South Africa is a long, long way from Calgary, Alberta, but that’s exactly where Wynonna Earp actress Katherine Barrell found herself shooting last November. Barrell traveled with Wynonna Earp costar Tim Rozon to Africa to be a part of SYFY’s latest film, Lake Placid: Legacy, premiering on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28 at 9 p.m. ET. The sequel to the 1999 horror film Lake Placid finds a group of urban explorers who soon realize the quiet lake they travelled to for their final mission is actually home to a deadly and forgotten secret.
Barrell plays one of the group’s leaders, Jade, who is described as calculated, meticulous and exotically beautiful. Having just wrapped production on Season 3 of Wynonna, where she is well known for playing Officer Nicole Haught, Barrell took some time to speak with The TV Junkies about her experience shooting Lake Placid: Legacy. She provides some more insight into her character and discusses what she says was her most physically demanding role yet. Barrell also discusses why she was so grateful to have Rozon along with her for this ride.
The TV Junkies: First things first, what can you share with us about your character, Jade?
Katherine Barrell: She’s one of the leaders in this group of environmentalists that set out to uncover environmental scandals created by big corporations. These corporations are trying to cover up things like dumping toxins into waterways. Our group sets out to bring to light what these corporations have done, put it in the public eye and make sure they are held accountable. Jade and Sam (Tim Rozon) are the leaders of this group and it’s on what’s supposed to be our final mission that Lake Placid takes place.
TTVJ: You went to South Africa to film this. What was that experience like? Had you ever been there?
KB: No, I had never been before and it was my first time in Africa. We had a lot of fun and it was such an adventure going to a different place. Tim and I were the only North Americans, as the rest of the cast was from England. We got to work with an international team and the South Africans were amazing. The crew was so great, so hard working and so dedicated. We shot six days a week and really long days and they never complained. We had a really amazing time and team. There’s just some really great locations too and the whole movie has a Jurassic Park feel when you see the beautiful South African mountains in the distance. It gave the movie a very epic scope and it’s very exciting to go to work every day and step out onto these mountains. The sky is endless out there too, so it’s just absolutely beautiful.
TTVJ: This looks like it’s a very physically demanding role as you’re running and swimming and all kinds of stuff in the trailer. Had you ever done anything like that before and did it require some training?
KB: It was definitely the most physical job I had ever done and the most physically taxing and tiring job I had ever done. The challenge we had was that since the action starts off the top, there’s an immediate tension, so six days a week for weeks you’re just living in that tension. Every scene is super high stakes, intense and super scary on top of the fact that we were running, jumping, swimming and diving through things and climbing. It was a lot of physical work that I had never done before but something I enjoyed, for sure.
TTVJ: Did you get to interact with any real crocodiles?
KB: No. It was completely fake and we interacted with nothing. That was another one of the big challenges of the movie in that we didn’t have anything to work off of. They had given us sketches at the beginning about the scale of the crocodiles, and they did have this giant prop head that they’d wheel in to certain shots so we’d know the scope and size. It’d then be gone for the shot or replaced with CGI so we were basically acting with the air. That was a challenge, but we fed off each other and tried to get each other worked up as much as we could. Those high stakes and maintaining that level of emotional involvement for the whole movie was definitely a challenge.
TTVJ: At least if you have to go all the way to South Africa, you get to go with a familiar face! What was it like getting to do this with Tim Rozon and knowing he was going to be a part of it as well?
KB: It was amazing. We both got offered the role around the same time. We immediately called each other and were like ‘Are you doing it? If you do it, I’ll do it!’ It was very much a ‘if you go, I’ll go’ type of thing. It sounded like such an adventure that it was pretty impossible to pass up. We’ve worked together for a couple years, but we also travel a lot together in the off season and hang out. It was really nice to go all that way but still have a friend there. A familiar face just added another level of comfort for sure, especially when you’re doing a challenging shoot and you don’t know anybody. Having someone to look to and bounce ideas off was really helpful.
We would joke because we had a lot of night shoots outside, and you think Africa is going to be really warm but at night it was pretty cold. So we’d be cold and Tim would turn to me and say ‘just wait, we’re going to be back on Wynonna and this will be nothing!’ At some point on Wynonna this season it was like -40℃ and he said ‘remember when we were in Africa? That was a cakewalk!’ So it was just a lot of fun.
I love working with Tim and we actually haven’t gotten to work a ton together on Wynonna before working on Lake Placid together. Tim is the ultimate good sport. He will never complain or ask something to be done for him. He is the most resilient human I’ve ever worked with on set before and he just never complains and does whatever they ask of him. In a way, even on those really hard, cold days where we were just exhausted and I’d just look to Tim and he wasn’t complaining, so it made me not complain. It forced me to bring my best self all the time.
TTVJ: I’ve heard this is a more traditional style horror film. Is that the case and what is the gore level like?
KB: We definitely wanted to do a true horror depiction of the story. I love doing comedy, but this is taken very seriously and we are trying to make things as scary as possible for the audience. We are trying to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. I absolutely love the original movie, and our producers and SYFY wanted to tell a similarly inspired story but in a different way.
Are you excited to see Barrell in Lake Placid? Add your thoughts below!
Lake Placid: Legacy airs Monday, May 28 at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY
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.