A vampire, werewolf and ghost living together sounds like the makings of a reality show from the future or some sort of alternate universe. In our reality, though, it is one of the Syfy channels newest scripted series, Being Human.
To fans’ delight, it was recently announced that the hit show would be getting a second season on the cable network. Based on the popular BBC television show of the same name, Being Human follows cast members Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath, as they share an house and attempt to pass themselves off as normal humans.
The actors, along with Mark Stern, President of Original Programming at Syfy, made an appearance at New York City’s Paley Center for a preview screening of last night's new episode as well as a Q&A with the cast. Newsarama spoke with the vampire, werewolf, ghost trio and found out what it’s like to take on those particular roles.
“It’s pretty great,” said Huntington. “It’s hairy. It’s sticky. It’s loud. It’s tiring. It’s all of those things.” You may have guessed, Huntington plays Josh, the werewolf, on the show.
“It’s fun,” replied Rath with a chuckle. “I mean, I’m playing her as a normal person so I’m not really thinking about what a ghost is like but I guess the physical limitations are pretty difficult. Having to not be able to touch anybody is sort of hard and I work with a lot of green screen with the visual effects so that’s sort of difficult but it’s a lot of fun, I have a great time.”
Witwer, who plays the vampire Aidan on Being Human seems to have the most fun (pun intended) sinking his teeth into the role. “[laughs] It’s really fun. I mean, I could be on a series that is just about drug addiction, you know, the type of thing that we’re talking about,” he said. “We make no secret about the fact that we’re, through the vampire thing, exploring through metaphor, the whole thing of drug addiction. However, if I were to just be playing a straight drug addict, I wouldn’t have super strength or fangs or cool fight scenes. So you get to have a lot of fun, especially for a sci-fi geek like myself.”
Viewers may recognize Witwer from several of his genre roles from the last few years; Davis/Doomsday on Smallville, Crashdown on Battlestar Galactica or his roles in both the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. As a fan himself, does he pursue those types of roles or do they find him by accident?
“I have not, to my knowledge, sought them out purposefully, however they seem to happen enough to where I must be subconsciously seeking out things that I love,” he said.
“In terms of where it started, I mean, I think we were all Star Wars fans from birth, we didn’t really have a choice. Like I just, I don’t remember ever seeing the first Star Wars movie for the first time. I just kind of knew all the lines. So for me, I think that probably kicked it off, Star Wars,” he said, “And then for Star Trek and stuff like that, I think I saw Star Trek IV, fell in love with the characters and then I was like, ‘You mean there’s a whole television show about these guys? Really?’”
In a fun coincidence, Witwer mentioned he used to run around playing Battlestar Galactica with his friends when he was a young child. “So that was weird to be on that show,” he said.
Stern originally scoffed at the idea when a DVD of the British version landed on his desk. It wasn’t until prompting from another staffer that he gave it a look and realized the potential. Based in Boston, the U.S. show, which aired the penultimate episode of the first season last night, has kept some things the same while diverging greatly in other areas of the plot. The actors themselves all made the decision to steer clear of the U.K. series for the most part.
“It was not that I didn’t really want to, it was just the fact I didn’t want to unintentionally mimic something that my counterpart had done, Russel Tovey had done, or unintentionally not mimic something that he had done,” said Huntington. “If he made a great choice and I was like, ‘Oh I want to stay away from that,’ even if it’s the right choice, that’s something you don’t want to do either. So it’s a really dangerous thing to do. And now that we’re done, I would really like to go back and see it.”
Rath hadn’t even heard of the U.K. version before she read the script for this series but decided to do a little research. “I did check out maybe two of the episodes during the audition process just to get a sense of the tone and what I was really getting myself into,” she said. “But then since we started shooting, we all made the conscious decision not to watch anything because we wanted to bring ourselves to it with something fresh and original. You know, we were given this amazingly fresh idea as a core and now we have this opportunity to put our own spin on it and we also didn’t want to see something that we really liked and feel like we couldn’t do that now. So we just came into it with a clear mind.”
As soon as Being Human was announced, the comparisons from fans of the original series started pouring onto the internet and haven’t stopped. Is that something that bothers the actors?
“You have to accept that when you take this role because the BBC show is so great and now that I’m watching it, I see how amazing it is. I’d seen most of the first episode before I auditioned but then I needed to put it down because we needed to do our own thing. Now that I’m watching it, it’s intimidatingly good,” said Witwer. “As for the comparisons, that’s just part of the game. How could they not compare? In fact, all the people that were sharpening their claws before we aired? They were right to. You know? You can’t blame them. They were right to be concerned. Thankfully, they’ve given us a pass. They’ve kind of left us alone largely and some of them have even said, ‘Hey, we like what you’re doing.’ So that’s been tremendously gratifying to see that they didn’t try to nuke us like they were threatening to nuke us. I’m just hoping that we bring, and I know that we are, that I’ve talked to a lot of people who never saw the British series and they’re watching it now because of our series. And that’s wonderful! They deserve as big of an audience as we can throw their way.”
Huntington feels the same way, though admitted it bothered him a bit. “But you know what? That was gonna happen, that was always gonna happen. And actually, you know what? People love the show, so there’s some haters out there who are true to the original, which we also knew was gonna happen, but more power to them. They prefer that version and that’s totally fine.”
Spend five minutes in a room with these three and you can see why their chemistry works so well on-screen, they’ve got a sibling-like dynamic between them. Even Stern admitted the chemistry of the three actors needed to be toned down at first since on-screen, they were supposed to be strangers. In reality, it seemed as if they’d known each other for years.
Huntington, who goes by “Sammy” to prevent confusion between himself and fellow cast mate Witwer, adopted the middle-sibling role, cracking jokes at any opportunity. Rath is easily the younger sister, proving she’s just as much, if not more comedic than the boys by proudly showing the audience her Mario Kart voice impressions. And Witwer, much like the eldest sibling, attempted to keep the other two in check but failed miserably as he himself succumbed to the trios impromptu comedy act.
It’s no wonder Syfy picked up Being Human for a second season. Witwer says, “just wait.”
[SPOILER FOR THIS WEEK’S EPISODE IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH]
“If you think that he’s suffered now, he’s really going to be going through it by the end of this season. I mean he’s already killed Bernie, he had to kill Rebecca, so he is in a very, very dark place and it will only get worse for him. Which is not always fun to play, but hopefully it’s fun to watch,” he said. “In terms of second season, I don’t want to give away too much about where we leave him but we leave him in a very difficult position and we’re going to see how he deals with it in second season. We smash him to the ground and we leave him on a cliff and yeah, we’ll see how he tries to get out of it or navigate it.”
Rath said it was nice having a love interest for part of the first season in actor Pat Kiely, considering she didn’t think she’d have that type of storyline. “It was really nice to see Sally in that, sort of have a connection with another spirit because she’s been mourning for so long. So I think it was nice,” she said. “But you know, she’s not really ready for a relationship. She has to find out what’s going on in herself before she can take on another person.”
The actress, who admits to purposefully styling her hair straight or wavy to differentiate herself from Sally’s permanent “ghost hair,” said she hopes to see her character come into her powers next season. “I think she can be more powerful than either of them because I mean, she’s really invincible at this point, she’s already dead,” she said. “I’d like to see her explore her family, her friends that she’s left behind in her life because, you know, we didn’t really get into that.”
For Huntington, it was a joy to play Josh this season. “[His story] was colored so beautifully by our writers and show runners and it’s been lovely for me to, not only portray, but also experience as I’m doing it,” he said. “And I think he, at the end of this season, lands in a really interesting place for him to begin the next season. So I’m really glad, I’m really glad we got another season because I think it’s going to be really fun.”
Huntington sits through five to eight hours in makeup to receive two different stages of werewolf prosthetics depending on the shooting day but seems more excited for the non-werewolf part of his character to evolve.
“I think I can see him going back to med school, I think you could see him tracking down his old flame or her coming back. Certainly stuff with Norah, I think would be interesting. So I think there’s a million different things for him,” he said. “And the funny thing is, anything I could think of pales I’m sure in comparison to what they’ve already thought of or what they’re thinking of currently. I’m just as excited as anyone to see what they’re going to do.”
With these iconic creatures the actors are now playing week to week, if they had the chance to take on one of the others, which would it be?
Without hesitation, Hunting answered vampire. “I’ve always said, and I will continue to say, being a ghost sucks. Who wants to be a ghost? I think Sally is, by far, the most tragic character on the show and you know, you can’t eat, you can’t smell, you can’t have sex, you can’t do anything that makes you alive so why would you want to be a ghost? Vampire you just drink blood! And you like it. Seems pretty easy.”
Playing a vengeful ghost is almost a dream-come-true for Rath who mentioned that ever since she was a child she wish she could move things with her mind, going so far as to stare at a glass of water, willing it to shake even a little. Having a room all rigged up for her to wreak a little ghostly revenge? “Best day ever!” she said.
Witwer, like Huntington, would rather swap places with another tangible creature. “Let’s go with the werewolf. Yeah, there’s some body hair issues, however, it’s something that will stay out of the way most of the month and then you have super strength like the last day so that’s kind of cool,” he said. He added that having a little bit of all three would be advantageous. “A werewolf-ghost-vampire. A werevampgeist.”
A new Syfy Saturday night movie perhaps? The cast is fully behind it.