Agent Dolls is part of a special division of the U.S. Marshals that deals with supernatural phenomena, which includes but certainly isn’t limited to demon-hunting. He’s also probably the most logical and level-headed member of Wynonna Earp’s rag-tag revenant-slaying team.
Often in the line of fire and heavily involved in the show’s biggest fight sequences, actor Shamier Anderson found that a lot of his pre-Earp training (and gun training in particular) came into play portraying Dolls.
“I actually wanted to become a police officer,” says Anderson. “I went to school for criminology and did a lot of tactical training on the side, so when it came to the on-set applications, it was kind of second nature to me, given my background. And it was just like I was a kid in a candy store.”
We spoke with Anderson about becoming Dolls, the on-set environments and some of this season’s biggest and most challenging scenes.
Looking at the relationship between Dolls and Wynonna and the development of both of these characters, what was it like to develop that dynamic?
First of all, Melanie [Scrofano]’s an incredible actress who is extremely giving on set. So it was a breeze to work opposite her. There were so many moments where I would catch myself watching her as opposed to acting in a scene with her because she was so real in everything she did when it came to Wynonna. She really embodied that character to the point where it was like Melanie and Wynonna were one in the same. The majority of my scenes were with her so she just made that process extremely, extremely easy.
You have two actors who are open with each other and receptive, [and] you get a nice, organic relationship growing on-screen, which is an actor’s dream.
One of the most standout scenes of the season so far is in Episode 11 — the storming of the homestead. What was that scene like to shoot and what was that day like on set?
Oh boy, storming the homestead. That was a lot of fun. It was very noisy. A lot of gunfire, a lot of squibs, a lot of bomb explosions. I’ve never been in a war zone but I really felt like I was in a war zone that day. I felt like Tom Cruise. It was amazing.
Did you find that a lot of your training and preparation really came into play in that scene? Were there other scenes that used a lot of your training?
Pretty much anything that has to do with physicality, fighting, or using my firearms was always something that I loved…but that scene specifically definitely put my training [to the test]. It was real.
I really had to be in all of those explosions, hear all that gunfire, had to fire off my 10 blank rounds, had to do the roll, deal with loud noises and smoke. So it wasn’t acting for me anymore at that point, it was real-life…those reactions that you see the yelling, those crouches, those jumps, those twitches — that was all real reaction given what was happening around me.
In the most recent episode, we see a new side of Dolls: Dolls in a tux. What was it like exploring that new side of the character?
I kind of embody different superstar actors when I’m on set, so that scene with the fighting and the shooting, that felt like Tom Cruise. The scenes where I’m dressed up in a suit, I felt like James Bond. Those days were so cool because everybody got to dress up and it was such a treat seeing everyone all glamorous. And it was nice because Dolls doesn’t get dressed up very often.
We filmed that on one of the last days of filming and so…it was nice celebrating the way we did, being all dressed up.
Jumping back to Episode 10, that was one that seemed like there were probably some pretty challenging scenes to shoot. Were you freezing for most of that episode?
Oh my goodness, freezing is an understatement. It was so, so cold. My lips were purple. I think I left half of my toes in Calgary. I’m currently defrosting as we speak.
The scene with the wolf in Episode 10 is one that really stands out. What was that scene like to shoot?
First of all, that was a real life timber wolf. It was huge, it was scary, but funny — it was just like a little puppy. It wanted to be pet, it was crying and whimpering. It was actually more scared of us than we were scared of it. They’re so domesticated and the wranglers were telling us…they’ve had them since they were puppies. It was just like having a dog, it really was. But it’s interesting because when they do something, some sort of trick that kind of turns on all those wolf instincts, my goodness — I’m very very glad I was behind the window for that scene because those animals are fierce.
Are there other scenes that stick out to you as particularly challenging or demanding?
The fight scene [with Doc in Episode 8] was very challenging because we had to do those sequences over and over and over again. Hours and hours, different angles, different lenses. It was definitely a daunting task because the body can only take so much beating before it gives up you. I had to drink a lot of Red Bull that day just to keep myself alert and alive. That was one of the more difficult scenes of my career.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.