On Syfy’s BEING HUMAN, adapted for American television by Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke (based on the British series created by Toby Whithouse), Sam Witwer’s vampire character Aidan and Sam Huntington’s werewolf character Josh move into aBoston brownstone haunted by ghost Sally, played by Meaghan Rath. That was Season 1. At the beginning of Season 3, Mondays at 9 PM, Aidan has been buried in a coffin for eighteen months, and he emerges to find that Josh is now human, though Josh’s girlfriend Nora (Kristen Hager), who he accidentally turned, is still a werewolf – and Sally is alive, back in her own body, thanks to a spell.
Witwer sits down for a chat at the Television Critics Association press tour and then does a follow-up phone call to tell us all about Aidan.
AX: With Josh human and Sally alive, you’re playing the only character on BEING HUMAN that is still in the same state, or at least the same species, as he was when we met him.
SAM WITWER: I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon [laughs].
AX: Are you jealous of the other actors getting to do something totally different, or do you feel like you get to do enough of that in the flashbacks?
WITWER: Oh, I’m constantly doing something different. The flashbacks this year are more ambitious than we’ve ever done. I never thought we were going to go back as far as we go. And I never thought we were going to tell the story that we end up telling. So that was a lot of fun. We do a story in the flashbacks that take place over four episodes. We tell one single story. And I can’t wait for the audience to see it. It happens later in the season, but it was challenging, to say the least.
AX: At the beginning of Season 3, Aidan is unusually screwed up, even for Aidan. Did you have to go, “Okay, what can I do to make him more screwed up than we’ve ever seen him?” or did you just go, “I’m just going to go with the moment, and …”?
WITWER: Well, they left that up to me, really. I called up Anna Fricke and said, “Listen, I’m losing a bunch of weight, growing out my hair and growing a beard, so you probably are going to want to write for that.” And then when he came out of the ground, look, he hasn’t spoken for a year-and-a-half to anyone, so he shouldn’t have those social tools that he had in the first two seasons. So we’re really just working from logic – what would happen to this guy, what would it be like?
AX: Do you have a favorite kind of scene to do as Aidan?
WITWER: I think the scenes that have some comedic value are the ones that are the most fun to do for me. There’s tons of drama that happens this season, but I do like the fact that they’ve given him an opportunity, by essentially laying him low and stripping him of his ability to be socially smooth and know what’s going on, they’ve let him lighten up in certain scenes, which is great. I think that’s fantastic. But at the same time, you’re still always going to get that baseline darkness that just follows him around everywhere.
AX: Of the stuff that Aidan has had to deal with that’s been Sally’s stuff and Josh’s stuff, to you have a favorite one of their predicaments that Aidan has been a part of or thrown up his hands at?
WITWER: Sally – the whole Dream Reaper thing, where she was in her head and we had to try to fish her out of her own mind, I love that episode. I think it was fantastic. It was one of the few times that we all got to be together in the second season, because we were apart so much. One of the great strengths of this season is that we’re together throughout the entire season, which I think is a very good call on the part of the writers, because that just allows for so much more humor in the show to balance out all of the dark stuff. The bare minimum is that you have one scene with all of us together, and the maximum is we spend the entire episode together. It’s really wonderful.
AX: It says on your IMDB page that you’ve also been a stuntman?
WITWER: Oh, yeah [laughs]. Some friends of mine [Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor] I started with wanted me to do a cameo in their movie CRANK, and they said, “Listen, we need you to be shot in the balls,” so they put a squib on my pants. So it was a scary stunt. They call that a stunt, I guess. So I’m a stuntman. [laughs] To legitimize that a little bit, I do my own stunts on BEING HUMAN, so there’s that.
AX: What’s the hairiest one you’ve had to do so far?
WITWER: Well, you wouldn’t know it – certainly there are throws and stuff like that. At one point this year, I had to run and basically dive head-first into a brick wall, because it was three or four in the morning and didn’t have a stunt guy and so it was like, “Okay, fine.” Things that really, if you think too much about them, you’re going to hurt yourself, but I think the most dangerous was something in the second season. Me and Henry [played by Kyle Schmid] had a fight scene. And the fight scene started out where we were three feet from a forty-foot drop, and no railing, and there was going to be a crane shot that showed that. But we never got the crane shot. So we had all the danger, but if you’re not looking closely, it just looks like we’re in an alley, fighting. And it’s like, “Well, no, dude, we were [next to] a forty-foot drop.” And the ground we were fighting on was gravel. In fact, Kyle Schmid, being a badass, at one point, I throw him and he skids across the gravel. He’s three feet from a forty-foot drop when he does that. So on our show, there’s not a lot of room for wimps [laughs].
AX: Given that there are flashbacks to a lot of different eras, do you have a favorite period that you’ve done in BEING HUMAN in what we’ve seen so far?
WITWER: I’m very proud of the Thirties stuff, because it was by the seat of my pants. We were in such a hurry to shoot those scenes, for half of the stuff that you saw in the Thirties, I got one take when the camera was on me. One take [laughs]. I mean, talk about nerve-wracking. You’re creating a completely different version of your character. He talks different, he walks different – you’re completely aware of these things. And you have no time to shoot it. So the fact that it came out fairly well, I’m proud of. That wasn’t easy [laughs]. In terms of the most fun, I thought Fifties Aidan was a lot of fun, because he would just smash you in the head with a lug wrench if he didn’t like you – the bitter, disenfranchised Fifties Aidan. After all the terrible things that happened in the Thirties.
AX: Do you have any favorite guest stars you’ve gotten to work with on BEING HUMAN?
WITWER: Yeah, absolutely. Mark Pellegrino [as Aidan’s vampire sire Bishop]. That guy’s a maniac. And we’ve got Xander Berkeley threatening our existence. He’s threatening us on the set. He’s a lovely, lovely guy who spent a good deal of time with us and there are three actors that I’ve spent a lot of time with this year who you’re not going to meet until a little bit later. One is Connor Price, who’s a younger actor who’s just phenomenally talented, wonderful guy and I loved hanging out with him, seventeen-year-old guy. Then there is Deanna Russo, who you may know her from the KNIGHT RIDER remake and a whole bunch of other stuff. She’s a buddy of mine who I was really happy to get on the show in a very important role. And she’s wonderful and totally one of us the moment she walked on the set. And then we have Katharine Isabelle, who plays another key role for Aidan, who I almost don’t want to say too much, aside from the fact when we cast her, we cast her for this enigmatic quality that she brought that I think is going to serve us very well going forward. She’s wonderful.
AX: Might we be seeing Mark Pellegrino again?
WITWER: We always will see Mark Pellegrino again. He’s one of my dearest friends and it’s great when you have an actor who is constantly willing to come and do whatever is needed of him. Mark has shared with me that BEING HUMAN has been his favorite gig ever. So when we need him, he’s always willing to help us.
AX: Aidan’s had a lot of interesting romantic scenes. Without saying who your favorite romantic partner was, do you have a favorite specific scene that you got to do in the romance area?
WITWER: This is going to sound funny, because she became my girlfriend, but I really enjoyed the scenes with Sarah Allen [as the vampire Rebecca], just because I thought that dynamic was so interesting, two junkies trying to have a relationship, and we had a lot of fun trying to bring that to life. I mean, it was certainly awkward at first, because I think the night that I met her, we had to jump in bed together and do a naked love scene [laughs]. “Hi.” “Hello.” And she’s so different from that character as a person, she’s one hundred and eighty degrees off of who Rebecca is. But we really had a good time creating that dynamic. And also, the fact that that dynamic didn’t really exist in the British series. I mean, the story was there, but in that version, Mitchell [the vampire] is like, “Hey, look, this is on you, lady. Get away from me.” Whereas that is not the dynamic that we played in our show. In our show, there was actually a real bond there and a real sense of responsibility on the part of Aidan.
AX: Have you gotten any ideas for what to do or not to do from the British BEING HUMAN, or do you just feel like, the American/Canadian series is its own animal?
WITWER: It’s its own thing. I’m not terribly concerned with what the British show is doing. I admire it, I love watching it, but they’re two different things. The characters are different. Mitchell is a hundred years younger than Aidan, and I think you feel that when you look at the two characters. It’s readily apparent.
AX: As far as Anna Fricke being sole show runner this season, has that changed anything?
WITWER: If anything, it’s made our show more character-based, because that’s what Anna Fricke does. This season is very, very heavy on character, which I just think is entirely appropriate and really, really wonderful. It’s what I wanted to see the show become.
AX: And do you have something that you can share that you’d like to see Aidan do that hasn’t happened for him yet?
WITWER: Yes. Well, I don’t know if I should share it, because it’s something I’m going to be pitching for next season. Okay, I’ll share this – I think I’d like to see just a little bit more of the criminal side of the vampire world. I’m not talking “You must pay penance” and “You’re a heretic.” No, I’m talking about the “Stick ‘em up, gimme some fuckin’ money.” I want to see that side of the vampire thing.
AX: Well, yes, most of them seem to have money.
WITWER: Some of them do. Bishop really kind of didn’t [laughs].
AX: Well, but he was a cop, and to maintain that cover, he had to live on a cop’s salary – who knows, maybe it’ll turn up in an episode that he left Aidan some money.
WITWER: Yeah, yeah, wouldn’t that be nice? [He could] buy a new car or something.
AX: And how has Comic-Con been? How have you enjoyed the rock star experience?
WITWER: In my case, I’ve actually, believe it or not, taken a couple of notes from fans. Doing cons and stuff and meeting them and talking to them, some of them have some very intelligent things to say and I happen to agree with a couple of them [laughs], so I actually adjusted a couple things. I don’t want to give it away, but there were a couple things that were just some good ideas that a couple fans passed me. Not that I want to encourage everyone to – and they weren’t intending to pass me ideas, they were just reacting. They felt this way, and they liked this, and they enjoyed that and gave me some ideas, so it was fun.
AX: When in the life of BEING HUMAN did you realize that the show had traction?
WITWER: I think I had that instinct after we saw the first cut of the pilot, because it was quite good [laughs], I was very happy with it. Especially this season – this is our best stuff, we all agree. We have been happiest when performing this material this year, because it’s all thematically relevant, it’s very well put together, very well thought-out, and it’s very grounded. I mean, I take pride in the fact that I’m looking at our show in the third season going, “Wow. As of the third season, our show is easily the most grounded supernatural show that’s out there.” Our stories are about, “Wow, how do we pay the rent?” or “What do we do? The car is wrecked.” It’s like they really do deal with those real-life issues while at the same time dealing with the consequences of two seasons of supernatural mess-ups that have followed them around and murders and destruction, it’s really fun to play those two sides and see how they interact.
Check out Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Sam Witwer coming soon.
Related Link: TV Review – BEING HUMAN – Season 2 – “Dream Reaper”
Related Link: TV Review – BEING HUMAN – Season 2 – “Addicted to Love”
Related Link: TV Review – BEING HUMAN – Season 2 – “All Out of Blood”
Related Link: Complete BEING HUMAN – Season 1 reviews
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