Travelers: Mackenzie Porter on the Mindset of a Traveler

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Corus

If you caught the first episode of Travelers last week like we did, you’re already familiar with the resident doctor in the band of time travelers. When Marcy, portrayed by Canadian actress Mackenzie Porter, arrived in the 21st her host body wasn’t quite what she expected, but like a well-trained warrior she soldiered on. She also happened on an ally in David (Patrick Gilmore), her host’s caregiver, who was more than a little alarmed at her sudden change in behaviour.

We spoke to Porter about what might be going on in Marcy’s head after that major shock, the details on her relationship with David and what we can expect in the coming season:

The TV Junkies: What is it like being a part of a Canadian show and a cast of this calibre?

Mackenzie Porter: It’s so cool. We have so much talent here in Canada and a lot of shows cast in the States for major roles, so it was just cool to be given an opportunity to work with people in our own country.

TTVJ: Is this your first sci-fi show and what has it been like working in that genre?

MP: I’ve done some sci-fi stuff but this is definitely the best quality I’ve ever done. It’s a genre that I actually didn’t grow up watching, but I have since working on the part. I think  it’s cool because it’s sci-fi based but it’s also drama based and the relationships between characters is really strong.

TTVJ: What makes this show unique from other sci-fi dramas on the air right now?

MP: [The show] takes place in 2016, so the time travel aspect of it is people from hundreds of years from now travel back to the 21st century and are working on missions to try to save the future, so I think that’s what makes our show unique.

TTVJ: We’ve gotten some hints about the person your character was before she came to inhabit Marcy Warton – she was a doctor, she seems very stoic, but there’s a lot beneath the surface. Who is she?

MP: [The travelers are] all kind of stoic because they’ve been training and they’re very militaristic. But throughout the season [Marcy] starts to be in a relationship and starts to feel all these things and that kind of softens her a bit. That arc throughout the season really shows her warming up, especially to David who is an important person in her life.

TTVJ: Speaking of David, she kisses him pretty early in the season. Is that just a calculated move or does she really feel something for him?

MP: I think because she was sent to a body and she wasn’t aware of the situation that she was going to be in, yeah, I think she just wanted him to stop asking questions [laughs].

TTVJ: How does this traveling thing work? Is it a one way trip?

MP: Yes, it’s a one way trip and they can send their consciousness back to these bodies in the last 30 seconds of that person’s life and take over their life and be in the relationships that they’re in and live in the homes that they live in try to be that person, while going on missions to save the future.

TTVJ: It seems like such a dangerous mission! Marcy has this potentially fatal neurological condition and one of the Travelers who tried to take over a body died in transit. How does that risk affect how Marcy acts in the 21st century?

MP: Marcy does know that her condition could be fatal, so she probably has that in the back of her mind, and I think that plays a part in her relationship with David. She knows that her condition is eventually going to kill her, unless they find a way to stop it.

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Corus

TTVJ: So is her mindset one of “I’m here to do a job. I may die but the mission is the most important thing”?

MP: Yeah, I think they all have that mindset. They all know that they’re coming to the present day, there’s no going back, there’s no seeing their families in the future again. It is kind of a one way thing and it’s all for the mission, but they’ve been trained their whole lives that this is the most important thing they’re ever gone to do, so I think they’re prepared for it. But obviously you don’t know the implications that has until you actually live it.

TTVJ: Will we have more hints later on about the people they were before they traveled through time? Will we get more insight into who Marcy was before she was Marcy?

MP: Yeah, you do. We never show that…we never go back into the future, but throughout the season little hints are dropped, like what the conditions were like, what their family lives were like, what their personalities were like back then, so I feel like that unravels throughout the 12 episodes.

TTVJ: I’ve picked up on some hints already, like how they seem shocked by animal products and they seem a bit confused about clothing. 

MP: Yeah, so the conditions [in the future] are just so terrible that it’s all recycled food that they’re eating, they’re living underground – like, it’s just horrendous conditions that they’re having to deal with. So coming back to 2016 and seeing green grass and trees and animals is a brand new thing to them. I mean they’ve heard about it and they’ve read about it on the Internet and social media, but they’ve never actually experienced it.

TTVJ: What attracted you to this role and how did you get involved with the show?

MJ: I actually auditioned originally for Nesta Cooper’s role Carly, and then they said they liked me but they thought I would be a bit better for Marcy. So I didn’t know the character of Marcy when I auditioned, but when I got her character description I just knew that that was the role I would want to play. She’s such a complex character and I get to do so many cool things as an actress, from playing somebody who has a disability to… I did fight training – in the first episode there’s a big fight scene that I got to do myself, so I trained for that – and then a lot of medical stuff. Every day on set I had nurses or doctors making sure I was doing everything properly. So it’s just kind of a dream job for me. I essentially get to play two different characters.

TTVJ: What are you most excited for viewers to see in the coming season?

MJ: My relationship with Patrick Gilmore’s character David becomes one of my favourite parts of the show and I’m really excited to see how people react to that. They just have a really special connection and [Patrick] and I, as actors, just got along really well and I feel like that came across.

 

Did you see the Travelers premiere? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Travelers airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Showcase.