Returning to Syfy Channel is the hit show ‘Being Human,’ which is loosely based on the hit BBC THREE series of the same name.
In a recent interview, Monsters and Critics caught up with Sam Witwer, who plays the role of vampire Aiden and shared a few interesting things about season three as well as some insights about his continuing involvement with the Star Wars universe.
M&C: Before taking on your role in ‘Being Human’ were you familiar with the original UK show?
Sam Witwer: I was not aware of it at first. I had friends who were aware of it and naturally when I was going to audition I wanted to see a little bit of what they’d done.
So I watched their first episode and really liked it very much, but at that point knew that if I took this role I couldn’t watch any more of this show until we were finished with our first season. I had to create my own character you know? And I didn’t want to unintentionally mimic or not mimic anything I had seen. So I watched one episode. Got the job. Shot the season and then after that I brought box sets for everyone and watched the British show and had fun with it. I’m a big fan. I really like what they do.
M&C: Having created Aiden for the US version and having seen the character of Mitchell from the original British show. How would you say Aiden differs from Mitchell?
Sam Witwer: You know it’s funny because the biggest misconception is that they’re the same character or that they’re meant to be the same character. That is just not the case.
Recently I read an article comparing and contrasting the two series and one comment said something along the lines of they weren’t sure if Witwer could play that same character.
And it’s like that was never the intention [Laughs]. The intention was to create an entirely different guy and I think when you watch them.... If you’re watching Aiden with the expectation that he is Mitchell then you’re gonna be confused.
Mitchell is a lot wilder. He seems a lot younger than Aiden. In fact he is. Aiden is like a hundred years older than Mitchell. So I have to approach it from a completely different stand point.
Mitchell switches between vampire and human loyalties very easily whereas Aiden does not. So you know it’s interesting because the two men are in different ways... You know Mitchell is scarier than Aiden in that he seems more impulsive. Like he could just do anything at any time.
Whereas Aiden is scarier than Mitchell in a way that if Aiden decides that your dead. If Aiden makes a decision about something. You’re doomed because he’s a lot more... Once he steps on a piece of ground he commits himself to that and in some cases like you will have seen in our second season.
There are horrible consequences. So it’s easier to change Mitchell's mind, but he’s a little more unpredictable. Aiden is more focused. So if he goes bad and when he goes bad it’s really, really horrible.
M&C: In the series when your eyes turn black. Are you wearing contact lenses or do they use CGI for that?
Sam Witwer: It’s CGI for the change over, but I wear contacts for the shots after that.
M&C: In the show Aiden gets a lot of Flashback scenes to different time periods. Do you enjoy doing those scenes and if you could choose a time period for Aiden to play around in. Which one would it be and how would it appeal to you?
Sam Witwer: I love it. I have to reinvent the character every time I go back to a different time period. He’s got to walk differently and talk differently and everything. It’s one of those things where early on I asked Jeremy Carver [Executive Producer] if he wanted to have the sense that he was 260 - years old or do you want him to talk like we do, and he said, “I want him to talk like us.”
Like a normal person in 2010 or whenever it was that we started. You do that because you are told to do that, but that doesn’t really make sense for an actor. So I had to start working out why that was and realized it’s a cover.
If you were 268 years old you’d sound very different than you or I on the telephone right now. So I surmised that if you’re part of this secret organization and if you’re a vampire and don’t want anyone to know it. You have to act and play the role of what it is that you look like. If you look 25 - years old and you are in the 50s then you better act like a 25 - year old in the 50s. If you’re a 25 - year old in 1886 then you better act like a 25 - year old in 1886.
So what that created was a wonderful part of the job. Something I always enjoyed doing and is always really, really challenging. I basically have to reinvent the character every time we do a flashback. I have too.
There’s got to be a different dialect. There’s got to be a different way of talking and walking. Different attitude and different feelings every time. And as flashbacks go. This year in our third season we’re about to show you...
Later on in the season by far the most ambitious flashbacks that we’ve ever tried. We go back further than I thought we’d ever go. And we tell a story that is absolutely key to the development of my character, but I have to tell you. I had great doubts on if we’d be able to pull this off on many levels. Production wise and with the small time we had getting all the actors to feel they were of the same time period. All those things.
Thankfully I think we pulled it off, but I can’t tell you much more about that. It goes way back. I suppose if we could do it. If there’s a time period I’d like to visit. I’d love to do the roaring 20s.
Now have done the 30s. We did 1934 and before that we did the World War One time period. But I’d like to do the roaring 20s and create an Aiden of that time period. That would really be I think a lot of fun.
M&C: In the last series your character was in a bit of a messed up place having lost the love of your undead life and winding up getting buried alive...
Sam Witwer: Before you go further with that question. I’d like to bring something up that’s kind of interesting. It was not... You know as much as there was love there and there was a relationship there and it meant a great deal to Aiden. That was not what you would call... And I say this for specific reasons for what we see in the season.
That wasn’t who we would call the love of his life. In fact we knew that going in. You can’t end the second season of the show and introduce the love of someone’s life because it doesn’t leave you much place to go for any women you might want to meet later on in the series.
What we were intending to do was to show kind of a bad relationship. You know what happens when there’s that girl you wanted to date in High School and you never got to date her, but then you’re in your 20s and you finally get to date her, but it’s not quite what you thought it might be. And you are fighting and you know... You’re having sex, but you’re fighting, but you’re not fighting when you’re having sex. When you’re not having sex you're fighting. It’s just this very turbulent relationship that brings out the worst in you. And that was really the direction that we took that relationship in.
M&C: What from your life as an actor did you draw from to play those moments?
Sam Witwer: [Laughs ironically] Bad relationships.... You know we’re always endeavoring to relate any story we do back to normal life. And really that relationship was bad in a lot of ways. It was really largely bad in the sort of behavior that it brought out in Aiden.
He did a lot of terrible things and he wasn’t with the people he really sort of truly should have been with. His roommates. He wasn’t really around them a lot. So it’s kind of from their point of view. It’s that girlfriend that takes your buddy away and he becomes kind of a different person.
M&C: Given what’s happened can you see Aiden going to a darker place now. Perhaps try and get some revenge?
Sam Witwer: He will.... That’s definitely on his mind. I mean he’d been put under the ground and he’d been there for a long, long time. So we’ll see who this guy is once he comes out. The third season picks up almost a year and a half after the second season closes. So he has been literally under the ground in a half conscious state for a year and a half. So that will definitely change the guy.
M&C: On a different note. I believe you are a huge Star Wars fan and you have voiced Starkiller and Darth Maul in both the video games of Force Unleashed and the Clone Wars animated series. Could you let us know how far along the third Force Unleashed game is?
Sam Witwer: I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know what plans they have or don’t have. What I do.... What I am aware of is where they intend to take the story, but I don’t actually have too much information on that. So who knows? As you know there has been a lot going on with Lucas Film recently.
M&C: What’s different on your take of the character of Darth Maul in Star Wars to what was done by the original actor in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace?
Sam Witwer: You mean Peter Serafinowicz. It’s interesting because Peter never really had the opportunity to develop the character past two lines. So I definitely took the beginnings what he did basically. I took that type of voice and cadence and from there it was really building a character... I don’t want to say from scratch because there’s been a lot written about the character. There’s been a lot in comics and books and stuff like that.
But at this point Dave Feloni (Clone Wars producer) and me were taking our directions from George [Lucas] about who Darth Maul was and we certainly had a lot of input as well.
It certainly stands to reason that Darth Maul who has been up until now seen as just a silent hit man type guy had to have been so much more. There had to be so much more going on with that guy because he’s the apprentice of Darth Sidious. The rule of Sith is there’s only ever two of them. There’s a Master and there’s the apprentice. Well if you can only have two of them and you’re the Master. Then you have to find a guy who’s not just good at sword fighting and jumping around doing flips.
You have to find a guy who’s good at that and can think strategically, and can think diplomatically, and can do all of these other things that will help you achieve your goals.
So the thing that we’re having a lot of fun with is developing a character and letting the audience realize how smart this guy is. And how dangerous he is. He’s methodical, he’s strategic and he’s tactically minded. This is a guy who could have been a great general or a behind the scenes statesman.
There are a lot of things going on with this character and we had great fun showing the audience when we reintroduced this character showing him in the grips of madness, which is probably the first time in Star Wars that we show people what the dark side really looks like. Here’s what it is when you don’t have a character that is strong enough to filter it from you. Be it Darth Vader or the Emperor.
Characters that possess it of themselves. Which at this stage my character does not. So at this point he’s trying to get back to that point at which we find him in Phantom Menace. Sam Witwer can be seen every Monday night in the new series of Being Human, which premiers this week on Syfy Channel.