On Thursday, the Big Apple welcomed back New York Comic-Con. The 4-day geek spectacular emanates from its home base at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, but has spread to include the theatre at MSG, Hammerstein Ballroom and even the Stephen A. Schwarzman Library building. Hammerstein opened its NYCC run with a tour de force day featuring Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead, Kevin Smith and the Comic Book Men, and the cast of IFC’s Stan Against Evil. Creator and writer Dana Gould was joined by stars John C. McGinley and Janet Varney as they prepped fans for the upcoming second season, which debuts on November 1st. I took part in press roundtable to find out more about the show’s sophomore run.
Janet Varney has over 70 acting credits on IMDb and is currently starring both as Sheriff Evie Barret on Stan Against Evil as well as Becca Barbara on FXX’s You’re the Worst. She’s probably the most known for her voice work as Korra on The Legend of Korra (2012-14). She sat down with us to preview the upcoming season of Stan…
Janet Varney: Hey everyone, what’s the haps? No one says that. I’m bringing it back.
Question: How are you similar to your character?
Janet Varney: In few ways, I think Evie is the tough person I try to tell myself I am when I’m walking down a dark street. There’s a lot of self-convincing that happens. Her gritty Clint Eastwood-like take on reality is something I kind of aspire to. Certainly I am as “eye-rolly” as she is about things in life, I can certainly relate to that. I’m probably less exasperated about things than she is overall, but I dig her, poor girl.
Question: Well, we need more strong women.
Geeks of Doom: Speaking to that point, there seems to be a revolution happening on TV with empowered female characters. From Wynonna Earp, to Van Helsing…
Janet Varney: Even the new Doctor!
Geeks of Doom: As an actress in one of these genre shows, are you aware of it, and how do you feel being a part of it?
Janey Varney: I am definitely aware of it. It’s a huge privilege to feel like I have any part in that. As a fan, I love it. I had the tremendous honor of playing a cartoon voice on Korra which similarly had this kind of flawed but strong female character, and I thought ‘well that’s it for me, I’ll get to play this strong action hero character in cartoon only.’ I was so happy when Dana wanted me to play this character, and I got a chance to kick some fake stunt butt in real life. It was tremendously gratifying. Our stunt coordinator was carrying around a video on his phone of me kicking in a door, saying ‘she didn’t have to kick it this hard, she really kicked it!’ I was like, ‘Yeah! Disseminate that, let them know I’m tough enough to be a stunt performer.’ I really love that stuff, and I love that these female characters are complex too. It’s like, ‘hey, let’s put these women in spandex and let them kick some ass.’ They’re more along the lines of Jean Grey, Catwoman type, those are the most fascinating characters because you kind of have to be a little crazy to do that. You have to tap into the dark side a little, especially on television. There’s so much great writing going on, nobody is cutting corners on good quality writing and character development, and that makes me happy as a fan too.
Question: You mention stunts. On Stan Against Evil you get a whole bunch of gross stuff, blood flying at you, etc. Was there ever a time you said, “Okay, that’s enough?”
Janet Varney: In season 1, in the first episode, we did a scene where I got continuously vomited on by this witch and we only had to do that once, I was very relieved we only to do that once. But because it was once, it was 20-uninterrupted seconds of goo and slime being dumped on me, so it got up my nose, in my ears, in my underwear, in my ankles. And I was lying down being hit with jet propulsion goo… that we only did once, but it was better that this day Deborah Baker Jr. and I were shooting and it was a continuity day where we had already had something explode on us, so the poor makeup and hair people have to look at this thing spontaneously and specifically paint on each dot of goo. But the goo was organic, and they hadn’t made a new batch and it smelled SO BAD, we literally called for the medic. I told the medic that this might sound melodramatic, but do you have that cream Jodie Foster wore when she saw the dead body in Silence of the Lambs? Because the smell was so bad. So Deborah and I had Vicks Vapo-Rub on the insides of our nostrils during that entire scene.
Question: What kind of training did you do for “ass kicking” and shooting?
Janet Varney: I did take some shooting lessons. I had never held a gun before I think, but we definitely did the whole firing range thing, all the gun safety stuff. Oddly enough, I had done a bunch of kickboxing and boxing with a trainer before any of this happened. That, by virtue of being a person who enjoys punching things, it feels really great, especially as a woman who’s lived in big cities and had bad things happen. There’s a lot of latent female rage I think a lot of us carry around. It was really, really satisfying. Though I’m the type of person where someone would try to steal my sunglasses and I’d punch them and then immediately go ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry, you’re a human being like me.’
Janet Varney was incredibly entertaining and genuine. She constantly showered praise on her stunt people and make up people who do the behind the scenes work to make the show so good. Her role as Evie Barret is a unique one, she’s a woman in a male dominated profession, dealing with constant sexism all the while never backing down from it, and facing real life and demonic challenges with guns blazing. You can see her as Sheriff Evie Barret when Stan Against Evil returns for Season 2 on November 1st.
[Images by Dr. Zaius for Geeks Of Doom.]
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