Taylor Hickson is currently working on the apocalyptic SyFy thriller Aftermath. She plays Brianna, a headstrong teen that is struggling to survive the end of the world with her family. Taylor’s co-stars are Anne Heche, James Tupper, Levi Meaden and Julia Sarah Stone.
Taylor was born and raised in Kelowna, BC Canada. She started working age 12 traveling and singing with her father on stages across British Columbia. As time progressed, Taylor began writing her own songs and graduated from high school a year early to work on her music career.
She stumbled into acting when a relative talked her into auditioning for an agency at 16. Taylor started landing roles right off the bat; she worked opposite Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta and Julia Stiles in the psychological thriller “Blackway.”
Next Taylor landed the role of Meghan Orlovsky in the blockbuster film “Deadpool” where she worked opposite Ryan Reynolds. She then starred in the biopic film Hunting Pignut. The film is based on writer and director Martine Blue’s life and follows the life of Bernice (played by Taylor) a 15 year old runaway who is trying to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.
Ms. Hickson stars in the indie thriller Residue (produced by Motorcycle Boy Productions and XLrator Media) which will hit cinema screens in early 2017. The film follows James Clayton’s character, P.I. Luke Harding. The private investigator reads a book with somewhat sinister overtones and inadvertently puts Luke and his daughter Angelina (Hickson) in danger. Angelina has to fight for their lives and souls.
Taylor also has roles in the MGM film “Everything, Everything” and “Incident in a Ghost Land” working with Mylene Farmer, Crystal Reed and Anastasia Phillips. The horror thriller was written and directed by French filmmaker Pascal Laugier.
In “Aftermath,” Taylor plays Brianna, the fiercely independent teen daughter of Karen (Heche) and Joshua (Tupper) who is initially separated from her family and struggles to meet back up with them in the new apocalyptic world.
Taylor spoke with Mike’s Film Talk on Friday 18 November.
Michael: Hello Taylor! Thanks for speaking with Mike’s Film Talk today.
Taylor: (Laughing) Well thank you for speaking with Taylor Hickson today!
Michael: (Laughing) Right since the feeling is mutual, we’ll get right down to it. So, how did you get cast as Brianna? Did “Deadpool” or “Hunting Pignut” play a part?
Taylor: Wow… That’s a good question. I don’t think either one played a part. “Aftermath” was a new audition and it was really a bit nerve wracking thing for me. They didn’t know who I was… I kind of came out of nowhere, I was really new and they were willing to work with me. They saw potential and that is something I’ll be forever grateful for.
Michael: Well you do a brilliant job on the show, in my own humble opinion. I love the character and love the arc Brianna has gone through. Oh. I’ve got to tell you, I was speaking to Levi yesterday and he says “hi” and can he have his Bowie shirt back please?
Taylor: (Laughing) That’s fantastic. Oh my gosh I love him so much. I really miss him and he really was my older brother and Julia really was my sister. We totally have a sibling dynamic on and off screen. It made everything so easy and smooth and it was awesome.
Michael: He said much the same; that you all got on really, really well, on and off camera. So what’s it like working on the show. It really is pretty grim subject matter, isn’t it?
Taylor: Yes it is quite a grim subject matter…
Michael: Do you have any favorite scenes?
Taylor: Absolutely! Most of my favorite scenes are the sibling scenes. I think there’s one coming up in the very next episode. There is a scene between Dana and me and a lot of pent up stuff comes out on the table that really needed to be said and everybody gets called out. It was one of my favorite scenes to shoot because she did such an amazing job. Julia is so talented and she made me feel like I was in real fight with my sister. Everything was so real that it was unbelievable she is just amazing.
Michael: I have to agree. I like the “kids” on the show. I am a huge Anne Heche and James Tupper fan, but the thing that has really stood out in the show has been the kids.
Taylor: Really? That’s awesome.
Michael: Who has been your favorite cast member?
Taylor: Ooh…As a person or as an actor?
Michael: Both please.
Taylor: Wow. That’s really hard…Actually there are pieces of all of them that I would use to build a favorite character or cast member. They are all such a huge contrast to each other but I have to say that I’m kind of in love with all of them.
Right off the bat, I knew I was walking onto a project with a lot of respected artists who had long resumes and a lot of experience. I knew I had a lot of work to do. I also had a lot of studying to do. So I started watching them and the way that they worked and the way that they felt and the way that they spoke and moved.
I learned a lot just by studying them as people and studying them at work. Anne (Heche) I watched a lot. Mostly because I felt that my character takes a lot from her. So I was watching her for a character aspect because she is incredibly talented.
Taylor: I learned a lot from her and she mentored me a lot through the show and I learned so much. She pushed me to get better and work harder and that was something beautiful. She is not soft about it. She is not like “Oh nice try sweetie. It’ll be better next time. She is blunt and to the point but because of the industry I’ve learned not to let my feelings get hurt and I found it to be very helpful. I pushed myself and we would go out for dinners and stuff and she’d sit down and talk to me.
The whole cast are all so beautiful and it would be impossible to pick out just one favorite.
Michael: You all seem to have a brilliant rapport and there is a splendid bit of give and take on the show. The way the show is set up, your character seems to take after her mum and Dana (Julia) takes after her dad. It all works out really well. Now your character has gone through an awful lot…
Taylor: (Laughing) That’s an understatement…
Michael: Yes it is, very much so. So how do you prepare for the heavy-duty scenes? Say, for instance, Dylan’s death or the death of Aunt Sally?
Taylor: Wow. You don’t. You don’t prepare for that. How could you prepare for someone’s spontaneous death? I think that is the aspect that you have to walk in with. You have to walk in that day and think ‘this is going to be some heavy sh*t,’ and you never know how it’s going to play out or what the director is going to ask you to do.
There have been countless times that I’ve walked in with an idea or an interpretation of how I think the scene, or the mood of the scene is going to be. And then quite often find that the scene will be rewritten. If that happens we all sit in the tent before hand with the director and the writer. Then if we’re not agreeing on something it’s “Okay go.”
Then we all just spin out ideas until we find something that matches and find something that works. There are other things too; there was something I saw Anne do as an actor. The way that she would break down scenes was just incredible. She would catch stuff that blew me away. I was like,” How did you see that?” It would be something that I just read right past and because she is so on the ball she gets it.
Plus she’s a mother; her son would be there quite often and working with her husband… She has so much on her plate. She was flying out and taping other shows at the same time. And the way she managed to keep her head in the game was so inspiring.
Michael: She is a true professional.
Taylor: For example, the Aunt Sally [death scene] Anne said come on guys we have way too many women crying over this. She said, “I’m not going to do it.” What I watched her do shocked me, maybe even confused me and at the end of it, I thought, ‘wow, that is freaking brilliant.’
She just lay down beside Aunt Sally and just; she almost had no emotion… What it made me think of was my grandma who had been very, very sick with cancer. She suddenly went from having three months to live to three weeks. I couldn’t quite understand, or cope. I think everyone goes through that at one time in their life, and when you’re not prepared for someone’ death it is a shock to the system.
I was out with friends at around three in the morning and we were around the corner from my house, and we were listening to music in my friend’s truck and laughing and my dad called me at three in the morning. And my parents are very caring, they care a lot, and they knew where I was, just around the corner, and my dad called; he was in the gas station right behind me. He told me, “Your Gran has died.”
I had seen her just three hours before, stroking her hair and she was telling me that she was ready to go. Life is so funny that way… I had no emotion at all and I stepped out of the car and walked over to an empty parking lot and just started walking and walking. Then I started sprinting and then I just fell down and I cried like I’d never cried in my life.
So when Anne did that with Aunt Sally, I thought, she gets it. Then when it came to the crying part, she left that to me; to cry over Devyn’s body. That was a very hard scene, crying over Devyn and I’ve heard from other people on other shows that when they find out another character is going to die they say, “I can’t do this. I’m going to leave the show, I can’t do this.”
I understood then what they meant. It was very, very hard.
Michael: Quite emotionally taxing I should imagine.
Taylor: Oh absolutely. It’s like this show I’m working on now, I’m constantly fighting for my life in this movie and I’m just drained. It makes “Aftermath” look like a fun game. And I’ve been exhausted on “Aftermath.” This industry really beats you up but it makes you proud of the result when you look back.
Michael: Definitely. On a slightly lighter note… You’ve used a number of weapons in the show. Although not quite as many as Matt or your mum. Did you get any special training for all that?
Taylor: (Laughing) No. They told me when I first got cast, “Yeah we’ll send you to all these shooting arenas and you’ll get some practice. We’ll do training with all of you and we’ll get you shooting like a Marvel villain. I was like, “Wow that’s going to be awesome.” I was thinking of them like “real” guns and that somebody was going to get hurt.
But things started happening so fast that we wound up having one day that was kind of like rehearsals. They said, “Okay! You’re all family now. But I never really got to shoot “proper” guns.
Nerf guns and water guns were as bad a** as Taylor gets. I’ve never been paintballing or anything like that. So when we started the show I didn’t know how to hold a gun; the props people had to show me how. They were like; think about it, Brianna wouldn’t know how to hold a gun.
And if you watch the show from the beginning she is just holding the gun and her arm will go flying when she starts shooting. Since that isn’t working, in Brianna’s mind she’s thinking, ‘now what have I seen in movies.’
So then her other hand will start holding her wrist so it’s like “almost.” She finally figures out your hand goes under your other hand. As the season progresses you watch Brianna build her skill and confidence with guns.
Michael: It tracks very well. Stepping away from “Aftermath” for the moment; are you still filming on “Everything, Everything?”
Taylor: No I’m working on another show right now. I’ve finished on “Everything, Everything.”
Michael: So what are you working on now?
Taylor: I’m working on probably one of the scariest, most horrible scripts I’ve ever read… In like the best way
Michael: It sounds interesting.
Taylor: It’s raw and terrifying and beautiful at the same time. I’m working with Pascal Laugier and he is the most visionary director. I’ve never met anyone with the eye that he has, and the patience he has. We’ll spend two days shooting one scene, so taxing is a great word to use. It is very physically, emotionally and imaginatively draining and demanding.
I’m very proud to be working with such amazing people. It’s got Crystal Reed from Teen Wolf, Mylène Farmer who happens to be the Madonna of France. She is an incredible, beautiful and amazing lady and the project is called “Incident in a Ghost Land.”
I can’t say too much about it but if you look it up on the Internet, it’s just been put up on IMDb.
Michael: It hasn’t been put against your name yet. It still shows “Everything, Everything” as filming.
Taylor: Well I’ve definitely finished my work on that film. I shot my part in Vancouver and then the company went down to, I believe, Mexico. I’m now working on Ghost Land.
Michael: You had the starring role in “Hunting Pignut,” when will that be hitting cinemas?
Taylor: I don’t know. That one is still running through the festival circuit. I haven’t even seen it, if you want to know. Over half of Canada’s seen it and I haven’t even seen it. I asked for a link and they said, “No we want you to see it at the Whistler Festival premiere. So I’m like “Okay. I’ll wait.”
All I’ve seen so far has been on the monitors or when we did ADR, that’s the most I’ve seen. It should be interesting; I’m not sure whether they’re going for theatrical release. Maybe in a few select theatres; like maybe in my hometown or one in Vancouver or something… It’s very Canadian so it may only be released in Canadian theatres. I’m not sure what the distribution plan is.
Michael: You’re very busy right now; on screen at any rate. You’ve got Residue coming out in 2017 and I’m guessing “Incident in a Ghost Land” will be coming out either late in 2017 or 2018. Of course the big question goes all the way back to Deadpool, the first thing I ever saw you in, if they find a new director, will you be coming back as your character Meghan Orlovsky? Have you heard?
Taylor: I haven’t heard anything so I’m not sure. I believe they might have a new director; I’m not sure, there are lots of rumors. I’ve heard a lot of Marvel conspirators say that the character is in the comics. They say “your character is Megan Gwynn, aka Pixie, so you’re a Marvel character.” And I’m like, “I don’t think so… They didn’t tell me that.” And they go no you’re a superhero.
So all the forums are convinced that I’m going on but I haven’t heard anything. But it would be fun to have another tiny appearance with another cast of Deadpool.
Michael: I’ve got to ask… What was it like, working with Ryan Reynolds?
Taylor: Oh it was amazing. You know I’d been on a few smaller sets before because I was originally focused on music and it was massive. I didn’t really know how badly I wanted to work as an actor until “Deadpool.” I had worked with Anthony Hopkins before in my first role and that was incredible but it was just… I’d never had a chance to talk on screen and I didn’t really understand and I was trying to find my footing I thought it might just be a fun thing I did on the side. That was the thing that changed my life.
There are all these people running around you and they all have different tasks, and a routine and here was this awkward teenager who knew nothing about anything and the atmosphere was very anxious. It was everything that would turn me off of acting and yet it pulled me in.
We spent an entire night with a scene and it was very playful humorous. Ryan is very low key and nonchalant about the whole thing and I think that helped because he didn’t add to the anxiety so I just started speaking with him, he was a producer as well, and he was throwing out all these suggestions: “What if Meghan came up and hugged me and I was like, “Yeah that’s great.”
I would start teasing him, “Aw, I have to hug you again.” We were doing “pick-ups” and I had to start by hugging him already and he would say, “Shhh. Listen to the sound of my heartbeat.” He was so weird and funny that it made everything loosen up. Later, as I was still awkwardly holding him he said “Shhh” and started patting my head.
It all seemed totally weird and he says, “I never noticed those things told the time before.” He was talking about the things; I don’t even know what they’re called that’s how new I am to the business. I called it a clapper…
Taylor: That’s what I call it. And he was saying he never knew it told the time. He was saying he knew that it had times on it to sync the camera and the sound but never knew it told the time. And he says, “I’ve been doing this for how many years and never knew these things told the time.”
So I was singing this song by Salt N Pepa, “Shoop” because the scene originally started with us all singing “Shoop” we were sitting there and like rapping the song at the start but they cut it out. It was taken out for pacing since they wanted everything to click along. A lot of lines were taken out to make it move faster.
My two friends in the scene were also both cut out.
So we had to sing the song again and again to get it exactly right, they were playing the real music for sound and then had to pick it up later, which is probably why they didn’t use it. I said to Ryan that this song is going to be stuck in my head for two months and he says, “This frickin movie is going to be stuck in my head for two years.”
Michael: That’s funny. To wrap this all up, I know you have some favorite charities. Would you like to give them a shout-out?
Taylor: Oh yes, thank you! Definitely IJM (International Justice Mission), they are incredible. They do a lot of things for young people in third world countries and they save a lot of children who are sold into slavery, and sex slavery, and they are absolutely incredible. I’ve been doing work on and off with them since I was 13. They are amazing.
Another one would be Craig and his brother Marc who do We. [Free the Children] Have you ever heard of We Day?
Michael: No I’ve never heard of it.
Taylor: It is amazing Craig and Marc Kielburger, the charity’s founders, do all these things to help children and their families. I’ve donated and worked with them to fundraise for so many things. We got one village a school. I’ve done lots of work for them over the years.
They do it all over the country, they’ve been held in Toronto, or instance and they always have loads of celebrities and singers attend. The aim is to help the children and their families across the world.
Craig and Marc started the charity when they were young children and I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved and I’m very proud to be part of Movement.
Michael: So what does your schedule look like right now? Are there any other projects you want to mention?
Taylor: Well, I’m working on the film right now (Incident in a Ghost Land) and that will take me up to December and then I’ll be attending Whistler Film Fest for “Hunting Pignut”. I’m auditioning for tons of things and I’ve gotten an offer for something in January.
In March or April I’ll be doing a film called “GLO,” it’s short for Giant Little One and it’s a beautiful script. It’s a brilliant film that we’ve been trying to do for a while. If Aftermath is brought back, there may be a conflict, we won’t know till January.
There will be another movie, called Dry Swallow, written by Joel Thomas Hynes who played Pignut in “Hunting Pignut.” So there are lots of open doors and projects to look forward to.
The Wrap Up:
Taylor finished with her feelings about Aftermath and her onscreen family. She pointed out, quite rightly, that as the season has progressed the audience learns more about the Copeland’s and the show is evolving. We also talked about the “flying dragon” and what it was really called (Quetzalcoatl and not a dragon, as Levi Meaden pointed out in an earlier interview) that her character calls “the Q thing.”
Ms. Hickson also talked about the basis of the show. It is based on the Book of Revelation but since each culture has their own version of this apocalyptic series of events, these were included in the show, hence the Quetzalcoatl and the Japanese man eating plant.
She would love to see a second season of Aftermath be approved as her on-screen family have all gotten so acclimated to one another that she feels the show would be even better. Taylor mentioned the series was shot out of order and how odd it was to see the final product afterward and the difference between watching it and “living it.”
We also talked about the mythology that went into the creatures that appear on the show (like the Q-bird) and Taylor mentioned that after each episode the YouTube channel “Geeksiders” do a complete rundown on all the creatures and cultures of each Aftermath episode. Taylor revealed that the channel is incredibly thorough: “They knew more about the show than I did”
Taylor Hickson is a very busy young woman who is enthusiastic about her job and the business. A talented young actress that had high words of praise for her co-workers.
We also spoke of muppets and fraggles and how Julia played a prank on her with some M&M’s.
There are two episodes of “Aftermath” left in this season. The show airs Tuesdays on SyFy and Space in Canada.
Note: Unless otherwise stated the images used are by Ryan Orange Photography or Eike Schroter.