You can’t help but feel badly for Slasher‘s Heather Peterson (Erin Karpluk). Waterbury’s residents may dismiss her as a crazy lady, but she’s been through a lot. Her daughter went missing five years ago and her husband isn’t around (we’ll discover more about him later this season), but does that mean she’s the killer? Clearly not. Though Chief Iain Vaughn hauled her in for the deaths of Justin Faysal and Verna McBride, she didn’t do it and was released.
But she could very well become The Executioner’s next victim. In our third instalment, we spoke to Karpluk about the homework she did in preparing to play such a tragic figure.
How did you get involved with Slasher? You’ve worked with Aaron Martin before on Being Erica.
Erin Karpluk: It’s always been the most natural thing with him. Anything he writes just falls out of my mouth and we get along well. So when he called me up about this show … it’s funny because on Being Erica I played quirky and funny and a girl that people could relate to. I got the call from my manager who said, ‘Aaron is doing this miniseries and he’s wondering if you’re interested in this role.’ I said, ‘Great! What’s the role?’ And he said, ‘Well, Heather Peterson was once beautiful and is now haggard and crazed.’ I said, ‘What!?! My how things have changed!’ [Laughs.]
I read the part and immediately got really nervous because this is very different from what I’ve done with Aaron in the past. But, to be honest, I fell in love with the character.
Did you fall in love because the role scared you?
I get excited about anything. Riftworld was completely in my wheelhouse. Tahmoh hated me because I didn’t even have to look at my lines. Obviously, I’m not a mother in real life, but I just find her story so devastating. She’s written on paper who people might think is crazed but it all comes from this place. I find telling that story is so interesting and scary because I, Erin Karpluk, like to be happy. If there is something shitty going on in the world I like to try and put a funny spin on it to find a way to shift it around. And sometimes you just have to sit in the ugliness of it. A breakup, the loss of a job. And then there’s the big stuff like the death of a loved one or a child abduction, which I can’t think of anything being worse.
I got nervous and I knew I had to do this. I was very honoured that Aaron asked me to do it. I’ve never put so much research into a part in my life.
What kind of research did you do?
I have different coaches for different parts of acting. Being in a half-hour multi-cam comedy is very different from this, so I did a tête-à-tête with David Rotenberg, who teaches at York University, and we talked about the character and where she might be coming from, the types of music she might listen to. If I don’t need to do the work, I just use what I have, but for this I watched a lot of Hoarders because I think Heather does hoard. I didn’t realize there were different types of hoarders. I talked to a psychiatrist about post traumatic stress disorder. We’re supposed to go before our children, so if something happens to your child and you have a body, at least you have closure. But to never find them would drive anyone completely crazy.
I’ve been reading some of the quotes from parents that have gone through this. One mother said, ‘You don’t have rational thoughts. It feels like you’re going crazy and you have to take each second of each hour of each day at a time.’ For Heather, it’s been five years since her daughter was taken.
Of course, I’ve done all of this research and I could go to the set and they could say, ‘Nope, you suck Erin. We’re not going that way with it!’ [Laughs.]
Will it be tough to shake a character like this once you’re done filming?
Yeah, it sits in you, but I’m not a method actor. I joke around with the crew and right before we film I’ll get into it. For me that works better. You still have to stay focused, but at the end of the day I’ll do a shake-off checkout and think about what Erin likes.
Slasher airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Super Channel.