Sam Witwer Talks The Difficulties of Not “Being Human”

By Erika Blake

Multipleverses was invited on a conference call with Sam Witwer about his role “Aidan” on SyFy’s “Being Human.” Here are the highlights from call. You’ll be able to read more of the transcripts in Issue four of OSCK magazine, coming out next month.

You can find HD “Being Human” Episode Screencaps HERE.

Question:  In what ways are you most like and least like your character of Aidan?

Sam: Well, I’m a little bit more of a goofball than Aidan is I think. He’s a little bit more cool and collected and I supposed that comes from him being a little bit older than I am. He’s 250-something years old, so I’ll give him that. We look a lot alike. I’ll give him that as well. We virtually look exactly alike, me and Aidan. We’re about the same height. He’s a little bit faster of a runner than I am, but I also play video games better than he does. So, there’s a lot of similarities, a lot of differences.

No, but really I think what I related to in this character was the fact that he was a man of conscience and I loved that. I really loved that at the core of this guy who’s been really a terrible person for the past 200 years there was a conscience at the center of all that, and I liked how the script dealt with those issues.

Question:  How do you feel Aidan stacks up against the other vampires on TV and in film right now?

Sam: 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’s a movie I’ve seen a lot of.

Question:  How does Aidan walk around in the daylight?

Sam: 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.

Question: Going back to the kind of character that Aidan is, I love that he’s such a good guy, and (well) what’s happening – everything with Josh and Ray, I just wanted to know where you see their friendship. If it’s coming out of – just unscathed, and how is it that he’s so easy going with werewolves because he brings Ray to Josh at the hospital. So, it says a lot about Aidan’s character that he’s just such an outstanding kind of guy. So…

Sam: Yes, you’re going to see – later in the season you’re going to see context for how vampires truly feel about werewolves. You’re going to see a lot more of that.

It’s one of the things we sometimes don’t necessarily explain a lot of things. And I actually like that about the show that there are very specific rules about how all of this stuff works and we all talked about it on the set, but then we don’t necessarily go out of our way to have an exposition paragraph, you know?

In movies, you’ll see two guys and they’re like, “We’ve been best friends for ten years and you’re telling me that,” you’re just like, “Why would you say that? You don’t have to – we know. You’ve been best friends for ten years. Get on with it,” you know? And we don’t actually have a lot of those moments where we explain what everyone knows.

And therefore, the audience has some room to interpret, which I think is wonderful, but as for Ray and Josh, and does our relationship get frayed by the Ray thing, it does a little bit. And in fact, it gets frayed by a lot of things throughout the season. It’s because Ray is telling Josh some truths actually about the nature of vampires, and while Aidan is an outstanding guy, he is in fact one of these people that fit into the category that Ray is describing and he still has a lot of these traits.

I mean, if you watch closely there are certain moments where you can see Aidan – like for example, in the beginning of, I guess it’s Episode 4, there’s a moment where Aidan is in the bookstore and he sees a – the woman who’s ringing people up and there’s a moment where he’s working out how he’s going to do this. How he’s going to lure her, how he’s going to this, how he’s going to that, and how he’s going to dispose of the body and all of that. He’s working it out like a chess game.

And it – only at the last minute does he go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s not – no, I’m – that’s – no, that’s not what I’m – I’m trying to do the opposite.” But, he’s being doing these things for 200 years and the very nature of our vampires are to be deceptive, not necessarily to each other, but to everyone else to hide what they are, to hide what they’re feeling, to hide everything.

And so, Aidan lies a lot to his roommates, all the time in fact. Throughout our entire season he is constantly lying to just about everyone, and you only see what’s really going on with that character when he’s alone or when he’s with certain company. And what I love about that is that it really reinforces the metaphor that we make no secret that we’re actually discussing. No secret about the fact that we are discussing addition, we are discussion a man who is battling drug addiction and trying to stay clean.

And bringing Josh’s friendship with Josh is a friendship of desperation. He has no one who could support him except this guy. And so they move in so that they can kind of watchdog each other, but the fact of the matter is he still doesn’t share with Josh half of what’s going on. And I think that people could definitely relate to that. Something that’s going on in their life that they feel like they can really turn – they can’t turn to anyone for it, and they keep that secret and they hate themselves for it.

And I really love – the entire – our whole mythology for vampires is all based around that metaphor, everything that we’ve done. In fact, even the casting of vampires has been about that. There’s a scene in a later episode where there’s a big gathering of vampires; giant. And we looked around, me and Mark Pellegrino, and we’re just applauding their casting choices because it wasn’t a bunch of dudes and women in like black leather pants and long trench coats.

It was a woman who a mother, and then a guy who looked like a school teacher, and a kid who looked like just an average college student. It was just people. It was just normal people and the point being that any one of these people could have a problem with addiction and hide it from the people that they’re closest with. I thought that was fascinating.

Question:  The whole thing with Rebecca to me was really reminiscent sort of like of a Sid and Nancy-type kind of relationship where they’re failing and struggling .. they’re blood addicts, I was wondering, in preparing for the role for Aidan did you look a lot at – into like that addiction and like how did you prepare for playing that kind of a thing?

Sam:  That’s exactly – that’s all we talked about. Me and Sarah Allen that’s all we ever discussed was drug parallels and addiction and all that, and that was what the producers wanted. So, everyone is on the same page about this metaphor. We even blocked the scenes and shot them in such a way that they were suggestive of other things. I’ll just kind of leave it at that.

But, because there’s definitely all kinds of stuff going on there, including a very strong sexual element, the tragedy of what happens in that episode and what happens in the episodes following that episode is that she’s sincere in her intention to beat this and so is Aidan. But, they both have the same problem, and therefore maybe they’re not the best people to support each other because if one goes down the other one’s going down with them. And the other problem that Rebecca has is that she is also surrounded by – because one of the things that people maybe didn’t necessarily synapse with is that the first episode takes place over a month. Our Episode 1 is one month. When we catch up with Rebecca she was turned almost immediately after she died, right?
And then, for a month she was forced into this really messed up culture and society where if you look at it from a genre point of view she was forced to murder a lot of people and she was forced to take part in a lot of really messed up things, so she’s out of her mind by the time that we catch up with her in Episode 2.

But, from a metaphor point, she was thrown into this drug thing and has been heavily involved in it for a month straight before Aidan can have any influence. So, Bishop isn’t working on her hardcore, and of course he’s working on her because he knows that this could be a lure to bring Aidan back into the fold. So…

Question:  Aidan is a dark guy and we’re – you know, he’s lying to his roommates and his friendship with Josh is strained, you know, upcoming episode is all about some pretty big reveals for Sally and Josh do you think that, you know, your characters are going to become more bonded because of this or more torn apart because of the revelations?

Sam: You see both. You see both, absolutely. They rely on each other more while at the same time certain revelations and I think I’m not spoiling too much by saying that there are moments where Josh and Sally pickup on the fact that Aidan is not being honest with them, and that doesn’t do much for their relationship.

I think one of the themes of the first season though is how these three people resolve their relationships with each other, in terms of working together or apart, because as you see we are quite a bit apart in these early episodes. We are kind of wandering off on our own and exploring these problems and in most cases, in fact maybe in all cases, failing miserably.

And I think one of themes is, are these people going to learn to start working together on this or are they just going to continue to flounder out in there – out in the wilderness by themselves?

Question:  I like the way that even though Aidan’s got his own issues, he’s kind of mentoring his younger roommates, with getting them assimilated with their new lives. I was wondering if you could talk to us a bit about his relationship with both Josh and Sally?

Sam: Yes, we’ll you’re dead on. 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. Anyway…

Question:  How difficult is it when you’re working with Meaghan to remember that, because she’s a ghost, not to touch her?

Sam: Very difficult. It’s very tough. I think for the most part we stayed with that, but sometimes you completely forget and they had very strict – they had all kinds of things. They had people – they had like the DP, for example, watching over me to make sure that I don’t stand in direct sunlight because that would be uncomfortable for me. They had people watching the whole Sally, touching thing.

They were very, very serious about this. And then you got us goofballs on the set sitting next to each other maybe sitting just too close and, you know, brushing up against each other and ruining brilliant takes; that type of thing.

Question: For me, one of the best parts of the show Being Human is the dynamic between Aidan and Bishop. We’re seeing the plot lines keeping pretty parallel in spirit to the original series, will this relationship break course and go somewhere different?

Sam: I don’t know, because I haven’t seen the original series. So I have no idea. What I do know is that that relationship is one of my favorite things in our series. And we get to see them in different time periods and learn that they’re perspective and their opinions have been very, very different at times in history.

We – even though there’s so much animosity between these two and things get really ugly, I think you get a sense that these two guys love each other and have been through a lot together. There’s 200 years of a relationship there and a very intense friendship, and Mark and I talked about that a lot. Mark talked about a lot of interesting things. He kind of looked at Aidan as a wayward son. I looked at Mark as my ex-drug buddy who I can’t hang out with anymore.

There was a lot of stuff. He said something very interesting also that Aidan – because Aidan is really disrespectful to Bishop and what we will learn as the series goes on is that that’s even more serious than we’re thinking. You – there’s a code of honor with these vampires and Bishop being Aidan’s maker, Aidan is really pushing it, really, really pushing it. And we may not realize that at first, but he’s really just asking for it and Bishop kind of gives him a wide berth; kind of just lets him do it.

And there are other vampires that question Bishop’s wisdom on that. And one of the things that Mark Pellegrino said to me, which I thought was fascinating, he said, “I feel that even though Aidan is weakened, and he’s not drinking live blood so he’s not as fast, not as strong, not on his game, he’s completely off balance, and one would think he’s less of a threat.”

But, I think Bishop looks at him as even more of a threat, and then so why Bishop gives him a wide berth, but at the same time keeps tabs on him constantly because if Aidan ever decided, this is – as Pellegrino says, “If Aidan ever decided to go against Bishop that would be a major liability to him.” That Bishop really feels like what he’s trying to accomplish would work so much better if Bishop – if Aidan was on his side. However, if Aidan does turn on him and actually tries to undo what’s happening that is a major, major threat that Aidan, even at his weakest, is ridiculously dangerous.

And that’s one of the things that I also enjoy about the Aidan character, which we have not quite seen yet, but we will in the season, Aidan was a lunatic. Aidan was out of his mind. He – Aidan was sociopathic, psychopathic, he was beyond what we – you’d consider sane. And we get to see moments of that breakthrough where our nice Aidan does something that you just don’t see coming, and it’s really, really kind of hard to watch.

And that’s one of the things that we really like to play with on the series.

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