Given that we’re used to seeing Ksenia Solo as the eye shadowed and fun-loving sidekick (as well as literal and metaphorical heart) on Lost Girl, we’re hoping she can forgive us for almost not recognizing her in her latest role in AMC’s TURN. Solo has traded one fashionista for another, swapping Kenzi’s goth-chick for the fashion-forward corset of 18th century socialite.
The busy actress, who was in the midst of promoting three shows when The TV Junkies caught up with her for TURN (including the American debut of Lost Girl’s final season and the new season of Orphan Black) is taking on the role of Peggy Shippen. Based on yet another real person and big player in the secret side of the American Revolution, Solo’s Shippen will prove to be instrumental in turning another new character, Benedict Arnold, to the British—something the show wasted no time in getting to as John André (JJ Field) used her to soften the general up.
Of course, history buffs may already know what’s down the line for the budding flirtation between André and Shippen, who later married Arnold. Without giving much away, Solo teases “there’s definitely a love triangle that plays a big part in Season 2.”
In the meantime though, Shippen’s clearly keen on André despite some stern family objections that are coming down the line thanks to the Major’s undistinguished heritage. But seeing past that is just part of who Shippen is, according to Solo—who went on a Revolutionary War DVD binge after getting the part.
“She was much more complex than anyone really knew,” she explains. “People saw her as just this very skilled socialite but she was very well educated, she was very knowledgeable in politics and was known for her charm and her wit. It was really interesting to learn how many dimensions she had and what a complex young woman she was—especially for the time. She was very ahead of her time.”
Capturing that complexity was key for Solo, and—it seems—for the show’s creators and writers.
“What I love about TURN is that it explores the behind-the-scenes of the war,” she adds. “We really get to learn and understand where Peggy came from—and where Benedict came from—and why he did what he did. I think it will definitely give people a new perspective on the both of them because human beings are all very multi-dimensional. No one is just black and white. TURN really explores the grey area.”
And it also gave Solo an idea of what it was like to dress as a socialite in the 1700s. The show—notorious for really engulfing its cast in the setting—went all out when it came to the layers of Shippen’s gowns. “It was definitely a challenge,” Solo says about spending entire days in a corset. “But with enduring the pain I did enjoy being able to completely immerse myself in that world and look like Peggy. She’s quite grand and, again, very forward even in that fashion sense.”
Although Solo was thankful at least part of her was spared the 18th century treatment as she talked about a custom-made wig suffering through the complex and stunning styling instead of her own head.
“I was like, if I could just wear a wig forever and just protect my hair, that would be great!”
Eleni Armenakis became a TV Junkie early on by watching Discovery obsessively as a child. A year away from home got her hooked on all things Canadian television (Republic of Doyle, oh yeah!) to go with her not-so-secret love of the historical and supernatural. In her non-TV time, she can be found writing music reviews, watching movies or hanging out on Twitter: @eleniarmenakis.