January is getting pretty hairy for Kris Holden-Ried (formerly of The Tudors). In Syfy's new supernatural series, Lost Girl (which premieres tonight) the deep-voiced Canadian plays the wolfen warrior Dyson. A detective in the human world, Dyson frequently teams up with the succubus Bo to thwart the Dark Fae and other evil creatures from preying on innocents. Later this week, Holden-Ried truly wolfs out as the lycan Quint in Sony Screen Gems' Underworld Awakening (opening Friday, January 20th). Holden-Ried spoke exclusively with me recently about genre, werewolves, sex, and joining a popular franchise. Check out our conversation after the jump.
You hadn't done much genre work before Lost Girl, so what initially grabbed you about the concept?
I love the genre stuff! I'd never gotten the chance to do it, but I grew up reading fantasy novels. Anything magical, mythological or mysterious, I was into it. When I first read the Lost Girl pilot script, I felt a lot of those flavors in there. I was really drawn to it. Growing up as a kid, you pretend and play. I was able to jump in a play mode and create a character where I could draw on all the things I loved as a kid.
From those early discussions and scripts, what was your sense of who Dyson was?
In the beginning, there was only the pilot script, which plays as episode 8 in season 1. There wasn't really a lot on the page. A lot of it came from different fantasy books I read like The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, with the character Perrin, and a wolf-shifter. I was pulling on that mythological structure he created. Production didn't really have any idea how old Dyson was, so I came up with about a thousand years old. A lot of it was just my imagination going rampant. The physical work was probably the most important thing in terms of figuring out how Dyson moves, fights and carries himself.
In the beginning, Dyson and Bo clash. As the season goes on, how does he fit into her world?
It's an interesting thing. Dyson represents the old Fae world, but at the same time, he's not connected or affiliated with the Ash. Politically, he's aligned with Trip. I wouldn't say he's against Bo; Dyson is just cautious with her. More than anything, he has her best interests in mind. He knows who she really is. Then he starts falling for her and everything changes.
Of course, this series is very sexy and things get steamy between Bo and Dyson. Was it difficult developing that chemistry and is it weird doing those scenes?
It really depends on who you are doing them with. Chemistry is a natural thing that happens between two people. Luckily, Anna and I respect each other and genuinely care for each other. That shows through. Sometimes you work with someone you don't get along with, so you have to fake it. But for Anna and I, it's always been fairly easy. Yeah, it can be a little weird sometimes when you're half-naked on top of each other with 20 crew members around. It's not the most comfortable situation.
Apparently, you had a very memorable audition with Anna.
Yeah, I picked her up and pushed her into a wall. We broke the drywall.
With your athletic and fencing background, do you wish Dyson would kick a little more butt?
Yeah, fight sequences are a lot of fun. They are a little dangerous. This season, I injured myself and it took me a few months to get back into the action. I would love to see our show have a little more time for more elaborate action sequences. It's so budgetary, and very difficult to shoot a lot of action on a medium budget like we have and with our schedule.
Looking back at season 1, what did you enjoy most about the overall arc?
First season had a great driving line. That Bo was searching for her mother was a great story vehicle. As far as Dyson's line, I loved how we went through the entire arc of strangers falling in love, and then sacrificing without his knowledge at the end. It gave us somewhere interesting to start Dyson in season 2.
Moving on, you're knee deep in vampires and lycans in Sony's Underworld Awakening. Were you a fan of the franchise or did you have to brush up?
Oh, no, I loved the Underworld franchise. I was really excited to be involved in it. It's one of the best genre franchises going.
Can you introduce us to your character Quint, who looks pretty pissed off in the trailer?
In the hopes of his father, who is a genetic scientist, Quint is the future of the lycan race. He's a mix, a hybrid, between the DNA of Michael and a lycan. Immunity to silver, massive regeneration abilities, increased size and strength… He's the uber-werewolf. In the timeline of Underworld 4, the humans have really risen to power and almost eradicated vampires and werewolves. Both races are hidden, destitute communities trying to stay under the radar. This is their hope of coming back to prominence again.
As a hybrid, did you have to endure a long make-up process?
It was mostly all CGI for me, just because of the size of the character. I morph quickly out of my human form into something different.
Were you hoisted up for any of Underworld's intricate wirework sequences?
I was never on a wire. I was holding other people up while they were on a wire as if I was going to strangle them. Most of my big fights are in CGI form. I do more fighting on Lost Girl! I'm okay with that. Big-budget fight sequences are very laborious and can take two weeks to shoot. Mostly you're just hanging around doing five seconds of action at a time. It's not quite as fun as it looks.
This is your baptism into 3D, and Awakening was filmed with state-of-the-art Red Epic cameras. As an actor, how would you describe the experience?
There's a couple of things camera-wise you can't do. You have to be a little more conscious of positioning yourself in frame so you don't have a floating head. It's much more laborious for the camera department, but it didn't really impact the acting that much. It's going to be a beautiful-looking movie.
How was it working alongside Kate Beckinsale and having two directors for this movie?
Kate is fantastic. She's so good at what she does. She's lovely, supportive and generous. She's really fun to be around. I'd love to work with her again. The two directors were both Swedish guys and it was amazing. They were such good friends. On bigger budget shoots, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen. They really managed to sail through without getting ruffled. It's a testament to the Swedish culture that they were so amicable, collaborative and easy to work with.
Now that you're part of a franchise, is there another one you'd like to climb on board for?
Pirates of the Caribbean, baby! Put me on a boat and get me down to Barbados. I love the big epic pieces. I'd love to work with Ridley Scott and do one of his historical dramas. Most of the periodic pieces are where my skill sets are, like horseback riding and sword fighting.
In Awakening, these lycans are pretty bad ass. To tie Lost Girl and Underworld together, how would Dyson and Bo fare against them?
Wow, that's a good one! [Laughter.] First of all, there's only one uber-lycan and that's Quint. I think versus Quint, they would really have to team up. We might need to get Lost Girl's Hale in there firing some stuff. To be honest, I don't know who to place bets on. Depends if he's the guest star on our show, or we're the guest star on his.