Haven's newest arrival - Evidence "Evi" Ryan (Vinessa Antoine)
Some people have a skeleton in their closet or person from their past that they would prefer to keep secret from their friends and family. On Syfy’s Haven, Evidence “Evi” Ryan is that certain someone who Duke Crocker conveniently neglected to tell anyone about. The two of them are, in fact, married and former partners in crime.
In the show’s second season opener “The Tale of Two Audreys,” Evi arrives in town out of the blue and, much to Duke’s consternation, is not in any hurry to leave. Actress Vinessa Antoine, who plays Evi, has no difficulty remembering her first day of work on the Haven set
“It was cold, really cold,” says Antoine with a laugh. “It was April 1st in Nova Scotia and Haven is filmed close to the water because we’ve got to make it look like Maine. During the audition I asked Eric Balfour [Duke Crocker], ‘How’s the weather up there? Is it cold?’ He told me, ‘Oh, no. All you need is a little jacket or a sweater and you’ll be fine.'
“Of course, he was speaking from the male perspective. Evi is kind of a sexual character and for her debut I had to wear a very skimpy black dress and a pair of boots. Thank God they had these small heaters on the set, so in-between takes I’d run over to them and try to get warm.
“When I initially came onto Haven it was slightly intimidating only because they’ve got their own chemistry and had already been working together for a full season. So I was sort of feeling my way around and trying not to step on anyone’s toes while at the same time bring what I felt was important to the role. I was lucky, though, in that the show’s cast and crew were nothing but welcoming. I’d also worked with the director, T.W. Peacocke, before on another project and he was wonderful, too. So all in all my first episode was a challenge but a good one.”
In “The Tale of Two Audreys,” Duke is with police officers Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) and Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant) when Evi turns up. She wastes no time in revealing a bit about herself, particularly her connection to Duke. “Evi is that woman from your past who you may have shared some crazy times with and maybe done some wrongs with, too, but just want to forget,” explains Antoine.
“Duke and Evi definitely scammed people and committed crimes together. They also had an intense sexual relationship where they’d go from hating each other to screaming and throwing plates to all of sudden making wild passionate love. Duke and Evi had a weird addiction to one another, so much so that they were very impulsive and got married. Then, of course, they realized they weren’t actually meant to be together. Duke went his own way and Evi was left to pretty much do her own thing. When my character shows up in Haven, Duke is thinking, ‘Oh, my God,’ because Evi has brought with her all the secrets from his past as well as one or two things about himself that he might not be aware of.”
What Evi may or may not know about him is only one of Duke’s reasons for wanting her to leave Haven. Besides the town’s supernatural Troubles, there is also the mysterious tattooed stranger who is supposedly going to kill him. Evi, however, is not so easily scared off. In season two’s “Love Machine,” she steals an FBI file for Duke that contains incriminating evidence - and a “treasure” map - while in “Sparks and Recreation” that map leads them to an empty box that has a message for Duke. Antoine is eager for Haven fans to see the rest of her character’s story arc unfold this season.
"There are things about Duke as well as Haven that Evi knows, and I’ll just say that my character does have an agenda," reveals the actress. “She was sent to Haven by someone from Duke’s past; there are some secrets that he has and that Evi knows about.
“I realize I sound very vague but I don’t want to let too much of the storyline out. I can also tell you that what we thought about Duke and his involvement with the Troubled and his father are going to come into play for sure in season two in a big way, and I think the audience is going to be really shocked to discover that there are two sides to Haven. There are the Troubled and then there are those who follow Reverend Driscoll [Stephen McHattie] and believe the Troubled are cursed. Up until now we thought Duke was indifferent to it all, but we’re going to find out rather quickly that he’s actually very much involved in one of the sides and it’s going to be a shocker for everyone.
“The material I’ve been given to do on the show as Evi has been really dreamy. It’s the type of stuff I always hope for as an actress, especially being a woman of color and someone my age. It’s sort of Indiana Jones-ish as far as treasure hunting, finding out information and kicking butt. I also get to play different roles because Evi is a con artist. So we’re going to see her shift and change throughout the remainder of the season. You’ll be asking yourself, ‘Is she good? Is she bad? Who’s she [siding] with?’ There’s even a point where Evi totally throws the viewer off and it almost looks like she could be against Duke.
“So with each new episode I think people will be wondering, 'What the heck is going on with Evi?’ and there’s a huge twist where they’re going to be gobsmacked.”
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Antoine began studying ballet at the age of four, and after graduating high school she carried on training for three years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “I always thought I’d dance and perform on Broadway, but then acting kind of fell into my lap while I was in New York,” she says. “I was approached by an agent who told me, ‘You have a great look. You should come see me.’ So I did and I immediately began booking jobs and I started studying [acting] from there.”
The actress guest-starred on such TV shows as Soul Food, The Unit, and Heartland before landing a regular gig playing Judith Winters, best friend of the title character of Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) on the popular Canadian comedy-drama series Being Erica.
“With Judith there’s no sugar coating or much of a filter. She says what she means and means what she says,” notes Antoine. “Judith has a great job, the perfect man, a wonderful baby - she’s doing exactly what she wants to do. However, in this fourth season we’ll start to see Judith go through some major changes because she’s actually quite unhappy in her marriage. It’s a totally different role from Evi because on the outside it looks like Judith has a perfect life, but she’s hiding so much, whereas Evi doesn’t hide anything. She kind of is who she is.”
Once Haven and Being Erica wrap production in late summer, Antoine is looking forward to playing yet another very different type of role. “I’ll be doing a psychological thriller,” she says. “My boyfriend is a writer, producer, director and an actor as well, and we’re putting this little independent short film together, so we’ll see where that goes. Maybe we’ll get some interest from film festivals, but it’s really just a chance to get together with our friends and do some fun work.”