Mark Pellegrino went from playing the villainous Lucifer on Supernatural to the mysterious God-like Jacob on the final season of the critically acclaimed Lost. Where does he go from there? To portraying a vampire in Being Human, the US remake of the successful British series in which roommates, Aidan, a vampire (Sam Witwer), Josh (Sam Huntington), a werewolf and Sally, (Meaghan Rath) a ghost, attempt to live normal lives.
Pellegino plays Bishop, Aidan’s father, who is trying to bring him back into the ‘family business.’ I spoke with him at the NBC party about his new role, and one last memory of Lost.
Did you watch the British version?
Was that a choice of yours?
It was, I actually started to watch it like the rest of the cast, and then saw the tone, thought it was a great, great show, but didn’t want to fall into imitating the style. And thank God I didn’t see my character, because I didn’t want to fall into doing it the way he did it, I just wanted to be independent.
Can you talk a little about Bishop?
Yeah, James Bishop is a vampire. He’s about 300 years old, and at the time that we see him he’s the vampire boss of Boston. All the vampire clans are organizing their families and there are heads of these families, kind of like the mafia-system.
At the time that we see Bishop he’s positioned himself in the Boston Police Department as a Lieutenant, he also has a stake in this funeral home, which is where the vampire business takes place. He basically operates out of there. Aidan’s been the rebel, the prodigal son, so to speak, that Bishop’s trying to bring back into the family business.
You’re very good at being menacing. What is it about you that allows you to incorporate that?
I think it is something that just happens. I think people just take me that way even though I don’t intend it. I never look at a bad guy as a bad guy, and I never try to play a bad guy menacingly, and Bishop is like that. To me Bishop is a father trying to bring his son back into the family.
Is it more fun to play a role like this than Jacob in Lost where you were a good guy?
These are very challenging roles. I like that kind of stuff.
You’ve done Lost and Supernatural, how is Being Human different?
This is different because it’s the vampire world. That’s very different from Lucifer and Jacob. I think the vampire world, as we paint, is actually different from the vampire world that you’ve seen, up to this point. Not to disparage anything, but most vampire stories tend to be romance novels that are Twilight-ish with metrosexual guys. This is a much more gritty story about human beings that are trying to grapple with problems that every human being deals with. It’s just put in the supernatural realm.
Bishop, as the vampire boss of Boston, is grappling with issues of loyalty and betrayal. My son, Aidan, has decided to go clean. He doesn’t want to eat people anymore, and he’s gone off the path. That’s not just a betrayal of vampirism, but it’s a betrayal of our ethic, our code and our relationship. It’s like my son saying, “I don’t want to go into the family business. I don’t believe anything that you say is true. I’m rejecting you entirely.”
Bishop seems to be actively tempting Aidan to go back to his old ways. How much more direct does that temptation get?
It will grow. It all depends on what happens with him. I don’t want to give away anything, but it all depends on the situation, what develops and how I see that situation is affecting him. Because he’s over 300 years old, Bishop has had enough experience to be able to sit and relax and wait for the thing to happen that he needs to happen to make his move. There are plenty of situations that present themselves where he can come in and see if he can turn it into his favor.
Will there be some humor in this series?
Yes. It’s a dramatic series and there are definitely intense and dramatic themes to it, but they are sprinkled, very effectively, with humor throughout. You’ll find yourself laughing and crying several times in the same episode.
What do you think the appeal of vampires is?
I don’t really watch the shows too much, so I don’t really know. At the moment, it seems to be just a vehicle for people to watch really beautiful people longing, and the chasm that is forever between a human and a vampire, and the terrible addiction, and the danger that’s always present between a human and a vampire. That’s dealt with in our show, too. It’s a lusty relationship between humans and vampires, and we have that in our show as well.
What’s your best memory of doing Lost?
I think the best memory I have is the night I finally worked with everybody. I mostly worked with Jorge [Garcia], which was great. But, to see everybody there and get a feel for all the characters there, for the big finale scene where we were around the campfire and I had only a certain amount of time to give them the skinny, was really nice because I got to see how great everybody was and what a family they really were. They acted so fully with me, and they were so sweet and kind. It was a nice, warm experience.