It’s a rare actor who gets the chance to walk in Brad Pitt’s footsteps. Emily Hampshire, one of the blessed few, earned the honor portraying Jennifer Goines on Syfy’s “12 Monkeys.” The series, based on the 1995 dystopian film of the same name, features Hampshire as a female version of Pitt’s iconic character from the film, Jeffrey Goines.
Don’t let the similar names fool you, though. She isn’t copying Pitt. “I think Jeffrey Goines, the Brad Pitt character, and Jennifer share a certain DNA, but they’re separate people,” said Hampshire. “And I think that’s what this show does, too. It shares some DNA from the movie, but it has turned into its own complete thing.”
That complete thing has been renewed for a second season by Syfy, for which Hampshire has been upgraded to series regular status. She spoke with Blast’s Georgeanne Oliver about her first trip to Comic-Con, her experience with the show, and how she inadvertently nailed her audition.
Blast: Did you go to Comic-Con?
Hampshire: Yah, I did! It was my first Comic-Con. I went to New York Comic-Con, but that was before the show had aired so this was my first official Comic-Con after the show has been on and it was insane. I mean, we did our panel and this girl asked me a question and I looked and she was wearing like my Jennifer Goines whole outfit. It was amazing!
Blast: Have you ever been involved in a show that really gets into the fandom aspect before?
Hampshire: No, never. Never in this way. This is a whole new experience for me, especially with social media on Twitter. It’s amazing that you get this immediate reaction from the fans and they, a lot of the time, well, most of the time, know more than you do about it, about the character, about the show. And I think the creators love it too. A lot of the time they’re like, “Wow, that’s a really good idea for an episode!” when they read some fan stuff that is written online.
Blast: You mentioned the girl in the Jennifer Goines outfit. Do you have a favorite moment from your first Comic-Con?
Hampshire: Nothing trumped that for me. And then I wanted to get my picture with her after and they brought her backstage and she had done all like drawings from the show, like replicas of the drawings that Jennifer Goines does.
Blast: How did you get to this point and why were you interested in it?
Hampshire: I was shooting a show called “Shitt’s Creek” [in Canada] and my agent called me with an audition for “12 Monkeys”. It was kind of a last minute thing so I didn’t do what I would normally do before an audition which is research stuff. I knew it was based on the movie and I knew of the movie but I hadn’t seen it. I think I’d maybe seen bits of it a long time ago but I wasn’t really familiar with the movie. I didn’t have much time so I read the script and that’s where I fell in love with Jennifer Goines. It was only later that I watched the movie and realized the huge amount of pressure I felt I was under given that it’s the Brad Pitt part and he’s genius in it. Luckily, I think that’s partly what worked in my favor, is that I didn’t feel that pressure or feel the pressure to do an imitation of it. And that’s I guess what the creators had told me later was what they liked about my audition, was that I had brought something new to it.
Blast: Maybe it’s the change up with the Jennifer character, but is there something that they’ve done and twisted that you’ve particularly liked now that you’ve seen the movie?
Hampshire: Well, I mean, that would be the number one is that I, in retrospect, think it was a genius move of theirs to change it to a woman!
You have all this time to flesh out the story and to really delve into backstory of characters and I think what they’ve done on this show is just give every character an opportunity to have a history. Well, it is time travel, so they have a history and they have a future and we get to play all that.
Blast: Is there something that you loved in the movie that you’re hoping that they’re going to bring in?
Hampshire: I love when they do bring in little homages to the film. I mean, there was my velour sweater that was a replica of Brad Pitt’s sweater.
Blast: I know you’ve been upgraded to series regular. The last time we saw Jennifer it was kind of a cliffhanger. What can you tell me about how this changes things?
Hampshire: I was in your position about two weeks ago before I read the first scripts of season 2 and I was like “Where are they going?” It blew my mind what they’ve done and I wish I could tell you!
We know that Jennifer is tied into the 12 Monkeys but what you will find out this season is that she is tied into the mythology of the show in a much, much deeper way than just the plague and the virus, and I think this year it does definitely go beyond this virus. You know, the virus that kills 7 billion people? It’s bigger than that.
Season 2 of “12 Monkeys” will premiere on Syfy in 2016.