Exclusive interview with Melissa Ponzio
August 20, 2013 | Melissa Ponzio plays the role Melissa McCall, the cool and lovely mom of young werewolf Scott McCall on the popular MTV mystery show "Teen Wolf", but not only that she's also Karen on the AMC hit "The Walking Dead". In our interview Melissa talks about her work on these two compelling shows and when she talks about working with the "Teen Wolf" cast, you can really imagine how close everyone is on this show. She also teases a little bit about exciting things to come on both shows.
1) With Lorelai Gilmore off the air it seems Melissa McCall is the mom everyone wishes they had. What drew you to play this role and what do you love most about her?
Wow, thank you. What a HUGE compliment, and even bigger shoes to fill. I was lucky to audition for this role, and feel I won the lottery in being cast as Tyler's Mom. I think I'm most proud of the true unconditional love Mama McCall has for Scott. Although she was at first afraid when she finally learned his secret, she quickly accepted Scott, and no matter what will protect, love and honor her son.
2) "Teen Wolf" does an exceptionally good job involving the parents in the action and the characters are so well written that not only the teen audience roots for them but they also draw viewers above 25 because they are role models in a cool way. What's your take on what makes the parents so compelling?
I feel Jeff Davis does an amazing job writing for all the parents on the show. He writes for each of us with such care…each one of us have had amazing scenes molding, guiding and sacrificing for our children. Eaddy Mays' character gave her life to protect her family. JR Bourne as 'Argent' continues to protect and teach his daughter. Linden Ashby's character, 'Sheriff Stilinksi', struggles as much as my character does with being a single parent, and tries his best to raise his son in the way his wife would have wanted. Susan Walters, who plays Lydia's mother, tries to support and understand her daughter as best as she can. The heart to heart speeches Jeff has written for my character when speaking to my son touch my own heart. I think it makes it compelling for us to perform, and I hope it makes it compelling for the viewers...
3) Your TV son Tyler Posey seems to be a person who's really enjoying his career, he seems good-humored, open, approachable and also he and Scott seem to have a few things in common. What would you say what are the three most important qualities that Tyler and Scott share?
Yes, Tyler and 'Scott' share many qualities…devotion to family being the primary one. Tyler is so proud of his brothers, Mother and Father. His face lights up when he talks of them. I've had the pleasure to meet his Mom and Dad, and he is the perfect mix of the two. Having dear friends, and being a dear friend, both on and off screen is the second amazing quality he has. Tyler is loyal to his friends in such an admirable way. And third, he's an honest soul. I've seen Tyler speak his truth on more than one occasion. He is of his own mind and will tell you exactly what he feels. I think this was in conflict with his character, specifically the first two seasons when he couldn't tell Mama McCall about being a wolf. He was conflicted and torn, and I would say heartbroken that he had to keep it from her, to protect her at first. I think it's a huge weight off his shoulders...
4) Certainly Jeff Davis brings out the best of everything and everyone to make this exciting show and as someone growing up with Russell Mulcahy's 80s music videos and "Highlander" I love the recall value in e.g. the fight scenes, too. How would you describe the show to someone who's skeptic because it says "teen" in the title?
Russell is SO AMAZING!! He is such a joy to work with. We're all lucky to have him with us. His creativity is endless. Really, I could write a dissertation on how fantastic he is…What would I say to the skeptics? Watch one of our shows! I'm proud of the level of creativity, shooting style, acting, story, editing, special effects... everyone shows up every day and gives their best.
5) Scott's dad is back in town! In season 1 Melissa seemed really shaken up about the whole dating thing. What number did this FBI agent do on her? And will his return ruin the spark between her and Sheriff Stilinski?
Sparks are gonna fly all over the place with the ex-husband back in town! I think this new character will send ripples thru the whole community and definitely our family. I have my own thoughts about what will happen, but all has yet to be revealed by Jeff. The Sheriff will have a run for his money both professionally and personally...
6) Your "The Walking Dead" character Karen does not appear in the comics. How do you prepare for the part and how much do the writers give you to work with?
What an amazing experience to have a place on The Walking Dead. I won the acting lottery twice!! I've been a fangirl since the first episode. Melissa McBride who plays 'Carol', is a friend and someone I've always admired as an actor. I watched to see/support her, and fell in love with the show. It's quick preparation, as they keep the scripts a secret till just before we shoot. So we have an idea of where it's going, but the producers and writers keep us wondering and waiting, just like we keep you guys!! It's a very collaborative process between the producers and the writers. Scott M. Gimple is our show runner this season and I have no doubt the viewers are going to be blown away!!
7) Karen survived the Governor's massacre! What we can expect from her in the next season?
Surviving the Governor's massacre - HOW AMAZING WAS THAT?!?! When I read the script, I literally felt light headed. That whole scene, the depths to his madness and soulless actions…I was floored. And then-to be the lone Woodbury survivor of the massacre-what and amazing turn of events! But even after the season ended, I had no idea ‘Karen’ would return. Nothing is for sure in the zombie apocalypse. I wish I could share more with what’s going to happen. Things get deep. Things get more real, more intense, even faster than we've ever seen on this show. Get ready.
8) Do you know anything about Karen's life before the apocalypse began?
I have to give my personal thanks and gratitude to Laurie Holden for Karen's life before the apocalypse. The first day I worked, she could not have been more warm and welcoming and inclusive with me. We talked about our relationship, the fact that we were fast friends in Woodbury. And that maybe I was a teacher, as I knew a lot of the younger kids there. I saw our relationship/friendship as me being 'Rose Red' to her being 'Snow White' in a way, I thought we made a great team for the time we had together…and for the record, 'Asthma Boy', as I refer to him, was not my son. Many people have asked me that.
9) The makeup of "The Walking Dead" is unique. Is it creepy when you walk into a zombie on and behind the set?
In person, the special effects are beyond anything you could imagine. It looks so imaginatively real; it’s horrific in the best possible way. Greg Nicotero and his team are vivid, creative mad men and women who are dedicated to making each zombie as true to a nightmare as you would want to see. I can't say much, but there’s a scene where I had to stare into the faces of many, many zombies. And the actors who portray the zombies are committed in every scene; they hold nothing back during each take. The way they moved, the way they sounded, the way they looked, and I was really affected by it. I couldn't look at them except for when we were shooting, they were too real.
10) On "The Walking Dead" we see the walkers, on "Teen Wolf" the werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Which world do you find scarier or maybe even more compelling?
Both are compelling, both are scary in their own ways…I think the difference is, on "Teen Wolf" we live in a known world with many unknown supernatural creatures. On "The Walking Dead" it's all unknown to an extent. It would be tough to choose either existence. I would miss pizza in the zombie apocalypse.
11) Stories about the pranks and "gag reel material" on set are always the best. Could you share anything with us? From "Teen Wolf" or "The Walking Dead"?
I get asked this a lot, and I can say there’s a fair amount of bloopers and laughing from takes, but on both shows, everyone is really on their game, everyone really knows their lines and character motivation…but as far as practical jokes, I have not played any nor been the target. Thankfully. This might change after this interview...
12) Since myFanbase is an online magazine about U.S. television shows, what are your favorite shows?
At home, I love to watch real life murder mysteries. And when actor friends are on shows, I totally watch them! As far as current scripted shows, "The Killing", "Orange Is the New Black", "Damages", and "House of Cards". And who doesn't get caught up in a "Law and Order" marathon every once in a while... As for reality shows, "River Monsters" - he always finds what he's looking for!
Thank you, Melissa, we wish you all the best for your future!
Nicole Oebel - myFanbase
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