Ilona Elkin Interview
We would like to thank Ilona for the time she spent answering our questions and we wish her the very best for the future.
How did you get the part of Merrill Young?
The plain old fashioned way I auditioned. I believe I went in for Essie, and I had read the character breakdown (it's where they summarise all characters they're auditioning...)
I felt like i did terribly, and I said to my agent, can I go read for Merrill instead, I feel more connected to her. I got a callback and I went in for Merrill. I did much better. Then I didn't hear anything for a while and one day I got a call saying that they wanted to see me read with the guy who was cast as Drew (Jeff) and the director for about a half an hour.
I got really excited and right away we felt like there was a "connection" there. The director told me that they were going to Toronto to do the same kind of a meeting with another girl; but I got the part! Lucky Me. I later asked Jeff how the other girl was? He said she was good, very different but I was more mysterious and we had better chemistry!
A few years later I did a show called Delta State, where A girl named Liz played a character called Luna. She claims that she was the other girl in Toronto! I don't know for sure, but she might have been!
Which scene or episode did you enjoy the most?
Oh it's been such a long time since we shot, but the episodes that I remember shooting was Lost weekend, mainly because of the piano playing scene and the great scenes I got to do with Joris. I had a bit of a crush on him at the time. I remember loving the scenes of the chill...where I'm preparing for my death; and that being really a weird concept for me at the time. Also when Murdoch got "sick" was fun to shoot! being drenched completely. Also when the whole cast was together and we had to do the caped, chanting scenes...we couldn't stop cracking-up, there was always someone chanting something funny, or chanting off-key or farting or you get the picture...We just felt so dumb doing it.
The most aggravating was definitely both sides now! It was cool doing the two different parts but I felt we didn't have enough time to do them right. I did like letting Merrill go of all the meekness, and bookishness. She got to be just a little unpredictable and sexy for a moment. What made it aggravating was all that fake blood I had to eat, spit and so on. It was just horrid tasting and after multiple pouches I ended up throwing up during a break! Gross!
If it had been up to you, who would you have chosen between Drew and Marty?
A very difficult question.
As Merrill, she thought Marty would have been a lot of fun and he really, really liked her. Merrill finally understood that maybe it's better to have the one that wants you, who is actually a cool dude than the one that fights you and keeps you at an arms length. On the other hand, she believes in the vampire lore very strongly, and it says you have to find and be with the "One". If that's the case I think ultimately Merrill would have had to do what she thought was right and according to the rules it would have been Drew.
Did you enjoy the developing relationship between Merrill and Marty?
I did thoroughly. While we were shooting it was just a lot of fun to have something really exciting going on with her (as an actress), i was actually a little tired of the "lovelorn" looks at Drew. although towards the end of the season, I thought the episodes got quite exciting.
If the show had had another season, how would you have liked to see your character progress?
I would have liked to see her come out of her shell even more, and have a real relationship at least for a few episodes. She was really smart which I liked and would have wanted to take to the next level somehow, like masterminding an escape! I was also aching to kick some butt! BPA (Is that right? Gosh it's really been so long) agent Butt that is! (am I allowed to say Butt?)
Would you do more Vampire High if the series was revived?
I would definitely, if there were others from the same cast involved. I just don't know how'd they could revive it. We're all much older...we're all well past "high" age! Who knows, they probably will one day film a series with the same concept with new actors in it, and call it Werewolf High! :O)
Vampire High has attained something of a cult following since it is still shown on TV in Canada and the UK five years after it finished. In your opinion, what is it about the show that gives it such appeal?
I'm not sure. I'd love to say the charming actors? No, just kidding. I think it's the fact that people get surprised by it. It's a half an hour show, so you expect it to be really "campy" comedy with a laugh track. Meanwhile it ends up being a drama with really campy moments, which makes it funny. On top of that, the more you watch it, the more serious the episodes get; and there's a continuous storyline about the characters. How'd they get made, who is Murdoch, what will happen to them...who will date whom...will Dillan turn into a vampire? And visually it wasn't a bad looking show. We didn't have plastic teeth, and Gap clothing, everything pretty much was custom made.
Marty and Merrill had many moments together, what was it like working with Joris in these scenes?
I remember having great fun. He was such a clown in real life! There wasn't a moment of peace when he was around. He's also a very good and dedicated actor so when the camera started rolling it was like he was schizophrenic, how he could just switch from one moment to the next.
Did you enjoy the song between Merrill and Marty in the episode "Lost Weekend"?
I practised playing that song all night on a keyboard production lent me! I was so tired! Then they ended up using a track that show creator Mark Shekter recorded that I could play along to...I never really got good enough to accompany Joris' amazing singing properly. But I tried REALLY hard! And my timing was pretty good.
When Merrill's doppleganer appeared was it fun to show the dark side to Merrill (my personal fave episode!)?
It really was a nice departure from the "everyday" Merrill. I liked the outfits I got to wear!
Where you ever jealous by the amount of clothes Karen used to wear as to what you used to wear?
No!!! I loved my clothes (most of them at least) they were custom made and they really reflected my character. I didn't need clothes to show who Merrill really was. I loved her "closet" though the way it came down from the ceiling!~ We all had some seriously hideous numbers as well! ( She had one we called "camel-toe" for obvious reasons. (sorry Karen I had to tell them!)
Did you like Merrill being meek or would you have liked to have been bad more throughout the series?
I don't think she had time to become bad more often...maybe if there was another few seasons she could have re-developed a taste for bad things.
And finally what are you up to at the moment?
I just got back from Spain. I was attending a film festival in San Sebastian for the horror thriller "End of The Line" that's doing the festival rounds until next summer when it hits Fantasia film festival in Montreal. It had it's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September...but I'm not sure whether it has been sold yet! I hope so...I'd love to see it playing at famous Players or the AMC or any other theatre chain for the mass market. It was filmed with a really low budget, it's clever, well produced, has a current theme and its shocking at times!
Can I just say this interview is the one I have had most emails and questions about, people really do love the character of Merrill!
That's so awesome. I'm so flattered to hear that! I just want to send my hello's to everyone whose ever loved and watched the show! I wish we could have given you more! It's always the good and ones (... yes, shameless self-promotion...) that get cancelled! Thanks kindly,
Ilona "Merrill Young" Elkin