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Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington, and Meaghan Rath Interview - Being Human

Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington, and Meaghan Rath Interview - Being Human

Shakefire spoke with Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath, the stars of SyFy's hit show, Being Human, about thier upcoming second season.

Shakefire: I wanted to ask you guys if you could just talk a little bit about what it’s been like to film season two and maybe touch upon some of the bigger things people see happening with, like you guys to go back to the set for season two and how it’s different to play these characters in the second season.

Sam Huntington: Sure, we loved the show so much, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that and so we were all really, really excited to get back. And you know the funny thing is I personally expected it to feel a lot like just one giant bout of déjà vu and to be honest, like it really just felt as though we never had the hiatus.

It just felt because it was all the same crew and a lot of the same cast it just felt like we had maybe a two day break and then we just rolled into season two, 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. So yeah, anyway, like that.

Sam Witwer: 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 know you go away, we were so exhausted after the first season, I for months afterwards even the thought of doing season two would make me sleepy. And by - when 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 one behind us and knowing the characters and having that momentum that was really positive this year.

Meaghan Rath: 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 Witwer: 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 and now we had a…what do you guys think, I think we had a little bit of confidence going on this time.

Meaghan Rath: Yeah.

Sam Huntington: So much more, there was so much uncertainty in season one, it’s like imagine any television show, your season one is you’re 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 Witwer: Right and you’re second guessing yourself.

Shakefire: What about a story line, you know what’s coming up, how season two felt different and just like the stories you’re getting to tell?

Sam Witwer: It’s extremely different, it’s very, very different. It’s - if season one was about putting these people who are at risk into a safe environment, well season two is all about what is that risk about? And I think it’s inevitable with these people and their adversities, you know specific risks that they have in terms of you know 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.

Shakefire: It seems like your characters this season are sort of tempted by the darker parts of their natures and are put in situations where that comes out. How do you maintain sort of their humanity when playing the dark parts and what kind of challenges there are in doing that.

Meaghan Rath: I was going to say I mean it’s - 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 and 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 Witwer: Yeah 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 character’s reactions and I mean these three characters are the eyes through which the audience watches the show. So we’re really trying to keep our reactions to all this 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. And 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 Huntington: 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. You know they’re viewing these things and so hopefully that’s what the audience can kind of grasp on to and also it 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, 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.

Shakefire: I think one of the things that we all know about this show is that you guys as actors and as the characters you portray have these really likeable chemistry and it’s a very believable thing because you know you guys actually seem to get along with one another.

So from season one to season two, how are you guys interacting differently as actors on set? Do you trust each other more, do you seek out advice from one another about how to deal with a scene? Do you feel more comfortable to bite and push back? How has your chemistry kind of changed as actors this sophomore year?

Meaghan Rath: I do not do a scene without first consulting Sam Witwer. He coaches me.

Sam Witwer: It’s true. And I give her the okay whether she should do it or not and sometimes she shouldn’t do it.

Meaghan Rath: Often it’s just don’t do it.

Sam Witwer: You have to march right back to the producers and tell them you’re not doing this.

Sam Huntington: Yeah it’s miserable. And I’m on the outside looking in, I’m just sitting there in my trailer waiting it out, you know what I mean?

Sam Witwer: Yeah well it’s kind of fun because Meaghan has almost gotten fired several times because of things that I told her to do.

Sam Huntington: Exactly. And the weird thing is she’s so loyal to Witwer that she won’t start, like no, there’s this guy who’s telling me not to do this.

Sam Witwer: Yeah, me and Meaghan have this relationship where it’s a little bit like the bond between kidnapper and victim.

Sam Huntington: Yes.

Sam Witwer: It’s a little bit like that.

Sam Huntington: Brainwashed.

Meaghan Rath: I have Stockholm syndrome.

Sam Witwer: So if this is partially answering your question like we really like hanging out. We really do and this year the three characters they get split up a little bit and they go off on their own little journeys and for us that just made us appreciate every time that we had a scene together all the more.

And you know I think there’s like one or two scenes with us at least in every episode with all three of us. But I think our favorite episode to shoot was this episode that’s coming up down the line where we’re in every scene together throughout the whole episode. That was kind of, for us it was like oh this is the way to do it, this is the way to do the show. Who needs other actors?

Sam Huntington: Yeah, it’s what the show is about and to be honest like we were comfortable with each other instantly on set. Our relationship in that regard hasn’t changed. I feel like we like pretty much learned who each other were by half way through the first season, not even and have - our friendship has grown and built and everything.

But we have so much trust and faith in one another and like I just know, when we’re in a scene with one another, it’s going to work and there’s going to be that shorthand and it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be loose and it’s going to be natural. So you just have that confidence going into it and then in all seriousness like I think we also - I can speak for myself anyway - when I have a question or if I have a concern or if I am struggling with a piece of motivation I always ask Sam or Meaghan what they think. And because I respect and love them so much and trust them so much so it really is truly as lame as that sounds it’s kind of true and also I feel very fortunate to have that relationship with them.

Sam Witwer: I think something that’s really cool about our relationship is this thing with me and Sammy and Meaghan is that both of those actors can do a whole bunch of stuff that I can’t. And I think that’s really awesome. Like there’s not a lot of overlap in terms of personality and ability so we all have our own turf with which we have to play with but at the same time I love watching an episode and seeing what they’re doing. Because it’s like wow, look at all the stuff that they’re bringing that I frankly don’t know how to do. I love watching them and then stealing from them when I can.

Meaghan Rath: Yeah, I think the best thing about it is that the trust level has gone up so much and for me these two guys are the people I trust most on set and you always feel like in scenes you’re in good hands. Like you’re never questioning the direction the scene is supposed to go in because it just always works every time we’re together. We just are able to feed off each other in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

Sam Huntington: There’s a scene in episode one, it’s actually online right now, it’s the scene that they teased, the scene in the kitchen where Kristen comes down and she’s like I pulled this high school reunion invitation out the trashcan and Meaghan’s very funny, Kristen’s very funny. 

Anyway when we - obviously it’s episode one so you get the set and you know we’re shooting that scene I’m like God is this - is it - like I couldn’t tell what I was doing, like it was still so fresh in the process of season two and we were like getting back into it. And I was like this feels good but I really hope it’s working and then you see that scene and it just - I personally think it’s fantastic. Like it just nails the relationship, it picks back up exactly where it left off. And I was just so happy to see that.

Sam Witwer: And also Kristen Hager is just wonderful this season, she’s so great. She is such a talented actress and we - and it should be noted we feel tremendously bonded to Kristen as well. You know she’s one of us and is really awesome when we see someone that we’ve worked with for so long and that we bonded with come to set, it’s like oh it’s her, it’s Kristen. You know she’s there a lot so that’s good.

Shakefire: For all of you, is there 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 Witwer: Totally. Oh my God yeah.

Meaghan Rath: 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 mid way through for - yeah 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 Witwer: Yeah, definitely.

Sam Huntington: Shocking is the right word. Definitely.

Sam Witwer: Yeah. I’m still shocked. I’m a state of deep shock even right now.

Sam Huntington: You sound shocked.

Sam Witwer: I’m shocked. Oh my God.

Shakefire: Well is there anything maybe that was really challenging this year, specifically that you could talk about or is that all?

Sam Witwer: I tell you, Sammy there was, right?

Sam Huntington: Well yeah, for me I think we all have very, very - 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 you know 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. And so I’m - you asked if there are moments that we’re excited about, yeah, those are some of the moments, that are emotional and big and it’s crazy, it’s what’s so cool about the show.

Meaghan Rath: I’m sorry, for me there was 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 - how - 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 Huntington: Yeah and also there’s a lot - like you don’t want to let them down. You know they’ve given you this material and you don’t want to let them down, you want to do it justice.

Sam Witwer: 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 I felt 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 Huntington: 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 Witwer: This one little thing and later on you knew that there were going to be opportunities to show more and more of the character and so this year it’s - 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 all three of us you’re going to see - well not pretty confident - we’ve all seen like nine episodes so far.

We do get to know 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 very - like Meaghan was saying like 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 it’s like okay, well I think it works.

Meaghan Rath: They edit you really generously.

Sam Huntington: Yeah, they’re very kind to you Sam, very kind.

Sam Witwer: They are. It’s not what he’s doing on the set, it’s what the editors do to him. The others are - I was about to swear, 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 Huntington: 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 - and 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 Witwer: I do a really good Sam Huntington impression, yeah.

Sam Huntington: Very important. I was really lucky to have Sam there to craft Josh, you know? Really, really lucky.

Shakefire: You all get along so great, 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 Witwer: We will be seeing tension between the three in ways that we didn’t see in the first seasons, things get pretty serious and I’ll say this, - the scenes feel really good when you do them. There are 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, you know what I mean? That’s the tough part. Is you’re like oh, okay.

Meaghan Rath: I like when you yell at me.

Sam Witwer: But she loves it, she loves taking it.

Sam Huntington: 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. And we always you know like we love each other so we always generally respect 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...

Meaghan Rath: It’s unreal the hard time that he gives me. No consideration at all. 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 Huntington: Yeah, it’s good times. Those are the nights that I sleep well, you know? But I just - oh, I lead a good day.

Sam Witwer: Or I really got her today, I really made her feel bad about herself.

Meaghan Rath: 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 Huntington: And you know the temptation this season is just a beast. You know what I mean? Just a beast.

Shakefire: So you know as you continue to develop your characters into season two, I’m curious to know, you know is there anything you’ve been surprised to learn about yourselves along the way?

Meaghan Rath: I think for me I feel like that’s the way I’ve grown as a person since I started acting and it’s a strange thing but every new experience you go through, every different set, every character I feel it forces you to find something in yourself that has been there. But you never knew it existed so you’re just trying to access different parts of your emotional life or things - feelings that you’ve suppressed over the years.

And it changes you, especially when you connect to a character so much and you love that character, it really forces you to question what would I do in this situation and what does this mean to me and how can I put this situation into my own words? And that’s for me how I mature and grow.

Sam Witwer: Sammy you want to go next?

Sam Huntington: Yeah, I mean - we’ve all been kind of at this acting thing for quite some time and done a lot of different, different work, different jobs, everything presents different challenges. And you know it’s a fun gig but it’s really hard. And this year I’ve got to say like this year for some reason more than last year, and it’s probably because of a lot of the stuff that I was given to perform, I really felt like my range broadened.

I felt like I learned a lot of things about myself and about where I’m able to go emotionally and these are lessons that I’m going to take through the rest of my career. Because it’s going to be really short, let’s be honest, I mean no, but it’s weird that you know you can have - relatively large body of work and then there can be this one thing that just kind of changes everything. And you learn kind of a lot of who you are as an actor and it’s been a joy. And I’ve been able to experience it with like you know these guys who are like my besties.

Sam Witwer: I think we’ve all three learned to trust ourselves a little bit more in terms of our creative instincts. I’ve learned that if the editors have it even in pieces, even if I was a little bit you know never got through a full take without blowing something, if the editors have it in pieces, fine, leave it alone, go to sleep, it’s fine, done.

And then the other thing that I’ve learned, speaking of sleep, is I am 40% nicer of a person if I’m well rested, 48%. I mean a lot of people are like 20% nicer if they are well rested, I am 48% nicer if I’m well rested.

Sam Huntington: Literally almost 50% nicer.

Sam Witwer: Almost 50%, I mean for me if I don’t have a lot of sleep I - my political and diplomatic skills are gone. I have no ability to say anything other than what I absolutely mean and I don’t care about how I said it.

Sam Huntington: I think you give yourself a hard time about that.

Meaghan Rath: I agree, you’re not that bad.

Sam Huntington: You’re not that bad one, and two I think it was - you’re probably saying that because you got more sleep this year and it was a nicer experience as far as that goes.

Sam Witwer: I think I was nicer this year.

Meaghan Rath: Well I say you’re - I think you should give yourself a little more credit, I’d say you’re 42% nicer when you’re rested.

Sam Huntington: Forty two, I’m with Rath, I’ll go 42.

Sam Witwer: Got it, no she’s right, maybe it is 42, maybe I’ve been too hard on myself.

Meaghan Rath: It’s a little more than 40%.

Sam Huntington: Just a scosh.

Sam Witwer: But not approaching 50 like we were thinking before.

Sam Huntington: No.

Meaghan Rath: No, no, no, God, give yourself a break.

Sam Huntington: Round it down, you know what I mean?

Sam Witwer: Yeah, round it down.

Shakefire: Why do you think that Aidan seems to be so much better than other vampires as far as trying to keep his dark side in check?

Sam Witwer: 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 this season in a big, big way.

And why is it, why is it cool, why - what’s better about it, yeah, I don’t know. I like the fact that this is generally - 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.

Shakefire: The others all seem to either embrace it, really get into it or just you know go with it, whatever and he seems to want to fight against it.

Sam Witwer: 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 start seeing older - 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 everyone’s - you know even in the first season Bishop 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.

Shakefire: All right, so in addition to playing you know vampires, ghosts and werewolves we’ve had Sam and Sam have each played zombies, what is it that - you know what is it about monsters that’s resonating with the viewing public these days?

Sam Huntington: 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 Witwer: I think that our society has good points and bad points but we’re a little bit more self aware I suppose as Americans...

Sam Huntington: Oh you’re going deep.

Sam Witwer: Yeah, I’m all check this out, about...

Sam Huntington: You used the word America that was...

Sam Witwer: Things - oh I’m going to go for America, about things that - check this out, check it out, are you sitting down Sam?

Sam Huntington: I am literally.

Sam Witwer: Okay cool. Now stand up and listen to me.

Sam Huntington: And put your hand on your heart.

Sam Witwer: No, I think that it might have something to do with the fact that our country - 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.

And the 70s 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, you know looking - 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 which is just down the street from where I live and it used to be - 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? When did you know...

Sam Huntington: When Batman made a hundred gajillion dollars.

Sam Witwer: 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?

Meaghan Rath: That’s a great answer Sam.

Sam Witwer: 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 Starkiller is popular. Because it’s like he’s messed up, he’s like Luke Skywalker but he’s messed up.

Shakefire: How much - being that your characters are all going to be playing a lot apart from one another - how much will the hospital come into play, that’s where three of the four characters work but is it going to be kind of like that home away from home as it was in the first season?

Sam Huntington: You’ll - the hospital is pivotal in certain - in things that happen in the hospital are pivotal and 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 we don’t - 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 you know? Would you guys say that’s true?

Sam Witwer: Yeah, I think that’s true.

Meaghan Rath: I feel like I definitely spend more time in the hospital this year.

Sam Huntington: You do, for sure.

Meaghan Rath: But it’s not - yeah, I wouldn’t say that it was a home away from home, I think it’s just a....

Sam Huntington: And it’s in a different regard too, it’s...

Meaghan Rath: 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 Huntington: To be honest, and Sam and I actually talked a lot about this this season because you know we actually feel kind of differently about it but I could lose the hospital as a location altogether.

Sam Witwer: Whereas I love it. I think it’s really great.

Sam Huntington: 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.

Sam Witwer: I think it’s because they always have you cleaning up you know vomit and for me, you know I’m carrying something somewhere.

Sam Huntington: That’s what it is. That’s it.

Sam Witwer: Somehow Aidan ditches all the most unpleasant stuff like bedpans, he just doesn’t do it. He’s like you know if I ditch it someone else will do it.

Sam Huntington: That’s right.

Shakefire: That’s great, and then could you talk a little bit about Dichen’s, the addition of Dichen on the show as well as the mother character?

Sam Witwer: 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 - 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.

Shakefire: Witwer, you’ve had - you guys have all had pretty extensive television experience but you’ve probably had more than anybody. And you go back to Syfy and the days when it was the Sci-fi Channel back on Battlestar Galactica. Have you noticed any difference now that the channel’s rebranded to Syfy?

Sam Witwer: Yeah, it’s interesting. In terms of how the branding has changed, the marketing for everything, I think that’s something everyone can see. Basically like...

Shakefire: Was it really different?

Sam Witwer: No, I mean from the production side not really, no. I mean in fact one of the producers on the Syfy side that is working with us worked on Battlestar Galactica. So it’s you know some of the people are around, so that’s not really different. I will say that it’s - for example networks, they have to ask sometimes shows to do things that creatively you know they may not be the most satisfying things.

But they have very legitimate reasons for asking, for example on Battlestar Galactica’s first episode, 33, not the miniseries but the first episode which is where I showed up for the first time, there’s this whole plot line where there’s a ship called the Olympic Carrier that has taken off and there’s no - it’s radio silence and it’s hurtling toward Galactica and no one can get a hold of anyone on that ship. And then later we fly by the ship, we don’t see anyone in the windows and we detect a nuke on board so we shoot down the Olympic Carrier.

Well the way that we shot that wasn’t like that at all. The way that we shot it was the Olympic Carrier, there was no nuke on board and when we flew by we saw thousands of people in those windows, people that by the way we shot that. And so the whole thing was there’s a ship flying toward Galactica, it’s broken radio silence, it’s not answer the radios, what do we do? And it was basically it was a thinly veiled 9/11 metaphor.

There’s plane heading for - it looks like it might be heading for a building, do we shoot it down? Maybe they’re just scared, maybe they’re going to veer off, we don’t really know. Okay shoot it down.

That was the whole idea and Syfy was like well okay, you’ve got to make it a little bit more you know put a nuke on board and make it a little bit more clear cut. Now someone might say well that’s a terrible decision creatively but then you’re like yeah, but they do have a point, 9/11 at that point was only like two or three years after. Battlestar was like three or four years after 9/11. It was still pretty fresh in people’s minds and Syfy had the concern of like look, let’s not get this risky just yet, you know let’s not scare the audience away. Now mind you I’m kind of a dick and I’d be like well they should - it’s creative integrity, blah, blah.

But I get where they’re coming from, right? So the good news is because Ron Moore and everyone was reasonable with Syfy and they’re like yeah, okay fine, we’ll work with you and we’ll do this and we’ll change it so that it reflects your notes. Then Syfy was reasonable with them and they won a lot of battles where they did some stuff that was way more hard hitting than what I’m telling you right now.

And it’s the same thing on this show, it’s - there are certain battles that it’s like okay, they want this and okay I get why they want it because they don’t want it to be too dark and blah, blah, blah and this and that. But the good news is that when you follow that stuff, generally they - because they want to see some of the same stuff that we’re talking about, it’s just that they have concerns for logistical reasons. So you work with them, they work with you and then next thing you know you do something really shocking on television. It’s just that they’re wise to say that it shouldn’t be shocking every episode. I mean you can’t burn out your audience because it’s so dark, dark, dark.

Sam Huntington: You’re right like although this season like I’ve got to say like I’m - I was shocked at some of the stuff that we shot. Some of the stuff we shot - it really like is very, very dark as far as like emotionally dark and you can’t really believe the characters are doing what they’re doing at certain times. I’m thinking of a couple instances where you did things that are like, really? Okay, let’s do it, like here it is.

Sam Witwer: It’s true, you know what’s funny is I guess I’m referring to...

Sam Huntington: And Meaghan you too.

Meaghan Rath: Yep.

Sam Witwer: They - I’m considered - yeah absolutely Meaghan. But you know like there’s an episode that I just did ADR for mid season where they blunted a dramatic point a little bit where you know they made - they cut it in such a way that it was less dark than what we had shot. And I was upset about that until I realized I’m like yeah, but then two episodes later the most horrific thing ever, just that we’ve never done on the show happens.

So maybe they’re right, maybe it shouldn’t just be non-stop driving the dark point home because we’re going to get there, you know? It’s...

Sam Huntington: And knowing you guys are - ladies and gentlemen who work at Syfy and are basically our bosses and who really call the creative shots, they’re wonderful people, smart, very intelligent people. And so that’s kind of cool - these executives, you have a relationship, you have almost - not almost, a friendship with these people. And so you kind of trust their guidance and season one was awesome and dark in places.

Shakefire: Why - can you tell us why vampires are such messy eaters?

Sam Witwer: Okay, I’ve asked the same damned question, I’m like look, he’s eating. Why is it all over my chest, come on.

Sam Huntington: It’s like the vampire equivalent of a Carl’s Jr. commercial.

Sam Witwer: That’s true, I have actually on a few occasions been able to clean it up like you know they wanted to have blood all over the place, I’m like okay guys, he has been doing this for 200 years, he’s better at it than you guys are leading on. So no, he’s eating, it’s in here, it’s by the mouth, and maybe just a little bit on the lips and they agree with that. But one thing I will say is that if someone loses their mind, if Aidan has been starving for a long time and then starts going for it and starts getting super high, then I get the blood getting everywhere. But that’s our mythology.

Meaghan Rath: It’s like a drunkard and their beer.

Sam Witwer: What’s that?

Meaghan Rath: That’s like a drunk person spilling their beer all over the place.

Sam Huntington: That’s exactly right.

Sam Witwer: It’s a drunk person spilling their beer, basically.

Shakefire: Being Human was originally a British show, Being Human UK so I was wondering if any of you have watched it and do you feel this coming season is a chance to break away from the original because the first season very closely matched the first season of Being Human UK.

Sam Witwer: 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 one and they watched it since then, watched more of it since then.

And you know we’re all into it, but the writers, our writers hate it. No just kidding. Our writers, no our writers for the same reason that we avoided watching season one, they’ve avoided watching season two because they want season two to be its own animal. So any - there is a little bit of cross over 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 you know it’s for the most part extremely different.

Shakefire: Okay so do you think then this difference will stop the ongoing comparisons between the two shows because right now there’s currently a lot of online talk about which version is better.

Sam Witwer: No, it won’t stop it.

Meaghan Rath: I don’t think it will stop, no, because it is the - founded on the same situations, they’re both the same show. But I mean that’s okay with me, I don’t mind that because I also like Sam was saying I’m a huge fan of the British one. And I’m very positive in the second season that it does differ in a huge way. And you know and I’m - we’re the same family but different kind of - we’re different cultures and I don’t know, I’m happy to be associated with them and I’m excited for the day that we actually meet.

Sam Huntington: 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, you know primarily. The people who are fans of the BBC series or were first fans of the BBC series have really embraced our show and I think if they were really hating on it we’d be ready for them to be like uh guys, you know what we are our own thing. And like listen, we embrace that, the fact that this season we are like Sam said like there’s some small cross overs but for the most part we are - and they are unintentional. We are our own beast.

And - but yeah, I think we’d be a lot more eager to have the comparisons cease if they were negative comparisons. Right?

Sam Witwer: No, absolutely. I think that people have their preferences and it isn’t - for example if someone says hey I like the British version better, I’m not going to sit there and go whoa you’re wrong. I’ll be like no, I see why, it’s different, there are different things. Personally when I watched the two shows, when I was watching you know just going through theirs and watching our season one versus their season one.

And I was kind of torn because I’d see stuff and I’d go oh they really nailed that moment in a way that we didn’t’. They - yeah, that’s better. Oh I like this better about theirs, and then I’d see other stuff and go oh but you know what, I like ours better on this, or we had a better take on this, and so I personally I mean considering I’m so close to it I could never say which is objectively better. And frankly I don’t know that most people could objectively say that, I think it’s more of a taste thing.

Being Human: Season Two debuts on Monday, January 16th at 9:00 p.m. on SyFy. Be sure to check it out and come back to tell us what you think of the season premiere!

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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