Since Wynonna Earp premiered in 2016, it has gained a cult following for its clever storytelling, inclusiveness, humor, and celebration of found family. Actor Tim Rozon stars on the supernatural Western as Doc Holliday, the famous gunslinger who gained immortality and now fights by Wynonna’s side. In addition to starring in the popular show, Rozon has also written several Wynonna Earp comic books with series creator Beau Smith.
Rozon’s acting career stretches much farther than the brim of Doc’s beloved hat into the sci-fi comedy show Vagrant Queen, the comedic gem Schitt’s Creek, the fantasy show Lost Girl, and the young adult drama Instant Star, among many others.
Scoop recently talked to Rozon about several of his past and present roles. In this first half of the interview, Rozon discusses the Wynonna Earp TV show, writing the comics, and his appreciation for the comic book medium.
Scoop: What do you like about acting?
Tim Rozon (TR): Oh wow. So many things. I wasn’t good at anything else, to be honest. It was just one of those things I got into very young. My elementary school had a production of Oliver Twist and I remember I went out for Oliver and I didn’t get it. I remember the rejection. But I ended up playing a small part later. It was kind of good to deal with rejection right away. That prepared me for the rest of the actual world of acting, to be honest. Yeah, I wasn’t really good at anything before that moment. I was a pretty shy kid and acting was a good way to get over my shyness. Then I just kind of fell in love with it since then and continued through high school in the drama department and that was it.
Scoop: When you found out about Wynonna Earp what appealed to you about the show?
TR: Everything. People don’t understand, we get a “break down” as an actor with a character description. A lot of the times the scripts aren’t even written when a show is being cast. Sometimes they are and sometimes there’s only an idea of what they want to do and their going to write the episodes as they go. Maybe they have the pilot down and a couple of others, but they don’t have the rest down. So, as an actor, you’re very lucky if you can even get the first script.
Wynonna Earp, we got what is known as a “break down” which is maybe a paragraph character description. But, just from that paragraph, I knew that I wanted this part. Interestingly enough, I read for Xavier Dolls, which is the other character, first. It was Black Badge Division it sounded very like Men in Black. Either way, it was another super cool character based on a comic book. So, they had me right there, because I’m a super comic book nerd. You know, fan. They had me there.
Then, I didn’t get Xavier Dolls but about two weeks later, they called me back and said “They want to see you for Doc Holliday” and I said, “Doc Holliday? The Doc Holliday?” They said yeah. I knew exactly who Doc Holliday was, I’ve probably seen Tombstone 300 times. Even the one when Willie Nelson was Doc Holliday. I’m also a huge Willie Nelson fan, so I knew who Doc Holliday was, I had been dreaming about that part, maybe my entire life.
So, when that opportunity came, I did one tape. I got the little break down of the character and it didn’t matter, that character had been inside me. I had been waiting to play Doc Holliday my whole life. I sent that tape in and I tested straight off of that tape, which normally doesn’t happen. There’s normally a bunch of steps you have to do – callbacks. They saw that tape and said, “Yeah, we want to see this guy in person.” That felt really good. It was one of those parts that I was like, “Universe, make this one happen. This is the one, if there’s ever been one, this is the one and it’s Doc Holliday.”
Scoop: What do you like about playing Doc Holliday? Were there any surprises when you got into his boots?
TR: I don’t know if it was a surprise, but, I went from being so excited getting the part to being so scared because of the expectations of the character. Then it hit me, “Oh shoot, wait a second, you’re playing this iconic, famous gunslinger cowboy that people adore.” People love this character and he’s been played really great. I mean, everybody knows Val Kilmer, “I’m your huckleberry,” – when you say “Doc Holliday” there’s just no way you can’t, that’s how good he was in that movie.
I kind of took the pressure off myself because I said, “I’m not going to be anything like Val’s Doc. I’m just going to do Doc.” And luckily enough Emily Andras’ scripts were so amazing that I was like, “I’m going to work with what I’ve got, the material, work with Melanie Scrofano.” We had our first scene ever, it was at that bar where we kind of flirted and I said, “Okay, this is Doc Holliday. Here he is flirting with his best friend’s great-great-great granddaughter.” [Laughs] So, I kind of realized I can make this my own and that was a nice surprise. It took a lot of pressure off.
Scoop: Has there been a character arc that you’ve found especially fun or challenging to play?
TR: So many. I’m the only character from out of time on this show, so everyone else is from the present and Doc’s from the past, so it’s funny to try and have this catch-up moment. I would’ve loved if we’d played more because those were some of the most comedic moments and I like when I can be a little lighter with Doc. He can be such a heavy character – undead cowboy hellbent on revenge. But, then there’s a lightness to him, like he’s trying to figure out how to use a cellphone. I wish we would’ve had more of that.
But, I love all the arcs. I’m a huge Emily Andras fan. So, I just go with the flow. It’s the same with the comic books. The way the arcs go. It’s kind of the same thing in that sense. I’m so lucky that I get to write with Beau Smith. When it came to writing the comic book character, Doc’s the character I don’t want to write at all. Because I like…Beau’s so good, I’d rather see the arcs that he takes Doc on. It’s kind of fun, I want to write Wynonna. Think about how wonderful Beau Smith is that I get to say that I get to write Wynonna, this is his character for how many years, decades, and he trusts someone else enough to write that character. He’s a great guy. He’s the epitome of humbleness and giving. He is the mentor, he is the man.
Scoop: Personally, as a writer, I get territorial over my work and ideas that I can’t imagine being so cool about sharing it and letting somebody else take off with it. I’ve interviewed Beau and he is so complimentary toward other people who have worked on the series.
TR: That’s what I’m saying. It’s an incredible experience. In fact, when it happened, it was when season one had just ended and the way the opportunity came up with Mr. Smith was that I jokingly was trying to figure out where the scripts were going with Emily Andras while we were filming because I had no idea. The scripts changed story to story so much. Halfway through the season I asked her, “what’s happening next?” I was such a fan of our own show, I asked what was going on with the witch and she goes, “Well, what do you think? Why don’t you write it and tell me?”
So, I went home and I wrote. You have nothing else to do when you’re filming except film or do nothing. Idle time is the devil’s plaything. It’s also a good time to get things done. So, I wrote like, a fanfic 45-page episode. [laughs] Honestly, never thinking that it would get used and I didn’t write it for that reason, just to show Emily how much of a fan I was and to answer questions I had myself for the character and the story. You can never use my 45-page script because it’s just bad TV, I ended everything. [laughs] I answered all the questions that I had. You can’t do that. I did because I was wondering where things were going.
So, then this opportunity came up just after we wrapped. Two months later, I met all the people from IDW. It was an incredible experience. Going to Comic-Con that first time was the mecca. It was it for me. It was the greatest experience of my life; nothing will come close. Except having my son. Being a comic book fan my whole life, to get to go to Comic-Con was surreal. Let alone to have your picture on a comic book at San Diego. You’re signing autographs, kids are dressed like you. It was everything. It’s wow, what an epic life moment. I’ll never forget it. It was just the greatest of all time.
After meeting IDW and meeting Mr. Smith – him and I just hit it off like peas and carrots. We talk comics, you know. We had a lot of the same similarities. I got home and about three weeks after that he called me. He said, “Hey T.R.” – he calls me T.R. – he says “T.R., IDW’s got this idea for a story. We work together. What do you think? Do you want to write a Doc Holliday story?” In the beginning, I think this was smart publicity-wise of IDW. Let’s get the actors involved. So, I think Mr. Smith thought at first, he’d do most of the writing, let’s be honest, we would throw in an idea and stick our name on there. I didn’t know how much I’d have at all. But, he asked, “Can you write, can you not write?” I said, “Well, I have this 45-page thing I sent Emily. I’ll send you that.” I sent it to him, he called me back and said, “oh, what do we have here, you can write.” So, he was excited already.
Then we started writing and we actually wrote together. And I don’t think that was the way it was supposed to be or not supposed to be, but that’s how we did it. We just did this thing where he would write four pages, I’d get his four pages, I’d read them, I’d get inspired, I’d write four pages and send it back to him. We had an outline, but that was about it. I was never limited to what I could write in those four pages or not write. I mean, I’ve killed characters. We’ve written multiple books by now. I’ve killed characters without asking him and he’d get the pages later and say, “You killed…oh my God…I loved it.” It was an incredible experience and it all goes down to the humbleness of this man. These are his characters and to trust other people to come in there and write your characters. But not only that, Mr. Smith, he’s no B.S. If he doesn’t like it, he won’t like it, and if he likes it, he really likes it. So, when he tells you he really likes something, he really does. Nothing means more than when you write something Wynonna Earp-related and Beau Smith gets a kick out of it. I mean, that’s a pretty good feeling and I’ve experienced it a bunch of times. So, I’m really lucky in that regard.
Scoop: I was quite surprised that Doc became a vampire. Did he do that because he’s afraid of going to hell or to make himself less vulnerable so he can protect Wynonna and Alice?
TR: I think it’s a mix of all those things. I think it’s unfortunate that he didn’t think he was good enough as a man without it. Really unfortunate. I think the whole set up over the other seasons got to that moment and that’s why the choice became so difficult. I spoke with Emily about it. I think the thing that kind of helped me a lot, because here’s the thing, I want to be the good guy all the time. [laughs] Which isn’t a great story either. You have to have someone who lives in the darkness from time to time, whereas I was always “Let’s do the right thing,” but Wynonna doesn’t always do the right thing. She does the thing that needs to be done. It’s the same with Doc in that sense. He made that choice.
But, I was struggling with it a bit because I wanted him to be the plain and simple good guy. I said, “Why would he be a vampire?” And [Emily] said, “We’re talking about hell.” And she’s right. Because now we just say “hell” [gestures casually], we’ve taken away the gravity of what hell is. This is like burning alive and what hell was. This is not anywhere you want to go, and he kept getting dragged back to it. So, you can’t make it light, you can’t make it a light thing that this guy was spending time in hell. This had to be the worst thing you could imagine. The ultimate. It’s hell. Now we just say it as a word, but it has to be hell.
So that helped me a lot. Doc Holliday’s also still from the 1800s, so he is a God-fearing man and he believes in hell more than anybody else would and he gets to see it, so he doesn’t want to go there. That’s why he makes the choice. But I do feel he made it because he can’t help Wynonna when it comes down to it. At the end of the day she’s the only one with Peacemaker, with the magic gun that can shoot the bad guy down anyway. I think he felt inadequate in some ways and he just wanted to help, and he made the choice to become a vampire. Looking back? It was the wrong choice, but we all make bad choices.
Scoop: What do you hope to see in Doc’s future?
TR: It’s happening. Season four is everything I could have wanted and dreamed for. Season four is incredible too. We’re only halfway done. I’m waiting for the greenlight to go back and finish as soon as the government says we can all get back together. It’s sounding like things are getting close for film productions, but I haven’t heard anything yet. As soon as that happens, I want to get back because we were literally halfway through and I was just loving it.
Don’t forget, we almost lost Wynonna Earp last year. It’s going to be almost three years before this season four comes out. A good two years for sure. I told Emily season four is the season the fans deserve and they deserve it for what they did fighting for Wynonna and being so awesome and incredible. I consider myself a fan of the show, I consider myself an Earper. When I say it’s the show the Earpers deserve, trust me, that’s the season. All the storylines are just that good. I’m looking forward to everybody else seeing what I’ve been a part of this year. Loving the storyline this year. Loving it, loving it.
Scoop: Is there anything you can tell me specifically?
TR: It’s hard for me to say…Everyone realized what we almost lost. Every department. So, everyone stepped it up from the writing to the sets. This season doesn’t look like the other seasons, that’s for sure. I’ll tell you right now. I remember being on some of the sets and I was like “Where are we? This is Wynonna Earp, man? This is incredible.” There’s also some brand new characters that nobody’s ever seen before. I’m telling you, there’s a new look and a feel because no one is taking for granted that we got our show back. That’s for sure. That’s what I’ll say.
Scoop: Getting back to the Wynonna Earp comics you wrote with series creator Beau Smith, what do you find more challenging – plotting the story or writing the dialogue?
TR: Probably the story. But then, the story is such a rough outline when it comes to writing with Beau. We try to flesh it out and we kind of know the beginning and the end and the middle of what’s happening. The reason I say that’s easier than the dialogue is because the dialogue is the bulk of the writing. That’s when you sit down and really write. But, once we start it just takes that little kickoff.
Like I said, the way we do it is I get four pages, he gets four pages and there’s no time limit. It’s Beau Smith. I’m never going to be like, “Hey bud, where’s your four pages?” [laughs] I get it when I get it and there’s no better feeling than when I open my email and there’s an email from Beau Smith and I know it’s pages. Towards the end I kind of panic because there is an editor involved, but it’s still Mr. Smith. He does what he wants, it’s his character. But I’m like, “Mr. Smith” [laughs] “we’re running out of time here.” He’s like, “T.R., we write when we write.”
Once I read his four pages, I get inspired. When you’re inspired as a writer, it goes. So, that’s why I said that the dialogue part’s easier sometimes, because I’m so inspired. When I’m inspired, I can write. If you ask me to write right now…well, I’m not in that zone I might just stare at a screen there. So, the outline’s kind of harder, because the outline changes. And as you know as a writer, sometimes as we’re writing, he sends me four pages that I didn’t think he was going to go that direction. When it comes back to me, well now I have to keep it in that direction or take it in another direction back to him. You have an outline, but a good story and a good writer has to be able to go in and out of that. You want to get to the same end, but if another branch of the story is more interesting, you have to go with it. That’s the one thing I’ve learned. We thought a story was one way with one relationship, but there was another relationship happening that really needed attention. So, okay, we have to put the attention there. Then, how could we bring this into the other mix.
The most beautiful thing about the world Beau Smith created is it’s not just Wynonna Earp is such a great character, there’s so many amazing characters, BBD itself, and the whole world he created. It’s super cool. Season Zero, the book we wrote together is probably my favorite. It was like an homage to like old ‘80s action movies. Wynonna was kicking so much ass and the stakes were so high. People were dying, things were blowing up…I just love that book. I just loved writing that book, I loved reading that book. I’m so proud that I got to be a part of it. All of them. But, Season Zero will always have a place in my heart of something so special.
Scoop: When you’re writing the dialogue, do you hear your costars voices?
TR: I do. I’m lucky too because normally we write these books at a time where I’ve just come off Wynonna Earp. So, it’s kind of cool because it’s tough to say goodbye to your character because you’ve played them for six months and then you walk away. I shave the mustache, so that’s kind of how I say goodbye to the character each year when we wrap. I get home and I’m not home for too long, which is great because I’m still in that mode and, boom, we start writing. I know Waverly’s voice, I know Wynonna’s voice. It’s really fun. Sometimes I have the upper hand on Mr. Smith in that moment because I’m still in the zone, I’m still full throttle at that point. I haven’t had time to turn the engine off yet.
Scoop: What kind of comics do you like to read?
TR: I don’t read as much as I used to anymore, which is crazy. I still have all kinds. I still have a pull list. These days, my favorite book’s probably The Sixth Gun. I’ve been rereading a lot of The Sixth Gun. There’s a book from Image called Lazarus that if anybody has not read Lazarus they should really get on Lazarus. It’s an incredible book. Recently I’ve been reading Vagrant Queen from Vault Comics. It was kind of hard not to fall in love with that book, so I did.
The reason I got into comics was because of cartoons. Growing up I used to watch the G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons. That was just Saturday morning, that was my jam. I also watched Care Bears and My Little Pony. Well balanced. From G.I. Joe I found out there was a comic book. You know, Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe books are just incredible. I found out there was comic books and that there was a G.I. Joe one in particular, so I took my bike, found out where the comic book store was with my older brother. He had gone first and told me it was the greatest place ever. I just remember that moment. There’s not that many things that I remember about growing up, but I remember the first comic book store I went to. I remember that feeling and those bins. I didn’t care about the big expensive books on the wall. I was like “How many books can you buy in this little bin for a quarter? Are you kidding me?” It started like that, it started with G.I. Joe comics.
During that time was also a good time to get into comic books because there were some great books at that time. Todd McFarlane was doing the Venom run of Amazing Spider-Man, so those books were amazing. Spider-Man had a black outfit on the cover, you’re like, “What is happening?” It was just exciting. Infinity Gauntlet just came out, Secret Wars came out. That’s where it all happened. Infinity Gauntlet came out and…the movies are great and stuff, but what they don’t understand is the Silver Surfer is the man in Infinity Gauntlet and he starts that whole book off and that’s where I fell in love with Silver Surfer. For anybody who knows me now, knows that’s my obsession. He’s just my favorite. So, my love of comics came from that and then I went back and hunted all the first 18 books over my life I’ve gotten all of them now. I’ve got a couple issues of Fantastic Four #48 lying around, which is the first appearance of the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Watcher.
That’s how my Silver Age love started – Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and the Buscema brothers. All those guys. That’s how Mr. Smith and I really became friends. I remember when I went to IDW and met the guys I think they thought I was lying when I said I was a comic book fan. They probably thought “here’s this actor from the show, maybe he’s trying to say he’s one of us.” But when we started talking comics and when you know comics, you know. We became immediate friends. Mr. Smith and I, we can just talk comics, which was amazing. I didn’t have anybody else to really talk comics with, so we bonded immediately.
Scoop: Have you turned anyone from the show on to comics?
TR: I tried. Varun Saranga will read graphic novels. No one else. I kept trying to tell them too, because we get to go to Comic-Con every year and there’s all this stuff. Even the Wynonna Earp books, they didn’t keep anything. I said, “Guys, you have to keep all this stuff.” Those first Wynonna Earp comics from Beau’s second run, the reappearance, the first Wynonna Earp TV books – you can’t find #1 in those anymore. I’ve got all of those. I have the ashcan, I’m a hoarder, I have the Valentine’s cover. Yeah, you have to keep all this stuff. It’s just so much good stuff.
Scoop: I can’t find the Season Zero photo cover of you and Beau on it, but I do have the first cover with Mel on it and the very first Wynonna Earp comic. But I can’t find that one from Season Zero.
TR: The cool thing about that picture of me and Mr. Smith is that that was his first time on set, so it was a flip flop to the situation. That was a very cool day because any nerves I had writing comic books, now the shoe is on the other foot. So, it was super cool. He asked for any tips and I said, “Just be yourself Mr. Smith, acting is acting natural.” I felt so honored to be able to try and give…this man has given me so much, so to be able to give anything back to him…
Scoop: Aside from Silver Surfer, who are your favorite comic characters?
TR: There’s so many. Galactus is my favorite villain, if you’d call him that, Galactus’ story himself is incredible. Fantastic Four, I also love. I’m a big fan of art, like Bernie Wrightson. Did I love Swamp Thing stories but I think I loved it even more because of his art. I was so in love with his art. When it comes to Kirby, I love those old Fantastic Four issues. Maybe I wouldn’t love the Fantastic Four so much as characters if it wasn’t for Kirby’s art. Now, the movies, my favorite from DC would be Wonder Woman and then Marvel would be like a toss-up between Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Endgame was good too. I like so many.
Scoop: Being that you are a comic reader, how do you feel about seeing your likeness in the Wynonna Earp comics?
TR: It’s completely surreal and if you told 10-year-old me it would happen one day I would have never believed it. Let’s not forget how incredibly lucky I am to have Lora Innes, Angel Hernandez and Chris Evenhuis as the artists.
Scoop: This year The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide will have a Wynonna Earp cover by series artist Chris Evenhuis. Have you seen the cover and what do you think?
TR: I might have seen a sneak peek somewhere.... It’s an incredible cover, Chris really hit it out of the park and what a huge honor to be a part of such an iconic and legendary comic book property as The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide! I mean this is just huge! And more than anything I get to share the privilege with my friend, mentor and writing partner Mr. Beau Smith. I’m truly blessed and lucky.
Come back next week for the second half of Tim’s interview in which he talks about Vagrant Queen, Lost Girl, other TV and film roles, and his experience with the Wynonna Earp fandom.