Trisha Helfer offers new take on Dracula in ‘Van Helsing’

Rick's Reviews

Tricia Helfer gets a new look for the final season of the SYFY series “Van Helsing.” (Photo courtesy of SYFY)

(KGET) — The beginning is the end for the SYFY series “Van Helsing.” The fifth season – the last for the series – launches at 10 p.m. April 16. It wraps up the tale of a world dominated and controlled by vampires by going back to the origin of the blood-thirstiest vampire of them all – Dracula.

The origin of Dracula has been told in books, movies and other television shows. But, “Van Helsing” is the rare version where Dracula is a woman as played by Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”).

Helfer has been sworn to secrecy in regards to what happens in the first three episodes of the final season. She can only talk in vague terms regarding the origin story that will be revealed. The one thing that is clear is that there is a remarkable difference between the character from the finale of season four and the opening of season five.

“In the fourth season, Dracula has returned and she’s trying to take over what’s left of humanity,” Helfer says. “I didn’t know much past that.

“But, you are going to see a different origin story. It’s 18th Century Transylvania for the first three episodes. When you are doing a final season on a series about Van Helsing, a vampire hunter, then you know Dracula’s darkness is going to come in.

“It is a show about light and dark.”

“Van Helsing” is set in a not-so-distant future where vampires have risen and taken control. Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton) is the last hope humanity has to end the threat. That’s because her unique blood composition gives her the ability to turn vampires human.

You would expect someone with such a skill would be a target for vampires. The battle ramped up in season four when Helfer’s portrayal of Dracula – or the Dark One – began. Dracula sensed evil growing in the world and showed up to join the battle to end humanity.

Helfer has used bits of past characters she has played and pieces from people she has known to create the way to portray other acting jobs. Taking on Dracula was so different and unique it was almost overwhelming.

“With Dracula I purposely didn’t want to go back – because it is such an iconic character – and get stuck in that. ‘Oh, this is what Gary Oldman did. Maybe I should do this’,” Helfer says. “Then it is a female Dracula and our own complete version of it.

“Between seasons four and five I did read an interesting book about Dracula throughout cinematic history. It was very interesting for me to read it – from the first incarnations and how it was more creature-like compared to all of the different versions.”

In the end, Helfer found playing Dracula to be a lot of fun and almost like a therapy session. She got to release a lot of anger while bringing her take on Dracula to life.

Joining a series in progress is nothing new for Helfer. She joined the cast of the FOX series “Lucifer” during the second season to play the mother of Lucifer (Tom Ellis). It looked like Helfer’s character was not going to return for the third season of the Fox series when her character was sent into the Void by her son at the end of the second season. But, a better part of her stayed behind for a few more episodes.

Before “Lucifer” and “Van Helsing,” Helfer worked on a variety of other projects including “Burn Notice,” “Dark Blue,” “The Firm,” “Tron: Uprising” and “Killer Women.” It was her casting in 2004 as the mysterious and manipulative Number Six that made her a breakout star on the revamped “Battlestar Galactica”.

That series earned her a huge fan base. She has always been aware of the support she’s been given and that’s why she’s always tries to make the work the best she can. The added pressure with “Van Helsing” is that this is the series finale and it is always difficult to create a conclusion that pleases everyone.

Her hope is that the fans of “Van Helsing” will find the final season – especially the origin story – to be as enthralling as she found the episodes to be when she first read them. Her appreciation is based on the foundation of the different approach the producers of “Van Helsing” have taken with the arc of her character.

“It really makes our version of Dracula unique,” Helfer says. “A lot happens in the first three episodes to explain the difference.”

Jonathan Scarfe – who has been on the series from the start and directed many of the episodes featuring Helfer – applauds the way the writers put together the origin story. The fifth season allows a look at this new version of Dracula while also offering a glimpse at the world before there was a Dracula.

He then has high praise for Helfer for taking the scripts and playing the character with so much range. All he will say is that there is “a big gap” between the before and after.

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