One of the best signs that an actor is enjoying his job is when that actor turns a thirty-minute conference call into a ninety-minute one. Such was the case when I took part in the Sam Witwer conference call in support of Syfy’s newest scripted hit, Being Human [Mondays, 9/8C].
One of the interesting things about conference calls is that you always get a few questions about the subjects other work, so here we learn some interesting things – like how Witwer’s guest appearance on NCIS played a role in a part of the star Wars saga. All that plus, The Crashton!
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Sam Witwer: Hi there.
So let me ask you, one of the things that really makes the British version of the series work is this great chemistry between the cast, and I was wondering how well do all of you guys get along?
Witwer: 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…
Witwer: …I don’t know if that answers your question, but yes, I mean it’s – it was an instant thing with me and Sammy and Meaghan, and also Mark and Sarah. We all just – it’s – you know, 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,” which is, you know, you usually get the opposite note.
You usually get – you know, you usually get someone saying, “Okay, remember you like each other and we’re – you know, this is a funny moment,” but I 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…
Witwer: …what we wanted to do was show the journey of how they get to that kind of place, you know, so it wouldn’t make sense. In fact it would feel quite sitcommy if we already had all that timing and all that – you know, and all that banter, because no, it’s – you know, 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.” You know, 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, you know?
And so, you know, I thought it was a really good note and I’m glad they gave it to us for the sake of storytelling, you know, to be a little bit patient.
Well, it sounds like its working though. So tell me also, in what ways are you most like and least like your character of Aidan?
Witwer: Well, I’m a little bit more of a goofball than Aidan is I think. You know, he’s a little bit more cool and collected and I supposed it’s – that comes from him being a little bit older than I am. You know, he’s 250-something years old, so you know, 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, you know, 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 – you know, 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.
Now, how do you feel Aidan stacks up against the other vampires on TV and in film right now?
Witwer: 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…
Witwer: …that movie I’ve seen a lot of.
Witwer: But, that’s it. So this is my take, and so I guess if I got it wrong it’s entirely my fault.
Okay. Well, just a second ago you mentioned Aidan Turner from the British series…
Witwer: Yes, assuming – again, I thought was doing a really interesting job, which is why I really had to stay away from it, but I have…
Witwer: …a little bit. I just bought the bought the Blue-ray and I’m going to watch it. It’s going to be – I was very excited to get my hands on it.
It’s really good. I’ve seen it up until the middle of Season 2. But, what I wanted to know was, is your name Aidan, is that intention or is that just coincidence?
Witwer: Well, you know what’s funny is it was – it started as a coincidence. It started as a – basically they wanted a name that had a certain bit of history to it and an old school feel, so they went with Aidan and discovered immediately afterward that, yes, Aidan Turner played the role.
But, they kept it that way, and this is the intentional part, you know because they thought, “Well, isn’t that entirely appropriate? We like that name and we like that series. And we’re here to do honor to what they’re doing and to – you know, to create something that compliments what they’re doing, so why not? Let’s keep it.”
Excellent. One more quick thing, you mentioned somebody asked you if you sparkled or not. I want to talk…
…how does Aidan walk around in the daylight?
Witwer: 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.
So, you have your band, Crashtones. Are we going to get to hear them on Being Human at any point?
Witwer: You know what’s funny is I haven’t pushed that all. I…
Witwer: …don’t know, I mean my – I would love to. I actually – I’d love to hear it. I just – yes, my music is weird. My music, I mean, some of it is – you know, some of it is little bit excessful, but a lot of it is very strange and doesn’t conform too much to what people are doing out there.
And so, I guess I always doubted whether it would have any play, so now – you know what, I’ll talk to Adam Kane about that and I’ll start pushing it. I’ll start pressuring them. I mean, there’s some other stuff that I’m working on now, some of the music that I’m working on now could definitely fit in there.
Well, that’d be cool.
Witwer: But, yes. Thank you for asking me…
Witwer: …and thanks for planting that idea in my mind.
So, you could talk about how you got the role on Being Human?
Witwer: Well, this is – to talk about how I got the role is to have to face how feeble minded I can be at times. Basically, I get this script, right, and I – well two scripts, I mean Episodes 1 and 2 they presented both of those.
And I flipped through the first three pages and I see that I’m playing a vampire and I go, “Eh, I don’t want to. I don’t want to.” And not necessarily because I have anything against vampires, but I also don’t necessarily have a particular love for the vampire thing, and moreover – more than anything, there’s just so much of it, you know? It’s absolutely everywhere. And I thought, “Well, I don’t want to do it. Do we need another vampire show? I don’t want to do that.” And so, that was the end of it.
And I contacted my agent and said, “Yes, I’m not going to go to that audition.” And then, a friend of mine, (Laura Terry) who is like – may as well be part of my management team, she’s helped me out so much in my career. She’s a good friend of mind and she just happens to know everything about what’s happening in the business everywhere. She just is a – I don’t know, a network of information finds its way through here. She’s like a database.
And she contacts me just on a whim. She goes, “Did – I had a bad feeling today. Did you turn down the Being Human audition?” And I’m like, “Yes.” And she’s like, “Okay, you read the script, right?” And I’m like, “Oh, I mean, you know, like, yes. I mean, I read three pages.” And she got very, very angry at me and she goes, “All right, do me a damned favor, would you – how about this, I have an idea. Why don’t you do your job and read the script. You know, like be an actor for a change and do what actors are supposed to do and actually make an informed decision.”
And so, she shames me, right, and I – and then I sit down and I start reading the script. And then, I became even more ashamed because I’m reading this amazing script, which I just at – you know, at first glance, because you know I’m going through Page 3 and I’m like, “Yes, see I don’t want to do it.” And I’m around Page 10 and I’m like, “Yes, he’s still a vampire. I really don’t want to do it.” And then, around Page 15 I’m like, “But, what’s going to happen?”
(Unintelligible) and I’m like – and I just became very invested in these characters and in Aidan in particular, and I actually – the way I felt about it is I’m like I find Aidan easily the most interesting, okay, I’m biased of course, but I mean found him to be the most interesting to me personally. And I – you know, then I read the second script and it was consistently excellent, and I just fell in love with the project. And then, she hits me with Episode 1 of the British series and I watched that and I’m like, “Okay, I’m an idiot. I’m a real idiot.”
So, I, you know, hat in hand called up my agent and said, “Hey, you know, I said I wasn’t going to go to that, I’m definitely going to that. I’m absolutely – I’m in fact already there.” Just like the kids lined up for Star Wars Episode 1 outside of the audition place, so I was really just excited to audition. And then after that, I went in and read for them and, you know – so there’s this long audition process, but it started with just one audition.
And then after that, I had this – because anytime someone puts like a contract in front of you that could last several years you get a little bit nervous, and so I wanted to know like what is this – how do you guys see this show? So, we all got together, me, the director, and the producers, we sat down, we had a meeting and just talked for an hour about what we saw this show. Like how we saw this show, how we saw it shot, what it was shot on, you know, the – how the sound design worked, and how are the characterizations, and how you see the humorous fitting in against the drama, and all this stuff.
We had a huge discussion, because I feel like as wonderful as those scripts are they’d be very easy to mess up, you know you could really get them wrong. And they really talked a good game, and then fast forward, you know, a few months and actually when I started seeing the episodes they actually had the talent to pull it off. So, I was – I’m kind of in awe of our production team.
I think Adam Kane and Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke are geniuses, especially with how – I mean as you see in the later episodes, and you haven’t – we haven’t gotten there yet, but the show gets a lot darker than where we start; a lot darker. And the people were saying about Episode 4 like, “Oh, the show’s starting to get really dark.” I’d be like, “No, no, it hasn’t yet, not at all. You guys have no idea.”
And the thing that I just keep being – that I’m impressed with consistently is how they can put humor in against how dark the show gets, and to not undercut the drama with the humor.
So anyway, that was a long answer to your question.
I just wanted to say I really, really love the show and what you’re doing with it. And my first question, because 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…
Witwer: 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.
You know, 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, you know, an exposition paragraph, you know?
Like in movies, you know, like you’ll see two guys and they’re like, “We’ve been best friends for ten years and you’re telling me that,” you know, you’re just like, “Why would you say that? You don’t have to – we know. You 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…
Witwer: …the – 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. You know, 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, you know, Josh’s – this – his friendship with Josh is a friendship of desperation. He has no one who could support him…
Witwer: …except this guy. And so – you know, 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 – you know, 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 like, you know, a woman who looked like, you know, a mother, and then a guy who looked like a school teacher, and you know, a kid who looked like a – 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.
Yes, and that kind of leads into sort of my second question. In the last episode, 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 like failing and struggling and you’re trying to help her and she’s sort of dragging you down, but you keep trying to help each other.
And it was like very much about two – almost like two drug addicts, but you know, they’re blood addicts, you know…
…trying to help each other out and she bails on you, but then – you know, I’m – 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?
Witwer: Yes, to answer your question, you’re hitting the nail on the head. 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.
Witwer: But, there was – you know, because there’s definitely all kinds of stuff going on there, including a very strong sexual element and all that, so you know 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 you know 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, you know, the first episode takes place over a month. Our Episode 1 is one month. When we catch up with Rebecca, you know, she was turned almost immediately after she died, right?
Witwer: And then, for a month she was forced into this really messed up culture and society where, you know, if – you know, 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, you know, from a metaphor point, you know, yes, 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, she is already really – you know, Bishop isn’t working on her hardcore, and of course, you know, he’s working on her because he knows that this could be a lure to bring Aidan back into the fold. So…
Just wanting to – you know, we’re talking a lot about addiction, you know, part of the themes about addiction is that, you know, as a guy that’s trying to recover it seems like the character of Aidan is experiencing a lot of stuff for the first time. It’s sort of like new to him…
…because he’s clean…
Witwer: Yes. Exactly, yes.
…but there’s also, you know, going to be this thee of backsliding a lot, you know? Despite the fact that he has these friends and he has this good situation, you know, he’s going to backslide. So, you know, like the other characters that you’ve been known for playing, is this character like Darth Vader, like The Apprentice, like you know (David), but – is he just doomed to fail? Is he just going to be a failed character? It’s going to be a failed redemption story?
Witwer: That is a very, very interesting question. First of all, you’re hitting the nail on the head when it comes to, you know, how new things are to him, because I’m trying to play him like, and you’ll see a lot more of this as the season goes on, I’m trying to play him like this is all ridiculously new to him. That this is – you know, going clean with something that has occurred to him in the past and he’s tried on a few occasions, but this is the first time that he’s really made a go of it and had any real success.
And because he’s been a drug case for 200 years he doesn’t have the tools that you and I have to deal with humanity on humanities own terms. So, you know, he’s been relying on the substance abuse to get him through. So now, you know, we have what is in very strange ways – I mean on one hand he’s a very wise old character who’s, you know, accrued a lot of wisdom, and on the other hand he’s a kid who has not developed – he’s not developed normally.
And his emotional state is extremely volatile and he tries – and which is why he tries to keep cool so much. You know, he’s trying to – he tries to maintain this very low key veneer to try to contain all the stuff that’s going on inside, and you’ll get to see more and more of that as the season goes on, in terms of backsliding and is he destined to fail?
In terms of ultimately is he destined to fail? That is a question that we will answer by the end of the entire series. But in terms of the season, yes, we do see some failures and we do see some moments where, yes, he starts backsliding and it’s some pretty ugly stuff. In fact, there’s one scene in particular, and I wish I could tell you about it because I’m very excited about it.
(But, I remember) producers and the director being very excited with what were shooting while at the same time saying, “God, I hope we can get some of this through censors because it’s really not pleasant,” you know? The metaphor was hitting a little bit too true and I was going a little nuts, and they were saying, “Hey, you know, you’ve got to be careful.”
But, you know, one of the things that I played with with Aidan and, you know, is that I felt it’d be interesting if in the first two episodes the only real joy you see this guy experience is when he goes back to the blood den, you know? That’s the only time that we really see him experience true joy is when he’s back in the fold messing up.
You know, every other time he’s kind of grim and quiet and this and that, but when you see him go back to the blood den and take that first drink he – you know, he’s actually laughing for real and he’s actually really feels wonderful for the first time in a long, long time. So…
Witwer: …scary, scary stuff.
And, you know, I guess maybe a lighter question is some vampire fans are known for being a little bit passionate, is a good word for it, has there been any conversations or have you received any fan reactions about, I don’t know, Team Aidan Turner verse Team Witwer, or (get attention to where you)…
Witwer: I haven’t read anything like that. Is there such a thing? I wouldn’t know.
I’m sure it’s out there. I’m sure it’s already begun. So, you’re not (getting)…
Witwer: I remember there was something – there – I saw some people wearing Team Aidan Versus Team Josh shirts, which I thought was hilarious. When someone explained, by the way, I didn’t really know what that meant up until, you know, I’m like, “That’s cute. What is that?” And they explained to me the whole Twilight thing. I’m like, “Oh, that’s cool.” So…
And do you have any like actual supernatural interests? I mean aside from being on the show as a vampire with a werewolf, you know, and a ghost, do you buy into any of it? Do you – are you fascinated by any of the supernatural pursuits?
Witwer: 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. You know, I mean I’m a hardcore Star Wars guy, love Star Trek, love all that stuff.
Yes. And – well, you know, you – I mean, you’re obviously known for doing The Force Unleashed video games, and then recently the Son on The Clone Wars of Star Wars. I mean…
Witwer: Star Wars, yes.
…do you prefer Sci-Fi over fantasy or I mean, which do you think is more of your – you know, where you would see yourself ending up in in the end? Is it more Battlestar, Star Wars, Star Trek, or is more this kind of thing?
Witwer: Well, you know, what’s funny is that Star Wars isn’t really Sci-Fi. Star Wars is more of a fairy tale. Star Wars is fantasy really, with Sci-Fi trappings. I – 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, you know?
I mean, 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, you know, those – I think those – the reasons why people lock into these things and why they stick around for years and years and years, so you know there’s – you know, there really is some substance there.
The fun thing about doing genre, be it Sci-Fi, 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, you know, with the way we were shooting it.
And you know for example, Battlestar, you know, their Season 3, almost the entirety of it, is quite literally shot in terms of – you know, it’s a discussion about, you know, the Iraq War and a lot of things surrounding it. And they shoot it pretty literally, you know, it looks very similar to what was happening over there and, you know, I just – I love that stuff.
I love that people can go even further with the trappings of – you know, throw 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.
And finally, just one last question, I mean – but when you’re dealing with werewolves, vampires, ghosts, other supernatural elements, things can get very cheesy very quickly. Was there anything really worried about, you know, any kind of tropes that you were kind of concerned about or glad that the show has avoided with any of those kinds of creatures?
Witwer: You know, my – never once that I read a script where I was concerned that we were cheesing out, thankfully. I’m very, very happy to report that. The scripts were consistently – there wasn’t a bad script in the bunch, and I was happy about that. So no, we actually steer clear of that somehow.
I’m a big fan of the British series, but also of your sort of redux of it. I think you’ve got such amazing chemistry. I really wanted to know though, even though, you know, 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…
…and I wanted – 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?
Witwer: You see both. You see both, absolutely. They rely on each other more while at the same time certain revelations and – especially – I mean, I – you know, 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?
Got you. Like, there’s like a moment where this is kind of the moment, you know, especially for Sally who, you know, finds out kind of more about her fate and Josh about his background and stuff. I mean, this is like kind of the time where they either can become friends or just be roommates, you know?
Witwer: Yes. Well, and the thing is is that it’s not as if Josh and Aidan would be friends if they didn’t need something from each other, you know? It’s…
Witwer: …they’re really not two compatible personalities quite, so you know we’ll see how that goes.
And I thought it was really interesting to bring Josh’s family into the series early on. Will we see anymore family members pop up (while they’re) (unintelligible) Josh or, you know (anybody)…
Witwer: Yes. I hope I’m not spoiling too much by saying absolutely; totally. And in fact, you’re speaking about one of my favorite episodes from our season.
I’ve just got one question. Is – on Smallville you played a human (sitonese) and a beast, and now (you’re cast) in the same on Being Human. Have you taken anything from the role of Davis Bloome and applied it to Aidan on Being Human?
Witwer: That’s – you know, that’s a very good question. I – 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, you know, the – yes, in terms of – I mean, I suppose the answer would have to be yes that I had some experience playing the – I supposed I’ve played a lot of characters that have kind of a duality.
The – 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 – you know, 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.
And the other thing I was wondering is the series so far has remained very loyal to the original BBC show, it’s just been given kind of an American spin. Are there any stories coming up that you think, or that you know of, are directly inspired by the BBC show?
Witwer: Are there any stories that what now?
Are being like directly inspired by episodes of the BBC one?
Witwer: Oh, you know, that’s hard for me to say because I’ve only seen the first episode of the BBC series. However, I do know that there are – the – our general blueprint is their first season. You know, they – and they – their season was six episodes for the first season. Ours is 13. So, we, you know, inevitably go in different places and have different spins on stuff, but we do use the scaffolding of their season and some of their plot lines show up in ours.
However, sometimes our take a very different turn. There were certain, for example, storylines where I’d ask the producers, “Hey, did they do this on the British series and how did they handle this?” And I found – you know, they would tell me and it turns out that ours went in a very, very different direction or the conclusion was very different. And you’ll see a lot of that in the mid-season. You’ll see some stuff that you think is familiar, and then you’re going to see that we take it in a different place.
But, you know, it’ s – we’re very lucky to have such a wonderful series to draw from for our ideas. And the great thing is is that, you know, the British series isn’t going anywhere, so no matter what we do it’s a big win-win for them. As a matter of fact, I had this discussion with Rob Pursey, one of the creators of the British series, he came and visited our set.
And, you know, he’s says, “This is kind of great for you guys, because hey if we go out there and we fail your series is going to get a little boost, in terms of people knowing about it, and you’ll go on your way and we’ll get canceled and that’s great.” “But, if we succeed you guys are going to get a lot bigger audience than you ever had – would have had alone, so is that sort of your perception?” And he kind of smiled and laughed, “Well, yes, that is sort of what’s kind of great about this situation is that this helps us no matter what.”
So, I – and the great thing is they deserve it. They deserve us passing viewers over to them and having more people know about this wonderfully original show that they created. And, you know, I thought their – again, even though I’ve only seen one episode I was really taken with it and I’m looking at the Blue-ray of their first season right now, which I intend to burn through.
I was going to ask you, so you’re about to film the show is there anything that you personally do as an actor, physically, emotionally, intellectually to prepare when you’re about to go on camera?
Witwer: Oh, yes. There’s all kinds of little tricks, I suppose, you learn as an actor. I mean, it really – I don’t know that I use any kind of specific techniques that has been – that have been specifically taught. You know, I think a lot of actors kind of learn their own way through things and come up with an acting technique that is theirs and theirs alone. I mean, I couldn’t even really describe it.
But, definitely for some of the more difficult scenes, you have to bring yourself to an emotionally and, often times, physically very difficult unpleasant place, so those aren’t the most fun scenes to shoot. However, Being Human has such a wonderful comedic element that it kind of keeps you going.
And in fact, it’s one of the things that I love so much about this series is I was known – when I was going to Juilliard, way back when, my classmates – I was like the comedian of the class, and that’s like all I did. It’s all it was interested in doing was making people laugh, and then suddenly – you know, and everyone was just like, “Oh, you’re just going to do a bunch of comedy. It’s going to be great.” And then years later, all I ever did is drama and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past ten years is drama, drama, drama.
And – you know, and so it’s so wonderful to be on a series now where there are opportunities for humor and there’s opportunities to lighten up and smile and, you know, do all kinds of fun stuff. And the greatest thing is that Sam Huntington is the guy who really handles most of that, so really any humor I bring to it is just bonus humor, because that guy is a master, and so is Meaghan Rath for that matter.
But, it’s – you know, it’s just great to be on a series that has some levity to it, especially with as dark as we get. I mean, really as the series goes on the sad stuff gets sadder, the funny stuff gets funnier, and the dark stuff gets darker. It’s just more and more – it’s just the dynamic range of the series astounds me.
I just wanted to say first off, one of the things that I loved most about the series is I kind of – I like the way that Aidan seems to, even though he’s got his own issues, he’s kind of mentoring the – his younger roommates, if you will…
…with getting assimilated with their new lives. I was wondering if you could talk to us a bit about his relationship with both Josh and Sally?
Witwer: Yes, we’ll you’re dead on. He is – 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 kind of – he – that he’s starting to learn to find humor and pleasure in the way Josh is.
Whereas, you know, 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 – you know, it’s not necessarily exactly the same thing.
But yes, it’s – it is definitely a 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’s – you know, 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 – you know, 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 sort of – in a way, yes, 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…
And this is a follow-up, how difficult is it when you’re working with Meaghan to remember that, because she’s a ghost, not to touch her?
Witwer: 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 – you know, and then you got us goofballs on the set, you know, 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.
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?
Witwer: I don’t know, because I haven’t seen the original series. So…
Witwer: …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. You know, 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.
You know, there was a lot of stuff. He said something very interesting also that Aidan – because Aidan is really disrespectful to Bishop…
Witwer: …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, “You know, I feel that even though Aidan is weakened, you know, and he’s not drinking live blood so he’s not as fast, not as strong, not as on his – he’s not on is game, he’s completely off balance, he’s – you know, he’s – one would think he’s less of a threat.”
But, I think Bishop looks at him as even more of a threat, because – you know, 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, you know, our nice Aidan does something that’s just – 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.
Well, good. I can’t wait for that. Well, and also the werewolf and the vampire feud that wasn’t really featured prominently in the original series, but is here. How will this colorization of the two sides help the show and how will it affect Aidan’s relationship with Josh?
Witwer: Well, I don’t know how to answer that without spoiling a whole bunch of really cool stuff.
Witwer: Really, it’s – it underlines how desperate Aidan is, in terms of seeking someone that he can ally with. I mean for – you know, for one thing, we do play that Vampires have no interest in feeding on werewolves. That’s just something that isn’t done and you can’t do it and it’s not good for you, you know?
So Josh, he is really one of Aidan’s only available friends. He’s not a vampire, you know? I mean, it’s – he meets a werewolf and he’s like, “Well, I – there – I’m in no danger of killing this guy, so this has got to be – okay, this is my friend, I guess. This is the, you know, it’s not that I like this guy, it’s that this guy is in no danger of being killed by me; therefore, he can be a friend,” you know?
Same thing with Sally, you know, she’s in no danger; and therefore, he can be around her and be at ease. But everyone else, every other human being on the planet, Aidan is in danger of victimizing and he – and so he can’t ever be truly at ease.
But in terms of that rivalry, what will we see? Well, I guess we’re going to see – I think we’re – you’re going to see it later on in the season drive a major wedge between Aidan and Josh. And you’re going to think it’s right away and it’s not, it gets worse. So – you know because after all, I mean again the assumption that I’ve had about Aidan is that he’s killed quite a few werewolves in his time. So…
Got you. Well…
Witwer: …you know?
…I’m from land of werewolf killing side of the camp, so – but anyway…
…but okay, on an unrelated question, how does it feel to be a part of not only the Smallville legacy, but also Star Wars with your recent voice work as the Son?
Witwer: Oh, God, it was – now that it’s complete and people are enjoying it and people are sounding off as really enjoying the character, now it feels great. Up until then, I mean, be it The Force Unleashed games or The Clone Wars, you just get really nervous until its release, you know? The Force Unleashed, when we were working on that character and we were establishing him, I mean I couldn’t sleep.
I would – I – you know, I take this stuff very seriously and I know how vocal Star Wars fans are because I’m one of them, so I didn’t want to let the fans down and – you know, by creating a character that was just lame, you know? I wanted – I mean, for God’s sakes, if it’s Darth Vader’s secret apprentice it’s going to be a great character. It has to be. You know, you can’t really afford to be the – to have this guy be just kind of lame in some way.
When it comes to the Son, the pressure was on all over again because, okay, you know, I get called up, you know, out of the blue by my agent and they go, “Hey, they want to you do The Clone Wars.” I’m like, “Oh, fun, great. I love The Clone Wars. Let’s do this.” And they said, “You know, they say it’s a great character,” and I’m like, “Yes, I already said yes. Let’s do it.” “Fine.”
And I’m just sitting and I’m thinking it’s – you know, they’re going to have me do a few lines and it’s kind of like a Force Unleashed reference, and that that’s, right? And then, I get called by Lucas Film, “Oh, you’re going to do The Clone Wars for us. This is great. And it’s a really cool character.” “Well, what is the character?” “Oh, we can’t tell you, but it’s really cool.” And I’m thinking, “Well, I already said yes, so you don’t have to sell it.”
And then, I get another call a little bit later explaining a few other things like logistics that I need to know about, you know, how they record it and, “Oh, it’s a really cool character. We’re really excited. It’s three episodes and it’s really cool.” And I’m like, “Okay, A, they’re saying it’s really cool. This is the third time I’ve heard this, maybe they actually mean this. Maybe this isn’t try – you know, they’re not trying to get me excited, they actually are excited about this. Okay, cool.”
And three episodes, that’s – I thought it was just going to be like one and a few lines, but at the same time no one’s telling me what I’m playing. So, the day before, they give you the script the day before, it’s watermarked, it has your name all over it, so if you leak it they know who to go after…
Witwer: Yes. And – no, of course there’s like all this – all these NDA’s you have to sign every time you do a job for Lucas Film, which I was no stranger to since The Force Unleashed, which by the way, Force Unleashed I had to keep that secret for like a year before anyone even…
Witwer: …announced that I was involved in it, so that wasn’t fun. But, so I get this script the day before and I look at it and it – I read it and I realize just to my horror that I’m going to be playing the dark side of the Force. That – you know, that it’s like it’s not just some character or some cool bounty hunter, no, no, I’m playing the dark side of the Force.
The personification – the characters go off to this planet where the entire planet you don’t really know where it is in time, and it’s sort of like the vision quest that Luke goes on in Dagobah and he sees Darth Vader and he sees himself in the helmet. It’s like that scene only three episodes long where they – you know, all kinds of weird stuff is happening. And there’s a character there who is the dark side of the Force.
And so I’m like, “How that – what – I – no. How am I supposed play the dark – if I get this wrong, the dark side of the Force was introduced to audiences in 1977, it’s kind of an important part of the Star Wars Universe, so if I get this wrong, people are going to be very upset with me.” You know, I…
(Lots of pressure)?
Witwer: Yes, I’m like, “This is not going to go well.” And so, I go in and I’m – you know, we’re recording and I’m trying to find the voice for the character and I say to Dave Filoni as I’m feeling very insecure, I said, “Hey, are you concerned that I’m – that I might sound a little bit too much like The Force Unleashed character, the Starkiller character that I played? That this guy might sound a little bit too much like him?”
And Dave Filoni goes, “Well, you know, even if he does it’s fine, because you’re playing the dark side of the Force and – you know, and Starkiller had a connection to the dark side of the Force. So, you know, that I – that works. It’s kind of part of the reason you’re here.” And as soon as he said that I was like, “Wait a second, so he’s saying since I’m the dark side I can sound like Starkiller, well then shouldn’t he sound like everyone? He should sound like Starkiller, he should sound like Darth Maul, he should like Darth Vader at times, and he should like the Emperor.”
And so, you know, the next time we came in to record, you know, the first episode he was in it just a little bit, and then the next episode and the next episode after that, the next two he’s all over the episodes. And so, I – then I just kind of went nuts, you know?
If there was a line where he said, “Join me and together we can do something,” it was “Join me and together,” you know? And then, just dip into the Vader voice or for example if it was a moment where, you know, the line is, “So, I see that you’ve brought a friend,” you know or, I’m sorry, “You are trapped here, both you and your friend,” or something like that it would be, “You are trapped here, both you and your friends,” you know, just a little bit of the Emperor.
And so, you know, I’d just dip into these different Star Wars characters throughout the entirety of these episodes, and the wonderful thing is people seem to be picking up on it. People seem to recognize that that’s what’s going on. I mean, they – there’s a kind of understanding that this character is all of those villains, and so you just hear little touches of all these different characters in that one guy, which is fun.
So, I was wondering if vampires were a big deal at Glenbrook South when you were growing up?
Witwer: You know, I – back then I don’t know that they were. God, were they – I know that they did, what was it? They did Dracula as a play, but that was like a year before I got there, and that was big deal. I don’t remember even – I don’t even think I knew the students that were in there at that time.
But yes – no, it was – I think vampires have always been a fascination with the public since, you know, the original Dracula, or since Nosferatu or any of those and – but in terms of Glenbrook South, I don’t know that they were necessarily on my mind that much.
Did you do theater in high school (unintelligible)?
Witwer: I did. I did. We – I was – I never really took the acting thing seriously in high school, but I did it a lot for fun. I took a lot of drama classes and I did plays and stuff, and then all my other time was just spent playing with my band. So, somehow – I wasn’t necessarily crazy about the class portion of high school, but everything else, all the activities, all the plays, and the music performances I became very – like very involved in, and it ate up a lot of my time.
Yes. Speaking of the band, did you – will Love Plumber ever get back together?
Witwer: What about Love Plumber?
Will it ever get back together?
Witwer: Well, you know what’s funny is in my album Colorful of the Stereo, the Crashtones album that you can find on iTunes or CD Baby, my buddy, Chuck Hirstius plays a little bit of guest guitar on a few tracks and the drummer for Tim Hibben is also the drummer for the Crashtones. So, you know, the good news is – so Love Plumber lives on through the Crashtones. All you need to do is go to iTunes and little pieces of Love Plumber are…
Witwer: …in there. They still exist to this day…
All right. So, I wanted – you talked a little bit about Bishop and Aidan, and I was wondering could you talk about the – doing the flashback scenes, you know, with the different costumes and the different time periods, and everything, and how you approach that differently from the present, I guess?
Witwer: Yes, I – there were – you know, it was just important to both me and Mark that it – that they felt like different versions of characters you were familiar with. And the good news is that these flashbacks don’t take place until you’ve really spent some time with the characters a little bit.
But, man, I would be spoiling some really great surprises if I told you exactly what happens in those flashbacks and how important they are, and also where these characters were in their development. But I will say this, that Aidan was not a very cool guy always. He was definitely a little bit out of control and was feared by many. We get to see pieces of that. We don’t get to see a lot of it, but we get to see some pieces of Aidan at his worst, which I think is just wonderful. That was really fun to play.
But, you know, I mean after all this guy only for the past two years has he had any success in staying clean and living in a way that’s compatible with his conscience.
Right. Was it hard for you and Mark to sort of check yourselves in those scenes, as opposed to the present time scenes in the way you interacted with each other, or was it not really that big of a deal?
Witwer: Not really. The key with me and Mark is that me and him are buddies. So, it was not – past, you know, the first few times we shot together, it was not difficult to fall into whatever that relationship was, because the relationship does change over the years. But, no matter what the relationship was, the fact that me and Mark are close made it very easy to fall into whatever that new dynamic was that we were playing.
Whatever that – you know yes, the dynamic is different, it’s – it was foreign to us, but at the heart of every dynamic between Bishop and Aidan is an incredibly strong friendship and love and respect for each other. And I suppose that respect erodes with Aidan and possibly with Bishop as they get older, but the love doesn’t go anywhere, and it’s still there.
And so, you know, for that reason I think me and Mark understood how to play those scenes because, you know, we just like hanging out with each other, so that’s always kind of there.
All right. Last thing, do you ever get back to Chicago?
Witwer: As often as I can. As often as I can. I was actually there for two weeks during Christmas and hung out with all my old friends, and stuff. I mean, everyone gets back in town for Christmas and we end up just doing stupid stuff together and hanging out and watching movies, and it’s – you know, it’s like high school all over again.
And I’m fortunate enough to have some friends from a very, very early age, like a buddy mine, (Matt Aliff), whom I’ve known since we were three years old, so it’s always really important to link up with him when I get back in town. And he lives elsewhere too, but we all – you know, we all return home for Christmas.
I wonder if you might just sort of expand a little bit on that kind of addiction theme that you have. It seems like almost like Rebecca’s kind of an enabler with him with the blood stuff, and does he maybe see Josh and Sally as maybe more of a support group to keep him straight?
Witwer: Sally and Josh are definitely a support group. He hopes to be a support – to form a support group with Rebecca and hopes that he can sort of drag her out of it, but the problem is he is not safe himself. So – you know, and then the thing that we’ve discussed, me and Adam Kane, about the Rebecca character is that Adam put it really, really well. He said, “Rebecca is bad for Aidan because she’s so potentially good for him, because he cannot control himself with her.”
I mean, we discussed at length – okay, you know, it’s a quick scene in the beginning. The first episode, the first scene we see Aidan is he’s finishing up a date Rebecca and it’s very quick, but me and – you know, Adam Kane and I and – me and Adam and Sarah Allen all had very, very detailed discussions over how did that date go and what exactly is the significance to this when it comes to these two characters?
And we figured, okay, well they’ve worked together, they know each other, they’re friend, but now they’re actually going on a date. And Aidan, as we learn throughout the season, is absolutely capable of being superficially charming and, you know, as a tool to maneuver someone into a position where he can victimize them. That’s something he is capable of doing and it’s something that he even does when he’s not thinking about it.
He’s so used to – for the past 200 years this has been the order of the day, so he’s – he sometimes even maneuvers people into vulnerable positions without even thinking about it, and then is horrified when he sees, “Oh my God, I nearly killed that guy. Oh, that’s bad.” But with Rebecca, the interesting thing that we keyed in on is that in that first scene Aidan is sharing this whole thing about Prometheus and not being allowed to die and, you know, that living thing taking its last breath, and that being gorgeous.
It’s a very, very person thing for Aidan and the Aidan that we know from this season is not someone who shares personal information. He may act like he is and he may say certain things, but it’s not real. It’s always – there’s always a tactic behind it. It’s all a rouse. But in that case, he was saying something that was actually extremely important to him and meaningful to him, and he was sharing this with this girl on their first date.
So, we – you know, we’re like, “All right, well this tells us all we need to know,” I mean this is for Aidan potentially the real deal; this girl. And this really could have turned into something, but then it goes horribly wrong and he kills her, you know? And he kills her – he loses control because she had such a profound effect on him. And so now she – it’s a month later and she reappears, you know, and for a month she’s been with the bad guys and they’ve been filling her head full of bad stuff and she’s killed people, and all kinds of terrible stuff.
Bishop is correct when he says, “We wanted to know – we wanted to see what was so special and blah, blah, blah, I mean because he realizes, “Okay, if Aidan lost his mind for this girl, then yes, she’s a tool for bringing Aidan back. We can use her to get Aidan back.” And we see several tactics throughout the season where they use her to try to get to him, and – you know, which is very sad for her because, you know, she has feelings for him and sad for him because she has – because he has feelings for her.
But, what he’d like more than anything is just to pull her out and have as close to a normal life with her as they possibly could have. But, as we see even in – or even early on in Episode 4, that’s easier said than done, and much easier to conceive of than to execute.
Now, I’ve noticed in some of the other characters that we see like Ray and then other ghosts, they seem to have like a really kind of dark side so that we don’t really see so much of like in Josh and Sally…
…so is there kind of that idea that they’re also trying to resist their darker impulses?
Witwer: That definitely comes up, absolutely. I would not want to spoil how that comes up, but you know Josh – you know, I’ll say this for Josh and I won’t say anything about Sally just yet. We’re going to leave that, but that goes in interesting places. And Josh, you know, this is a guy who’s pretty angry about what’s happened to him because this is not something that he asked for and he – you know, he had a normal life and it was going pretty well, and it was all taken away from him.
And – you know, for example, we see a little bit of that in Episode 3 when he’s talking to a kid that’s kind of like who he was before he was turned into this. He was saying, “Yes, I got – I’m going to be your resident at the hospital. Isn’t that great?” And Josh is like, “Yes. That was supposed to me,” and then immediately afterward, you know, he strangles a tiger. You know what I mean, this is a guy who is definitely dealing with some stuff and we see him deal with it even more so. Josh has got some anger issues to work out.
I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Aidan’s tattoos, Celine, and if we’re going to meet her, if we would be able to meet her?
Witwer: 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. You know, for a vampire to tattoo a person’s name on his chest, you’ve got to take that person pretty seriously. So…
Okay, and then the other thing, just real quick. There’s something in the – this Monday’s episode that I thought was interesting. The way that Aidan reacts when Sally reveals to him what she’s learned about herself, his immediate reaction is to take action. And I’m wondering if that…
Witwer: Are you talking about – which – oh, the one that hasn’t aired yet? Are you talking about this Monday?
Witwer: Oh, okay. I got you.
Yes, I’m trying not to be too specific…
Witwer: Yes. No, okay, I know the scene you’re talking about, yes.
Right. So he – you know, his immediate reaction is to do something. Do you think that that’s a trait that comes from who he is as a vampire? Is that maybe who he is as a person; as a man?
Witwer: Okay, to not spoil it too much for everyone else, I’ll say this. It’s both. It’s both because this is a man with a conscience, but it’s filtered through some pretty twisted stuff. I mean, we actually worked out one time, and I don’t have the number handy, but we actually sat down and worked out how many people Aidan has killed face-to-face. You know, not press the button and have him go away or shot from a distance, I mean face-to-face killed.
And we were shocked at the number of how – you know, it became – there’s a – there’s some moments where it became necessary for us to know how deep in this guy got. So, this is a guy who does not – he would like to respect human life and he would like to have the same aversion in horror to killing as everyone else, but he just doesn’t. He’s done it way too much.
So, he doesn’t not conceive of it the same way that you and I do and it doesn’t take a lot for him to come to the conclusion that, “Oh, this person needs to die? Fine,” you know, that’s everything. And also, let’s not forget he serves to benefit. If ever there was a righteous way to take someone out, he then gets to drink live blood, which also he realizes is a bad idea.
So, it’s a really messed up thing right there. It does come from a good place, but it’s filtered through so much, you know, twisted pathos that it’s not good.
It’s a little bit like Dexter, you could say…
…you know, that (unintelligible)…
Witwer: You know what, there’s – there are a lot of similarities, actually, between those two characters. In fact, I – just intended that Aidan would be – for example, I think we see in Episode 3 when he’s talking to Garrity, that’s about as open and friendly as we ever see Aidan and it’s done as a lie. It’s done to get information.
He’s – you know, we don’t necessarily see Aidan smile at people as much as he smile at Garrity, “Oh, yes, how’s it going? Oh, you’re come to this bar too? Great.” You know, but that’s all done as a tactic, you know? It’s Aidan, like Dexter, was sociopath for many, many years. So, you know, this is not a person who has a very healthy mindset.
Earlier when you were talking about the relationship between Josh and Sally and Aidan and Aidan and Bishop, you said that Josh and Sally are in no way in danger from Aidan, so it makes it possible for them to be friends. That kind of suggests that because both Bishop and Aidan are a danger to each other in at least some ways, their relationship is probably the most human of the bunch, and that…
…kind of odd and ironic. Could you speak further to that?
Witwer: Well, to say that they’re in no way – I didn’t intend it to mean that they were in no way in danger for Aidan because actually just knowing the guy is pretty dangerous. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong in there. What I meant to say is that they are not in direct danger. He is not going to grab Sally and, you know, drain her lifeless. He can’t. He’s not going to do the same thing to Josh. It’s just possible.
So, in the direct way they’re safe, but there’s a lot of bad things that can happen through knowing a vampire. So – but in terms of a – you know, I’m sorry, restate the question. What was it that you wanted me to discuss?
Okay, because Aidan and Bishop are both in positions of direct danger to each other…
…in some ways, in an odd and ironic sort of way their relationship is probably the most human of the bunch and I was just wondering…
Witwer: Well, that’s true…
Witwer: …I mean, you know, he can be more honest in many ways with Bishop, and also with Rebecca in a lot of ways. I mean, he can kind of drop a lot of what he hides. I mean, he – with Bishop – the things he hide from Bishop are very different that what he’d hide from Josh and Sally because he’s trying to just not give Bishop an advantage. It’s more of a chess game.
You know, in a strange way, the person that probably gets most of who Aidan is is Rebecca, you know? But again, I don’t know that anyone ever really gets the full picture from Aidan, in terms of getting all of who he is. He’s just so used to hiding and deceiving. But in terms of the Aidan-Bishop thing, there is a brotherhood there and there is a humanity to that relationship that I find extremely satisfying to play, and when I’ve seen the scenes to watch I’m really enjoying that relationship.
You know, under different circumstances these two guys could have just been, you know, two pretty wonderful conscientious people who had a very – you know, because like I talk about how Josh and Aidan aren’t necessarily suited to just be normal friends if it weren’t for this mutual need. I feel like Bishop and Aidan kind of were. There are enough similarities there, in terms of their personalities and who they are, and Aidan – and Bishop is not a man without conscience it’s just a different type of conscience, that these two guys, yes, absolutely could have been the truest of friends,. And in fact, for many, many years were.
So, you’ve talked – I’ve talked to you before about a lot of the different shows you’ve done, but the one show I’d like to hear you talk about is when you worked on NCIS years ago.
Witwer: Awesome. What would you like me tell you about that?
Just the experience.
Witwer: Oh, the experience. Well, that experience dictated Crashdown’s haircut for Battlestar Galactica. I can tell you that. My head was shaved for NCIS and I was shooting that, and as I remember – I’m trying to remember what exactly the plot line was. I was helping with some sort of gun running and I remember the set was very nice. There was – I think the chick’s name was (Sasha) something that I was working with. I can’t remember exactly what her name was, and Michael Weatherly showed up at some point.
Michael Weatherly who was very kind to me, because he remembered me from Dark Angel, and we’d never actually – neither in NCIS or Dark Angel did we ever work directly with each other, but he came up to me and remembered me from that and said, “Hey, it’s great to see you, Sam,” and all this great stuff, so he was aces in my book.
And while I was shooting that, my hair was all shaved because it was military, and got a call saying, “Hey, you know, I live and sing – have been mulling over for months who’s going to play Crashdown in Battlestar Galactica and fly off to Vancouver. Well, they want it to be you and they want you to fly out tomorrow,” so Crashdown had a shaved haircut basically.
But, the interesting postscript to that is that at some point after that at Lucas Film they were trying to figure out – you know, because I was sticking with the shaved head thing. It was like, “Oh, it’s kind of neat,” after Battlestar Galactica. And Lucas Film was trying to figure out the visual concept and they were talking to George Lucas about who Darth Vader’s apprentice might be. How he would be trained. What he might look like.
And they were – this artist Amy Beth Christenson, incredible, incredible artist, Amy Beth Christenson, creates all these images of what Darth Vader’s apprentice could be, and finally they settled on one and she created this painting of the character. And guess what, she painted me. She didn’t know me, she’d never met me, never saw me, but she painted a character that looked exactly like me, who also had the shaved head, which I had at the time.
So as soon as that happened, a friend of mine, David Collins looked at his immediate boss, Darragh O’Farrell and they both said at the same time, “That looks exactly like Sam Witwer. We got to get him in. This is insane.” And so, the moment I walk into the audition everyone is looking at me like, “Oh, my God. It’s the apprentice.”
So, somehow NSIS…
Your shaved head is the look.
Witwer: …is – yes, exactly. It’s all related. Somehow NCIS influenced a lot of stuff, you know, or at least played a part in it. You know, for a while I had this shaved head look and it was extended longer than I perhaps intended it to be, and also Darragh O’Farrell recognized me from Battlestar Galactica as having that look, so you know it’s – and you know the end results is I have these two framed prints. One of them is the concept of the apprentice, and then the other one is me as the apprentice that looks – and it looks exactly like the concept. So, you know, there is a story about NCIS. How about that?
Photos by Jill Greenburg and Phillipe Bosse/Courtesy Syfy