Sarah Desjardins (photo credit: Mattie Chan)

Sarah Desjardins Talks Syfy’s ‘Van Helsing’ and Catherine’s Motherly Instincts [Exclusive Interview]

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Syfy’s Van Helsing has recently been picked up for a second 13-episode season, and while showrunner Neil LaBute promises a wonderful and terrifying road ahead for Vanessa, her allies, and her enemies, there’s one new character who has caught our eye.

Catherine, played by Sarah Desjardins, is one of the Uprising survivors from a group in Idaho. I chatted with Desjardins about what to expect from her character on Van Helsing as well as some of her other projects.

“In one word, I would say complicated,” Desjardins said when asked to describe Catherine in one sentence. “No, wait I’ve got this. Tough on the outside, soft on the inside. She really wants to be badass and strong, but her surroundings are really intense and she kind of buckles under the pressure.”

“She’s traveling with a group of survivors from Idaho. She’s led by Brendan, played by Terry Chen,” she elaborated. “We used to have a really large group, but when you meet us, we’re down to like eight to ten people and Catherine’s main job has been to take care of Callie,” she continued.

“They’re not related, but Catherine has very mothering motherly instincts,” Desjardins explained. “Catherine’s main goal is to do everything she can to protect Callie.”

Prior to her role on Van Helsing, Desjardins was a fan of the vampire genre. Since her appearance on the show, she’s filmed a TV movie that also involves vampires.

“When I was younger, I read the Twilight books and things like that. Funny, now that I’ve done Van Helsing I just finished another Lifetime movie called Drink Slay Love, and wasn’t a vampire at all, but I just can’t escape from the vampire genre,” she laughed.

Desjardins is also a recurring character on a Netflix show called Project Mc².  Set in the fictional city of Maywood Glen, CaliforniaProject Mc² follows the adventures of McKeyla McAlister and her best friends as they work for a highly secretive group of female government operatives called NOV8, pronounced “innovate.”

[Project] Mc² is about a group of four girls who are agents of an all-female spy agency. I play Maddy who is the older sister of McKeyla, who is the leader of that group. She’s kind of known as the top agent of NOV8.”

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It was a project Desjardins was particularly excited to be a part of. “I was kind of like the 007,” Desjardins laughed. “And that was so much fun to play. I got to live my dream of being a James Bond. How could I pass that up?”

Desjardin’s character has an interesting storyline this season in which her character’s loyalty is called into question.

“What happens is McKeyla sees me at one of the enemy headquarters, and the season is about them trying to find me and figure out if I’ve gone rogue,” she teased.

One of Desjardins first jobs was a biopic of J.K. Rowling that aired in 2011 called Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story.

“It was definitely a cool experience. Now I get to say in a small way that I was part of the Harry Potter universe,” said Desjardins.

Desjardins played J.K. Rowling’s younger sister Diane in a few flashbacks scenes when Diane and Jo were teenagers.

“It was actually really sad, because J.K. Rowling’s mother had MS,” Desjardins elaborated. “So the scenes are in the hospital, but it was funny because it was the first thing I did, and because it’s Harry Potter related it definitely aired a lot. I was still in high school at the time, and people would come up to me and say, ‘You were in this Harry Potter movie! You had an English accent!'”

Sarah Desjardins (photo credit: Mattie Chan)
Sarah Desjardins (photo credit: Mattie Chan)

In recent years, Desjardins guest starred in a few TV series including Supernatural and Wayward Pines.

“Honestly, Supernatural was a really fun one,” she recalled. “It was a flashback episode. I was Dean’s first kiss and first love, so that was really fun. The great thing about Supernatural is that it’s been going for so many years, it’s a really professional set, and everyone gets along really well, it’s a very well-oiled machine.”

“I also did a very small part on Wayward Pines. That was really cool to me because it was kind of one of the bigger budget, larger-scale shows that I’ve been on,” she said. “I got to work with Hope Davis, who is also from The Newsroom, which is one of my favorite shows of all time. That was really cool for me.”

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Desjardins is also a big fan of Gilmore Girls, and she is very excited for the premiere of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life to premiere on November 25th.

“That’s probably the thing I’m nerdiest about is Gilmore Girls,” said Desjardins. “I can’t even explain how excited I am for the revival.”

She recently watched the series with her best friend, Genevieve Buechner, who plays Madison on UnREAL.

“I showed it to her like four months ago and we just finished the whole series,” she said. “I’ve seen it all the way through about ten or twelve times. I am still reeling from the end of that.”

To promote the series, Netflix turned several coffee shops into recreations of Luke’s Diner. Desjardins was excited when she found one of the Luke’s Diner coffee shops in Vancouver.

“We got there around three in the morning, and it was supposed to open around seven. And there was a line around the block. Then they said, ‘Actually we’re not opening until nine!’ But, it was really cool. I got a couple of the coffee cups that had the quote on the inside, and everyone was wearing flannel and a Luke’s baseball cap.”

Sadly, the baristas at the coffee shops weren’t required to have the same gruff, sarcastic demeanor as Luke Danes.

“I actually asked them a bunch of questions, and Netflix had just approached them to use the place, so I don’t even think a lot of them had seen it. But it was still really cool.”

Desjardins is also proud of her two cats, who you can see on her social media accounts.

“I’ve had a lot of cats growing up. I definitely adopted them–always adopt. I got them both from the SPCA when I was about nine or ten,” she said.

“I’ve had them for a very long time. Unfortunately, one of my cats I just recently had to put down. He was sixteen and he had a very long life. My other cat, Kim, she’s fourteen, so I’ve got some oldies. These two by far are the most loving affectionate cats I’ve ever had. I always have a cuddle buddy. It’s the best.”

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When she isn’t working Desjardins enjoys watching some of her favorite shows on Netflix, including Gilmore Girls

“I’m a little ashamed to say that I started Gilmore Girls again. I’m on Season 1 Episode 3, because I just wasn’t ready to let go. And I thought that maybe I could finish it before the new one comes out,” Desjardins laughed.

“As for new things, I haven’t finished it yet, but I started Stranger Things, and one that isn’t necessarily crazy-new but I feel like not enough people are watching is Bloodline,” she said.

“It starts out very slow, it’s very much a slow-burn kind of show. My boyfriend and I watched the first episode and we were like, ‘Okay, this is good, but let’s try the second one.’ The next thing we know, we watched the whole season in one sitting.”

You can catch Sarah Desjardins on Van Helsing airing Fridays at 10/9c and on Project Mc², which is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

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Lauren Busser is a senior writer at Tell-Tale TV. Her work has also appeared on Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. She has also been a dog sitter, worked front end at a bakery, and helped out in a kindergarten classroom. She learned to knit when she was five-years-old and thus, can now complete sweaters at a superhuman speed. She’s currently nursing a novel she’s been making slow progress on for the last six years.

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