Q&A: Being Human’s Sam Witwer

Keep reading for a Q&A with Sam Witwer (Aidan the vampire) from Syfy’s Being Human. Sam reveals more about the show and his love of science fiction and fantasy!

How do you feel Aidan stacks up against the other current vampires on TV and in film?

Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed in me, sir. I have not seen the other vampires. I don’t know what they’re doing. I haven’t seen any of the shows. I haven’t seen any of the Twilight Series. In fact, someone said, “Hey, so you guys sparkle?” And I’m like, “What?” “Do you sparkle?” I’m like, “What do you mean, do we break into dance numbers and use jazz hands? What do you mean?” And they’re like, “No, like the vampires in Twilight.” And I’m like, “I don’t know what that is.”

So, really if – I don’t if I have an original take in it. I heard from a few people that I kind of do, but I’m just kind of crossing my fingers and doing my own kind of unpolluted take on the vampire thing. Because really the last real exposure I’ve had to it is Béla Lugosi from back in the day, and that movie I’ve seen a lot of.

But, that’s it. So this is my take, and so I guess if I got it wrong it’s entirely my fault.

So how does Aidan walk around in the daylight?

Well, it’s uncomfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily harm him. The way that we play it out is, and I think I actually – I talked to Sally about this in, I think, Episode 3, but I – the vampire is just like every living thing on this planet have evolved that early on they may have been Nosferatu or one of those early on visions of the horrible pharaoh vampire, and as they’ve gone on they’ve adapted.

And so yes, they can actually walk around, but they don’t necessarily like it, which is why you see our vampires wear sunglasses a lot in the daytime. It isn’t that we’re trying to look like we’re in the Matrix, it’s – we actually need them.

Aside from being on a show as a vampire with a werewolf and a ghost, do you have any actual supernatural interests?

I’ve always been fascinated by supernatural mythology, definitely; ghosts and such. But, I mean I don’t know that I necessarily believe in them, but I certainly love reading about it. It’s really, really fun. Then, in terms of my interests in terms of genre stuff, I have a broad variety of interest when it comes to genre television and film. I’m a hardcore Star Wars guy, love Star Trek, love all that stuff.

You’re obviously known for doing The Force Unleashed video games, and then recently the Son on The Clone Wars of Star Wars. Do you prefer SciFi over fantasy?

Well, what’s funny is that Star Wars isn’t really SciFi. Star Wars is more of a fairy tale. Star Wars is fantasy really, with SciFi trappings. For me, so long as the subject matter, in terms of what they’re really talking about, is interesting everything else is really just fun window dressing.

The vampire thing for me is ridiculously interesting because of the topic of discussion; the whole addiction thing. The Star Wars thing is interesting to me because it’s an entire discussion about morality. And, I think the reasons why people lock into these things and why they stick around for years and years and years, so there’s really is some substance there.

The fun thing about doing genre, be it SciFi, fantasy, whatever, is that you can have these discussions and sometimes go extraordinarily far without censors coming down on you. We’ve shot a few scenes in Being Human that if we had even hinted at a needle being present the whole scene would have been shut down with the way we were shooting it.

And for example, Battlestar, their Season 3, almost the entirety of it, is quite literally shot in terms of -it’s a discussion about the Iraq War and a lot of things surrounding it. And they shoot it pretty literally, and it looks very similar to what was happening over there and I love that stuff.

I love that people can go even further with the trappings of throwing a ray gun in there and suddenly people are thrown off the scent. But, in terms of the audience, which his very intelligent, they’re not. They’re not thrown off the scent at all.

On Smallville you played a human and a beast, and now you’re playing a similar role on Being Human. Have you taken anything from the role of Davis Bloome and applied it to Aidan?

That’s a very good question. Davis didn’t necessarily have Aidan’s sense of humor, and you see definitely more of Aidan’s sense of humor as the series goes on. But, they are in a very similar position, Davis, I think, kind of slid out of control faster. But, I suppose the answer would have to be yes that I had some experience playing the – I suppose I’ve played a lot of characters that have kind of a duality.

Darth Vader’s apprentice, the Starkiller character in The Force Unleashed games had the same problem that he – his nature was to be a very good person, but his nurture was very different. Having been raised by Darth Vader he was trained to be this assassin and he had to find his way out of that. And Davis was a very conscientious person, but when he blacked out became Doomsday, and that’s no good. Aidan was a man of conscience who was turned into a terrible sociopath for 200 years.

So, I don’t know why they keep hiring me for these things, but clearly I must have troubles and problems that I’m not looking at or something, and that they see. I don’t know.

Aidan seems be a mentor of sorts to his younger roommates. Could you tell us a bit about his relationship with both Josh and Sally?

He’s kind of the anchor in a weird way, which is funny because he’s also in many ways the most out of control. He tries to keep that away from them. With Josh, yes, he is kind of an older brother. He’s constantly trying to calm that guy down and it’s not like that their personalities are inherently compatible. In fact, as much as I love Sam Huntington, I think I played Aidan most of the time just that he’s starting to learn to find humor and pleasure in the way Josh is.

Whereas, I think for probably the years beforehand it was severely annoying to him and irritating and really hard to deal with. And actually, we do have, I believe coming up, provided it doesn’t get cut from the episode, some flashbacks where we see them early on in their relationship, and it’s not necessarily exactly the same thing.

But yes, it is definitely an older brother, younger brother thing and Aidan is trying to impart pieces of wisdom and knowledge. But, we have to remember that everything that Aidan knows about werewolves is colored from the fact that he’s probably killed a few in his time, and he hasn’t necessarily had a warm relationship with them.

Sally is interesting because I kind of – the way I conceive it is not just younger sister, but kind of a daughter in a weird way, because after all Aidan is an old, old man. I mean, he comes off as a young man by design. We – that me and Mark Pellegrino discussed a lot that these characters should blend into whatever time period that they’re in. And if he appears to be 25 in 2011, then he’s a twenty-first century 20-something, but in the 50’s, he should come off as a 50’s 20-something.

But in any case, there is somewhere between an older brother and a father thing with Sally. And for that reason, I found it interesting that Aidan reveals a little bit more to her than he does to Josh. He’ll actually give her pieces. He’ll never give her a full picture, but he’ll give her pieces of what’s actually happening with him, and actually every now and then discuss certain things and share certain things that he – we just don’t see him share with Josh. And I find that really very, very interesting.

But, he’d like to help both of them, but at the same time he realizes he himself needs maybe more help than either one of them.

Could you talk a bit about Aidan’s tattoo , and if we’re going to meet Celine?

The tattoos of Celine. That’s extremely significant and ties in in many ways to elements that we’re already aware of and characters that we’re already aware of, but we do not know that just yet. What can I say without spoiling it? Extremely significant. For a vampire to tattoo a person’s name on his chest, you’ve got to take that person pretty seriously.

The British series has a great chemistry onset. How well do all of you get along?

Ridiculously well. In fact, on Sunday morning we’re all – the cast – pretty much the entire main cast and Mark Pellegrino and Sarah Allen, we’re all going to Hawaii together. So, that… I don’t know if that answers your question, but yes, it was an instant thing with me and Sammy and Meaghan, and also Mark and Sarah. I’ve been in a lot of casts and this was probably the one that really gelled the most. And in fact, it went so far that we had the producers take us aside on a few occasions in the early episodes and said, “Listen, we’d like you to tone back the chemistry,” where you usually get the opposite note.

You usually get someone saying, “Okay, remember you like each other and this is a funny moment,” but in our case I think our timing was a little bit too sharp for their taste. Because one of the things – I’ve only seen one episode of the British series and I stayed away from it after I enjoyed immensely because I didn’t want to get – unintentionally mimic anything Aidan Turner was doing because I thought he was wonderful.

So, but one of the things I remember is you start with those characters in the apartment and they’re bantering and they’re fun and they have all that timing, and you really started with them there. Well, what we wanted to do was show the journey of how they get to that kind of place, so it wouldn’t make sense. In fact it would feel quite sitcommy if we already had all that timing and all that – and all that banter, because no, Josh and Aidan aren’t entirely comfortable with each other and they don’t know Sally at all.

So, they – for realism sake, they said, “No, really we want you guys to work into this,” and by – around halfway through the season they kind of just said, “Okay, do – we’ll do whatever you want. Go for it. We’re – you’re entertaining us. Go.” But I think the note was absolutely right because you do want to get a sense of – especially for Aidan’s journey, a guy who was keeping so many secrets from everyone, including Sally and Josh, he couldn’t warm up too fast to these two.

And so, I thought it was a really good note and I’m glad they gave it to us for the sake of storytelling, to be a little bit patient.

Being Human airs Mondays at 9:00 pm on Syfy.

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