Exclusive interview: Caroline Cave on her Van Helsing role, A Dog’s Purpose and Power Rangers

Caroline Cave
Caroline Cave, who has a recurring role in Van Helsing. Pic: Kevin Clark/HollyWords Publicity Group

Caroline Cave is having an extraordinary and transformative year — not only has she already appeared in two massive movies, A Dog’s Purpose and Power Rangers, she’s also just landed a recurring role in hit Syfy series Van Helsing.

The multi-talented actress was perhaps previously best known for her role as Debbie in Saw VI, which gave her a cult status with horror fans. But her career has seen her kill it in roles spanning a vast array of genres, from sci-fi to straight-up drama.

This year her career has hit new heights, with a growing number of movie projects coupled with her new recurring Van Helsing role as Joline. Monsters and Critics caught up with her to ask about her growing back-catalogue of roles, and what’s to come…

Monsters & Critics: How did you get into acting in the first place, and what was the appeal for you?

Caroline Cave: I became involved in acting the way most kids do — a school play and drama classes in school. I was going to pursue other studies at university and it was my mother, who’s always been the one person who’s truly “seen” me, who advised me to apply to theatre school.

I trained in a conservatory program — ballet, speech, Shakespeare, stage combat, mask and all of that. It was wonderful. We were at school 12 hours a day some days, and we loved it.

M&C: One of several movies that helped launch your career was Saw VI, in which you played Debbie. What was the experience like of working on that and what kind of expectations do you have when you do that kind of a horror film?

CC: It was an adjustment for me, as I find it hard to watch films with that degree of violence. It was a learning curve to discover how intricate those series of films are in terms of the traps and the special effects. I was hooked after I was cast and I watched the first Saw and really enjoyed the psychological thrill of it.

I embraced the whole thing. When I was told I’d be working opposite Canadian actor Peter Outerbridge I felt excited and calmer, somehow, like he’d be my buddy in this weird world of horror filmmaking. The FX department did such an amazing job in that film.

It was gruelling physically and I suffered a mild concussion from hitting my head during one take in the steam room. It definitely pushed me to breathe and stay focussed on one moment at a time.

Caroline as Debbie in Saw VI
Caroline as Debbie in the sixth instalment of the horror movie franchise Saw

M&C: This year seems to have been a big year for you with regards to film and television. Aside from the obvious film, which we’ll get to later, I noticed that you had a role in a movie called A Dog’s Purpose. What can you tell me about that film and, aside from you being a part of it, what are its best selling points?

CC: It was just a beautiful experience. I enjoyed working with Lasse Hallstrom very much. He let us improvise a great deal and the camera just rolled at length. Sometimes we’d be looking at one another with a twinkle wondering when Lasse was going to call “cut” already.

The draw was the script and working on a big-studio film, Spielberg’s studio Dreamworks of course, and the fact that I’d be playing with my old pal Luke Kirby, with whom I starred in a Canadian series, Cra$h & Burn.

M&C: Moving to the obvious. You had a role in the recent Power Rangers movie. What was it like to be involved in that and for those who don’t know, what role did you play in it?

CC: I played Jason’s mother, Jason being the Red Ranger. It was eye-opening. Huge budget. Everyone was very keenly focused on set as the stakes were so high for our director, Dean Israelite.

It was his first major studio film and he had that weight bearing on him. Intense. I was cut out of a lot of the original script and so it was a little anti-climactic for me, but that’s the way of our business. I think the kids did a terrific job and I loved the way it was shot and edited.

M&C: I notice you did a few episodes of Dirk Gently last year. Are you likely to return to that for a guest spot or was the role you played just a one-off?

CC: I don’t believe I’ll return although I loved shooting that show and loved my character Sammy, a boozed-out, washed-out former rock groupie. It was a great role to play and since I was murdered in Season 1, I don’t believe I’ll be back!

M&C: A series you have scored a recurring role in is Syfy’s Van Helsing, which focuses on Vanessa Helsing, a distant relative of famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing. What can you tell us about your role in the series?

CC: I play Jolene, a leader in the human resistance against the vampires. She’s strong, capable and loving.

M&C: Is Van Helsing a fun series for you to make given the physical demands that it likely has on you?

CC: I love physical roles. I was a dancer and I trained a lot physically so I find it a really fun part of the work. Van Helsing is just a wonderful set to work on. I can’t say enough about how smoothly that set runs and how respectful an atmosphere it is.

Kelly Overton as Vanessa Helsing in Van Helsing
Kelly Overton as Vanessa Helsing in promotional artwork for Van Helsing

M&C: How have you found working with the cast and what would you say has been the most fun for you on the series thus far?

CC: I’m in awe of our writers. Sometimes they get notes from the network and their rewrites come under such a time pressure. It’s a dream working with Jackie May, one of our writer/producers, as she and I worked on a series before. She writes wonderful stuff for women.

I can’t say enough about Michael Nankin who directed my first episode. He’s just warm and generous but he’s straight up and a perfectionist. I’ve become friends with producer Jonathan Walker. He’s this strong, talented actor who is also a powerhouse writer.

Who wouldn’t want to be in a show created by Neil LaBute? Playing an ass-kicking, gun-wielding survivor is pretty fun, too.

M&C: Throughout your career you’ve done a fantastic mix of stuff from family drama to science fiction and horror and beyond. As a creative and actor, what do you look for in a role? What draws you in?

CC: Sometimes, as Alec Baldwin has said, you’re just taking the job because you need to get paid or you need to feel connected to your profession…you’re just ‘a plumber’, as it were, and you’ve got a customer that wants you to place the sink here and stop the leak there.

Mostly, though, I’ve been blessed with roles that have a ton of meat and texture to them. I think it’s all the classical training — directors know they can throw certain challenges my way and I’ll put my head down and do my work.

M&C: If you had the opportunity to play any great woman from history, who would it be and what is it about her that would really capture your imagination?

CC: I think I would like to play Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter. The original theatre production had Rosemary Harris in the role of Eleanor and Katherine Hepburn played her on screen. I enjoy playing women of great authority and presence. I enjoy the conflict between Eleanor and her husband, King Henry II.

M&C: Aside from Van Helsing are there any other projects that you can talk about?

CC: I’m really proud of Story of a Girl. I simply think it’s an important story and one that Kyra Sedgwick did a great job of directing. I also just shot a Hallmark movie with Jewel, which was fun and rewarding.

Van Helsing airs every Thursday on Syfy Channel. Both A Dog’s Purpose and Power Rangers are available to buy or rent on Amazon Video.

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