Andrew Phung on the Joy of Returning Home to Film Wynonna Earp

The gang at the core of Wynonna Earp is very close and tight-knit. While they navigate a world of revenants and demons, not many are able to break into the inner-circle and get close to Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) and Co. However, in Season 4, one local Purgatorian half-demon has proven to be a friendly face that can be trusted. Viewers were first introduced to Casey (Andrew Phung) when he was locked in the jail cell with Wynonna and then forced to participate alongside her in the chili cook-off (FOR FREEDOM!). He then reappeared in the Halloween episode and proved to have special skills in taking down Rotten Jack. 

There may be no one more happy about Casey joining the Wynonna fun than Phung himself. For the Calgary-born comedian and actor, who stars as Kimchee on Kim’s Convenience, getting to join a show that films in his backyard was a dream come true. “Wynonna is such a pinnacle for what the Alberta film industry can do. They can make a world class show with fans around the world. I’m really proud of it and joining it was such a highlight for me, in a year filled with so many lowlights.”

Phung recently spoke to The TV Junkies about his path to Wynonna Earp. He shared stories about bonding with the Wynonna Earp cast, including Scrofano, Katherine Barrell, and Dominique Provost-Chalkley, and how Melanie’s direction let him really lean into his choices for Casey. Phung also shared a few thoughts about the recently announced end of Kim’s Convenience after five seasons.

The TV Junkies: I know you’re a Calgary boy, but what did it mean to get to join Wynonna Earp for Season 4 and shoot right in your backyard?

Andrew Phung: My path to Wynonna has been fun. In Season 1 I hadn’t yet booked Kim’s, was auditioning for roles, and was the second choice for a role. In Season 2, I got offered a role, but I was in Toronto doing the Canadian Screen Awards and unable to get back to Calgary to film. Everything happened with the Fight for Wynonna and I always wished I’d get a chance. This role then crossed my agent and it meant so much. Mel was the one who messaged me on Twitter and said, ‘I just watched your audition and you’re so funny. I laughed out loud.’ It meant so much coming from her and she was directing the episode.

It’s been such a fun journey to get to the show, but it’s so rewarding because this character means the most of all the ones I’ve been in play for. I’m a Calgary kid coming home to play in his backyard and it’s the best. I have history, too, with so many crew members. It was great.

TTVJ: You know from Kim’s Convenience that the longer a cast is together the more tight-knit they get. What was it like being on the other end of that and coming in as a new guy to the Wynonna gang?

AP: It was great because I was such a fan of the show and everyone on it. They welcomed me with open arms. I had met most of them before through industry things, but they were so welcoming. Every time I come back to Calgary to work on something I do improv at my old theater. It’s one of my greatest gifts and joys. I remember I was talking to Kat and we were talking about what we were doing that weekend. I said, ‘I’m doing an improv show.’  Kat and Dom said, ‘Can we come to your show?’ They said they’d love to and came down to it. At the end, they waited for me and said they loved it so much. It just meant so much to me that my new castmates came to my improv show.

The best thing was that my announcement for the show had been made, so there were some Earpers that had come to the improv show. This one couple comes up at the end and gets a photo with me. I noticed her phone had a WayHaught phone case, and I said to her, ‘Are you dying right now?’ She said, ‘We’re just trying to play it cool right now, Andrew. We’re trying to play it cool.’ For me, it was an introduction to the cast and how kind they were and an introduction to the Earpers and how kind, inclusive, and welcoming they were.

TTVJ: I was really glad to see that Casey was still hanging around Purgatory when he reappeared in the Halloween episode. There were a lot of great comedy scenes in that episode. What was it like to shoot those opposite Mel and Dom, especially when they have to play that they have lost their memories?

AP: I know people know how funny they are, but it’s one of those things where you don’t know how funny they are until you work with them. Mel is so playful and always playing. I love trying to make them laugh and discovering the scene. Shooting the scene outdoors in the heat of summer, which was like a 40 or 50 degree swing from my previous episode, was very inclusive and collaborative. When I could make Dom break it’d make me so happy. When she smiles and laughs you know it’s genuine.

I’m a fan of the show, but when you’re filming Episode 8, having previously been in Episode 3, then I don’t know what’s going on. Any Earper knows if you miss one episode you can be behind and lost. So before we started filming I had to say, ‘Yo Mel, what’s happening? Why are you guys fighting? What’s going on here?’ She was so great and told me to ask if I have any questions. So we just had the best time, working in the sweltering heat, back from COVID, and it was lovely to work with someone again.

TTVJ: Speaking of Mel, you guest starred in the chili cookoff episode that she directed. What was it like having her behind the camera and take on that role as well?

AP: I had never been on the set before and one of the earlier scenes we shot was Casey and Wynonna in the jail box. As the camera was setting up, she and I just talked for 10 minutes “in jail.” We talked about the show, our kids, and our life. She talked about being a director, and I asked what she wanted from me. She tweaked the scene and timing, but really let me be me. It was a really gentle way to bring me on the show. I respect their world and everything they’ve created, so her seal of approval of “just be you” made me feel like I could explore. I think we see that in his second episode where you see more of his comedy and personality.

TTVJ: Casey says he’s not a hero, but he sure doesn’t seem to be a demon that we have to worry about. What was it like playing a character that has some gray area to him?

AP: When I got the role and read the script I went and binged the previous season. Something occurred to me, Wynonna especially has fought the entire time for her family, her lover, her child, and her town. She is always constantly fighting for something. When I approached Casey, even though he’s a half demon with a bit of a shady past, I looked at the line and made a choice. My choice was that he would be kind-hearted and someone that Wynonna could just be friends with like a buddy. She’s had so much hurt and pain in her life that I wanted her to have a relationship with Casey where they were just buddies and friends, that there could be a positive energy from him. I hope that resonates, and through all his shadiness, that you know he’s just a good person. That’s how I played it and I think you see it in the Halloween episode. He’s a reluctant hero, but you can see he wants to help.

TTVJ: And once you make chili with someone you’re bonded for life.

AP: [laughs] There’s some hilarious behind the scenes moments because I was actually trying to make chili.

TTVJ: Casey’s chili-making skills were a bit questionable, but what about you? Can you make a good chili?

AP: My cooking skills are phenomenal. When I saw those ingredients I thought, ‘I could make a chili with these.’ I’m a father of two and the nature of my work allows me to be at home with them for parts of the year. I cherish those moments and try my best to cook food, especially during COVID where we are “kitchen scientists.” I don’t want to be like Casey and eat canned macaroni and food all day long.

TTVJ: Before we end our chat, I’m extremely sad to hear that this season will be the last for Kim’s Convenience. Is there anything you wanted to say about that or to the fans?

AP: It’s a bittersweet ending and we’re all disappointed. Everyone will ask why or whether we can bring the show to Netflix, but it’s one of those situations where the network is on board, but we lost our showrunner and show creator. I don’t dwell on why we can’t make the show, but I focus on the fact that we got to make the show. We got to make a hit show about an Asian family and it was a hit around the world. I was raised on comedy and the idea I’d be on a show where I can see my family up on screen means everything to me.

To the fans that made the show a success, thank you from the bottom of my heart for watching, tweeting, and sharing. It’s just one of those things that happen. Enjoy the last five episodes, and if you’re in the U.S. and other markets we can’t wait to launch Season 5 there as well. It’s a bittersweet ending when you fall in love with a character, but we got to be and we got to love. I walk away with my head held high.

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on SYFY and CTV Sci-Fi.