A discussion with Tamsen McDonough (Lucy, Killjoys)

I recently was able to ask Tamsen McDonough, aka Lucy from the wildly popular SYFY show Killjoys, questions about working on the show and herself in general.  Here’s what she had to say.
How did you hear about Killjoys?
I had just moved to Vancouver, BC (Canada) when my agent asked me to put myself on tape for a new sci-fi TV series called Killjoys. I asked what part I was auditioning for and she said, “the spaceship” – I was more than a little excited!!
What’s the most interesting thing about the show?
For me, I’m blown away by and so excited every time I get a new script by how creative and imaginative it is. Because it’s in space and an alternate universe, they can do anything they want and I really love that potential. And they do such a great job with realizing that potential!
Why do you think it’s so popular?
I think there’s a lot of factors that contribute to Killjoys’ international success, but I’ll break it down to what I see as the main three: 1) well-rounded, intriguing characters and grounded relationships, 2) a clever blend of drama, action, comedy and adventure, 3) and beautifully realized creative potential, that I mentioned earlier.
Who came up with the idea of having Lucy sarcastic instead of a typical robot/computer voice?
Even in the original character description she was described as something along the lines as (I’m totally paraphrasing as I can’t remember exactly) a sarcastic, clever AI ship who is not shy about who she likes. I think, because she’s AI, that she’s always expanding her experiences and responses so she becomes a little closer to human all the time… never getting there, but always trying.
What would you like to see happen with Lucy?
As actors we’re always hoping for our characters to have their dreams fulfilled (whether a good/evil/damaged/etc character), so I would love to see Lucy either get back her fembot form so she can “get the boy”, or “get badass” outfitted with a whack of awesome weaponry to become part AI ship/part battle-vessel. It would also be fun to see more of her origin story with Dutch and Johnny 😀
Do you get to physically work with the other actors in the show?
If I’m just doing the voice of Lucy the ship then I’m in a sound studio with the post-production crew after all the scenes have been shot. But when Lucy’s consciousness was downloaded into the “Lucybot” last season, I had a blast working with all the cast and crew on set.
What’s your favorite thing about the show?
I would have to say the core characters that Michelle and her writing staff have created. They are incredibly diverse, compelling and unique – the kind of characters that I love to watch (and play).
What do you think fans connect with the most when it comes to Lucy?
I think it’s her love for Johnny and her loyalty for the rest of the crew. Love and loyalty are things that we can all empathize with and hope and fight for. They’re so universal and Lucy embodies those qualities without guile or agenda… in a very pure way.
You worked with Michelle Lovretta in Lost Girl. How does Killjoys differ from your role in that?
If I remember correctly, my role in Lost Girl was actually partly the inspiration for Lucy. When I was originally auditioning for Lucy one of the notes was to give her a bit of the spice of the very sassy and snarky “Janet” on Lost Girl. Both characters are so much fun.
What’s the best part of working with her?
Oh wow, there’s so much! Michelle is not only clever, creative, funny, and smart as heck, but she’s also incredibly kind and supportive of all her people 😀
Do you seek out specific projects?
It’s simple and it’s an actor’s cliché but I agree with it when looking for projects: I want well-rounded characters in interesting relationships telling fascinating stories. If you have those basic elements and involve people who are passionate about these things, I believe that you’ll have a great project.
But, getting down to specifics, after being a part of Killjoys (and Lost Girl) I’ve been getting more and more interested in sci-fi projects partly due to the creativity and blend of genres, but mostly because sci-fi seems to have the best fans of all the genres. The people who support our show really are the best fans out there!
Can you tell me something about yourself or your costars that would surprise fans?
Uh oh, this could go either way for me… I really love designer Barbies. I have lots of the “adult collectibles” (as we love to say to keep from feeling too silly about playing with Barbies… heheh) hanging out on shelves in my place.
If you could work with anyone in the industry, who would it be and why?
Hmm, that’s tricky as there’s so many super talented people out there who I want to work with, but often for very different reasons. However, overall my top pick would be Frances McDormand, just so I could try to steal some of her incredible talent by osmosis 😉
What do you hope will happen with your career?
I’m pretty boring and simple when it comes to my acting aspirations. I would be happiest to just be consistently working on great projects with talented people all over world, whether it be as the lead or a cool supporting character in TV, film, video games, voice, or stage. I like to be working on new and different parts and projects. I have my fears, but change and looking for a challenge don’t seem to be any of them right now.