along with members of the media, spoke with Michelle Lovretta about what to expect from the space drama:
What was the initial idea here?
Michelle Lovretta: Basically, it was bounty hunters in space. I think a lot of us creators wanted to get back into sci-fi and outer space. I have fun when I do it. But the idea of something that has a bit of a romp and adventure to it was kind of key.
Tonally, what are you going for?
An interesting hybrid of Buck Rogers and Blade Runner. It’s got the camaraderie and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time there’s a political system we’re working with that has classic dystopian touches.
What kind of mythology are you building and what’s the main arc?
D’avin’s character and Dutch’s character have separate backstories that become a serialized arc. D’avin is trying to figure out some dark things that happened in his past and Dutch is trying to figure out how some things from her past caught up with her again. We have a political arc that’s playing out as well. We have two entities in the quad that are fighting over it politically.