Early this week SyFy premiered its take on the BBC series Being Human
-- you know, the one about a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost living together in the same house and trying to, well, be human. The original version is a stellar show, and judging from the premiere, the American version is shaping up to be the same. (See our take on Monday night's premiere here.
Marking the premiere, the show's executive producers Jeremy Clarke and Anna Fricke talked to members of the press in a conference call, discussing what makes their take on Being Human different from the British version. Also tagging along were Sam Huntington (aka the werewolf Josh) and Meaghan Rath (aka the ghost Sally), who seem to relish the opportunity of sinking their teeth into these beyond human roles.
With all of the choices people have in the genre, with vampire shows and werewolf projects, how would you like them to know that this show is different from the others?
Fricke: I'm a huge fan of all those shows. I pretty much follow all of them, and this show definitely has the elements of genre that you love. But what sets this particular version apart is that it is a character-based relationship show. You don't have to be a fan of any sort of vampire movie to still watch this show because, at the end of the day, it's about their relationships and what's happening with each other on a very human level. Like, when we talk about these characters, we talk about [how] they all want what all of us want, which is to sort of be normal, to embrace humanity. And they, like all of us, are fighting the monster within. Only they are fighting real monsters.
Of all the actors that auditioned for the parts, what was it about the current cast that made them stand out?
Fricke: Because this show already exists I think it was so hard to figure out. You know you have these original actors in your mind, which you don't want to have. You just want to find, like, "What is our version and what is our voice?" And these were hard roles to cast because you cannot just think of it as individual characters. You have to think about these people as a trio and how they are going to relate to each other.
Carver: The chemistry of this group is so vitally important and so when these three got together it was so instant and so kinetic that it paid off in every way.
Since Josh and Aiden have an entire world to interact with and Sally's pretty much stuck in the house, do you ever find it hard, given Sally's confined surroundings and limited interactions, to develop the character?
Fricke: That is part of her journey throughout the whole season: How does she come to terms with who she is and what she is, and how does that relate to her physical capabilities? That will be a story point throughout the season. And the way we always talked about Sally as a character is her ability to sort of transcend her current ghost form is very tied to emotion. So, as she sort of comes to terms with things, she'll be able to be more physically capable.
Rath: I think for an actor, also the fact that she is confined to the house for the first bit, it really helps with the frustration of the character. So it sort of adds to her physical limitations of what she can do when she can't really add to the performance.
You said you are going to change things up from the original version, but do you plan to keep a season-wide story arc, or are you completely going to be a different show going in a completely different way eventually?
Clarke: You're going to come across some similar moments, characters and situations that you have seen in the British version. Some of them are going to be treated in the same way and many, if not most of them, are going to be treated in a different way. We take a look at this show that we were given the chance to reimagine and we did a lot of what-if scenarios, like "What if this character actually did this?" or "What if he took this moment and you spun it into something like this?" Our mantra was to start from the same place because the show has a wonderful premise, [and] I don't know why you would necessarily screw around with that too much. We pretty much try just to use that as a launching pad.
Sam and Meaghan, how do you identify with the supernatural aspect of your characters in human ways?
Rath: I think that the whole being invisible aspect of Sally really helped with this feeling of what she's going through. What I like about her so much is who she was in her life: She was someone so passionate and involved and someone who really wanted to make a difference, and she's still the same person in her death, but everything is stripped away from her. She has this longing to be involved and help people, and now they can't even see her and she can't even touch anyone.
Huntington: What Meaghan said is exactly right. It's like the supernatural element of each of the characters is what forms who they are as, for what it's worth, people. For Josh, he is defined by who he has become, and it affects every part of his life. He's kind of ostracized everyone who is special to him and now he's become this kind of introvert, and he's careful, and he's hypersensitive to his surroundings. You put yourself in the shoes of the character and what they've gone through. And that's what makes the show more human.
What kind of research did you do into the roles as both a ghost and a werewolf?
Rath: I'm a big believer in ghosts myself. The first house I ever lived in was haunted and my parents are into that too, so I've sort of been bred on that my entire life. But as far as research goes, I really was experiencing everything for the first time with Sally. I mean, she died six months ago and she doesn't know what's going on, and it's appropriate that I too am now finding my way and figuring out who I am.
Huntington: That's funny. That's very similar to the Josh character is that it's very new to him too. He got turned into a werewolf two years ago, and so he's going through a little bit more. Obviously he hasn't come a very long way in those two years. He's just been biding his time until he really doesn't know what's going to happen. As far as the research, yes, I looked a little bit into werewolf lore, and ultimately I think what we're doing is really original -- and so I was looking at Josh as a character more than the genre aspect of him. Luckily it wasn't that hard because I've always felt very close to it.
Jeremy and Anna, what are you bringing to the show from your time on Supernatural and Everwood?
Fricke: I think the combination of Supernatural and Everwood sets up for when we can do monster street fights and family dinner scenes ... I definitely worked on relationship shows and that's definitely what I gravitate towards, two people in a room talking. I'm always very comfortable with that aspect. But no writer likes to be pigeonholed -- and it's very easy to be pigeonholed based on what was the last show you did -- so we're both excited to break out and show that we can do other things that maybe were not expected of us.
Carver: It's probably very easy to categorize myself as genre and Anna as relationship when that's really just not the case. I think more important in the shows that you worked on ... is how to make a good television show. That goes from good storytelling over the course of the season in terms of your scripts and your cast and everything. You pick up things from the bosses that you've worked for and, hopefully, you've learned or studied or watched in terms of how to run an organized, fun, productive place to work.
(Image courtesy of SyFy)