Erin Karpluk has done a lot during her various acting jobs on the small screen. She starred for four seasons on Being Erica and has guest starred on hit television shows Rookie Blue and Saving Hope. There is one thing however that she hasn’t done much of: comedy. Thanks to the CBC’s Riftworld: Chronicles she can now cross that one off the list.
Karpluk stars with fellow Canadian actor Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica) in the web series, which will premiere on CBC’s Punchline on Tuesday, July 14, ma king it available to viewers in both Canada and the US. Karpluk stars as struggling journalist Kim who teams up in the fantasy-based comedy with Penikett’s Alar of Caer Caladh, a wizard who finds himself stuck in Toronto and in need of help returning home. The romantic comedy series provided the perfect opportunity for the two long time friends to team up.
The TV Junkies caught up with Karpluk about how she came to the project, what it was like to finally work with Penikett and the difference of shooting a web series instead of a traditional television show. Read on for what she had to say.
The TV Junkies: How did you get involved with Riftworld: Chronicles?
Erin Karpluk: Tahmoh Penikett and I have been friends for years and years and years. I met him when I was 22. We’ve done a lot of the same acting classes together, we’ve lived together as roommates during pilot seasons when we’re in LA, we’ve gone camping together and partied together but have never actually worked together. I got a call from my manager saying ‘Tahmoh’s friends are doing a short film with him in it and they’d like you to be a part of it.’
Day 2 of filming we’re sitting there and Tahmoh says ‘hey Pickle,’ he calls me ‘Pickle,’ and he’s like ‘Pickle how do you know these guys?’ and I said ‘Excuse me they’re you’re friends.’ He said ‘No, I heard they’re your friends,’ so we had this “a-ha” moment and looked over at the young up and coming producers and pieced it together what they had done. But I’m glad they did it and we had a blast filming.
TTVJ: Well if you guys go camping together you can pretty much do anything together right?
EK: Right? [laughs] And when we were filming we lived together in a two bedroom condo. So when we were shooting we were living together, exercising together, going to set together–we basically spent two and a half weeks with each other. He called me his ‘little wifey’ and I’d make him coffee in the morning. We both got the flu together. He is just such a supportive and awesome guy and for being a part of some massive, big budget shows he had very little ego on our little show here.
TTVJ: As you said you’ve both worked on some bigger productions before so what was it liking filming for the web? Honestly watching the first few episodes the production level looks up to par with television.
EK: I’m so happy you said that because Tahmoh and I are also co-producers on this and so much was fan funding, we did a Kickstarter on this as well, and we wanted to see that money go to the quality of the production. We have a lot of special effects and we really feel if the special effects aren’t there it doesn’t suspend people’s disbelief. It makes it not as good as the short film.
The biggest difference was just the perks–not having a trailer to go to and brush your teeth at lunch or being able to take a nap. Tahmoh and I have enough experience between the two of us that we like shooting fast, we’re not going to make a lot of technical mistakes and we’re going to plow through. We were also really fortunate to have our supporting cast who was just phenomenal.
TTVJ: You’ve done a lot of drama series so what was it like switching things up a bit and getting to do comedy? This is really Tahmoh’s first big comedic role as well.
EK: That’s why I love him in this because he’s so funny, he more so than I. At least on Being Erica I could do some funny things but I just think he’s so funny in this and I love seeing that. For me to have the opportunity to work on a show that essentially if this was a television show it would be a half hour comedy–I wouldn’t say it would be a multi-cam but it’d probably be a single-cam–that is probably the main reason why I wanted to do. I really, really enjoy doing comedy.
TTVJ: Your character Kim is the straight woman to Tahmoh’s crazy wizard. Why is she so willing to help him out on this crazy quest?
EK: I feel like she’s reluctant off the top but there’s something about him that’s just so pure and honest and real that it’s intriguing to her. She’s kind of bitter and down on life and then she meets this guy that is so earnest and not hard on the eyes.
TTVJ: And he bows down to her!
EK: Exactly, I don’t know what kind of guys Kim dates but this is like a 6 foot giant Amazonian beautiful man from a different world. I think that’s probably a reason why.
On a different note Kim actually uses him to promote herself at work because she thinks he has a mental illness and wants to create a story to help her journalism career. It obviously backfires and she learns a lesson from it. I think that’s a poignant lesson within it even though it’s a comedy. Dealing with mental health is obviously not a funny issue and I like that Kim learns a lesson from it. She sees the error of her ways.
TTVJ: How many episodes are in Season 1 and do you leave the story open for the possibility of a Season 2?
EK: We definitely leave it open for whatever is to come. There was actually 10 episodes but due to budgeting, we wanted to do quality over quantity, and decided to do only eight. So we’ve already got two web series that are ready to roll after this and I’ve heard that Jonathan [Williams], the creator and director, has also mapped out a 5 seasons arc for a television show if that was something they wanted to do down the road. But we just want to focus on what we’ve done so far and see if the audience responds to it. I’m always open to it.
TTVJ: They are fun because you can get through so many episodes so quick. It’s like super binge-watching.
EK: That’s what I like about web series. They don’t eat your life away. You can watch them on a lunch break, when your kid is having a nap or you’re just going to bed. It’s not like an hour long where you can start at 8:00 at night and then at 4 a.m. and you’re like ‘just one more!’ These are also accessible to everyone. They are online and you don’t need to wait for a certain time to sit down and watch it as it’s always accessible on your computer.
Are you excited to check out Riftworld? Sound off in the comments below! Take another look at the series here:
Riftworld: Chronicles debuts Tuesday, July 14 on CBC’s Punchline. It will be available to both U.S. and Canadian viewers.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.