Last night, viewers of Warehouse 13 got to see something unusual, the return of a dead character, and a beloved one at that. Steve Jinks, played by Aaron Ashmore, was brought back by his fiercely determined (and coifed) Claudia. Back at the end of June we spoke to Aaron about his return, the idea of creating a gay character icon, and what’s in store for Steve this year. Something that doesn’t come across in print that was a joy of the conversation is that Aaron laughs, a lot. It’s a deep, genuine fun laugh that he hasn’t been able to bring to the show so far. We also break the news of who is going to play his mother later this season.
AfterElton: We’re talking to Aaron Ashmore, who made his triumphant return to Warehouse 13, which was somewhat unexpected since he’d been dead for three days.
I have to say that I just watched the episode, and you didn’t look bad for a dead guy, even when you were still dead.
Aaron: Well I haven’t seen it yet to be honest with you, but I believe that I was pretty pale. I believe that’s what they were going for was pale.
AfterElton: Other than the yellow around your eyes, you could have just been asleep.
Aaron: Well, vampires are very popular, so I could have been a vampire.
AfterElton: You could have been a vampire, which would have been an interesting twist. Now going back to the beginning, how did you end up joining the show, because I know you were a last minute sign on last season.
Aaron: Yeah. It was very, very quick, over the weekend. When I read the role, the script was Steve Chu, for an Asian character, but they were having a hard time finding the right person. But I read it and I thought it was an interesting role, and his ability to tell when people were lying. He was coming into this world, and he was very matter of fact about the stuff, it was interesting. I really like the matter of fact tone to the character, because I’d seen the show before and realized that it would be a different take, a different energy to put into the group that would be really interesting and that it would be a great role.
AfterElton: Now when you read it at first was the character gay, or did that come later?
Aaron: I’m trying to remember. I read the first two scripts, and I think that Steve kind of came out to Claudia in the second script, so I knew that, and I think in the character description it said that Steve was gay. And again, another interesting thing for me to play and another layer to the character. I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out, or how it would involve that, but it was just another interesting layer for this role.
AfterElton: And interesting way to put it, because we still talk to a lot of actors who agonize over the idea of playing a gay character, and it sounds like you didn’t even blink.
Aaron: No! I’ve played gay before, and I am straight, but it seems like a natural part of who this guy was. I’ve got lots of gay friends who I didn’t know were gay until it comes up in conversation, and I felt that that was who Steve was.
Obviously Claudia thinks that Steve was hitting on her, and in the beginning he was like “Whoa whoa whoa – slow down, I’m gay, I’m not trying to hit on you, relax.” And it’s such a great way to play the character. I think that on television, it’s changing, but there’s been so many stereotypical presentations of gay characters, but I thought that this was different. He was an agent, and this just happened to be part of his personality and yeah, to me it was a no brainer, let’s do this.
AfterElton: Do you realize just how rare a gay character is in science fiction?
Aaron: And that’s something I wasn’t super aware of when I started playing the role, the more I looked into it and the more I talked to people in many conversations I realized that there weren’t many characters in sci-fi.
AfterElton: It certainly caused a reaction with our readers. It gave us an excuse to cover it, even if we’d been exploiting Eddie McClintock for quite a while.
Aaron: Oh, you’re not exploiting Eddie. He loves that.
AfterElton: He didn’t seem to mind when we sent a photographer to his house to capture him pool side. Speaking of that, two of your cast members, Eddie and Joanne Kelly, made our Hot 100 lists this year. I’m hoping that next year we get you on the list, now that you’re alive again.
Aaron: I’d love to be on your list!
Ashmore and castmate Allison Scagliotti
AfterElton: One of the things you’ve talked about is your relationship with Claudia (Allison Scagliotti). You two have an incredible dynamic, but she’s so emotionally driven where your character is so reserved, yet you have such a strong connection and the relationship thrives.
Aaron: I think that it is a bit of an opposites attract. Steve is certainly very reserved compared to Claudia. She draws him out of that shell a little bit, he’s still himself but she’s so open and he knows there’s nothing to worry about. She’s on his side that he can count on her. It allows him to come out of his shell a little and interact with her. He may roll his eyes at some of her jokes, but I think that deep down he really enjoys her company. And we touched on this last year, but Claudia reminds Steve of his sister who passed away, his older sister who was shot in an accident, a drive by sort of thing. I think that’s an immediate sort of thing that draws him to her, not just that she looks like his sister, but certain things she says, her personality, I think that’s such a huge thing to him, to have a relationship with someone who’s not replacing his sister, but taking over that part in his life where he was mourning, and he finds this amazing girl who can take over this role of his sister. I think to Steve that’s huge, that’s everything. He hasn’t had that since his sister passed away. But I also think that Odd Couple thing works, they respond to things so differently.
AfterElton: Speaking of different responses, you had two coming out scenes last year. You had the scene in the car with Claudia, and you had the most ridiculous, well-received coming out scene with Pete.
Aaron: That was so good.
Eddie McClintock and Ashmore
AfterElton: I hope you enjoyed playing that as much as we enjoyed watching it.
Aaron: It’s just so hilarious, and the funny thing is in real life it’s so unimaginable that that would happen. Someone wouldn’t go “You’re gay, I’ve been working out at the gym, and these girls don’t appreciate me, you should enjoy this.” And how mortified someone would be if it happened. I thought it was so genius, and fit Pete’s character, he’s so accepting. He’s like “Check me out” I thought that that was absolutely well written because it was completely in Pete’s character and so uncomfortable for Steve, who’s like “Please don’t do that here, it’s not what I’m looking for here.”
AfterElton: You’re right, as a gay man, I can’t imagine that ever happening in my real life, but it rings so true to Pete’s character, who’s just so wide-eyed innocent.
Aaron: It speaks so much to Pete’s character, and you’re right, he’s just so innocent. To him, he’s like “I happen to be a guy who works out, you’re gay, so check it out. What do you think?” It’s fun, it’s really, really fun.
photos courtesy SyFy
AfterElton: I just watched your resurrection. It looks like you have some soul searching to do after being brought back by Claudia and the metronome.
Aaron: Yes. And that’s sort of a big part of my character and my storyline at the beginning of the season is adjusting to this thing. I think Steve is so grateful, but is he alive? Is he dead? What are the repercussions. Because as we’ve seen, all the artifacts have repercussions. So he’s happy to be back, but he’s being kept alive by something. Are you really alive? So he definitely has to reassess his life and how he feels about everything. It’s interesting.
AfterElton: One of the things that SyFy gave us permission to break as news is that we get to meet your mother, who is played by Laura Innes. Hopefully we’re going to get more backstory on Steve and his sister, but more exciting for you, you got to work with Laura Innes.
Aaron: Which was great. She was incredibly warm, a really good actress. We had some heavy scenes, because it is dealing with the repercussions of Steve’s past, his sister’s death. It’s really good, and Claudia is there to help Steve through it. I think that episode that I get to work with Laura is my favorite of the season. We get to see more of who Steve is, what his background is, where he comes from. I hope that people will enjoy that stuff.
Laura Innes will play Jinks’ mother
AfterElton: I know you can’t answer this directly, but do you want to see Steve get a love interest? Because on your show they’ve been few and far between for everyone, and very ill-fated.
Aaron: Yeah. I think it would be a shame for Steve not to get a love interest at some point. I think that the pace of the show is so fast with artifacts, and they have to run all over the world, that’s the reason they don’t have much in the way of love interests. Because these characters are married to their jobs, so focused on saving the world that it’s hard for these characters to have a love life. But I’d love to see Steve have a relationship, maybe meet an ex of his, or something like that. Just to show a little bit of the romance. These characters are so human, and humans need romance. It’s tough with the high stakes of the show, but I’d love to see it.
AfterElton: There are some basic questions that always come up with this show, so let’s talk about some of them. Which is your favorite artifact?
Aaron: I’d say at moment it’s the metronome, since it’s the reason I got to come back to the show!
AfterElton: That’s a really valid answer in this case.
Aaron: I’ve said this before, that the artifacts are great, but the Teslas are my favorite. Something about how cool they would be and how much I would love to have a Tesla. They’re my favorite. It’s not an artifact, but I love the Teslas.
AfterElton: It’s odd how much the cast wants Teslas – Eddie wanted one for Los Angeles traffic. What artifact would you want to create?
Aaron: That’s a good one. I’ve always wanted to fly. I love that idea. So maybe an artifact that would allow me to fly. I’m not as good as the writers, who would have some kind of reference, like Leonardo’s, I don’t know, some piece of wood that could be fashioned into a necklace that would allow me to fly. I’d really like to fly. I’ll let the writers come up with a cool way to let me do that.
AfterElton: I know that in real life you have a twin brother. So I’ve been trying to pitch an evil twin episode for about six months. Would you like to play both the good and the evil twin, or would you like to bring in Shawn?
Aaron: I think it would be fun to play evil, but I’d love to act with Shawn. We don’t get a chance to work together enough. Mostly because most of the stuff we get offered as twins has been kind of cheesy or campy. But I think my brother is a great actor, and I’d love to get the chance to play opposite him. For this show, I think for an artifact to be able to do something like that, you never know, maybe we’ll see something in the future like that.
Shawn (left) and Aaron Ashmore
Photo credit: Mike Guastella/WireImage
AfterElton: I’m required to ask, by our rules of engagement on this show, is it terrifying to work with CCH Pounder?
Aaron: She’s a sweetheart. She’s such a sweetheart. When she’s in character, she turns it on, and she’s just this serious woman, but when the camera isn’t rolling, she’s cracking jokes and just as sweet. It’s a testament to what a great actress she is. She’s not scary in real life at all. She’s a sweetheart. Did that ruin the illusion?
AfterElton: Sadly, everyone else says the same thing. We keep trying to find out that she has an evil streak, but everyone I talk to says that she’s lovely.
This show has some amazing guest stars of course. The episode I just watched had Kate Mulgrew and Brent Spiner. Who’s your dream guest star to work with?
Aaron: We’ve had lots of Star Trek cast members, which is amazing. So I’m going to stick in that realm. I’m not sure if it would ever happen, but Patrick Stewart. We’ve had a captain on the show, Kate Mulgrew, we’ve had Jeri Ryan, and now Brent Spiner is doing an arc on the show. We’ve had a great Star Trek contingency, so I’d love Patrick Stewart to do something really, really cool.
AfterElton: I could see him playing a Regent, or one of the evil Regents.
Aaron: I could see him being a bad guy.
AfterElton: Of course you got killed off last year, and as they’ve been telling me as I whined about it for a year, “It’s sci-fi, nobody’s ever really dead.” But killing you was different. At least to my readers, there’s a trope that appears in movies, television, everywhere, of the noble gay sacrifice, the gay guy dies to save the straight people. Were you aware? Because I know (executive producer) Jack Kenny was.
Aaron: I wasn’t aware that that was a thing. I think very much to me, as I was reading it, I was seeing it as Steve-the-agent, putting himself on the line, as all the agents would do, and he happened to not see the light of day on the next page. So I was not aware of that, but I think it was in Steve’s character that he was brave, and wanted to do what was best for the world and best for the warehouse, and so he put himself on the line for that.
AfterElton: Jack has said that part of what made it work was that Steve was a character that the audience cared about, and to build suspense, there had to be stakes, and killing Steve upped the tension.
I understand that you interact with a pair of shiny red shoes this season?
Aaron: Yes. Well, it was very funny, because we’re doing a scene, and there’s all these artifacts in this room, and there’s Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. And they’re not really part of the scene, we’re not working with them, they’re not focused on, but as we walk out of the scene, we walk past them. And Jack came up to me and says “Aaron, Steve has to react to those. There’s not a gay man in the world who would walk past Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and not react to them.” And I was like “You, know, you’re probably right.” It’s a very serious scene, and we’re on the move, but I take a little beat to check out the slippers and like “ooh, nice!” And then back to the job. I think it’s a funny little beat, and I hope it plays well. I haven’t seen how it’s cut together, but it’s a funny little beat.
AfterElton: Are you ready to become the Gay Character Icon? Because it does kind of come with the gig now that you’re back alive.
Aaron: I’m absolutely fine with that. I’m not the most gregarious personality, so any amount of attention makes me shy or nervous, but I’m not opposed to that at all. People respond to the character and care about him, and that makes me proud that we’ve created a character together with the writers that people really care about, and that’s the biggest compliment to me. I hope that people do respond to the character, I hope that they do respond to the character.
AfterElton: Just wait until you go to the Cons, and you’ll see an actual physical reaction to that. Chris Pine says he got chased down the street during gay Pride in New York.
Are you working on other projects? Have any movies coming?
Aaron: This has been very time consuming since filming started in January, and we shoot through November. So this is pretty much what I’ve been doing. I did a stint, I think five episodes on a show called Lost Girl, which has aired in Canada, but SyFy has picked it up in the United States. I’m playing the love interest of one of the main girls for about five episodes. It’s a really great show, in that genre of sci-fi as well. Other than that, it’s pretty much been full time Warehouse 13, so not a lot of time to do other things. Which is great, because I’m so glad I got a chance to come back, and I’m very, very, happy.
AfterElton: Well, we’re glad you’re back, and we can’t wait to see what happens with you. There was a lot of hand wringing when you were killed off. It wasn’t just Claudia that was upset.
Aaron: That’s sweet. I’m happy that people cared.
AfterElton: I know you have to get back to set, so I won’t take up any more of your time, but we will be watching. Thank you so much for talking to us.
Aaron: No, thank you for your interest.