Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Sam Witwer was actually preparing to play Aidan McCollin, the vampire roommate inSyfy's monster mashup "Being Human."
"I hid out in my basement with my band so I didn't see the light a lot," he told me last week, only partly joking. "There it is. You know, everyone wonders, 'Why the hell is he so pale?' Well it's because I've been training myself to be this pale."
Witwer's co-star, Sam Huntington, suggested that he "literally can't get a tan now."
"No, I can't. I think I've lost the ability," Witwer continued with the joke. "Yeah, my skin has lost the ability to create melanin."
Witwer does have the perfect pale skin tone and buff body to play 250-year-old Aidan. The Glenbrook South High School grad wasn’t completely joking when he said that hanging out with his Love Plumber bandmates did, ultimately, help him with his current role.
"I actually am telling a little bit of the truth in that me and my friends were all night people,” he said. "And we wouldn't wake up if we didn't have to for school or something. We wouldn't wake up until noon or [1 p.m.]. And we all knew, 'Don’t call your buddy before noon, that's rude. That's not cool.' So there's my vampire training right there."
Aidan, and his roomies, Josh the werewolf (Huntington) and Sally the ghost (Meagan Rath) will each explore the darker sides of their natures when Season 2 begins at 8 p.m. Jan. 16. Their individual journeys will lead to trouble at home—with each other—the actors said during a conference call with reporters last week.
“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,” Rath said.
Witwer added that the roomies will be at each other’s throats at times, in scenes that he said were satisfying to film but also difficult because “I don’t like having to shout or be mean to Sammy or Meaghan.”
But, as was made obvious by their banter and teasing of each other during the call, the actors do get along famously, so they all feel those harsher scenes. “When it’s a really, really rough moment for one of us, it usually means it’s a rough moment for all of us,” Huntington said, adding another poke at Rath, “I usually give Meaghan a really hard time, but beyond that...”
Since the three main characters are tempted by the darker parts of their natures this season, I asked the stars how they manage to maintain the character’s humanity when playing those dark parts. Here’s what they said:
Meaghan Rath: 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 not 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. 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: I think Meaghan is absolutely right with that. 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, 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.
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: I think you just kind of hit the nail on the head. 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. They’re viewing these things and so hopefully that’s what the audience can kind of grasp on to. As an actor it helps inform what you do. Because you’re like, “OK, well, what if this person was killed? What would the ramifications be? Emotionally what would that mean to me and how would that affect me and how would that affect every aspect of my life? So it’s cool. It sets the show aside. We don’t just roll over these issues, we actually tackle them.
Here are a few more highlights from the call, with the stars answering other's questions:
With the absence of vampire leader Biship (Mark Pellegrino, who will be back this season), Aidan is sucked into vampire authority matters and a new vampire played by "Dollhouse" alum Dichen Lachman. Said Witwer: "We go into some vampire authority matters and there are vampires that are much, much older than Aidan or even Bishop. We learn [more] about older Aidan, we learn about how he was rather than how he is and Dichen represents a lot of that in this season 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 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."
Josh's girlfriend, Nora, will be back right away this season. Huntington talked about Kristen Hager, who plays Nora: "I can tell you Kristen Hager is one of my all time favorite people to work with ever and one of the greatest scene partners and I’m such a lucky guy. You know I get Meaghan, Sam and Kristen, like I’m such a lucky guy."
Rath talked more about the darkness of Season 2, in which Sally learns some dangerous new ghost tricks from some old (dead) classmates and meets a spooky, um, something: “Darkness this season is kind of a prominent theme and … for anyone, once you dabble in something dark that … consumes your consciousness, it’s hard to remove yourself from it.”