Warehouse 13's Allison Scagliotti on Finale Teasers, Mad Men Influences and Playing SyFy's Coolest Nerd
Claudia Donovan is Warehouse 13's techie-type character, the one who spends long hours cataloging stuff like Man Ray's soul-sucking camera and P.T. Barnum's top -- and then fortuitously saves everyone's life with a quick hack to her cell phone and a glancing pop-culture reference to boot. She's just so likable! So don't be surprised when her real-life counterpart, Allison Scagliotti, wins you over with some big spoilers for the Warehouse season finale and a name drop of her favorite Mad Men character.
There are [two] episodes left this season. Is that enough time for us to figure out definitively whether H.G. Wells is good or evil?
Oh, H.G. Wells. I mean, I don't want to spoil the party. I'll start by saying that Jaime Murray is an absolute dream to work with. I was a big fan of her work on Dexter before we had the pleasure of casting her as H.G., so it's very exciting to work with her. She did an amazing job... I don't want to specifically say that there's going to be a major betrayal, but there may or may not be a major betrayal. [Laughs]
It seems like that's something that's looking to wrap up this season.
Yeah, I mean, I feel like the final three, four episodes are really kind of ramping up the energy, because our finale is going to be pretty explosive. It's our "Indiana Jones" couple of episodes. Sept. 11 is our Indiana Jones episode. The finale is just out of this world.
"Indiana Jones" episode? What do you mean by that?
I mean that the team goes to Egypt, and there's a good bit of adventuring. There may even be an Indiana Jones joke pointed at the Artie character... That aside, my character, Claudia, stays behind in the warehouse, and it's revealed that her destiny is not up to her choosing -- that her future is part of the warehouse design and she's far more important to the warehouse than one would assume.
It makes me wonder, and I hope the audience gleans this too, that perhaps Claudia's not at the warehouse by accident and there's a conspiracy at work.
That's interesting. I guess the Regents are all wrapped up in that?
Yes, absolutely. I get to go toe-to-toe with Lindsay Wagner, who will be back, and CCH Pounder [Mrs. Frederic], and it was really inspiring to work with two incredibly seasoned, graceful, talented women. Working with them made me realize that's the kind of career I want to emulate. They're classy and versatile and wonderful.
I pretty much love every relationship Claudia has on the show. Myka's sort of the big sister and Artie's got the surrogate dad thing. Do you have a favorite of those relationships to flesh out?
I guess it's an expected answer, but my favorite relationship is between Claudia and Artie because it's so true to my real relationship with Saul [Rubinek]. He's very much a sort of would-be dad, but we're also sort of competitive and bickery with each other because we work together and it's natural for people who work together in that intense environment for so long to drum up that family sort of vibe and be at each other's throats. Kind of like summer camp that you can't escape for six months. But it's really a joy and a privilege to work with someone as experienced as Saul, because he has so much to offer in terms of being a mentor and also stories that he has to share.
One thing I think is really cool about Claudia is that she's filling out a role that, even on Eureka which you crossed over with earlier, is typically filled by really nerdy sort of man-boys, you know, and here's Claudia with all this knowledge--
[Laughs] Oh, my God, you're my best friend.
But she's just fairly confident, take-no-crap sort of. Is that hard to maintain her confidence, you know, when the tendency is for the character archetype to be the opposite?
No, not at all. It is not difficult to maintain Claudia's confidence simply because I don't gain any pleasure from playing sort of haphazard... or, I guess the word I would be looking for would be "absent-minded." I don't gain any pleasure from playing absent-minded. I like playing smart girls, and I'm actually really grateful for the opportunity to play such a positive role model for younger girls because I feel like, women especially are bombarded with images of what perfect is at the moment and more often than not it's not smart, it's not true to yourself. And so I feel like Claudia's main struggle this season was to talk to herself and how to find where she fits within this family. And especially in the episode For the Team when you saw that great dynamic between Claudia and Myka as would-be sisters, I felt like that was a great testament to the value of being who you are. Because when Claudia tries to be Myka, she fails, but when Claudia had confidence and tried to be herself she found strength. So, I really value the sort of arc that the writers have given.
Speaking of that, are there any characters that you look at as sort of models for Claudia?
I bring a lot of myself to her. I'm a big fan of Mad Men, but I didn't start watching the show until after the season was done, so I can't necessarily say that Peggy Olson is a big influence there. Though, I will say that Peggy Olson is a big influence in my personal life. [Laughs] But no, I bring a lot of myself to Claudia. My main task this season was being honest, because Claudia's struggle was very parallel to mine. This was my first time being a series regular, I have the pleasure of being part of terrific season of a very successful show, and that's overwhelming in the best possible way, just like it's overwhelming for Claudia to have this job all of a sudden and to have a great responsibility not just to her peers and her coworkers but to her country, because technically that's who she's working for. I really just had to check myself and make sure I was being honest when acting and allow myself to be vulnerable when the time was right.
Warehouse 13 seems to be a show that's really aware of its genre in sort of a reverent way -- the way that H.G. Wells is one of the characters this season and there are a lot of in-jokes about that, and Jewel Staite and Sean Maher were guest stars -- but Claudia being sort of the ultimate icon of that culture on the show, is that something that resonates with you?
It's something that I'm incredibly flattered for, because having been to now two Comic-Cons, I see how discerning this fan culture is and how, when they latch onto something they really commit. So it's an honor to be able to play a character who becomes a fan favorite. And I hope that as Claudia continues to evolve, because I'd like to see her take a radically different turn in season three, I hope that the fans can evolve with her and enjoy the journey that this character takes, and I will continue to love the fans right back. [Laughs]