Kyra Zagorsky can roll with the punches. Literally. As Dr. Julia Walker on the SyFy series Helix, she engaged in a bloody fight with her father in the last episode. That kind of punches. In real life, the rough-and-tumble actress is happiest in the mountains of Colorado, climbing, hiking and camping. We trapped her inside for a half hour to find out more about her love for the great outdoors, her character and the weirdest storyline she’s ever had. Spoiler alert: it’s bloody.
How did you first get involved with Helix?
It was on my birthday. I got this audition and I read the breakdown of the show and the fact that Ron Moore was behind it. It was so smart and I loved the character of Julia. So I auditioned and then went out and hung out with friends for my birthday. The next day I got word that they had sent my stuff to Sony and it took off from there.
Not a bad birthday present. Tell me about Julia.
Julia is awesome. In the first season, she’s a very adventurous, accomplished CDC officer. I loved how grounded she is and how she’s a bit of a loner because of her flawed relationships. She’s kind of a mess with men. But she’s been working to try and fight viruses around the world; she really puts herself in the eye of the storm. And now that she has discovered that she’s immortal, everything about her world has been turned upside down. In the second season, I try on so many different sides of this character that it was just a really fun, creative exploration.
What’s happening to your character right now?
I’ve run into my father 30 years in the future and we have this epic sword fight Hiroyuki Sanata was just a career highlight for me. I’ve always looked up to him and we have such a beautiful scene together. As we move forward in season two, I become a very chic businesswoman, a politician and then I’m regular old Julia the doctor again. I’ve honestly explored so many different facets of this character.
What kind of physicality went into this fight?
Our fight coordinator called me up and said we have three days to learn, rehearse and shoot the fight. He knows that I have a dance background, an athletic background and a bit of a martial arts background and took it all into consideration. Hiro is a swordmaster himself, so we knew that that was going to be his side of the fight. What happens in the fight is when Hiro comes after me with a sword, he cuts my axe in half. We wanted the fight to look real instead of being fantastical and flying around on wires. There’s none of that. It’s a very real, emotional, bloody fight.
Some of your credits include Stargate, Fringe, Supernatural and now Helix…it kind of seems like you veer more towards science fiction. Is that something you enjoy, the sci-fi genre?
I do enjoy it, but I also think that sci-fi kind of gravitates towards me. [Laughs] It just feels like it’s a home for me. Sci-fi really tells stories about powerful women and I’m definitely not the kind of woman that you look at and think ‘let’s put her in a Lifetime girl-next-door role’. I think I look like someone you want to give a weapon to. Even though I grew up in a small town in Colorado, they like to cast me in roles that have a bit of gravitas.
With all these fantastical shows you’ve been on, what would you say was the weirdest storyline one of your characters has ever had?
[Laughs] Oh my gosh! Well, everything I do on Helix still feels weird. You just kind of go ‘okay, this is what it is!’ I might have to…oh my gosh…the weirdest thing. It might have to be on Supernatural when I played an ancient Mayan god trapped in a stripper’s body and she would lure in these men, take their hearts out and then have this big séance where she would chant and eat their hearts! That was pretty weird.
Do you have any personal favourites when it comes to the sci-fi genre?
I love sci-fi! Aliens is one of my all-time favourite movies ever. I remember watching it when I was young with my father and I was blown away by Signourey Weaver and the whole style of it. I love the new Star Trek movies, the old Star Trek I have to admit was kind of corny. The old Star Wars movies, I love. All that kind of stuff. So good. And it just opens up a world of possibilities, anything can and does happen.
How did you get your start in acting?
When I was in high school I was in this audition show choir and my teacher asked me to audition for Into the Woods, in which I ended up playing the baker’s wife. After that my dad told me about this school that was in Ashton, Oregon and I went out there, got into the BFA program and fell in love with it. It kind of took off from there. I was exposed to so many great actors and great theatre, I just caught the bug when I was in college.
You were born in New York City but raised in the Colorado Mountains. Which do you prefer? City life or being closer to nature?
Oh my god. Honestly, I feel like I need to be connected to the mountains somehow. I think that’s how I ended up in Vancouver. I just feel a real sense of ease when I’m in the mountains. I’m absolutely in love with places like New York City, but I have to handle it in doses. We shoot Helix in Montreal and it has that New York feel, but it’s not as intense. I need a bit of both.