Statuesque blonde Tricia Helfer, best known to TV audiences as the slinky Cylon Number Six on the Sci Fi Channel series Battlestar Galactica, found herself in an unusual position recently while shooting Road Kill, Thursday's episode of The CW's Supernatural, starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as demon-hunting brothers.
"At one point, we were doing a set-up," she recalls, "and I was working with Jared, who's 6-5. I'm rather tall myself, so I'm usually one of the taller actors in the room and never have to worry about somebody else blocking my light.
"I was paying no attention at all to the fact that I was hiding behind Jared in the light. It took me a couple of takes to finally realize, 'Oh, man, he's so tall. Gotta pay attention here.'
"It was lovely. They're both really sweet, nice guys, and good actors, so it was really a fun experience. If it had been a little bit warmer, it would have been perfect."
Both Supernatural and Battlestar Galactica shoot in Vancouver, Canada, but the circumstances are rather different. While her role on Battlestar Galactica frequently puts Helfer in the skimpiest of costumes, the show's outer-space sets are mostly indoors.
"It is indoors," Helfer says. "So I was used to Vancouver, but used to a soundstage."
The same can't be said of Supernatural, which makes as good use of the fields and forests of British Columbia as The X-Files did in its early years.
"It was Vancouver in January," Helfer says, "night shoots, exterior shoots. The crew, I don't know how they handled it. They pretty much told me this was one of their toughest weather shoots that they had.
"We were out all night long in the forest. If it was cold enough, it was snowing. If it was a couple degrees warmer, it was pouring rain."
In Road Kill, Helfer plays Molly, who is on the run from a creepy-looking farmer she and her husband encounter while driving. After the couple swerves to avoid the farmer and then hits a tree, Molly awakes to find her husband gone. Things get worse when Sam and Dean Winchester (Padalecki and Ackles, respectively) tell her that the farmer does this once a year, and that she's probably his next victim.
"When I read it," Helfer says, "I immediately liked the role. She's the girl in peril, that's for sure, but because, on Battlestar, I play somebody who's supposedly on the evil side, it was fun to play the good character that the boys can help."
Unfortunately, Molly's marital situation torpedoed any hope of romance.
"Jensen and I laughed about that," Helfer says. "He said, 'If you weren't searching for your husband, Dean would be hitting on you.' There was none of that going on, because I was crying over my lost husband. There was no kissing the cute boys, that's for sure."
On the other hand, Helfer got to try out her best horror-victim scream.
"I did," she says. "And I've been told that I have a pretty good scream. It's not too girly, but it's full. I have some lungs on me, I guess."
Supernatural doesn't represent Helfer's only recent extracurricular activity. In February, she was the cover girl for Playboy, with a photo spread and an article inside the magazine.
"They came across with what I wanted going into it," she says. "The pictures have a sense of fun. They're tasteful. I think they came out well, and I've had a very good reaction."
Told that many Battlestar fans probably bought multiple copies, Helfer laughs and says, "I hope so!"
As for other side projects, Helfer would love to do a guest shot on 24, since she's a recent convert from watching the Fox thriller on DVD.
"At one point," she says, "I had to shut (the season-five DVD) off, because I found I wasn't breathing. I was getting so tense, I was getting lightheaded because I wasn't breathing."