As SyFy‘s SurrealEstate hurtles toward its season finale, Megan Donovan has a lot on her plate. That also means more for Tennille Read to sink her teeth into. Tennille joined me ahead of tonight’s penultimate episode to discuss the appeal of this quirky show, how Megan has evolved since audiences first met her in the pilot, and where Megan’s going in the rest of season 1.
Brittany Frederick: SurrealEstate is the most unique show on TV right now. You’ve appeared in other sci-fi shows like Heroes Reborn, so would you say this is the strangest show you’ve done, or how would you describe it?
Tennille Read: I would say that it is the most surprising, perhaps. It’s structured like a regular procedural featuring a new house that needs to be sold each episode, but there’s a twist. In order to put these houses on the market, they first need to be metaphysical dis-engaged. The Roman Agency specializes in paranormal activity and somehow through all [the] spooky, jump scares and ghost hauntings, there’s a surprising amount of heart and humor too.
BF: Was the uniqueness part of the appeal to you when the project came to you? Or what made you want to play Megan in the first place?
TR: I definitely liked the uniqueness of the concept of the show. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. I have a fascination with the horror genre. I’m terrified of all things spooky yet there’s a piece of me that’s very curious about it, too. And this show, through its stellar writing, compelling characters and unique take on real estate, was able to bring me into that genre without totally freaking me out.
BF: Do you look at houses any differently now? Wondering if they’re haunted?
TR: it’s opened my eyes to check the metaphysical levels of a house before buying. As well as made me think about what the chances are [of] stumbling upon a haunted house. I just took a short road trip out in a rural part of Canada and I couldn’t help thinking that all those farmhouses we were passing must be haunted. There’s no way they can’t be with that much history. Every place has a story, and a high potential for some unfinished business.
BF: SurrealEstate has two episodes left this season, and the one that airs tonight has some big things in it for Megan. What can we say about what’s in her future?
TR: Megan has been dealing with the Donovan house all season one, and in episode nine, she finally gets to take a bit of control over her situation. She finds a new place to live with the help of Luke and she’s finally able to move out and say her last words to the Donovan house.
BF: When you’re working on a show with a serialized mythology like Megan’s struggles with the house, do you want to know the story in advance? Or do you even get to know anything ahead of time?
TR: The furthest along that I got to explore my storyline was at the beginning of filming. I got to read the first three episodes. But after that, it was basically when the writers had a script together, then they would share a workable draft and that’s when I’d learn what was coming next. I was very much discovering it and seeing where Megan’s story was going as the writers were figuring it out themselves.
I kind of liked not knowing where she was going. George Olson, who’s our just genius showrunner and creator, gave me little hints in the way of saying “We’re going to try and keep you having fun playing Megan.” I could trust that I was in good hands. That was nice.
BF: With all that’s happened to and around her, how would you say Megan has evolved this season? How do you look at her now as opposed to the character you started with in the pilot?
TR: Throughout season 1 she evolves quite a bit. When we first see her, she’s screaming and running out of her house because she’s been spooked by an exploding fireplace. She is a med student who’s very scientific and only believes in empirical fact, and this world of the paranormal is inexplicable to her. She simply doesn’t believe in ghosts. Yet she’s witnessing the impossible and those inexplicable things are happening to her.
Over the season, we see her open up from a very matter of fact perspective to one that begins to entertain this idea of the paranormal realm. When we saw her be completely possessed by one of the roadie demons, I think that’s a turning point for her. She really does need to decide if she wants to keep going down the rabbit hole of the inexplicable, or take a step back and try and reassess her reality and what she wants it to be going forward.
BF: Do you have favorite moments from your perspective? Scenes that were fun for you to do or that you found particularly surprising or challenging?
TR: I had a wildly fun time doing the pilot, being able to react to an exploding fireplace, an exploding bookshelf, and whispers in the shadows. As an actor, being able to play in such a heightened state is a lot of fun for me. That definitely stands out for me.
Also, in episode 106 there’s a scene where I have a conversation with Luke while eating pelau – a Trinidadian dish. It’s just such a lovely scene for their relationship where Megan is sharing a little bit about her Trinidadian heritage and the audience gets to see more colors pertaining to her personal life. I’m half Trinidadian, so to be able to represent that culture even just a little bit in a character that I’m playing was significant for me.
I think being possessed by a roadie is definitely going to stand out as memorable too. I’ve never seen The Exorcist but that scene where that person’s head spins around is somehow ingrained in my head through images and memes in pop media. And now, on some level, I’ve contributed to that iconic imagery because Megan and Susan had that showdown moment in episode 108. I guess I have a lot of moments from season 1 that stand out to me!
SurrealEstate airs Fridays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on SyFy. The season finale airs next Friday, September 17. If you need to catch up before then, you can watch episodes on Peacock or via SyFy on Demand.