Nathan Phillips (from left), Britne Oldford and Julian McMahon speak about "Hunters" at the TV Critics Assoc. winter tour in Pasadena. (Chris Haston/NBCUniversal)

What Hunters cast learned from characters

When Britne Oldford took on the role of an alien in Syfy’s Hunters, she didn’t necessarily expect to learn about herself from the character.

Yet the actress did, admitting to me, “I identify with Regan a lot more than I would like to admit.”

Hunters explores an alien race that uses sound to communicate and to destroy. Oldford’s character, Allison Regan, works for a government agency that hunts down terrorist aliens like Lionel McCarthy (Julian McMahon), who wants to rid the earth of humans. Her partner is Flynn Carroll (Nathan Phillips), a former FBI agent hoping to find his wife, whom McCarthy kidnapped in the series premiere.

The show, from creator Natalie Chaidez, is midway through its freshman season. It airs new episodes at 10/9c Monday on Syfy. So far this season, Regan has battled her alien instincts while Carroll has fought to keep his cool in confrontations with McCarthy. McCarthy has been terrorizing both of them along with the general populace.

I talked with Oldford, McMahon and Phillips in January during the TV Critics Association winter tour in Pasadena, Calif. You can read the first part of my interview with the trio here.

For this story, I asked the following question: 

What if anything have you learned about yourselves playing your roles, or just being in this production?

Britne Oldford: Even though I am playing someone who’s a little bit older than me, she was actually kind of a version of what I was like when I was younger. Of course, you have your teen angst; you have your high school days and so on and so forth and you’re kind of rebellious and what not. But she was such an amplified, animalistic, primal, survivor version of that.

I actually learned a lot about my family and how much I am connected to them, because that is something that she’s lacking.

I learned that I need to cry. I learned that letting out your emotions and actually feeling things is so cathartic and everyone needs to have points in time when they do that. Regan’s very hard, she’s very strong and very tough. She doesn’t let those things show. And for me, Britne Oldford, playing Regan was sometimes very hard because she wasn’t allowed to go to those deep places. She wasn’t allowed to completely break down in front of you sobbing tears, heaving. So I did take it upon myself to go home, watch some CM music videos and get it done. And I think that was really beautiful.

Julian McMahon: I find it difficult to relate to McCarthy, to be honest. … This whole terrorism issue that I found very difficult to discuss is something that is really horrific. I really kind of am happy that sci-fi monsters, all these kinds of things, give us the opportunity to discuss things that you probably wouldn’t like to discuss [as a real-life situation]. So we label them something else and say it’s OK to talk about it. That’s the beauty of it, but it’s also the guise of it. It’s intense and I’m fearful. And so for me, a lot of those kind of fears were consistent when I was playing this character. I think that was what I kind of got out of it and learned from it, more so than anything else.


Do you think McCarthy is a bad guy?

McMahon: I don’t think he’s a good guy. No, he’s not a good guy.


Still, could you empathize with him and his situation?

McMahon: I think you will as an audience. I tried to get some moments in there and I think …

Nathan Phillips: I felt it.

Oldford: So did I at times, definitely.

McMahon: You will empathize with him, I hope, because I like to put that in there. Even if I’m playing a bad guy—and I’ve played a few of them—I like to find that moment where the audience says, “Oh, hold on. I think I like him right now even though he’s being a bad guy.”

Phillips: You’re very lucky because he’s such a savvy wordsmith as well. You had such deadly lines. He had some really cracking lines that I had to try not to smile on screen when I was watching it. 


Nathan, what have your learned from your character?

Phillips: I just wanted to honor all the service men and women that have gone to war and seen the horror of war and had PTSD. I got to meet a few men that had been to Iraq and Afghanistan. Just to meet these real humans with their real flaws and their survival instinct. They’re not victims of their lives. They’re survivors of it. I love that wisdom that was passed on through meeting them.

I luckily enough just learned about Pat Tillman and his story and the integrity he had as a human being, He walked away from a million dollar contract with a football team to serve his country. It was very compelling  for me to play Flynn with that integrity and that loyalty and just being a good standup human. Those are the best things, I think, why we should still be on this earth.

More Hunters: My review

More Hunters at Syfy