Interview with Sam Witwer

Sam Witwer is the star of SyFy’s new hit show “Being Human”.  In the show he is playing the character of Aiden, a vampire, who’s apartment roommates are a werewolf and a ghost.  The show is a US remake of the UK series but it already has taken a life of its own.  Sam is also know for his roles in “Smallville”, “Battlestar Galactica” and even voiced a character from this season in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.  Movie Mikes had the chance to chat with Sam about his new show and what it is like playing his character.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the show “Being Human”?
Sam Witwer: Well, my agent made me aware of the audition. I cracked the script and read the first two pages and saw I would be playing a vampire and closed the script. Nothing against them but I thought who needs another vampire show. Then a friend of a mine Laura Terry, who one of the most knowledgeable people I know in terms of what is happening in the business, she got a hold of me and asked me “Are you passing on the “Being Human” audition?” I said “Yeah I think so” and she asked me if I was crazy and filled me in on what this show represented, the UK version and who the producers for the US version were. She told me just to read the script…so I did. I felt extremely foolish and weak minded because I fell in love with it immediately. Then I read episode two script and I loved that as well. I really got into it and recognized this was an irresistible character to play and a wonderful opportunity. Then I watched the first episode of the British series and loved it, but then I turned it off. I said if I am going to do this I need to ignore the British series until later. I auditioned and had some meetings with the producers and the director. We all spoke about what we show becoming and we all seemed to agree with that. Then they hired me!

MG: What is the biggest challenge for you playing your character Aiden?
SW: With any role, your job is to display to the audience as much detail as you can in the given circumstance. Whatever the story is about you want to show them as much humanity as you can. Aiden is always dealing with some really dark stuff. But at the same time the show can get really lighthearted and fun. That is one of the things I love about it. I think the biggest challenge for me is to figure out how to do the humor while not undercutting the drama. I have to say that it helped that the scripts have already taken care of a lot of that for me. I am constantly impressed with how the writers are able to put in humor that fits well in some of these ridiculously dark circumstances. For example when I was hired for “Battlestar Galactica”, I played this character who’s call sign was Crashdown and I was hired essentially to be the comic relief of the show. The audition scene I did was pretty funny. But that was at a time that they didn’t realize that “Battlestar Galactica” was never meant to be funny at all. There was an episode they did when they experimented with some humor but a lot of it got cut. With “Being Human”, we are definitely a serious drama show but there is a lot of humor to be found in it. [Laughing] I guess when you have a vampire, werewolf and a ghost all living in an apartment together, who has regular roommate problems on top of these supernatural problems…there is some humor to be found. I love that aspect of the show.

MG: How is it working with Sam Huntington and Meagan Rath?
SW: Lovely! I really love those guys. When we sat down the first time, it was very apparent that this was meant to me. Meagan and Sammy were natural choices for those roles. We have these ridiculously long hours and they would be torturous if we didn’t love each other so much. The same can be said for Mark Pellegrino, who I have become close with as well. Sarah Allen as well, she is a wonderful actress and we have bonded over the whole shoot. In fact all of us just went to Hawaii together if that can tell you anything. We actually [laughs] by choice spend a vacation together.

MG: In the show your character has been feeling a lot of pressure from the other vampires, how does Aidan hold up in the upcoming episodes?
SW: The metaphor that we have been dealing with Aiden, and not making it a secret, is drug addiction and a little bit of sex addiction. This guy has been in a drug haze all his life and he doesn’t have the tools to deal with life, the same tools that you and I have developed over our lives. Because of that Aiden is going to take some hits. He is extremely emotionally vulnerable as a person. As I said he doesn’t have the tools to process the things around him, so somethings hit him really hard emotionally. We will be seeing more of that as he gets emotionally torpedoed. Of course when you are hurting like that where do you turn but to the copping mechanism that you always turn to, which is the drug. As Aiden gets beat up more and more, we are going to see him want to go back to the lifestyle that he is trying to leave behind. The way that I look at Bishop and the other vampires are that they are his drug buddies that deep down he still has a friendship for but can’t hang out with them…because it would be bad.

MG: Who would you says is more villainous Bishop or Marcus?
SW: It really depends. We are going to find out somethings about Bishop that make him pretty damn dangerous. Bishop is also very reasonable about what he expects, what he wants and his vision for how things should be. He has a really reasonable point of view. We have hinted but haven’t gotten into his whole deal yet…but we will. Now Marcus…he isn’t exactly equipped to be second in command. He would like to be but he is not confident and has got a lot to prove. For that reason, he is extraordinarily dangerous though because he does have some abilities.

MG: What has been your favorite episode to work on for season one?
SW: That is a really tough question because past a certain point I just really love all of them. The thing I can say for the entire season, I have done shows where things were it was really challenging or I have done shows where the material was difficult. That is not always a guarantee that you would be looking forward to performing it. This season of “Being Human” we did…countless scenes that I looked at in the script, I said “Wow, I can’t wait to perform that” or I said “That is going to be tough but wow, it is going to be fun”. It has just been wonderfully rewarding like that. I had no idea it was going to be like that. It has been so engaging and compelling and stupid fun to hang out with those people. As I say me, Sammy, Meagan and Mark are kind of all inseparable and just being able to hang out with those people every day was a great treat. It is not always like that on every set. We have been very lucky with our cast here. Not only are they are very talented and professional but really fun.

MG: Tell us about your recent voice work for the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
SW: We did three episodes, “The Mortis Trilogy” as they called it. It was crazy man! I have done some work for Lucasfilm before with “The Force Unleashed 1 & 2” video game.  In that I played Darth Vadar secret apprentice, Starkiller and he is this guy struggling with his dark side.  He has been raised and trained by Vadar but at the center of this guy is a really conscientious cool good person trying to do the right thing. He has to fight through all that to become the hero, he is destine to be. So then I get a call to do “The Clone Wars” and I was like “YES!”. They told me it was a really cool role. I thought it was going to be like six lines, like a bounty hunter or something.  But I was just really flattered that they wanted to work with me, so I was thrilled. Then I heard it is three episodes and I was excited because maybe this was a character that means something and around for a little bit. Fast forward to the day before I go in, I get the top secret script sent to me. I read the first script, which I wasn’t in much but I am in it enough to know the character I am playing. I read it and it turns out I am…the dark side of the force. They want me to play the dark side of the force…this iconic element of “Star Wars” introduced back in 1977 by Alec Guinness when he said [speaking as Alec Guinness] “Vadar was influenced by the dark side of the force.” That is what I am playing. At that point, I start sweating cause I had one day to figure out how the dark side of the force should sound like. If I get it wrong, I would have really cheapened a very important part of “Star Wars”. Then I find out that all of this stuff with the “Mortis” is directly from George (Lucas) and this character was described by George. I am freaking out at this point. I am huge “Star Wars” fan and you don’t want to get these things wrong. So, I go in for the first day and I only have a few lines for the episode and I perform a little, still not 100% sure what he should sound like. So I asked Dave Feloni, “Are you concerned that this character might sound too much like Starkiller from “Force Unleashed?” He goes “Well, you know Sam, it is fine if it does. He is the dark side of the force and your character in “Force Unleashed” being connected to the dark side of the force, so it is possible to be hearing some of his voice in there.” Once Dave Feloni said that it was the key for me. I thought if that is the case, shouldn’t we hear Darth Maul…Vadar…and the Emperor as well. For the rest of my work with them, I started putting in little line reads where the voice didn’t change much but the voice pattern and the inflections changed to match certain dark side characters. For example if the line was “Join me and together we can destroy this Emperor in your visions”. If you put emphasis like Vadar would in “Empire Strikes Back”, it makes a big difference.  The dialogue was so evocative of those movies that it was easy to do it at times. Dave Feloni noticed what I was doing and told me to do it even more. So that is what we ended up doing. Now that I have seen the episodes, I am confident we did the right thing. I love the show so much and I was really lucky to get the chance to do it.

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