Exclusive: Warehouse 13 Goes Gay
By Phillip B. Crook
As life would have it, twin brothers Aaron and Shawn Ashmore both found niches in Hollywood by playing characters in fantasy projects: Aaron in shows like Smallville and Shawn as Iceman from the X-Men series. So it comes as no surprise that Aaron is joining Syfy's paranormal mysteries show, Warehouse 13, in its third season as suit-clad agent Steve Jinks. What may surprise you, however, is that Agent Jinks is gay. Out recently chatted with Aaron and series-creator Jack Kenny to get an exclusive take on why the show chose to introduce a gay character, what that means for the sci-fi genre, and who (if anyone) was gay in Star Wars.
Out: Some people are going to see you on Warehouse 13 and say, 'There's that guy from X-Men.' How do you and [your twin brother] Shawn deal with being mixed up?
Aaron Ashmore: There's nothing you can do about it, really. When the X-Men movies first came out, everybody thought I was Shawn. But then I did Smallville and he started saying, 'People are coming up to me thinking I'm you.' You don't have a choice. You just roll with it.
Do you ever sign each other's autographs?
Aaron: We draw the line at that. We say, 'Nope, that's my brother.' And sometimes people don't believe you, but it's all in good fun.
Jack Kenny: Wait, you're not Shawn? Uh oh, we made a casting mistake'
Aaron, can you tell us a little bit about your character Steve, who joins the show this season?
Aaron: Steve Jinks is a young ATF agent who has the ability to tell when someone is lying. He can look you in the eye and just know automatically. So he's recruited into the Warehouse because of this talent.
And the reason we're talking about him is because' Steve is also gay. Why is the show going gay now?
Jack: Actually, Syfy suggested it. We were pitching this character and a couple of the execs are gay and said, 'What if Steve was gay?' We immediately jumped on the idea -- but it's just a part of who he is, it doesn't define the character.
Aaron, how does that affect how you think about your character and how you play him?
Aaron: It's in the back of my mind, but the show's not really about romantic relationships. These people's lives are crazy trying to save the world, so there's not a lot of time for love. I think when he interacts with some people, in the back of my mind as an actor, I'll decide that he thinks a guy is cute. But it doesn't play into how he does his job.
Well, since you brought it up, what do you think his type is?
Aaron: I don't think Steve's into muscles. He's more laid-back. I picture him with someone similar to himself.
Do you think the ability to tell when people are lying would ruin romantic relationships?
Aaron: I think so, and that's a big thing that influences who Steve is. We all know that people lie, but when you know that it's happening every time, it makes it hard to be in a relationship with someone.
I think there's an important distinction, though, between characters on television that we see in gay relationships and friendships, and those that we don't.
Jack: It's the same thing with the straight characters. There's really no time for that. Last season, we tried to get into relationship stuff and what we found that we really don't have the space. They're always out in the field!
In the past few seasons, television has seen a flood of new gay characters. Why do you think the word came down from Syfy that now was the time to get on board with that movement?
Jack: We're always looking to bring diverse characters into our show, so it was just a question of who else do we want to include? In the first incarnation of Steve, we were looking for an Asian actor for the part, but didn't find anyone that had the right chemistry with our cast. And even when Steve was going to be Asian, he was going to be gay. We wanted that dynamic.