Two episodes into Krypton, Syfy’s new Superman prequel, and you may think you know Nyssa-Vex. She’s the fifth daughter in the ruling House of Vex, is betrothed to Seg-El in a political move orchestrated by her father and is a master political manipulator. All of this is true, but if you think this means you know her, think again.
The truth is that you don’t yet know Nyssa at all.
Easily the most enigmatic character introduced so far, Nyssa surprised many when she revealed herself to be kind and understanding toward Seg-El, despite having every reason to despise the rankless rabble-rouser from a disgraced house. She likely surprised a few more when she later revealed it was all a political play devised with her father to win her eventual husband’s trust. Well, strap in. In a recent conversation with actress Wallis Day, we learned that the surprises don’t end there. In fact, they’ve only just begun…
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about Nyssa.
Nyssa is crazy mysterious. I didn’t even understand her at first. She’s complex, and what you’ve seen of her right now doesn’t even scratch the surface. We get to know more of her backstory as the series goes on. I don’t think you’ll really understand her or her motives and intentions until further down in the series when her past is revealed. You’re going to see snippets along the way, but it gets real.
Can we trust her?
Right now, no.
So, you’re saying we’ll learn a lot more about her. Did you anticipate any of what we’ll find out?
There is one storyline where I got pulled up to the executive office. I actually thought I was in trouble at first, but they wanted to speak to me about a storyline. I knew something like that was coming for a while, but when it was all laid down on the table—and they’ve kept it all, so you’re going to see it—it’s mind-blowing. It was something that I had totally not seen coming with Nyssa, but it totally makes sense. I don’t know if that was their intention the entire time. I don’t know if they didn’t tell me because they didn’t want me to play the character differently at the start. But it changes EVERYTHING.
Is there a relationship you’re really excited for fans to see this season?
Yeah, I’m excited for them to see where Nyssa and Daron’s relationship goes, and I’m excited for them to see where Nyssa and Seg’s relationship goes.
Can you tease anything about either of them?
Well, one goes one way and one goes the other! Can I say that? [laughs]
Well, in the pilot, we see Nyssa talking to Seg in a way that suggests she might have some underlying issues with her father. Will we find out more about that?
Yeah. I think they’re trying to keep the peace between each other, but I think Nyssa hasn’t fallen into that category that Daron-Vex wanted her to in terms of following blindly in her father’s footsteps. She’s got so much more integrity to her than that. She definitely does break away and end up challenging Daron-Vex, for sure. They kind of come head to head. Their statuses and dynamics change, and it’s really interesting, but also kind of painful to watch. But yeah, you’ll see. Their relationship completely changes.
So, how would you describe Nyssa’s relationship with Seg-El?
So, right now, for Nyssa it’s strictly business. She definitely sees him as a commodity. She’s got an agenda and I think she maybe sees him as a bit of a game piece. But again, she’s forced to feel differently about him because they go through so much together that it naturally evolves. Their relationship drastically changes. Nyssa just drastically changes as a person—well, maybe not changes, but we bring out who she really is, and her relationship with Seg becomes a lot more genuine. A lot more from the heart. It’s really interesting, that relationship.
With bringing these new characters to life, what are some of the challenges you find in making them stand out?
Nyssa was never on a comic book page. It was a challenge because it was hard for me to do research on Nyssa. Obviously, you want to do the fans justice.
But it also gave me the freedom of being able to make choices for Nyssa and explore who she is, and actually make decisions myself that I thought would complement the storyline, and add on to it. There were definitely challenges in making her come to life, for sure. But it was so exciting for us all to be able to make these characters come to life together, and we really do evolve together as a bunch of characters. It was fun. I feel so honored.
So, how did you research this part?
I read a lot. I went through the script many times. Whenever we got new scripts, the execs were great at giving us time to have meetings, speak to them and discuss any questions we had. The amazing thing was that everyone from DC, Warner and Syfy were always on ground zero. Even David Goyer. When he was on the set, it was amazing because you could just ask him in person. I think a lot of it was a team effort with everyone, and I was definitely working on the character along the way.
Was there anything that you wanted to bring to the character that the creative team nixed?
I feel like we had a lot of the same ideology with Nyssa. Everyone was on the same page quite a lot. There were definitely some script changes—just subtle things that were made. I think it was meant to kind of evolve a bit quicker for Nyssa in the first couple of episodes, but actually we held back on a lot, which keeps her mysterious for longer, which I think totally works. So, maybe that? But there was never any disagreement on any of Nyssa’s actions or where her storyline was going.
We know that there’s another woman in the picture for Seg-El. How is that going to play out?
Not to make a pun out of it, but Nyssa’s vexed about that. Like who is this…? She’s annoyed, right? But she’s super intelligent, way more intelligent than me, and I think that she knows what’s going on. She knows who Lyta Zod is. She knows what Seg’s doing, and she’s not going to stand for it. Nyssa and Lyta are forced to go through some stuff together. You’ll have to see how that plays out.
What’s been the most fun thing about playing Nyssa?
Oh god, there are so many things. Can I say more than one?
Honestly, all the fight stuff. That’s something I really, really love. Any kind of action. I really love exploring people’s characteristics and traits, and being able to live this through Nyssa. Her experiences with other characters and establishing her relationships with them was also one of my favorite things. And also, being with such a wonderful cast every day for six months has also been one of the most fantastic things.
How did you prepare for the physical side of your role?
I trained a lot when I was younger. I’ve always been quite sporty. What I did do before we started shooting was that I went through all of the MMA stuff that I’ve learned over again. Actually, it helped me because when it came to choreographing the fights, I got to collaborate with the stunt team and say, “Hey, why don’t we do this?” Or “Actually, maybe Nyssa wouldn’t do that. I feel like Nyssa would do this.”
The stunt team is great, but they don’t necessarily know the characters as well as we do, so being able to merge ideologies, I think really helped make the fights look more genuine.
We haven’t seen Nyssa fight yet, so right now we have no idea how skilled she is. However, we have seen Lyta fight. Do you think Nyssa could take her down?
Oooh… I don’t know. They don’t fight this season. So, I actually don’t know. But I think because of Nyssa’s position—she’s kind of like the princess of Krypton, I suppose—she has to be highly skilled in order to protect herself and who she is in the political side of things. She’s obviously been trained at a pretty high level, but then again, so has Lyta. I don’t know!
Catch new episodes of Krypton Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. CST) on Syfy.