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Emilie Ullerup talks to us about Sanctuary, surgery, and her plans for 2010

Emilie Ullerup as Ashley Magnus of Sanctuary

You know her as Helen Magnus’s tough, blond, gun-wielding daughter Ashley, but did you know she’s equally tough in real life? It takes a resilient spirit to deal with leaving a show and recovering from major surgery (tailbone-removing, tumor-wrapped-around-the-spine major surgery), but Emilie Ullerup has done that and is already making plans for a breakout 2010.

Going out with a bang

Last year, before shooting began for Sanctuary‘s second season, Emilie was called into a meeting with the show’s executive producers. That meeting lasted an hour and a half. Ashley Magnus had been written out of the show, but the producers told Emilie that she would go out with a bang. The phenomenal two-episode arc they promised her became “End of Nights” parts 1 and 2.

When I ask Emilie what was behind the decision to kill off her character, she says she’s still not sure. “It was a network decision. And, to be honest with you, I don’t quite know why. I get a sense that the network felt that Ashley was not very liked and not one of the favorite characters.” The network had determined from audience research that Emilie’s character was not popular — but we may never know if this was at the heart of the decision to kill Ashley Magnus just two episodes into the show’s sophomore season.

“As hard as it is, I always remember that it’s just business,” Emilie says. “It’s not personal. It has nothing to do with me. I can’t be angry at anything. I can be upset, and I can be disappointed, sure. But it’s business.” Because the decision came before they started shooting, Emilie had some time to process the emotions and then come to set, ready to work — ready to show them what she could do.

With blond hair, blue eyes, and a big smile, she rarely gets to play the villain, so the opportunity to become Bad Ashley appealed to her. “There are no rules, there are no limits to how big you want to go, how evil, you know?” she says. “I just had so much fun being on the other side. In those two episodes, it was everybody against me. And that was kind of an interesting way to leave the show too, because through it we dealt with a lot of the emotions. Because it was me and then everybody else, because I was leaving.” She saw her final scenes as metaphorical for what was going on and decided, “I’m gonna go badass. We’ll see what happens.”

Though she relished Ashley’s villainous turn, Emilie hoped to delve into other aspects of the character. “All her turmoil, all her angst, all her frustration with her mom, all of that would have been extremely interesting to explore,” she muses.

Maybe she’ll still get the chance to do it. Executive producer Amanda Tapping has said that the team has pitched a story for season 3 that would bring Ashley back. (Temporarily or permanently? For now, we don’t know.) But Emilie has not heard anything yet. “I haven’t been in contact with anybody. Still, I have read the same thing, and I have heard the same rumor. So, we’ll see. If schedules permit, of course — I’m in this for the fans now.”

When her character was killed off, Emilie feared what she might read on the Internet. “When you leave a show — I was very, very nervous that the forums would be extremely excited that Ashley was gone. I mean, you never know what people are going to feel,” she says. “And seeing that it wasn’t that way was really exciting. Because of this experience, there’s a different relationship for me with the fans because — it’s meant a lot.”

The passionate outpouring from fans continues to amaze her. “I’ve had such great pleasure from reading how the fans feel, and there’s been so much support. So for me, if they want me back on Sanctuary, and if I’m not busy with something else, I will be back on Sanctuary.”

In the meantime, she enjoyed watching her fellow actors grow into their roles in Season 2. There’s one guy in particular that she loves to watch. “Ryan Robbins is just doing superb work this season. He’s so lovely to watch,” she tells me, pausing to search for the right words. “He’s so vulnerable and funny and strong, and Henry is just such a well-rounded, lovable character. … I just love the guy.”

Things happen for a reason

In the fall of 2007, Emilie began feeling pain in her back. She ignored the pain for a year and a half. It turned out she had a tumor at the bottom of her spine.

“Life happens, and you just kind of let it go,” she says. “After a year and a half, I was just so fed up that I went and got an MRI. They found it right away and tried to get me through the system as fast as possible because they didn’t want it to grow any bigger.”

For two weeks, her doctors didn’t know if the tumor was cancerous or benign, and Emilie walked around with that uncertainty, not knowing what to tell her friends and family. Her boyfriend Kyle helped her through it, and her parents did their best to stay calm for her when they called from Denmark. But when her girlfriends freaked out, she found herself trying to assure them that she was not going to die. “There were moments of great frustration and fear and lack of control,” she recalls. “I think those are very healthy things to be faced with once in a while — as long as you can get out of it okay.”

The tumor proved to be benign, but it was aggressive, wrapping dangerously around her spinal nerves. In 2009, an extensive surgery removed the tumor, as well as Emilie’s tailbone and half of her sacrum.

She’s recovering steadily and is back in the gym, almost ready to start running again. Her positivity impresses me. To her, the whole experience was “interesting,” a learning experience. “I wouldn’t take it back, but I sure wouldn’t do it again!”

She even points out that her departure from Sanctuary came at an ideal time. “Things worked out. I mean, at the end of the day, this surgery had to happen, and if I had to do an entire season of Sanctuary, it wouldn’t have happened early enough, because I would have had to postpone it. So — things happen for a reason, and this allowed me to take five months off that I needed to get this done.”

Photo Credit: Syfy

Categories: | Clack | General | Interviews | News | Sanctuary | TV Shows |

31 Responses to “Emilie Ullerup talks to us about Sanctuary, surgery, and her plans for 2010”

January 14, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Thank you for this article and interview. Emilie sounds like one of the most optimistic people you could ever meet, and I was sorry to see her leave Sanctuary. Funny thing is I didn’t realize how much I would miss the character until she was gone. Sanctuary never took enough time to develop the depth of her character, especially considering she was the daughter of the lead. I just hope she does come back next season, and not just because I can’t stand Kate, but because I miss Emilie.

Cancer tried to kick her in the butt and she kicked it right back! She sounds like a strong, upbeat and friendly person. No matter what the future holds for her, I do hope it is all positive, but I would most of all like to see her back in the Sanctuary.

Yes, Emilie, we the fans *do* love you and miss you!

January 14, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Thank you RT. Great article. Lenny said it all.

January 14, 2010 at 11:31 AM

If Amanda Tapping is pitching an idea for Ashley’s return, then why hasn’t anyone from Sanctuary talked to Emilie?
I said in my comment to your interview with AT that we (the fans) are being strung along.
Answering a question with obfuscation annoys me.

January 14, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Emilie should not lower herself by returning to that loser show. She is so much better than that.

January 14, 2010 at 7:16 PM

For the love of…. John why do you come around to start trouble? Just keep your anti comments to yourself and maybe people would like you. Man.

January 14, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Hey Emilie!

Best of luck in 2010! We will support you in whatever you do – you rock!

January 14, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Great interview Ruby. Emilie is so positive, it’s amazing. I wish her the best of luck in LA. With her talent and her positive attitude she should be very successful.

January 14, 2010 at 1:25 PM

sanctuary made a HUGE mistake when it replaced ashley with kate. the actress playing kate can’t act and has a terrible backstory. the writing for the show definitely went majorly downhill this year, and i still can’t believe that they dropped the cabal storyline so readily. only lame writers would drop the dramatic tension that the presence of the cabal created.

similarly, it was a bad decision to remove ashley. her athleticism and fighting skills were MUCH better than agam darshi’s, and that her character is the daughter of the lead adds to her dramatic capital.

January 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

GREAT article thx Emilie for been so nice and open to the fans!! we sure will always support you. as said before killing off Ashley was a stupid idea, but as Emilie said things happen for a reason, and I’m really glad she’s okay now and if the decision of writing out Ashley’s character really was based on the “unpopularity” of the character, than I believe that the network was blind, because from what I can see A LOT of the fans love Ashley, and never wanted her to die!!! so network get the facts straight before you make any stupid ideas!!
but whats done is done, so what has to be done now is the returning of Ashley in season 3!! full-time!!!!

January 14, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Great interview!!! Emilie is amazing in every way. As a fan I think we are very lucky. She’s so appreciative towards us. I wish her all the best in the future, whatever she decides to do. I would love to have her back on Sanctuary, but I’m also sure that she will do many more great things.
She’s very talented and can really do any kind of role, comedic, dramatic, tough, she can do it all as she has already proven with the different characters she has played.
A positive person in every way, she’s gone through some deep waters and came out higher than ever.
Best of luck Emilie! You so deserve it!

January 14, 2010 at 2:14 PM

She’s really the only person involved in this that is showing real class. I’ll make sure to check out whatever projects she does in the future and I know her other fans feel the same way.

Hmmm, given that SyFy is owned by NBC, perhaps EU can team up with Conan for a new show? A reality show for people screwed over by NBC comes to mind….

January 14, 2010 at 3:00 PM

We love you Emilie! You Rock!!!

January 14, 2010 at 6:04 PM

Damn that was a Awesome Interview with “Emilie”.

In The Interview it Really Caught My Interest When “Emilie” said She is “Still Not Sure What was Behind The Descision to Kill Off Her Character” and “But We May Never Know if This was at The Heart of The Descision to Kill Ashley Magnus Just Two Episodes into The Shows Sophmore Season” it Proves Despite Being Friends with Your Coworkers (Especially if They are Executive Producers) The Potential to Make More Money is Always going to Be More Important than Friendship in The Entertainment Buisness.

But despite this I Like How “Emilie” is Rising Above All of The Executive Producer Politics and Truly using it to Her Advantage.

I can not wait to see Her New Movies and Her Character on “Riese” She is Really going to Become a Well Known Actress. I like how She is not Making Herself a Genre Exclusive Actress and Really Giving Herself Room to Expand Her Career as a Actress into Other Genres.

I think once “Emilie” is setup in Hollywood She will Ascend into Being a Famous Skilled Actress that can Hold Her Own with Other Greats in The Entertinment Industry Which will Be a Absolutely Beautiful Sight to Behold.

January 29, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Why did you keep putting her name in quotes?

January 29, 2010 at 6:04 PM

Just to Give Her Name Emphasis in a Sentence.

January 14, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Hey Rocky. That’s how I feel and I WILL express my opinion. I don’t give a damn if any of you like me.

January 14, 2010 at 10:28 PM

This is just a Statement I’am not “John Stone” (I mean no Offense “John”) so Keep that in Mind when you Replay to His Comments But if Do Like My Comments and Challenge Me I’am Never Afraid of a Good Arguement I Will Welcome it.

“Thanks John Stone for Agreeing with Me it is Cool to Hear when another Person shares your Opinion and if You are Wondering There are others who Think The Same”. “One other Thing when you Challenge someone in your Statements Make sure You say it in a way where People will Not Confuse Us I Do Not appreciate it Because I Do Want to Fight Anybodys Battle for Them but You can Ask Me for Help if You Need It”.

January 14, 2010 at 7:40 PM

Thank you for the excellent interview Ruby.

My admiration for Emilie Ullerup has grown even more. She’s had probably one of the worst, most frightening years of her life and still has such a positive attitude about everything. She’s truly shown grace and class throughout and I know she will go on to great things. If she comes back to Sanctuary I’ll love it but she has such a bright future and career ahead of her and I can’t wait to see the new projects and the wonderful characters that I know she will bring to us.

Not sure where syfy gets their audience feedback, but I hope they’ve noticed some of the uproar and the comments that are out here now. They have thrown away a huge talent and I hope that someday they realize that.

Good luck in LA Emilie!!

January 15, 2010 at 7:23 AM

Great news!!!!

Good luck Emilie!!!

(and i need you in Sanctuary) :D

January 15, 2010 at 2:39 PM

I am so sorry that they let you go. My household has lost interest in the show after Ashley’s was killed off on the show. It’s a shame that they let great talent go and a much needed story line between mother and duagther.

January 15, 2010 at 5:07 PM

I really loved Ashley in season 1 and I didn’t even realise she was played by a Danish girl until after the season.

Couldn’t be more proud of her and I hope she will eventually earn more respect here at home. Hopefully Sanctuary gets picked up soon by 6eren or one of her future projects will.

I think it is very possible for them to bring her back in season 3 if they want to. It took a couple of episodes for me to realise that she was gone. Usually when a character leaves a show the person dies or it is clear that they are leaving town and not comming back or something like that. Ashely just teleported away and we didn’t really know for sure what happened.

January 16, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Wow Im glad you landed on your feet. Good Show. I hope to see more of you . I like you in the S——-show. All the best.

January 20, 2010 at 9:14 AM

is always annoying to have surgery, this is very complicated I understand how she felt, the pain is sometimes unbearable, I know because I’ve had a cyst (small tumor), (I had another right in the middle of my chest, the sternum to the surface but also I had to take), wrapped in my tailbone, this is terrible after surgery takes a while to sit, walk, it hurts, then you can not do your own thing, like tie your shoes is a thing you do every day and I was dependent on my family to help me, also runs the risk of infecting I understand that perfectly well that she had frightened, she was lucky and rested for 5 months, which is very good. I hope she returns to the show I love Ashley

January 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Excellent interview! She sounds wonderful. The most important thing is that she is alright and the surgery was successful. I really hope she returns to Sanctuary. But I will support her wherever she goes.

January 26, 2010 at 12:16 AM

Emilie is awesome! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

January 27, 2010 at 11:49 AM

I hope Emilie puts out some kind of statement soon. The fans need to hear from her.

January 31, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Emilie’s character was the best thing about Sanctuary. Far from being ‘not popular’, she was obviously way too popular for someone; I wonder who?
Might it be relevant that, not only is she a better actress than Amanda Tapping, but she’s also younger and prettier … and they replaced her with a dowdy-looking brunette who can’t act?
I stopped watching the show when she got dumped, and I notice they’ve recently allowed her back for a couple of episodes; I wonder just how far the ratings dropped when she was no longer in it?
Best wishes Ms Ullerup, I hope you have no further health problems, and that we get to see a lot more of you on our TV and/or PC screens … but preferably NOT in Sanctuary, as they don’t deserve you.

January 31, 2010 at 10:40 PM

Ashley was the most interesting character on Sanctuary by far. She was the only character who truly didn’t know who she was yet. I was really looking forward to watching her sort herself out. Sanctuary is much less interesting now.

Emilie win!

Syfy Network Fail!!

February 27, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Wow! I am happy to have read this article.I hope she will fully recover. I still watch the show but only to find clues if she might come back.I won’t have to waste my time checking up on the show now. Too bad!

March 26, 2010 at 7:12 PM

I’ve seen all of the episodes of sanctuary with Emilie in them and killing her off was the worst idea possible. If she is able to come back health permitting she should not only be brought back but in a hurry and since this show is SCFI, there are a multitude of ways to do so, as for a network decision too get rid of a character especially one of such importance it was paramount too shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. If they want too kill the show they’re certainly going about it the right way.
The character Kate though she may be good and have a moment here and there is certainly no replacement for the doctors daughter nor can she be. I’m quite surprised the Amanda Tapping who is one of the exec producers didn’t say anything when the network wanted too kill her off, she should have asked them if the were either on some kind of cheap drugs or out of their minds.

April 3, 2010 at 9:41 PM

I couldn’t really believe it when they killed Ashley. I still hate the network for it. If the series really would have kept her from surgery, I now am kinda glad about it though.
I like Kate but I agree – she is no replacement. I also didn’t like her turning from bad to good so quickly. I guess I would have liked her character better if they would have taken it a bit slower. I think I wouldn’t even miss her very much.
I’d be amazed if they would bring Ashley back. Hopefully not just temporary.

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