Fans of the paranormal have been given a gift in the SYFY series SurrealEstate, which is on the tail end of its first season. A critical darling that has amassed a loyal following, the show follows real estate agent Luke Roman (Tim Rozon, Wynonna Earp) as he and his agency specialize in “metaphysically engaged” properties. Blessed with the ability to sense whether a client’s house is haunted, he and his team can then make said home safe to live in.
Unless, of course, you happen to have a portal to Hell located in your wine cellar – like poor Megan Donovan (Tennille Read, Workin’ Moms). In that case, demons may be harder to exorcise, but at least it gives her time to be integrated further into Roman Agency and into Luke’s heart. Ever since her fake-out death in “Roman’s Six,” she’s become a more active agent in the story and her house has become a growing factor in the eventual finale showdown.
Read spoke to Screen Rant about why her character speaks to her, what it’s like to act opposite Rozon, and what other aspects of Megan’s story she hopes to explore if the series is granted a second season.
Screen Rant: SurrealEstate is very different from your previous role in Workin’ Moms. What interests you about sci-fi and paranormal stories in general and the concept of SurrealEstate specifically?
Tennille Read: I really like the scope of sci-fi. There’s so many elements that get to be explored that normal, everyday reality doesn’t have the space for. Doing something like SurrealEstate, where every episode has a new haunted house and usually a new paranormal entity that is introduced and highlighted for the story, you get to just play with being creative.
Your imagination gets to be pushed to the limits, and that’s pretty satisfying. Very different from Workin’ Moms, though.
What stood out to you about the script itself and the role of Megan?
Tennille Read: I auditioned over a year ago, back in July of 2020. And what stood out to me about Megan is just how dogmatic and charming she was when inserted in this world that is full of the impossible – or the inexplicable, I should say. I think the showrunner and creator, George Olson, did a fabulous job writing her character – but also writing all the characters. Everyone has such a rich backstory, and we all get to speak some really fun lines.
For Megan especially, her banter with Luke is really fun. And that stood out for me quite a bit.
Speaking of Luke: what has it been like for you to work with Tim Rozon, and then to track the progress of this relationship over the course of the season?
Tennille Read: It was my first time working with Tim, but I had heard such great things about him from mutual friends that have worked with him in the past. It was a lot of fun working with him. He just jumps in feet first, and he makes wonderful choices that make my job easy in playing off him.
I just love Romanovan – or MegaLuke, both [names] have a spot in my heart. I like the journey that they take. I think it stays in the realm of realistic. Megan is ending her relationship with Brock at just the right time when Luke shows up literally on the doorstep. And he’s this person that is able to give her all the things that Brock wouldn’t. She’s ready to move on and no longer compromise.
But something that’s new for her, and that I don’t think she anticipated, is the fact that his line of work is something that she can’t explain. And there is no empirical proof of these entities. It’s hard for her to be with someone who is constantly in that world. I just like how that tension is explored throughout the season, and how it does get to a point where she loses herself a bit too much in his world.
I’m a fan of them, and I do hope she is able to grapple with what he does. I think gives him a kind of normality and stability in his life, as well. Day and night, he’s working in the world of the supernatural while she is a solid realist, so I get why they match up so well.
And it’s interesting because she gives an outside perspective from the agency, so we’re being brought into these haunted houses as confused as she is. What do you hope to see from that dynamic in the future? Hopefully in the second season.
Tennille Read: I hope to see her have more involvement with the agency. I think there’s a way that she can still be the audience’s perspective, questioning this paranormal world and all the entities in it as that realist, but still have a deep connection with that world of work.
I joked that because she’s in med school, and because a lot of the entities end up harming people, she could be the on-site doctor. She can keep things real and patch up the booboos.
Outside of Luke, do you have a dynamic that you’re most fond of or that you want to see explored further?
Tennille Read: That’s a great question; I haven’t thought about that. I really liked working with Sarah Levy [who plays Susan Ireland]. We had a chat in the finale, and it felt very natural – very much like a girlfriend chat. That was a nice color to explored for Megan because most of her scenes have been with Luke. The girlfriend was nice. I would love to have more girl time.
But I also really loved August Ripley [played by Maurice Dean Wint]. There’s a quality about him that I think Megan finds very fascinating. He is so analytical, which is a quality that Megan has as well. There’s a little bit of a father figure in him, and you can see it with him and Zooey a little bit. He just has this natural protective aura about him, and I wonder if there’s something that could be explored there too.
I read that you were very upset when you first read through episode 6’s script. Was the fake-out death a total surprise for you, and did you actually think that it could go that way?
Tennille Read: Yeah! The first time I read the script, and I came to that point, I was quite upset. I knew deep down inside that they weren’t actually killing me off, but I think it was just so well-written. And it came so out of nowhere that it tricked me. It tricked me for a moment.
What are you most excited for fans to see in the final 2 episodes, either for Megan or the show in general?
Tennille Read: I’m excited for audiences to see Megan stand up to the house. I think her journey has come a long way by episode 9 especially, considering in the pilot you see her just screaming and running out of her home. Which is quite out of character for someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts.
In episode 9, there’s a moment where she’s basically saying goodbye to this house, and she’s telling it off as well. I’m excited for audiences to see that side of Megan.
Do you have any favorite haunted house stories of your own?
Tennille Read: I tend to not watch scary movies, because they’ll haunt me for the rest of my life. I’ve avoided them – I haven’t even seen Ghostbusters in its entirety.
But recently, my partner and I made a joke that we would sit down and watch some. He loves scary films, so we would sit down and just start going through a list in broad daylight. The last one I did watch was Midsommar, and that one was okay to me because it was more about human behavior being spooky and less about a paranormal world. So, that has not haunted me – and I think that’s a good place to start. We’ll see if I have a favorite a few months from now.
How would you say the pandemic affected the way that you approach your work?
Tennille Read: It’s shifted things a lot for the industry because there are no more in-person auditions. That part has actually been a neat shift to explore because everything is self-taped. I found that I can get a little bit more creative and dig deeper into my auditions because I’m doing them from home and can control how many takes I want to do. That’s a lot more fun than battling traffic, showing up to a busy waiting room, and trying to stay in your zone while other actors are talking. That part has been a gift.
There’s some things that are really weird, though, at the same time. For SurrealEstate, we didn’t have any chemistry tests when we were auditioning, and we didn’t have in-person table rooms before we got started. The first time I met everyone in the cast was when I had my first scene with them. That felt really strange as a performer.
As a performer playing Megan, it worked, because everyone in the world of SurrealEstate would have been new to her and she was meeting them for the first time. So, I guess it did help. But for Tennille, it was a very strange process because I’m used to having more familiarity with my castmates when we dive in.
Finally, what aspect of Megan do you feel most connected to?
Tennille Read: That’s a good question. I think it’s her curiosity I feel most connected to. She is very curious about the world of science but, for someone who is so scientific, it’s a strength of hers to be open enough to question things that don’t make any sense to her. She’s curious about and open to the work that the Roman Agency does.
Yeah, I think it’s those two traits: being curious and open. I try to practice those in my everyday life. When I feel that there’s resistance or something, I know that I’m not being curious enough or open enough.
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SurrealEstate airs new episodes every Friday at 10 PM on SYFY.
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