Femme on Fire: Ashley Johnson

By Vanessa Butler

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Femme on Fire: Ashley Johnson:

While it’s hard to believe that Ashley Johnson has had any time this year what with the hype around the highly acclaimed video game The Last of Us, she somehow managed to work on her first ever digital series with Geek & Sundry, Spooked, a four Part comedic look at paranormal teams airing weekly on Wednesdays in June 2014 at 10am PT / 1pm ET on Hulu and YouTube. We caught up to talk about the new show, her love for Felicia Day and why Star Wars: Episode I made her puke.

Playboy.com: How’d you get involved with Geek & Sundry?

Johnson: This is the first thing I’ve gotten to work on with Felicia. It’s awesome. I’ve known Felicia for a while. Since The Guild I’ve been obsessed with her in kind of a creepy way, but mostly a safe way. [laughs] But I think she’s just awesome. When I found out it was Geek & Sundry I got super excited because I love the content that they put out there. I remember when she was putting Geek & Sundry together and talking about it before it even became what it is now. I’m just so impressed by her. I think she’s just awesome. So yeah, I was on board immediately.

Playboy.com: I’ve only seen the first two episodes—can you give me a bit of background on your character?

Johnson: I play Morgan, who’s the resident Wiccan priestess and occult specialist. I don’t know if she’s as much of a specialist as she thinks she is. I think the whole team is the rag-tag team that isn’t necessarily as equipped as other teams would be but certainly have more heart. Morgan is the guardian of the dead and tries to make any connection she can with them. I think she generally wants to help people and is there to help the spirit along, whoever it may be. It’s great—I never really played a character like this before so it was really fun.

Playboy.com: Do you believe in the paranormal?

Johnson: I’m very fact-based and if there’s something paranormal you have to prove it to me. I’m definitely the doubting Thomas. It’s so funny because when I first auditioned for it and I saw the character breakdowns, I thought I should go up for Lindsey because it was more me. But once I realized that Lindsey was a dude, I was like, “Oh, okay, never mind…” But it’s been really fun to try and tackle someone who is very different than me. It was neat to learn all of the vocabulary that a Wiccan priestess would have. I learned a lot of things in that world and it was a blast. I felt like a mage, or as if I was in my Dungeons & Dragons group. “Argh!! Here are all my spells!”

Playboy.com: The writing on the show is really witty. A lot of great nods to paranormal, sci-fi and horror films.

Johnson: They definitely wanted to have that element to pay respect to all the greats that came before us, which is the fun thing about the Elliot character since he points out all of it. If there’s real sci-fi or horror fans watching, they’ll be able to pick out the lines from The Exorcist or whatever.

Playboy.com: Looks like a great cast to work with too.

Johnson: It was a blast. I was thinking that because it was only a few weeks of shooting it’d be weird. Usually when you shoot a whole season or have a couple seasons, you create these relationships that make the characters richer. But with the short amount of time that we had, I think we still connected really quickly. They all crack me up so much it is ridiculous. I finally got to see the two episodes last night. There were so many scenes that I remember trying to not crack up and hold it together, because you know someone would say something right before we went and so it’d be like, “Well, shit. This isn’t going to be the take.” [laughs]

Playboy.com: You got to go to Wondercon for a panel about Spooked—how was that? Did you get to show one of the episodes?

Johnson: Yeah, we just showed the trailer, though. It was part of the Geek & Sundry panel so we came out at the end. There were so many people there and I was thinking, “I’m going to pass out!” I was so nervous but it was a lot of fun.

Playboy.com: I bet you’ve gotten over your nerves a bit, though, after all the panels you’ve done promoting The Last of Us.

Johnson: You’d think! I think that when they put me in front of a crowd they quickly realize that public speaking is not my forte. I just panic and it happens every time, I just feel like I’m going to barf. This is something I obviously got a handle on since it kind of goes hand-in-hand with being an actor. But I get over it within five minutes.

Playboy.com: Since cons are getting more popular and so many people are showing up to panels it must be a bit more intimidating since you never know what kinds of questions are going to be thrown at you, whereas with interviews like this one I’m sure we’re just all asking the same question in different formats.

Johnson: It is a little intimidating, but it’s the best way to connect with fans. At some of the panels, people will ask questions about things that I didn’t even pick up on or they’ll tell you a story of how whatever the project is affected their life. It’s awesome to enjoy and be present. I don’t know why I’m confessing this to you; I know I’m supposed to be all cool and collected. [laughs]

Playboy.com: You’re still in school, right? What are you taking?

Johnson: I’ve been in school for a really long time. I’m basically done with all my general credits but I am going into the field of astrobiology! I love acting and I’m still doing that and I’d love to do full-time school, but I also have bills and school is expensive. Sometimes I’ll only be able to take a semester a year. At the rate that I’m going, honestly, I’ll be done within 10 years and I’m okay with that. Since by then the industry may be done with me I’ll go be an astronaut and move to Mars!

Playboy.com: Perfect! That’s a great plan, be sure you make a vision board out of it.

Johnson: Yeah, [laughs] totally not overboard. My whole house is kind of a vision board in that sense: it looks like a 12-year-old boy lives here since I have figurines of every NASA mission and then Star Wars Millennium Falcons hanging from the ceiling. People come over and think I’m either really immature or a little bit strange. I’d like to think it’s both.

Favorite Food: Pancakes.

Favorite Drink: I love coffee and I really like bourbon. If I’m being fancy, probably a Manhattan.

Most Embarrassing Moment: Oh my word, do you have five hours? I could probably name like 50. Well, one that’s up there was when Episode I from Star Wars came out. I’m really putting my nerd out there big time—I was one of those people who waited in line for six weeks in front of the Chinese Theatre in a tent, which I didn’t know why my parents let me do because I was 16. When they let us into the theatre for the midnight showing they let us in at 11. So we were all so excited and we all had our lightsabers and were dueling for an hour before the show started. I decided at some point that I was going to stuff myself with popcorn and Red Vines and M&M’s and about 20 minutes in I was probably going to barf everywhere. I kind of made it to the bathroom, but it was definitely projectile all in the bathroom like a xenomorph flying out of my body. There were lots of people in the bathroom, which meant that I did this in front of Princess Leias and Storm Troopers. I missed probably 45 minutes of the movie, so the waiting in line was for nothing. But then when I saw the movie and realized it was kind of shitty, I am happy to say that my barf was more interesting. [laughs]

Worst Pickup Line: Oh man, I don’t feel like guys use pickup lines on me. I feel like a lot of the time I get into these situations where people come up to me and ask me for a hug. So I think I get asked for hugs a lot and not really any pickup lines. I wish I did because that would be awesome.


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