Sam Witwer is no stranger to genre work, having appeared in such well-known projects as Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Angel, Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. His latest credit is the American version of Being Human, which showing on SyFy now.
Witwer plays Aidan, a centuries-old vampire who ends up sharing a house with Josh (Sam Huntington) a werewolf and a ghost named Sally (Meaghan Rath). As the show’s title suggests, it’s not all that easy maintaining one’s humanity while addicted to blood for the past 200 years.
With the first season of Being Human finally finished, Witwer talked about his role in the series, as well as his long-standing love for the genre…
Your character in Being Human is named Aidan, an obvious nod to Aidan Turner in the British series. Is your character very different from his?
To be honest, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve haven’t really seen the British show.
I saw the first episode, liked it very much and decided if I was going to take this role, I needed to stay away from it until we shot our first season, so I’m going to be checking it out once we’re done but as of right now, I saw the first episode, loved it and have stayed away ever since.
What was your take on Aidan when you first sat down with the show’s producers?
I think we saw the same thing. I’ve now seen the first four episodes and it’s absolutely the show I saw in my head when I read it. I think it was more along the lines of discovering that we all had the same show in our head and the same type of aesthetic in mind.
It’s cool and hip and edgy but not too cool to where you would lose the humanity. We’re not doing it where every person who’s a vampire has high cheekbones and is really beautiful.
What’s interesting for example is there are scenes where you see lots of different vampires, but they look like anyone.
Some of them look like Mom; some of them look like a college student; some of them look like your everyday Joe Working Stiff and in fact that’s one of the points we’re making with these guys that it’s not this big glamorous thing. In some cases, it’s even bottom feeder stuff.
They have to keep up appearances and they have to have day jobs and have to do all these things that brings a certain level of reality that destroys the glossy sheen that we’ve seen with the vampires in other genre stuff. Our vampire stuff is certainly very interesting to me.
When you’re playing a centuries-old vampire, can it be difficult to find the occasional moments of humor in your character?
I believe the most difficult part is in the writing, because [showrunners] Anna Fricke and Jeremy Carver have to tackle that issue.
There’s one scene I remember where the most grim and awful things happen to one of our characters and it’s one of the most nightmarish things ever.
My character is dealing with that, but somehow they’ve figured out a way to make that scene funny without undercutting what’s happening to this character or marginalizing it or making it seem silly.
They were able to take that situation and make light of it in a way that made sense.
My character brings some humor to the table, but he’s mostly the straight man. The humor comes in when he looks at these two weirdos and just doesn’t know what to make of them, so thankfully yes, it is a very funny show, but I get to sit back and let Meagan and Sammy do all the heavy lifting. All I’ve got to do is react.
There’s one scene in particular where my character has a bit of a meltdown and the roles are reversed, because it’s usually Sammy having a meltdown and I have to talk him down from the ledge but in this scene, which we shot a little while back.
It’s the reverse where my character has a meltdown and not an intense crazy, out of mind with grief meltdown but a meltdown that is basically an allergic reaction and Sammy has to talk me down and there are some really funny moments in there, so I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
When I was in drama school, everyone thought I was going to go off and do comedy and that’s all anyone ever thought I would do, but suddenly every job I’ve gotten has been a drama thing, so I’m having a really great time with the comedic elements of the show. I really enjoy it.
Between Smallville, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, you’ve really built up a big genre following, haven’t you?
I’m extraordinarily lucky to have been able to hop around to the different projects I’ve done, especially with the fans being so dogged and determined in terms of what they like. The cool thing about genre and sci-fi fans is if they like you, they will never forget you and that has been a tremendous boost to my career. So I really have those genre fans to thank.
As for my own contribution, I’ve been lucky enough to contribute in some small way to all these different mythologies and franchises that I’ve loved since I was a kid, be it Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars or Superman.
All three were extremely important to me when I was a kid, especially Battlestar. I was a big fan of the ‘70s series and lost my mind for the mini-series when I saw it, so it’s been really fun. It’s not something I’ve done on purpose. It’s something I’ve fallen into, but I’ve been really damn lucky.
I am a huge science fiction and Star Wars fan and really into all this stuff. I imagine helps me in my job in some way, that in some way, because I’ve been doing my homework since I was a kid but it’s been all luck and all fun.