With Syfy’s 12 Monkeys June 15th premiere, this marks the beginning of the end of a three-year journey for actress Emily Hampshire. Those years would probably look odd on anyone else’s resume.
During her tenure on the time-traveling adventure series, Hampshire’s been locked in a psychiatric facility and served as the CEO of a multi-million-dollar company, a playwright, and star of one-woman show set in World War I-era France. She’s hopped, skipped, and jumped her way through the past and the future, playing a rebel leader in the year 2043, the hostage of a time-traveling terrorist group in 2015, and a primary — a person whose mind essentially serves as a pillar that holds the structure of time together.
The show’s final season holds more of the same. Hampshire reprises her role as the brilliant but troubled Jennifer Goines, a woman whose connection to time is so unique, no one can understand her. The actress brings a bewitching kind of frenetic energy to Jennifer, a character who, one minute, is gifting the audience with a wildly strange rendition of 99 Luftballons, the next, leading an army to attack a splintering stronghold. In season four alone, she’ll travel to the Wild West, the Dark Ages, and an era not too far off from our own. She’ll also be charged with helping to save the world and time itself, so no pressure.
UPROXX chatted with Hampshire about the highly-anticipated end of the sci-fi series, and we learned where to look for spoilers, how Hampshire keeps track of her different personalities, about the importance of addressing mental illness, and why this might not be the final curtain call for her wacky, lovable heroine.
It been a weird, wild ride to get to season four. Do you have to take a refresher course before shooting each season, just to keep track of where the story’s going?
Yes. It’s such an epic story and so many things happen to us on the show. Any show that I do, before we start a new season, I always binge watch the last season just for a reminder, but this show especially, I need like a bible of where I was and when with all these different timelines and different Jennifers. Luckily, we have (showrunner) Terry Matalas, our God, to keep us on track.
To live in his mind for a day would be interesting.
Right? What’s crazy is that he’s actually not crazy. A lot of the time, I think he’ll just throw something out there, and it’s a fun idea, but then you find out that it was actually so thought out that, that something in season one connects to something in season four that he had planned way before and it all adds up.
Are there any big payoffs this season?
There are a few of them. My favorite one is this final moment after everything is wrapped up, it’s kind of like when you go see a movie and sometimes after the credits run there will be added stuff, little bits of the story continuing …
Like an after credits scene?
There’s something like that with Jennifer that you see at the end it goes all the way back to season one and you’re like, “Oh my God.” It’s the most satisfying thing, and it’s been very hard for me not to say something about it. I have put out some things on my Instagram that, once you know about it, then you’ll be like, “Oh, that’s why she posted that.”
Jennifer’s gone on such an incredible journey on this show and it felt like she had shown such growth, especially in season three. Does she continue that trek in season four?
That’s exactly how I felt, last season. I told Terry, “I don’t know how I can come back and do Jennifer after that because I don’t ever want Jennifer to go backwards in terms of her growth.” She was given the most amazing stuff I’ve ever dreamed doing last season and getting them to check that box once again, I just didn’t know… I think I’m allowed to say this but there’s a scene that’s going to be something akin to the 99 Luftballoons that is even better, and it’s so crazy but so amazing, such a showpiece. It’s in one of my favorite episodes which is episode six.
But even back in season one when I was just a recurring character and they were talking about bumping me up to a series regular, I told Terry, “I don’t want to become a regular if it’s going mean that I’m going have episodes that Jennifer is not special, that she’s not doing something amazing because I’d rather just leave her always being, in my opinion, the best thing ever, rather than have her do anything that’s just fine.”
Also, I never wanted her to be the joke. I never wanted her to be the comic relief and I feel so grateful that Terry never did that. As much as he gave her such a specific humor and the craziest shit to do, she’s always grounded in this heart, in this real truth that she at least believed in.
How does Jennifer’s relationship with Athan (James Callis), and the mission he’s tasked her with, affect her this season?
We left off with Athan saying, “You are the best of them all and the key to everything,” and that remains true. It will be revealed that Jennifer is more than just chock full of nuts. She has the answers to everything and we start back where we left off in that Jennifer is going on the mission that Athan kind of left her with. Also, we get to, at the very beginning, see a Jennifer that we have never seen before. I believe Terry spoiled that on his Instagram, but there are more layers to that.
So should we be shipping Athan and Jennifer or is there still hope for Deacon (Todd Stashwick)?
That’s funny. Well you know Athan and Jennifer will always be like brother and sister, so ship it in a platonic sibling way. But then Deacon, his first relationship was with Old Jennifer so in Young Jennifer, there’s this kind of reverence to that and she kind of tries to live up to that in his eyes. But it’s weird shipping Jennifer because I remember Terry telling us about stuff that hainstappened early in the writer’s room. There were some thoughts about Jennifer being a lesbian or maybe Jennifer was with Cole (Aaron Stanford) and then everybody kind of was like, “I don’t know, it feels wrong.” I can’t see her in a real relationship with anyone, except in family way because she loves so big that it feels like it’s too much for any one person.
It’s tragic because I start to think, is Jennifer ever going to find love? I think she’s just kind of stuck.
Over the course of the show it was revealed that Jennifer is a primary which means her relationship to time is different than our own. It’s why some initially labeled her mentally ill and why she was stuck in a psychiatric facility when we first met her. How did you want to play that side of the character?
At the beginning of season one, they had me meet with a psychiatrist because at the time we thought she was schizophrenic or and he told me, “People with mental illness don’t have those inhibitions that we do in society, they tend to be truth tellers a lot of the time,” and that is how I’ve always felt Jennifer is. She’s always saying the true thing in the room and she can’t really stand to have it not be voiced.
That’s what I love about Jennifer. I think it’s important to have that person in the world.
Another thing this show does well is to really service its female leads. It’s not always a given, especially in sci-fi, that the women will be given fully-realized arcs. What’s it been like to play a woman that’s as multi-faceted as Jennifer Goines?
To be fair, I notice it more with the other characters than with mine because I tend to never get the beautiful girl on the sidelines. I don’t get those parts and I’ve always kind of played more character stuff so I think Jennifer would probably be the only girl character who’s like that, who’s not servicing some male fantasy. But what I find amazing is to look at Amanda Schull. She is a beautiful stunning, blonde woman who is a great actress and she’s got more opportunity on 12 Monkeys to show how good she is.
In a weird way, I kind of feel fortunate that I started acting when I was young. I went through an awkward phase where I put on weight and I realized I wasn’t going to get the pretty girl stuff anymore, and I had to be funny, and I had to be different, and it really changed my career by doing those kinds of character-driven parts. I see a lot of my friends who just, because they’re beautiful, and women, they don’t get those challenging opportunities.
This is the end of 12 Monkeys but there have been rumors about a Jennifer-centric spin-off. Maybe one that’s animated? Would you be on board?
You know what when Terry showed me stuff about this animated show, nothing made me happier because I was telling him how I really miss playing Jennifer. I’d never want to do a spin-off that’s not as good, but to do it that way seems like it might work. The idea of an animated Jennifer time traveling and maybe screwing up the gun battle between Hamilton and Burr or something crazy like that. I would love that. I used to voice a lot of cartoons before 12 Monkeys, and I haven’t in awhile, and that was my favorite job in the world, so I would absolutely be in it.
The final 12 Monkeys season premiered on SyFy on June 15th.