As every actor from Lon Chaney Jr to Benicio Del Toro has soon discovered, playing a werewolf can be hugely uncomfortable experience. It generally involves sitting in a makeup chair for hours on end while one or more makeup artists glue bits of rubber and hair to parts of your body, which, at the end of the day have to be removed under equally uncomfortable conditions.
For Sam Huntington, who plays Josh the reluctant werewolf in the tongue-in-cheek drama Being Human which debuted on SyFy January 17th, the job has meant more than a few sleep-deprived days. In fact during one memorable 48-hour slab of work, the show’s producers had to bring a Winnebago to the distant location just so Huntington could get a few hours of sleep between makeup changes. But as the actor insists in a recent interview, the good parts of Being Human far outweigh the bad…
Playing a werewolf pretty much entails an awful lot of early mornings in the makeup chair, doesn’t it?
That’s exactly right. I did a show called Cavemen a few years back and we did 13 episodes of that. After we wrapped, ‘I said, ‘Well, the bad news is I don’t think my face will ever be the same, but the good news is I don’t think anyone can throw anything at me that I won’t be prepared for!’ Honestly, I think I’ve done the hardest thing I’ll ever do, so I’m prepared for anything. There have been days on Being Human that rival if not defeat the days of Cavemen, so I stand corrected.
So I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, but the cool thing is I believe in this show so much that it’s been worth it. I believe in the practical makeup and the real stuff so much and [makeup effects artist] Erik Gosselin is such an awesome guy to work with and be around that it’s actually kind of fun.
Did you have to go through the entire process of life-casting your head and body?
After reading the script, I kind of had an idea what I was getting myself into and yes, they cast my whole body and head, my teeth, ears, chest, back, hands, arms, feet; my whole body. I think they cast everything but my legs, so that was a long process.
There are two different chest and back pieces that go on for are different stages. There are also two different facial prosthetics and two different hand prosthetics. There was one day when I had the chest and back on, and then the hands and face on and all in, the chest and back takes about five. The hands take an hour and a half and the face takes a couple of hours, so you’re looking at eight and a half to nine hours all in.
And then you have to go and perform in this stuff, so it’s very challenging. I actually have to credit Cavemen for my ability to cope with it all, because at the beginning of a day, I know what I’m getting myself into and what’s going to happen.
What do you remember about your big scene from episode one, lying naked in the woods with a dead deer?
That was a horrible day! I was lying there naked in the dirt, with people shoveling dirt into my face and my hair and on to the little tiny g string I was wearing so I had dirt in my ass and in my mouth and was picking pieces of grime out of my hair when I got home that night. Those aren’t the best days. They’re always insecure and weird and sticky and gross, so you just have to let your mind go away and go to that Zen place. I was really naked in both of those scenes and that was the first time I’d ever done that so that was kind of liberating but very scary.
How do you now see this character yourself?
Having lived with him a bit, I think Josh’s anger is now coming through a little bit more. I wanted to get away from the bumbly-ness a little bit so we lost some of that. He’s now kind of got a flame, and he hasn’t been with a woman for quite some time, over two years since he became a werewolf, so that’s been injected into the character too. When you first start playing a role at the beginning of a show, it needs a little time to breathe and I feel that I’ve just settled in.
One of the British storylines is that the werewolf character ends up infecting his girlfriend, who becomes a wolf herself. Does your series follow part of that storyline?
I don’t think that’s something they would want me to talk about. I would love to divulge everything I know, but I should stay away from that one, because it’s such a massive plot point.
I will give you this because I think that [producer] Jeremy Carver has said it already. They’re tweaking the series so that we’re doing our own thing and the characters and tone are different, but I think their logic with certain aspects of the BBC series is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it’s great and fits in our show, we’re going to use it. We’re not calling it Being Human because we’re trying to do the same thing that they were doing, but there are definite similarities. That being said, as far as the girlfriend scenario, it is different but I can’t really divulge anything.
How have you been dealing with comparisons between your series and the UK version?
Sometimes it’s better to stay in the bubble. I’m starting to look at stuff now, because I want to gauge people’s attitudes towards the show and want to know what the fan sites are saying. I want to know if people are excited about seeing the show, but beyond that I don’t give a s**t. I know what we’re doing is good.
At this point, I’m confident that we’re making great TV, so people are either going to watch the show or they’re not. The one thing that I’m going to look at when the show premieres is the ratings. It’s my job to do my job. It’s not my job to be anxious about everything else in my life that I shouldn’t be anxious about. Whether or not people who have already formed an opinion about the show; there’s nothing I can do to affect that.