To preview the return of Syfy’s supernatural series BEING HUMAN, stars Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath chatted with press in a recent conference call providing a few teasers and insight into their diverse and conflicted characters – the werewolf, the vampire and the ghost trying to live “normal” lives under one roof.
What has it been like to film Season 2 and how it feels different to play these characters in the second season?
SAM H.: We love the show so much that I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were all really, really excited to get back. The funny thing is I personally expected it to feel a lot like just one giant bout of déjà vu and, to be honest, it really just felt as though we never had the hiatus. It felt like that because it was all the same crew and a lot of the same cast it just felt like we had maybe a 2-day break and then we just rolled into Season 2. It was bizarre. But, at the same time, it was great because I felt like we were able to really just pick up right where we left off which was a really cool spot.
SAM W.: Yeah, I guess I didn’t expect it to be — I mean, okay there’s me and Sammy and Meaghan and we bonded I think all the way back during our first audition together — but I guess you go away and we were so exhausted after the first season that for months afterwards even the thought of doing Season 2 would make me sleepy. By the time we got back I guess I hadn’t expected to be as happy to see everyone as I was. The crew and all the directors and everyone and that kind of carried for me that carried me through the season. I wasn’t as exhausted this year. There was something about having a successful Season 1 behind us and knowing the characters and having that momentum was really positive this year.
MEAGAN: Yeah, and I think it was just script-wise, it was a lot easier to just fall back into it this year because there was no establishing who our characters were and what our circumstances were. We just jumped right into it. And that’s reflective of the first episode; we just get right into the story immediately, which was really great.
SAM W.: Absolutely, and in the first season there was so much heavy-lifting on everyone’s part to establish these characters and to try make this all work. Now I think we had a little bit of competence going on this time.
SAM H.: So much more. There was so much uncertainty in Season 1. It’s like imagine like any television show. Your Season 1 is kind of biting your fingernails the whole time just saying to yourself, ‘God I hope people like this and I hope people watch this.’
SAM W.: Right and you’re second-guessing yourself.
What about a storyline? How is Season 2 different in the stories you’re getting to tell?
SAM W.: It’s extremely different. It’s very, very different. If Season 1 was about putting these people who are at-risk into a safe environment; well Season 2 is all about: what is that risk about? And I think it’s inevitable with these people and their adversities – the specific risks that they have in terms of vampire, werewolf and ghost — what do those conditions mean? And basically what it means is these people are in trouble and we’re going to see a lot of that trouble this year. We’re going to see why they need so badly to have a sanctuary because things get a little bit darker this year.
How do you maintain your characters’ humanity when playing the dark side of their natures and what kind of challenges there are in doing that?
MEAGAN: I think for me it’s important to keep in mind that these are real people and not to get sucked into the supernatural element of the whole thing. What makes the show different is that we’re playing into the supernatural stereotypes. We are trying to play these as regular people. So, for me, it’s a lot about just keeping in mind what I would do in this kind of situation. What’s great about the show is that it’s really acting: what would you do if you were put in this situation. And so I think that’s where the humanity comes from, just being a good person and being with these challenges that sort of question your morality and your values.
SAM W.: I think Meaghan is absolutely right with that. For example, in television we’ve kind of seen everything including vampires, werewolves and ghosts and we’ve seen people get killed and all kinds of crazy stuff. What we’re trying to do as three actors is we’re trying to bring as much humanity into those events as possible. For example, if someone dies, we’re going to show you — hopefully we’re going to tell a story where you realize that that is an awful sacrifice or that something has happened that is really, really terrible. It’s all about the characters’ reactions and these three characters are the eyes through which the audience watches the show. So we’re really trying to keep our reactions to all the giant supernatural stuff very grounded. And in terms of the dark stuff that comes up, I mean the messed-up thing is that, at first, you’ll see our characters react with horror and shame and all this awful stuff. Then, as time goes on, you might see them kind of get used to it and that hopefully will be a very sad thing to watch.
SAM H.: Yeah, I think you just kind of hit the nail on the head. I mean, a lot of times on the show I can say I think the characters are almost seeing these horrible things happen for the first time, so they’re almost like the audience. They’re viewing these things and so hopefully that’s what the audience can kind of grasp on to and it also helps as an actor — it helps in form what you do. Because you’re like, “Okay, well what if this person was killed? What would the ramifications be? What emotionally what would that mean to me and how would that affect me and how would that affect every aspect of my life?” And so it’s cool. It sets the show aside. We don’t just roll over these issues. We actually tackle them.
Is there like a specific scene or moment or something that is going to happen this season that you’re kind of really excited to see the fan’s reaction to?
SAM W.: Totally. Oh my god yeah.
MEAGAN: Yeah, I’m sorry, we couldn’t even start about it right now because we would be fired. But there are huge moments for each of us this season that happen sort of midway through for all of us. I don’t want to say too much, Bill’s going to kill me. But there’s definitely a lot to look forward to, some really shocking things happening.
SAM W.: Yeah, definitely.
SAM H.: Shocking is the right word. Definitely.
SAM W.: Yeah. I’m still shocked. I’m a state of deep shock even right now.
SAM H.: You sound shocked.
SAM W.: I’m shocked. Oh my god.
Is there anything maybe that was really challenging this year, specifically that you could talk about?
SAM W.: I tell you! Sammy, there was, right?
SAM H.: Well, yeah, for me. I mean, like that’s what’s cool about the job to be honest is you’re challenged every day you go to set. You’re always challenged by this wonderful material. This material that makes you really, really think. And it forces you to just basically become a better actor. I had several moments this year where I got to places emotionally that I’d never gotten to before on a set. So those are some of the moments, that are emotional and big and it’s crazy. It’s what’s so cool about the show.
MEAGAN: For me, every single day I felt like I was being pushed by the writers and the creators just for what they had planned for me. I have the feeling so often where I came to set and I’m looking at the scenes and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this’ when I read the script. I don’t know what I’m going to do and I think that is where you really grow as an actor, when you’re scared — and there was definitely a lot of that this season.
SAM H.: Yeah, like you don’t want to let them down. They’ve given you this material and you don’t want to let them down. You want to do it justice.
SAM W.: Yeah, the real challenge I think this year was — we’ve lived with these characters for a season now and so it’s like, ‘Okay, what can we show? What new sides of this character can we show?’ I talked about how last year we had the tremendous luxury of going in and not really doing a pilot — just going in and knowing that we had 13 episodes. So we could be leisurely about when we were going to show certain sides of the character. When you do a pilot, you’re trying to sell the pilot, sell the character, sell this, sell that. So you’re trying to show them as much as you can. But because we didn’t do that we all felt just sort of patient. Like, ‘Okay, well I’m not going to show you anything in the first episode, how about that?’
SAM H.: Or ‘I’m going to show you this little piece and I’m going to do the best job I can at this one bit,’ you know?
SAM W.: This one little thing and later on you knew that there were going to be opportunities to show more and more of the character. So this year we’ve established the characters pretty thoroughly last year — and so this year it’s like, ‘Okay, well, what new can we show you?’ And I feel pretty confident that for all three of us you’re going to see these different sides of these characters in big ways. And the other big challenge this year is that we shot everything a little bit faster. We had less time to do stuff in for various reasons and so there were several things that I had to do that I was like Meaghan was saying, ‘How am I going to do this?’ and I had one take to get it right. And so that was a little bit frightening but I think it all turned out all right. I’ve seen the stuff and I think it works.
MEAGAN: They edit you really generously.
SAM H.: Yeah, they’re very kind to you, Sam, very kind. [Laughter]
SAM W.: They are. It’s not what he’s doing on the set. It’s what the editors do to him. The others are absolutely fantastic. They’re really, really good. I’ve seen them save me on countless occasions. And Huntington, forget about it, I mean there’s no performance on set, it’s all in the editing room.
SAM H.: It is. It’s literally I show up and basically it’s gibberish. You’ll notice that I never say a line on camera. It’s just all back of my head. And then Sam Witwer has to go in and loop it for me. He has to go in and actually be like, ‘Wow, this is what I’m saying now.’
SAM W.: I do a really good Sam Huntington impression, yeah.
SAM H.: Very important. I was really lucky to have Sam there to craft Josh, you know? Really, really lucky. [Laughter]
Are we going to be seeing a lot of tension between the roommates this year and, if so, is it hard to keep a straight face when that happens?
SAM W.: We will be seeing tension between the three in ways that we didn’t see in the first season. Things get pretty serious and I’ll say this: the scenes feel really good when you do them. There’s some scenes that we have where we’re kind of at each other’s throats. I hope that doesn’t give too much away. And it feels really good in once sense to do because you know that you’re really cooking — like when it’s really working you feel great about that. On the other hand, I don’t like having to shout or be mean to Sammy or Meaghan. That’s the tough part. Is you’re like, ‘Oh, okay.’
MEAGAN: I like when you yell at me.
SAM W.: She loves it, she loves taking it. [Laughter]
SAM H.: She’s an odd duck. But you know what? You said is it hard to keep a straight face, generally speaking, you know when it’s a really, really rough moment for one of us it usually means it’s a rough moment for all of us. Like we love each other so we always generally respect it when somebody needs a moment or somebody needs to gather themselves for a take. I usually give Meaghan a really hard time, but beyond that. . .
MEAGAN: It’s unreal the hard time that he gives me! No consideration at all. [sarcastically] For the most part you’re great, but then there’s the odd moment where you just, ‘I’m trying to focus’ and you’re like fake vomiting on me.
SAM H.: Yeah, it’s good times. Those are the nights that I sleep well, you know?
SAM W.: Or I really got her today, I really made her feel bad about herself.
SAM H.: Really tore her up, really made her feel [terrible]!
MEAGAN: But yeah this season you will see a lot of tension between the three roommates because we all are on our own journey and trying to get ourselves out of these really desperate situations. So for the reason that we’re doing completely different things when we do come together there’s a question of: can we still relate to each other and how non-judgmental are we actually going to be towards each other? And that generates a lot of tension between us.
SAM H.: And you know the temptation this season is just a beast. You know what I mean? Just a beast.
Why do you think that Aidan is so much better as far as trying to keep his dark side in check than other vampires?
SAM W.: Why is he trying to keep his dark side in check? Well, it’s interesting. Again not knowing what other vampire shows are doing these days or vampire movies, I haven’t really watched them so I don’t know how new the idea of a vampire trying to become a good guys is. But our take on it with the whole drug addiction analogy is I think really fresh and cool and that analogy, that metaphor is alive and well, in this season in a big, big way. And why is it cool? What’s better about it? Yeah, I don’t know. I like the fact that all things considered, if you take away the addiction, this is a principled guy. I like that about the character and I don’t know, I really don’t know. I couldn’t tell you. . . . He wants to fight against it but this year you do see him embrace it a little bit. Kind of against his will. The thing that we have to remember is in the first season, if he’s trying to kick the habit in a drug addiction sense well the first thing he’s got to do is stay away from his old drug buddies. And this season he can’t, so we’re going to see an older version of Aidan this year and when I say older we’re going to see a worse version of him. We’re going to see some of his old character traits that he had over the past 200 years start to resurface. We’re going to learn first-hand why everyone seems to be afraid of this guy. Why even in the first season Bishop (Mark Pellegrino) gave him you know a wide berth and Marcus was wary of him and everyone was you know spoke so highly of him as this maniac, this really dangerous guy. And this year we kind of start learning why.
SAM H.: You see the old Aidan.
SAM W.: That’s right.
SAM H.: As opposed to the modern Aidan.
What is it about monsters that is resonating with the viewing public these days?
SAM H.: Well, I mean in all seriousness, I think there’s a lot of people out there who are undead and I think that they really relate to you know the undead on our show and I think that’s what sets our show aside.
SAM W.: I think that our society has good points and bad point, but we’re a little bit more self-aware I suppose as Americans. . . I think that it might have something to do with the fact that it’s come to our attention that we’re not always just the sterling good guy, that there’s some gray area in there and that our heroes don’t always live up to our expectations. . . . Let’s go with era, and the ‘70’s was a cynical era, but I don’t know that they felt as messed with in terms of the media-machine and constantly feeling manipulated and pushed around and feeling like perhaps we’re pushed into participating in things that are maybe not the best things morally. So maybe it’s that “moral uncertainty” that makes people lock in to all this dark stuff. Because what are zombies? Zombies are ourselves, only completely corrupted and messed up. What’s a vampire? Same type of theme. Werewolf, ghost, I mean these are sort of the darker aspects of our nature and I wonder if it’s just where the country has gone. I mean, for example, you drive by Warner Brother’s Studios, and there’s this building and they have this painting of all the DC comics’ superheroes all along the wall right? And it used to be Superman was in the middle, and he was flanked by Batman and Wonder Woman and then you’d have all the other people. Well, now, Batman’s in the center and Superman’s off to the side. And you’re just like, ‘Wow, when did that happen?’
SAM H.: When Batman made a hundred gajillion dollars.
SAM W.: Well, it’s like that, but people are relating more to Batman than they are to Superman. It used to be — I mean if you went back to like the 40s or the 50s — you think anyone like Batman was second place to Superman. Superman was the guy, like, ‘Oh this is us. Superman is us.’ And now it’s like I think it might be Batman, we’re a little bit messed up, you know?
MEAGAN: That’s a great answer Sam.
SAM W.: How about that, it’s the same thing for example I don’t know if you’re a video game person but it’s one of the things that people have suggested as to why the Star Wars character and the Force Unleashed game Star Killer is popular. Because it’s like he’s messed up — he’s like Luke Skywalker but he’s messed up.
Since you have had a full season behind you in playing these character, do you have a input in terms of plot points or the direction of where each character is going to go?
SAM H.: No.
MEAGAN: No, not at all.
SAM W.: Well with a caveat. If we get far enough behind, yes, we do.
SAM H.: Yeah, right.
SAM W.: And I felt like I had quite a bit of input by the end but that wasn’t necessarily out of design, it was more necessity. There were problems that needed to be solved and as the three of us, while we’re not responsible for the macro-shape of the show, we do at this point, I think we can safely say we know our characters better than anyone. So there was for me. I can’t speak for Sammy and Meaghan, but there was for me a little bit of diving in and helping solve certain problems and saying, ‘Hey, listen, here’s what Aidan would do,’ you know?
SAM H.: Yeah, WWAD?
SAM W.: That’s right.
SAM H.: Yeah, I mean there were moments that you’re like you know you have you know very minimal but a certain amount of contact with our writers and the showrunners — and so if you have a question or something you can always ask or if you have a concern sometimes, it gets listened to. But, yeah, I mean generally speaking, Sam said it right, on a macro level they pilot the ship.
SAM W.: They do and they do a really good job of coming up with really interesting turns and twists.
Being that your characters are all going to be apart from one another more this season, how much will the hospital come into play?
SAM H.: The hospital is pivotal in that things that happen in the hospital are pivotal and it kind of spring boards for a lot of stuff that happens in the season. But, yeah, actually you kind of definitely touch on something that’s true in that it’s not like our “home away from home” this season like it was last year. And I think a lot of that actually also is because you know each of us are having our individual paths so there’s less of us actually meeting up at the hospital. Would you guys say that’s true?
SAM W.: Yeah, I think that’s true.
MEAGAN: I feel like I definitely spend more time in the hospital this year.
SAM H.: You do, for sure.
MEAGAN: But, yeah, I wouldn’t say that it was a home away from home.
SAM H.: And it’s in a different regard too.
MEAGAN: Yeah, totally. It’s kind of like just as the house is a huge part of the show, so is the hospital, just kind of a different character.
SAM H.: To be honest, and Sam and I actually talked a lot about this this season because we actually feel kind of differently about it — but I could lose the hospital as a location altogether.
SAM W.: Whereas I love it. I think it’s really great.
SAM H.: Yep. I like it in theory, like I like the idea that we can go there and it serves as a lot of different sets and it make sense for the characters, but logistically I’m not into it for some weird reason, I don’t really like it.
Could you talk a little bit about the addition of Dichen Lachman to the show this next season?
SAM W.: I’m trying to think of how much can I say without ruining too much. We go into some vampire authority matters and there are vampires that are much, much older than Aidan or even Bishop. And Dichen kind of represents — because I was talking earlier about how we learn about older Aidan — we learn about how he was, rather than how he is, and Dichen represents a lot of that in this seasons for Aidan. She represents a lot of what he wanted. A lot of who he wanted to be and she’s thrown back into the mix and the problem is that Aidan is now a different guy. So we learn — how do I put it, it’s like imagine that you had a really close relationship with someone back in high school and then you link up with them later — it’s not exactly the same as it was because you’ve both changed, that type of thing.
Will your show will break away from the original version of BEING HUMAN that is currently being shown in the UK at some point?
SAM W.: We, as actors, we didn’t watch the British series when we were shooting our first season because we wanted to do our own thing. We wanted to make sure that ours was its own animal. And then afterward we watched it. We watched everything. I love their show and I truly dig on it and I got Sammy and Meaghan started by buying them the box sets for Season 1 and they watched it and we watched more of it since then. We’re all into it, but the writers, our writers hate it. No, just kidding! No, our writers for the same reason that we avoided watching Season 1, they’ve avoided watching Season 2 because they want Season 2 to be its own animal. So there is a little bit of crossover here and there in terms of things happening sometimes in similar ways. But it’s really coincidental considering our writers didn’t even know. So it’s interesting whenever something would happen that was similar I’d read it in the script and kind of laugh. Because they have no idea, but it’s for the most part extremely different.
MEAGAN: I’m very positive in the second season that it does differ in a huge way. We’re the same family but we’re different cultures. I don’t know, I’m happy to be associated with them and I’m excited for the day that we actually meet.
SAM H.: Yeah, me too. I really want to meet them. I think also we’d probably be singing a different tune if it was more negative. To be honest, I think they’ve been so kind to us primarily. There are people who are fans of the BBC series or were first fans of the BBC series have really embraced our show.
What kind of a journey are your characters embracing for the 2nd season?
SAM H.: Okay, well, Josh — we pick up the second season and it’s three weeks after the end of the first season. So Josh has unknowingly scratched Nora (Kristen Hager) and Nora is keeping it from him. . . So at the end of the first episode they both turn into werewolves and Josh finds out. He was on a path to go back to medical school and that basically all comes screeching to a halt when he finds out that Nora’s a werewolf and his new trajectory becomes to try and find a cure for her. So through doing that it changes his relationship with Nora drastically and Nora takes the news of being a wolf and the physiology of being a wolf very differently than Josh did. So the theme for the season is “temptation is a beast” but for Josh really it’s trying to keep the people he loves away from temptation of others and then himself being tempted — and it has very unfortunate results.
MEAGAN: For Sally, when we first see her in Season 2 she’s dealing with the consequences of missing her door at the end of Season 1 and what that means for her. She’s acquired these new powers of being able to very briefly touch things which was a result of missing the door they think and she meets some new supernatural beings that kind of introduce her to different powers and one being particularly which takes her down a very dark path, because it is very addictive. And really her trajectory of the season is trying to fight or give in to this temptation, to this new sort of vice that she’s discovered and what that brings to her and how that breaks her down.
To see how Aiden, Josh and Sally all face and conquer the temptations laid out before them in the second season of BEING HUMAN, be sure to tune in on Monday, January 16th at 9:00 p.m. on Syfy.
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