The Syfy Channel has given us their take on the BBC’s Being Human. The show centers on a werewolf, vampire and ghost living together in the same house attempting to be… human.
As you can guess, they’re not always successful. But that’s the fun of the show.
I talked to stars Sam Huntington (the werewolf) and Meaghan Rath (the ghost) along with excutive producers, Jeremy Clarke and Anna Fricke on a conference call about the show, their not human characters and and how the actors got their parts.
Being Human airs on SyFy at 9/8c
How did all of you get involved in working on the show?
Sam Huntington: It’s a very traditional audition process coming in meeting the casting people and the executive producers including Jeremy and Anna and our other exec and the director of the first few episodes, Adam Kane. And then you progress along and you eventually end up testing for all the fine people at Syfy and then just kind of get the gig.
Meaghan Rath: I actually auditioned first in Montreal, that’s where I’m from.
Anna Fricke: We saw you on tape. We did, that’s how magical you are.
Meaghan Rath: Yes, so I went in with a casting director in Montreal and auditioned a couple of times there and then I met with Adam Kane, our Executive Producer and Director, and then I was flown to LA to screen test and I met with the guys and we all read together and fell in love and lived happily ever after.
Meaghan, since Josh and Aiden have an entire world to explore and interact with and Sally’s pretty much stuck in the house, do you ever find it hard given Sally’s confined surroundings and limited interactions to kind of develop the character or provide her with an illusion of her story?
Anna Fricke: Sally – that is part of her journey throughout the whole season is how does she come to terms with who she is and what she is and how does that relate to her physical capabilities?
So that is something that will be a story point throughout the season of what she can do and where she can go.
And the way we always talked about Sally as a character is her abilities and her ability to sort of transcend her current ghost form is very tied to emotion. So as she sort of comes more to terms with things she will be able to be more physically capable.
Jeremy Carver: And also to speak maybe to the heart of your question, which I don’t think we’re spoiling anything here, is that Sally is not strictly confined to the house for the duration of the show.
Meaghan Rath: I think for an actor also the fact that she is confined to the house for the first bit it really helps with the frustration of the character. So it sort of adds to her physical limitations of what she can do when she can’t really add to the performance.
Sam and Meaghan, you have some really challenging roles here I mean a werewolf and a ghost. Can you talk about some of the challenges of playing your character?
Meaghan Rath: For me I mean I agree. It is a really, really challenging role first because Sally just seems like a real person. She’s going through so much in this (amount) of the entire season. I mean, she starts off one way and ends somewhere completely different. And as an actor it’s something so exciting to be able to do and it’s really – it’s been amazing to explore all those different sides of myself.
And then there’s the physical limitations of it. The fact that Sally can’t touch anything, touch anybody, which is also challenging because for me, especially when I get really into something and I get passionate and I get to talking, I’m a physical person, like I’ll touch somebody and the fact that I can’t do that you really have to rely on the emotion and the words that we’ve been given. And that’s what’s been really exciting for me actually.
Sam Huntington: I will reiterate, this is Sam, I’ve been looking for a role like this my entire career because it’s so challenging, because it was so three-dimensional and so interesting.
And so, yes, it’s been really hard and it was really hard and the hours were really tough but luckily we were working with each other and we love each other so much and we got each other through it. It was – we had an unbelievable crew and unbelievable creative people behind us.
So as challenging as it’s been, it’s been the love of my life for my career. I’ve just been – I have kind of a love affair with this show. So, you know, my wife and son, they’re okay but the show, you know, for my career and as an actor this has just been tremendous.
Sam, were you concerned about taking on a role that’s going to require you to, you know, not have cloths on often? Was this an issue and how do you deal with that?
Sam Huntington: Literally I think it’s like the first paragraph of the first episode of the first of the first script is Josh stands naked in the woods.
So I pretty much knew going into, even the audition process, that this was something that was going – that this could be a reality for me. And, to be honest, it was terrifying, but in all seriousness kind of liberating and it got really easy after a while.
You know, needless to say there’s certain tricks that you can employ to hide your good parts or, mediocre parts in my case, but you just kind of get used to it.
And the other thing that actually came into play was the fact that I was so comfortable with everyone on set, it was across the board that it wasn’t really – you know, it was like standing naked in front of your buddies. You know, it wasn’t – it got really, really normal. It got really normal oddly.
So, yes, at first there were a lot of nerves but those actually got squelched very, very quickly.
I think it actually also adds a lot to the vulnerability of the character so I think I was always actually kind of happy when that was – when nudity was the case because it helped me, it really helped me be more vulnerable. So that’s a huge part of it and an important part.
This is a fairly major gig for you guys as actors and once you found out you got the part I wanted to know what kind of research you did into the roles as both a ghost and the werewolf?
Meaghan Rath: Well, I’m a big believer in ghosts myself. As a matter of fact, the first house I ever lived in was haunted and so I’ve sort of been, and my parents are kind of into that too, so I’ve sort of been bred on that my entire life.
But as far as research goes I really was experiencing everything for the first time with Sally. I mean, Sally doesn’t – she died six months ago at the beginning and she doesn’t know what’s going on. And so it’s appropriate that I too am now finding my way and figuring out what I am.
So I was just sort of going through it as she was.
Sam Huntington: That’s funny. That’s very similar to the Josh character in that, yes, it’s very new to him too. He turned into a werewolf two years ago, or got turned into a werewolf two years ago, and so he’s going through a little bit more. He’s, you know, obviously he hasn’t come a long way in those two years he’s just kind of been biding his time until he really doesn’t know what’s going to happen.
So he – as far as the research, yes, I looked a little bit into werewolf lore and ultimately I think what we’re doing is really original and so I kind of was looking at Josh as a character more than the genre aspect of him.
So yes, I mean, a lot of it was the wonderful material that we were given and just kind of working that and forming that into what I thought that the character was and luckily it was not hard because I’ve always felt very close to it.
Sam, your character is different than what’s usually portrayed on shows, a lot of current shows, there’s a typical werewolf. I wanted to know what direction do you plan on taking Josh that will keep him unique?
Sam Huntington: That will keep him unique, I think it’s built into the character, you know? I mean, like you just said, it’s the atypical. It’s not the typical werewolf, you know. And that’s what attracted me to the role and something that I carry through the season. The wonderful writing has definitely been, you know, my guide.
I mean his humor has a lot to do with it. His kind of hatred for who he is has a lot to do with it and I think that’s what opening can be interesting for people to see too. So as far – I try to carry a lot of that humor and a lot of that almost innocence of Josh throughout.
To Jeremy and Anna, of all the actors that auditioned for the parts, what was it about Sam and Meaghan that made them stand out?
Anna Fricke: You know, especially because this show obviously already exists I think it was – like that first day of casting I remember we were so…It was so hard for us to figure out…You know you have these original actors in your mind, which you don’t want to have. You just want to find like what is our version and what is our voice and we don’t want to be thinking about looking for that person.
And, you know, these were hard roles to cast because you cannot just think of it as individual characters. You have to think about these people as a trio and how are they going to relate to each other? And that’s something that we’ve spoken about already is the fantastic chemistry with these guys.
And, I have to say, and I’m not just saying that because they’re sitting here, like Sam and Meaghan really from the get-go, and again, Meaghan we didn’t even get to see in person because it was on tape from Montreal really sort of stood out of like, yes, that is the spark and the life that we’re looking for in the Sally character.
I mean, I have to say no one ever really came close so that was like…
Jeremy Carver: Casting is such a subjective thing, right.
Anna Fricke: It’s brutal. It’s brutal.
Jeremy Carver: So for an actor it’s got to be an utterly brutal process.
Anna Fricke: It’s awful.
Jeremy Carver: But likewise for people in our position it can be an equally brutal process because even when you see what walked in the door on a piece of tape you don’t know what you’re getting until you truly see what you’re getting and, then like Anna was saying, until you actually put them next to the other people they’re going to be acting with.
Anna Fricke: Yes, sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it.
Jeremy Carver: This group is – the chemistry of this group is so vitally important and so when these three got together it was so instant and so kinetic that it paid off in every way. But I just want to back up to say that our directive was to look everywhere. And this show is being shot in Canada so we had casting directors in Canada, in the United States. We looked all over Canada…
Anna Fricke: We did a New York casting session, we looked all over Canada.
Jeremy Carver: Los Angeles, New York…And when I say we saw hundreds and hundreds of actors and the cast that we have now it was undeniable from the first moment that we saw these three.
It was undeniable and it was – so it was in that regard, it’s very, very easy. I mean, I’ll speak to these three people. They made it very, very easy.
Anna Fricke: I’ll say about Sam Huntington, this is awkward because he’s sitting across from me but, I mean, looking for Josh, finding the character of Josh, was always going to be one of the most difficult things because we really feel like Josh, because he is sort of – he is the most human. He is sort of the heart of the show. He sort of has the most to loose. We really needed someone to have that vulnerable and heartbreaking quality but who was also funny, you know. And Sam really brought that to the floor. He was really – you feel for him in that room immediately.
And Sam Witwer, I remember when he walked in I remember when he walked in and, you know, you have your paper with everyone’s name on it and you’re making notes… I wrote down that guy’s a killer. So we see – look, vampires…And we joked about when we started this casting process like are there any hot vampires left to cast? I feel like they’ve all been cast and we got a lot of, no offense to anyone who auditioned, we got a lot of sort of bruiting, pretty, sexy people who didn’t have any depth to them.
And Sam really brought in, I believed that he had a haunted past as a vengeful killer but I also believed that he was vulnerable underneath that.
Jeremy Carver: We’re teasing Sam Witwer but the fact of the matter is with him, and all three of the roommates, you would flounder and die on day one if all you brought to this were appearances. I mean, the paces that these stories put these three people through, it was the theme from the scenes we had them read to the scenes we had them read together were all very deliberate because we knew where they were going when they didn’t necessarily know.
And we had to know that they could do what was coming, what was in store, because we knew what was in store. I mean…
For everyone in the room, what’s your advice to actors?
Sam Huntington: I think there’s a lot of different people at different levels in their careers and I think that there’s different advice for people at different points.
There’s a lot of (stick-to-itiveness) that needs to go into it and there’s a lot of hard, hard, hard work and determination and there’s also a lot of…You have to have a really, really, really thick skin because nine times, 9.99 times out of ten, you don’t get the job and it’s in a really devastating way and it’s something that you really want and that’s just the way it works.
And so, yes, I think you just work on your craft and just try to know, in your core, that everything happens for a reason. And if it’s not this one, it’s the next one.
This all sounds very depressing. But I’ve got to tell you like, for the most part, it is kind of depressing so you’ve got to kind of stick with it and perfect yourself as best you can.
Meaghan Rath: I think just to add to that is for this process specifically it was like, for me at least, I was so – I started off so in love with the materials, the scripts, the characters that at each step I got to it became more and more scary for me because as it became more real and plausible it’s also that much more heartbreaking if you don’t get it, because you can loose it all in a second.
But I think my best advice would just be to work as hard as you can constantly. I mean, it has to be something that’s on your mind all the time and I think just working on your craft and developing your skills is really what’s going to set you apart from most people.
Sam Huntington: Work on it everyday. I can honestly say I think I’m a better actor now than when I started this series six months ago.
Meaghan Rath: Well, that’s what’s great about a series is that you can practice every day.
Sam Huntington: Yes, yes, yes. Yes, that’s really all this series was for me. Just practicing acting. Just testing it out.