Continuing our Dark Matter rollout – today, we turn the spotlight to actress Jodelle Ferland and her character, FIVE.
This was part of the casting breakdown that went out for the role:
“AKA The Kid. THE SHIP’S PIXIE-ISH MASCOT WITH MYSTERIOUS ABILITIES – SHE’S THE KID WITH ALL THE SECRETS. And a propensity for getting into trouble. EASILY BORED, QUICK TO MOUTH OFF, she is nevertheless innocent among her unsavoury company.”
In the comic book, the character is a tomboy and a lot younger (I originally envisioned her as about 12) but production considerations made the casting of a minor very difficult. We would have had to provide schooling in the form of a tutor and limited her hours on set. I suggested we circumvent the problem by hiring a high school dropout, but that brilliant idea was roundly refused. And so, we decided to cast older to play younger.
I had plenty of requests for the general auditions, actors I’d worked with over the years who I wanted to see read. And, when it came time to find a FIVE, actress Jodelle Ferland was at the top of my wish list. I’d had the pleasure of working with her eight years ago on an episode of Stargate: Atlantis on which she’d played a bratty princess. She was, far and away, one of the greatest guest stars I’d ever worked with. At only 12 years of age, she’d known her dialogue down pat – and even prompted our leads whenever they forgot their lines. She was brilliant.
So when it came time for the FIVE auditions, Jodelle sent in a self-tape from Vancouver, made the second round, and, ultimately, won the role on the strength of her adorably quirky performance.
So what is Jodelle Ferland like? Well, surprisingly – or not! – a lot like the character she plays. Cute, perky, wide-eyed and animated, funny, excitable, and suuuuuuper sweet. I sometimes imagine her as an anime character come to life!
And yet, at the same time, she is professional, focused, and possessed of astounding onscreen instincts. I’m always amazed because I have never walked onto set and asked her to readjust her performance. It’s as if she reads my mind, offering up the perfect interpretation of the character beats EVERY SINGLE TIME. And, I supposed it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that, at 20, this former child actor is the most seasoned member of our entire cast! The editors LOVE her because she always delivers great reactions on her off-camera moments, another sign of a wily veteran.
One on one, she’s delightfully normal – but when the camera is on her, she POPS. As more than one person has said: “When she’s onscreen, you can’t take your eyes off her.”