Alias Magazine (US) – 2006
March/April 2006 (issue #14)
From Angel fan favourite as the loveable Fred, to cold-hearted psycho Kelly Peyton on Alias, this is an actress who is triumphant with every character she takes on. Amy Acker takes time out from dispatching the good guys to tell Tara DiLullo all about the exciting piece she is playing within the Alias puzzle…
With her big brown eyes and her shy, charming laugh, it’s hard to imagine actress Amy Acker playing anything other than a sweet-as-pie heroine with nothing but peace and love in her heart. That is, until you’ve seen her in action on Alias as the Prophet Five bad girl, Kelly Peyton.
Acker is proving to be quite the scene-stealer, playing a sly, worldly villain that’s scarily convincing when she whips out a knife and brutally guts someone twice her size with a gleeful smile. Of course, fans of her work from the series Angel are already well aware of her exceptional talents as she transformed herself on that show from a cute scientist named Fred to a blue-haired, ex-God, superwoman named Illyria. The roles were at opposite ends of the spectrum, but Acker sold them both perfectly, wowing audiences.
Now on Alias, she gets to surprise audiences again by being very nasty to Sydney Bristow, first with her accomplice Gordon Dean and now, Syd’s own mom, Irina Derevko. Fresh from the winter hiatus, Amy Acker sat down with Alias Magazine to share some secret Intel on her wicked alter ego and her hopes for the trouble Peyton has yet to unleash on the APO team…
Alias Magazine: You’ve been walking on the path towards Alias for a while?
Amy Acker: Yeah, I auditioned the first time round just after we found out Angel was cancelled. They were adding a role to Alias so I had never met any of the people there before. None of the Angel people [Jeffrey Bell and Drew Goddard] worked over here yet. It was a normal audition. It was for the Nadia part.
Did your former Angel cohorts tell you they wanted you on the show this season?
No. I’ve spoken more to Drew because we’ve seen each other a couple of times in the year, but I knew that there was another part on Alias coming up just because everyone always wants to be on the show. I heard about the new part of Rachel Gibson and then they rewrote this other part and asked me to do it instead.
Is is odd to read and prepare for one part on a show and then get cast in another?
When they were auditioning, there weren’t even lines for Rachel [at that point], but they used lines for Sydney from season one. They didn’t have a set part for her. They were figuring out what the year was going to be like. I was really excited that I got to do [Peyton] because every time I get a script I see myself getting to stab and kill people, it seems so unlikely as something I would normally be cast as. It’s really fun they are letting me do something like this [laughs]!
Having come off such a bad girl like Illyria [on Angel], were you ready to get even worse with Peyton?
Well, I don’t think Illyria was quite as evil as Peyton! She was more just confused about everything and misunderstood [laughs]! I started out doing theater in college, so I’ve actually played murdering crazy people lots of times in plays. In film, you tend to get locked into something because of how you look. A lot of times it doesn’t seem people cast you outside of who you are as a person normally. Hopefully, most people don’t think of me like Peyton [laughs]! It’s really fun to do something on film that’s very different.
Did you get to prepare much for the role?
It happened really fast. It was being talked with people, but no one mentioned it to me because they didn’t want to get my hopes up if it wasn’t going to happen. By the time I found out, I think I shot [my first] episode two days later.
Did you have to do some Alias episode catching up?
Yes! I had watched it here and there, but I got all the DVDs and watched pretty much all of them all at once.
How did they describe Peyton to you?
They were telling me I was like Sydney, but evil [laughs]! I’m still figuring out who she is every time I get to do something else. They seem pretty secretive about what is coming up, so you never really know from one episode to the other what you are going to be doing. You have to think of it as you go along.
All the Alias actors admit they work in a bubble from script to script. Is it hard not to know where the character is going?
I think that’s sort of the responsibility they give you. I remember on Angel they didn’t tell you the whole season. There were lots of times where I would find myself thinking I was certain it would go one way and play a beat of the character and then all of a sudden, the complete opposite would happen. It’s fun to see how wrong you can be with what the writers come up with and how the different ideas happen. Now I definitely know Peyton’s not a nice person. It’s the starting point and there are so many great villains on Alias, you can look up to the great things other people have done and wish you played something as cool as them.
Who are your favourite Alias villains?
I love Irina Derevko. She is just so cool. It’s neat that I am sort of connected to her, as far as I know from the little we’ve seen so far. I like Sark. He’s cute and dreamy, even though he’s evil. It was fun seeing Gina Torres [Anna Espinosa] because I had worked with her before and I didn’t know she was on Alias.
Are you hoping to play some big scenes with Lena Olin?
Yeah! I am really excited about that. It seems like they set it up so she should be in a large part of the final season.
How has it been working with the cast?
So much of my stuff has been with people I’ve just been killing [laughs]. I haven’t gotten to do that much with the real regulars yet. I just started working with Jennifer in [The Horizon]. She was awesome.
As soon as I watched the pilot episode of Alias when I was watching all of them, I thought, “Wow, no wonder she is a movie star!” She was just great and everything that I hoped she would be. I haven’t really gotten to work with anyone else other than Rachel and that was really fun. We had met a couple of times along our way in LA. We did a short film together and my husband and her tested for The Inside together. We had a lot in common, so it was great to work with her.
Has there been a Peyton moment that has horrified you most so far?
Pretty much every one [laughs]! The last one where I was in Chinatown, my mom called and she was like, “Ok, I can’t handle this. Why do you have to pretend to be nice? Just at least be mean the whole time! I don’t like when it seems like you at first and then you kill people.” I said, “I’m sorry, that’s what they want [laughs]!”
Does working on Alias feel very different from Angel?
On Alias, it feels like there’s more storylines and stuff happening than on Angel. With Angel, we were all working together all the time, and you always had scenes with everybody, so that’s the main difference so far.
Do you have a wish list of things you’d like to do in the upcoming episodes?
I hope I get to do more alias-type things because it’s always really fun to get to dress up. I’d really like to get to wear a wig. It’s sort of unexciting, but it seems fun.
Do you have a colour of choice?
Anything! I guess it’s just because I’ve had the same haircut since first grade, so it would be fun to be different for a day [laughs]. I hope I get to work with Victor [Garber] and Ron [Rifkin] and the rest of them. I hope I’m lucky enough to get that.
How do you think it should end?
I feel so new to it, so I feel more like a fan waiting to see what happens. I’m sure it will be exciting and big and whatever they come up with will be much better than anything I would say.
Are you hoping for a Sydney vs. Peyton smackdown soon?
It would be great. We had a little bit of stuff here and there, but we’ve yet to do a real big fight scene yet. I’ve seen all the things Jennifer’s done and I’m sure she will be excited to be back doing that after the baby. It will be fun to fight her!
Are you looking ahead to life after Alias yet?
If some really great opportunity came up [that would be great], but I don’t think I’m going to do the crazy pilot season thing, auditioning for a million things a week. It’s hard after being involved with something like Alias. You don’t just want to do any old show on TV. If something great is out there, I would like to be part of it too, but I’m just focusing on this character and finishing it out.
How’s it being a new mom in Hollywood?
I feel like I’ve been really lucky. I wasn’t sure what would happen after I had the baby and I’ve been lucky and gotten a bunch of cool projects that have worked out really well for us and I still get to spend time with him and do things for me. It’s been really great. I can’t complain.
So lastly, what kind of evil stamp do you hope Peyton leaves on the series?
I really hope I don’t do something to hurt Sydney because then people would really hate me [laughs]! I’m really wondering what’s going to happen with the baby. I don’t want to be known as the one that did something to her baby… but that would be memorable!
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