The New Guy: Interview With Warehouse 13's Aaron Ashmore

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Steve Wilkie/Syfy

Aaron Ashmore as Warehouse 13's Steve Jinks

The guy with the eyebrows, his guitar-playing sidekick, and the hunky hero who rescued the woman from the burning phone booth — that pretty much sums up ATF Agent Steve Jinks’ first meeting with Warehouse 13 agents Artie Nielsen, Claudia Donovan, and Pete Lattimer. He caught the trio in several lies while they were trying to retrieve yet another dangerous Artifact, and Artie was forced to zap him with his Tesla gun so that he and the others could complete their mission.

Steve Jinks had no idea that this unexpected encounter would lead to him becoming part of Artie’s snag, bag, and tag team. Having risked his life helping save Metropolis from super-powered bad guys as Jimmy Olsen in Smallville, actor Aaron Ashmore was more than a little intrigued with the idea of joining Warehouse 13 and playing “the new guy.”

“First and foremost what initially attracted me to the role was Steve’s ability to tell when someone is lying, which I thought was a really interesting character trait,” says Ashmore. “I wasn’t sure how that would play out throughout the [third] season because I had only read the first couple of scripts, but I thought it would further help inform who this guy is.

“The other thing that was evident and I thought also interesting was the fact that Steve is gay. Having both these elements to work with from a character standpoint, I was very interested in the role and finding out what they [the show’s producers/writers] had planned for the character. So I was excited about this opportunity right off the bat.”

In Warehouse 13’s season three opener “The New Guy,” Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) “appears” in Steve Jinks’ apartment after his meeting with Artie, Claudia, and Pete and offers him the job of a lifetime. Before long, the ATF agent is in South Dakota and standing in front of the mammoth top secret government repository known as Warehouse 13. Steve barely has time to settle in before Artie (Saul Rubinek) sends him and Pete (Eddie McClintock) to investigate copycat murders involving characters in Shakespeare’s tragedies. Needless to say Steve was slightly apprehensive at first about this case, as was Ashmore.

“My girlfriend can probably attest to this better than anybody, but I was nervous my first day of work on Warehouse 13,” recalls the actor. “I’d only had the scripts and been thinking about the character for three days before filming began. Also, I had watched a bunch of episodes and seen how talented as well as funny the cast is and how well they work together. I wondered, ‘Oh, my God, how am I going to do this? How do I jump in and get up to their level and make it work.’

“That being said, as soon as I got to the set, everyone was so nice, laid back, and welcoming, which allowed me to ease myself into the job. Also, because Steve really is ‘the new guy’ on the show, he could have the same sorts of feelings as I was having when it came to being a little anxious about what the heck was going on and meeting these new people.

“I really like the first episode because I got to work a lot with Eddie as far as our characters getting out into the field and being very proactive with this case,” continues Ashmore. “The big challenge for me was playing the straight man, because Eddie’s character is definitely the funnier one in that duo of Pete and Steve, and figuring out how to play some of the humor in a way that worked well with Eddie. Again, once we started working, it felt very easy because Eddie is super laidback and has such a natural sense of humor that you just have to play off what he’s doing.

“So I was more than happy to jump in and for Steve to get thrown right into a case. At one point he almost chokes to death, and I like that scene because it’s his first interaction with an Artifact. Prior to that I don’t think he’s exactly sure if all this stuff is true. Steve is thinking, ‘You guys are a little nuts, but, hey, this is a job and it’s a government one as well, so I’ll go along with it.’ It’s not until he’s almost killed that Steve changes his mind and is convinced that what he’s doing and what these people are telling him are not lies.”

Former Warehouse agent Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) returns to active duty at the end of “The New Guy” after helping Pete and Steve find The Lost Folio of William Shakespeare and stop the murders of three bankers. In the following episode, “Trials,” she and Pete must find Walter Winchell’s tie clip, which causes a person to regress and lose their memory. Meanwhile, Artie puts Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) in charge of her first mission and sends her with Steve in search of Typhoid Mary’s meat cleaver, which can be used to transfer disease or injury from one person to another.

“I had a blast shooting that story,” enthuses Ashmore. “From the moment I read the script I knew that it was going to be a strong episode for me as well as my character and I loved it. The entire episode, not just Steve’s and Claudia’s storyline, was really strong character development-wise for everyone.

“Working with Allison is so much fun because she’s so much like her character; she has a very quick sense of humor, is sweet and really smart. Whenever I watch a scene that the two of us have been in, I’m always surprised by the little subtleties she brings to it. Allison and I ended up working together quite a bit this season so I was glad we got along as well as we did. Sometimes you’re paired up with an actor who you don’t have the best chemistry with or don’t have a great deal in common with, but Allison and I clicked right away. I really like the brother/sister relationship between our two characters. I know when Steve was first introduced there were some viewers who thought there could be a romance between the two of them, but I think the family dynamic is just as interesting and I’ve enjoyed seeing that develop.”

Speaking of romance, Claudia suspects Steve might be falling for her, and in “Trials” she politely attempts to discourage him while they are alone during a stakeout. Much to her surprise, Steve tells her that he is gay. Was Ashmore pleased with how the scene was written?

“Absolutely,” he says. “The writers and I had discussed my playing the character and Steve ‘coming out.’ We didn’t want to make it a big deal and we also didn’t want me to play him as a stereotype. There are some gay characters that just don’t come across as real. They seem more like a caricature, and we didn’t want that with Steve. This is just one aspect of who he is and it really doesn’t have much bearing in terms of the show. Our characters don’t have a lot of time for romance. There’s so much plot to get through and they’re really into their jobs.

“So I think how Steve told Claudia he was gay was handled quite tastefully. In the scene she’s rambling on about, ‘Oh, yeah, I really feel the chemistry, too,’ and all that stuff. What’s he supposed to say except, ‘Whoa, wait a sec. Slow down. What are you talking about? I’m not interested in you in that way.’ I feel it was very well done, and the awkwardness of that situation wasn’t the fact that Steve came out, but just the way the information had to come out. Claudia was kind of hitting on him, or rather saying [to Steve],’ Oh, I get it. You’re hitting on me.’ I just think it was really interesting and realistic how that played out.

“I like the exchange, too, that followed, where Steve and Claudia are talking about her being the senior agent and he’s trying to explain to her, ‘It’s okay, I get it. You’re good at your job and, yes, you are the senior agent here, but you don’t need to tell me. I already knew that.’ This entire scene really helped bond these two characters together and allowed them to relate to each other as peers.”

As he did with Claudia, Steve has had to find ways to establish relationships with the rest of the Warehouse crew. “With Pete, my character is much more conservative in who he is,” explains Ashmore. “I think it’s because of his ability to tell when people are lying. Steve puts up walls around himself, so he’s a little more reserved in the way he relates to Pete. He really likes him and thinks he’s a nice guy, but Steve can’t believe how ‘out there’ Pete is and some of the things he says. I just don’t think Steve can relate to Pete’s sense of humor, but he also sees that Pete is intelligent and really good at his job. So theirs is a buddy cop dynamic of the funny man and the straight man.

“With Myka, I think she and Steve are similar in a number of ways because she’s sort of Pete’s right-hand guy. Steve has been in that position and sees how Pete does things, so he kind of feels for Myka and some of the stuff she has to put up with,” jokes the actor. “Myka is slightly more reserved as well, so she and Steve can relate on that level.

“As for Artie, my character sees him as the boss, and he’s a bit of a curmudgeon as well. That’s just who the character is, but Steve respects that because Artie is very good at his job and knows what needs to be done when it comes to Artifacts. Having Artie out of the Warehouse and on a case can be a little strange, though, but that’s just something Steve has to become more comfortable with.”

The actor chuckles when asked about filming the third season episode “Love Sick.” In it, Pete and Myka are affected by W.C. Fields' juggling balls, which cause the person holding them to get drunk and black out along with forget events of the previous night. In their intoxicated state, Pete and Myka officially “welcome” Steve to the Warehouse by temporarily bronzing him.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Eddie and Joanne for pulling it off as well as making it believable, because it’s incredibly difficult to play drunk for an entire episode as opposed to a single scene. I thought the storyline with our three characters was hilarious in that as much as Steve fits in with the group dynamic, he’s still the new guy, but they never really gave him a hard time or hazed him. There was no time for that; he just jumped right into the work. So even though it was Artifact-induced, it was still hilarious to see Steve finally get hazed, and bronzing is the perfect form of hazing in the Warehouse.”

As a Warehouse 13 agent you have to be ready to adapt to any and all situations at moment’s notice. In “Queen for a Day,” Steve and Claudia “crash” a Civil War reenactment and must dress the part in order to snag and bag Ulysses S. Grant’s flask.

“When you first read this on the page, you think, ‘How are we going to do this? It sounds huge,’” says Ashmore. “Then, however, we got to the [filming] location and there were cannons, guns, two big armies, everything. We had a ball getting out there, putting on the costumes and playing around. That’s what our job is anyway, but when you get to do period stuff it’s even cooler.

“Once again there’s some really strong character development and bonding between Claudia and Steve in this episode, too. You find out a little bit more about where Steve is coming from and why he’s put these walls up.

“I think the writers have done a fantastic job of developing my character slowly. They’re not just throwing all the information out there, but rather allowing you to get to know him slowly over the episodes. I’m hoping that will draw people in and make them understand who Steve is and have a stronger attachment to him, especially as I felt he was sort of standoffish at the start. He still is, too, with some of the characters because he doesn’t relate to them as well or as much. However, through Claudia you get to see a more private side of Steve, while with everyone else you get to see how smart he is and how good he is at his job. I really like that balance of showing both sides and the opportunity it gives me to play the different dynamics and relationships with the other characters.”

Besides Warehouse 13, Ashmore’s fans can also look forward to seeing his work in two upcoming feature films. “I play a bad guy in a movie called Servitude, which is something I haven’t done in a while,” notes the actor. “Actually, he’s more of a pompous conceited jerk and that was really fun to play. Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall is in the film along with Enrico Colantoni, who I worked with on Veronica Mars for a couple of episodes, and a very funny and talented Canadian actor by the name of Joe Dinicol.

“So that was a great project to work on, and then there’s a second movie, Conception, which is basically ten short stories about these different couples conceiving children and the dilemmas they have to deal with. It’s another wonderful character piece. All my work was with Leah Pipes, who plays my girlfriend, but the film has a huge and talented cast that includes David Arquette, Julie Bowen, Alan Tudyk, and Moon Bloodgood.

“I was also recently cast as writer Jack London in an episode of the [Canadian TV drama series] Murdoch Mysteries. It’s set in the 1890s and I get to play a real-life historical character, so I’ve got to brush up on my period acting.”

When it comes to the latter half of Warehouse 13’s third season, Ashmore hints at what lies ahead for Steve Jinks. “There’s some awesome stuff coming up in episodes 11 and 12 that I had a great deal of fun doing,” he says. “I think a lot of people are going to be surprised at what happens with my character and how the season plays out. So make sure to stay tuned. You won’t be disappointed.”

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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