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Being Human Conference Call with Sam Witwer and Anna Fricke

Conference Call with Sam Witwer and Anna Fricke of Being Human.         

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a conference call with showrunner Anna Fricke and star Sam Witwer of Being Human. What follows is a quick re-cap of some of their answers. A complete transcript of the call will be up in a day or two. But, for those of you who can’t wait for the third Season Premiere on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 9pm on SyFy, here’s some of their answers...
Beware - there are spoilers, especially for the first two episodes, following...

The broad strokes for this season are that the roommates will be back together and interacting a lot more. The season will focus on character development. The season arc will deal with how they’ve become human – sort of. For more specifics, read on.

Q = question
SW = Sam Witwer
AF = Anna Fricke

Q: Tell me about your initial reaction to the shakeup of the entire concept of the show this season – with everyone apparently becoming human in a sense.

SW: I liked it. I thought it was fantastic. The things that happen leave an indelible mark on the characters and allow us to get really deep into the characters this season.

AF: What we’ve seen in the show is that with great pain lies great humor. It’s never going to work out. Something is always going to go wrong.

Q: With Suren dead, will Aiden be a better friend and roommate this season? Will he be going after Mother?

SW: Yes. (Sam actually thought this question was pretty funny) While there was love and affection there, this was the “bad” relationship. It’s like trying to date someone you were in love with as a teenager when you are 26. You can’t do the love of someone’s life in the second season. It’s too early. So this was telling the story of the destructive relationship. The three roommates will interact a lot more in season three.

AF: Given how Aiden went into the ground, while he definitely thought about that during the fifteen months he was trapped, when he gets out, going after Mother won’t still be the first thing on his mind. It will be a very different landscape when he comes out and he will have to deal with that going forward.

Q: Are Sally and Aiden going to get together?

SW: There is an unexpected level of interaction between them, and they’ve never really asked that question. There are a lot of strange scenes between them, coming up – really funny with unpredictable elements. There will be some new dynamics between the roommates due to them being together more.

AF: The writers are careful with the characters and won’t do anything with their relationships for sensationalism. They are very protective of the relationships between the roommates.

SW: We are lucky in that I never look at a script and say, ‘my character would never do that.’ The reactions, actions, dialogue always grows out of the characters.

AF: Aiden and Josh have to be the ones to end up together!

Q: Vampires will be threatened by a plague this season. Will Aiden try to save them?

SW: This will be a big conflict for him. He makes choices that are right, wrong, and questionable.

AF: It’s about the balance. What it means to be human. A recurring theme is ‘be careful what you wish for.’

Q: Mark Pellegrino is coming back...

AF: We love him and keep dreaming up ways for him to come back. We have to find creative ways for him to come back like flashbacks. We don’t want to repeat the UK show dynamic, so we try to find different ways to work him in.

SW: I’ve been pressuring her to bring him back! Mark is a close friend and I love working with him. Anna has to exercise restraint in how she brings him back to stay true to the show. She has to hold out on me.

Q: How soon do we see Aiden?

SW: He does come out shortly, but we have to earn him back in some ways. He’s not in the first episode much and in the second episode, he’s not the way he was last year. We get to watch him put himself back together a bit.

Q: Things are so different this season. Will most of the season deal with them being human?

AF: Things get complicated early on and develop into something else. Things don’t wrap up early...

SW: There is a consistent thematic track throughout the season. Aiden’s story starts slow and then turns into a freight train. We have FOUR regulars this year with Kristen (Hager) bringing her own dynamic. We get to go off and have stories with her.

Q: What did you find most challenging about this season?

AF: It’s always about how to space things out. We start with the end, but it’s how to get there without being obvious about where we’re going with how we get there. How to slow ourselves down is challenging. The journey is the hard part.

SW: This is his first time developing a character over three seasons. How do I keep this fresh? The first year, you make a lot of big, amazing discoveries about the character, but then, going forward, you don’t have any momentous discoveries once the character is developed. Then the smaller discoveries have to fit into the larger framework that’s already been established. He has to re-invent the character in each flashback and that’s challenging because there isn’t enough time for him to fully develop that and fit it carefully into the whole. It’s a fun challenge. Half of the 1930s flashback episode was done in one take because there wasn’t time for more. The show is great because it’s demanded that he become a better actor. “I’m thankful that it’s never easy.”

Q: Who comes up with the titles?

AF: It’s a group effort. It’s often the writer of the episode but not always. Chris Dingess comes up with a lot of them. It’s becoming more and more challenging to come up with ones that are poignant and funny.

Q: Which side of Aiden do you like best: wild, bad boy or the side struggling to be human?

SW: He likes when he gets to be funny. He’s enjoyed learning how to bring comedy into the drama. He started out as straight-man to Sam Huntington’s comedy but has taken on more of the comedy burden.

Q: Will we see more of the UK version?

SW: Can’t avoid some overlap.

AF: Usually the overlap is completely unintentional. She didn’t watch the UK version because she didn’t want to be influenced. There is bound to be some overlap because of the kind of supernatural creatures they are dealing with. But they are definitely going down their own path.

SW: Mitchell and Aiden are completely different guys!

Q: Amy Aquino plays Donna, a witch...

AF: We are blessed to have Amy on the show: she is nice and a great actor. We go deeper than the typical supernatural character and Donna is tongue-in-cheek, no nonsense. We turn the witch-thing on its head. Donna will bring plenty of power out of Sally. Donna is named for Anna’s mother. It’s a compliment!

SW: Amy got the tone of the show right from the first day.

AF: We look for villains who don’t act like villains. There is a combination of non-chalant and great power that Bishop has as well.

SW: She delivers it with both feet on the ground.

Q: How would you like people to remember this season?

SW: As a game changer. The season where everything came together. This season is what I envisioned the series would be like when I first read for it.

AF: I think we’ve hit our stride. It’s the character season. Everyone’s on their A-game and all the characters are at a crossroads.

Q: What’s it like to pick the story back up after 15 months have passed in the story?

AF: It’s very freeing from a writing standpoint. There is room to move and have people change.

SW: It’s fun! I got to go off and starve myself and grow a beard... We get to start in medias res.

Q: When the witch digs up Ray’s body, will that have consequences for Sally and how quickly will that play out?

AF: There will be consequences for everyone. It’s a really long arc, so it won’t be played out immediately.

SW: Nothing dangles for too long.

Q: How does being buried for so long affect Aiden?

SW: He’s crazy! Of course, he’s never been stable. Without food, he just kind of shuts down. He doesn’t know how to talk to people. He’s been talking to his friends in his head for 15 months, so he has a hard time relating to them in the flesh. He’s not as socially adept as he was in seasons one and two.

Q: What about Nora this year?

AF: It’s the reality of when your roommate’s girlfriend moves in. It’s going to affect the bromance. Nora is very different as a werewolf than Josh. She has some very passionate views about things. She does some things that will throw the house into turmoil and some that will bring them together.

Q: Will Aiden find a balance?

SW: He’s either going to find a balance of die, but that has to happen at the end of the series. I don’t see him having a happy ending. He does a few things that border on heroic this season. We go deeper into why he did some bad things last year. We will see some fallout over that. His vampire addiction has evolved, but it will always have a hold over him. He will always be an addict. He’s also almost like a traumatized war vet.
Anna, were you conscious of that?

AF: Yes. Last year was like a war for Aiden. We did see you [in the writers’ room] as a PTSD victim.

SW: Aiden has literally been to war a few times. The flashbacks this year are the most ambitious yet. He’s been made into a killing machine, and you can’t just turn that off.

Q: Do you have a five year plan?

AF: No. Every show has a natural ending point. We have a sideboard of stories we want to tell that don’t have room in this season, and we also leave ourselves threads that can go forward into the next season. We go season by season.

Q: How much input do you have into the writing?

SW: Vampirates! They are very generous about taking input from the actors, but our job is to help the showrunner and writers get to where they want to go.

AF: We aren’t the type of writers who say don’t talk to us. If they can connect with it, great, but if it doesn’t resonate with both sides, it’s not working.

SW: A lot of what happens this season were germs of things that I threw out. It’s awesome that we have an opportunity to say ‘hey, what about that?’ but I’m not taking credit. I’m just throwing things out. You do feel more committed to the project when you’re listened to. It’s collaborative, but Anna is driving the ship.

Q: What is going to affect Aiden most from last season?

SW: He’s a guy who feels isolated and desperate. Food is a problem, and all the people he’s known for hundreds of years are dead.

Q: Will the hospital still be important?

AF: The hospital is still very much in place. It’s a great symbolic place to work. For Aiden it’s the source of food, but it’s also a penance for the people he’s hurt and the harm he’s done. People’s roles have changed. The dynamic is different.

SW: He’s been through drying out. He’ll always be an addict, but his relationship to it has changed.

Q: What about Josh?

AF: Josh will always want the family dynamic.

SW: Josh really comes into his own as a man.

Q: Would you like standalone webisodes with just Aiden?

SW: We tell one flashback over 4 episodes. It jumps around depending on the theme of the episode. What happens in the past reaches a climax in the present. Would I like a webisode of Mark Pellegrino and I on a weird adventure? Yeah!

Q: Would you be interested in writing for the show?

SW: I have written, but the voice of this show is so specific, I’d be hesitant to say I could write in that voice. I’m very interested in learning as much as I can. If this leads to an expanded role, that’s great.

[I really wanted to ask if he’d be interested in directing because that seemed to be what he might be hinting at here, but I didn’t have the chance...]

Q: Favorite moment from this season- in front of or behind the camera?

AF: I can’t isolate one without being spoilery! It’s a wildly funny season.

SW: There’s a scene with Meaghan in which she starts to do things in front of the camera that we always do to her behind the camera. It wasn’t scripted into the scene, but it was really funny. We’ve spent so much time together, we might as well be roommates.

A more complete transcript will be up in a few days...

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