Melanie Scrofano on her return to cult hit ‘Wynonna Earp’
Forget baking sourdough bread and COVID-19 decluttering — Melanie Scrofano spent a good chunk of her pandemic lockdown getting ready to kick butt.
Fighting is a key part of what the actor does in the supernatural action dramedy “Wynonna Earp” — she’s the lead, the demon-hunting great-great-granddaughter of legendary Old West lawman Wyatt Earp — so Scrofano wanted to be battle-ready when shooting resumed.
“The good thing about quarantine is that I had nothing to do but work out — other than educate my children and feed them and clothe them,” she said in a phone interview the day before production restarted in Calgary.
“I felt like if I kept working out the show would come back,” she said. “If I stopped I’d be tempting the universe.”
The universe was clearly sympathetic: the first six episodes of the cult hit’s fourth season return to air July 26 with the final six well underway.
It’s been a long wait for the show’s passionate fans, known as Earpers. The Season 3 finale aired Sept. 28, 2018 on Space in Canada (now CTV Sci-Fi Channel) and Syfy in the U.S.
“Wynonna Earp” fits into a continuum of scrappy, made-in-Canada genre shows that attract devotion with a blend of canon, action and humour. Others, like “Lost Girl” and “Killjoys,” have also been classified as cult hits, but the Earpers are particularly devoted.
When the fourth season was jeopardized by money troubles at studio IDW Entertainment, the fans went to the barricades with a #FightForWynonna campaign, which included billboards in Times Square.
“They are the only reason we’re getting a fourth season,” Scrofano said.
And then, of course, the wait got a little longer when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted worldwide. These first episodes will culminate in a mid-season finale Aug. 30 with the air date for the next six still to be determined.
Returning to set last winter for the first time since Season 3 “was exactly as magical as you would think it might be when you’re going back to something you love and feels like part of your soul,” Scrofano recalled.
Shooting began in January and continued until March 12, when a hiatus was planned, “then sh- hit the fan.”
“I just remember … people were on their phones reading about this coronavirus. And I remember the cast being like, ‘Mel, what if we don’t come back from hiatus?’ I’m like, ‘You guys are nuts, I’ll see you in a week’ and then, sure enough, four months later …”
Last week, Scrofano was feeling both trepidation and jubilation about returning to set.
“I’m amped up. ‘I know my lines, put me in coach!’” she joked.
“I’m very excited to get back into the story. I just saw some costumes and it’s just so satisfying to be putting on those clothes again. But I’m wondering what it’s gonna be like to go back in this new world where we have so many restrictions and guidelines that we want to follow in order to keep everybody safe.”
(Bell Media would not comment on exactly what COVID-19 protocols are in place on set.)
Get more of what matters in your inbox
Start your morning with everything you need to know, and nothing you don’t. Sign up for First Up, the Star’s new daily email newsletter.
When we last saw Wynonna in her hometown of Purgatory, the Earp family curse had been broken, meaning she no longer had to kill Revenants — outlaws dispatched by Wyatt Earp and resurrected as demons — her enemy Bulshar was dead and humanity had been saved. On the downside, her magic gun Peacemaker was gone, and her sister Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and lover Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon) had disappeared into the Garden of Eden.
As Season 4 begins, Wynonna sets out to rescue Doc and Waverly with the help of Waverly’s girlfriend Nicole (Katherine Barrell) but, naturally, complications ensue. And when they do return to Purgatory, it’s different than the one they left behind.
Wynonna is different too. Don’t worry, she still drinks too much whisky, kicks lots of butt and wisecracks a lot, but she’s figuring out who she is now that the Earp curse is broken.
“I can relate to not knowing your place in the world or if you even have one,” Scrofano said. “If I don’t have this curse do I matter? I wonder, if I don’t have this show do I matter?
“There are so many parallels that I feel with her. She makes me laugh and she makes me cry. Her flawed imperfect humanity is just so touching to me … There’s nobody I love more, other than my own children.”
Scrofano figures that love is a big part of the show’s appeal.
Everybody who works on it has such affection for “Wynonna,” she said, that “it just seeps into the bones of what we’ve built … My theory is that it’s a little contagious.”
Scrofano’s own affection deepened in Season 4 when she got to direct an episode for the first time: Episode 3, which airs Aug. 9.
It was stressful because she didn’t want to let the cast and crew — or the fans — down, but “they really were such incredible allies and teammates, and just lifted me up in any way they could … It was just an incredible learning experience,” she said.
“I can die tomorrow and can say I put everything I had into my episode and be very proud of how it turned out. It made me love the show even more.”