Vampires Have All the Fun: a ‘Poptimal’ interview with our Sam

Article by Josh Hatala for Poptimal.com

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When I spoke with the star of Syfy’s Being Human last year, Sam Witwer was ready to face some tough critics. He and the rest of the remake’s terrific trio were about launch a series that already had a small but rabid fanbase making their opinions known. “The first season was a lot of pressure,” he admitted. But with a successful first run under his belt, Witwer is excited for fans to sink their teeth into season two. During our phone call we chatted about his lucky break with Frank Darabont, geeked out over Star Wars, and teased a little of what’s ahead for vampire Aidan this year.

  

(Portrait of Sam by Joel Aron)

Sam Witwer is one of those performers who actually meant to get into acting, he just didn’t think it would be practical. “Instead, I decided to be a rock star,” he said of his youthful ambition, “and that was equally unrealistic.” While he did succeed in forming a band, who eventually released a CD in 2006, his parents weren’t sold on the idea of a music career. But oddly, they pushed him to audition for Julliard. “I didn’t really understand why, or what I was doing, then I got in.”

Since then, Witwer’s become something of a staple in genre entertainment, highlighted with roles on Dexter, Smallville and Battlestar Galactica. It’s something to which he credits his own fandom of the material, more so than a conscious career choice. “I remember someone said for Battlestar, one of the reasons everything went well with my audition was I pronounced everything right. I knew how to pronounce ‘Caprica.’”

That’s something that makes Witwer kind of a Hollywood conundrum. He’s got the chiseled features any model would envy, a soulful screen presence fit for all forms of drama, all wrapped around a giant nerd core. “Dude, I’m a huge Star Wars fan,” he said when I asked him about his work as Darth Vader’s secret Sith apprentice on the video game series The Force Unleashed and voice work on the film franchise’s animated spin-off The Clone Wars. “Huge. I grew up with those movies, it’s kind of in my DNA.”

His career gained more notoriety when he scored a role in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella The Mist. “I’m a very, very lucky person,” he said, as he started into a story about a woman dropping her groceries all over the street, and he being the only person who offered to help. When he made sure she got back to her office okay, the woman asked if he was an actor, and if he’d be willing to tape a quick audition. Given three scenes and fifteen minutes to prepare, he went through with it. It was later when his agent told him what he read for, and that Darabont just happened to see Battlestar Galactica for the first time a few weeks prior.

(TFU photo courtesy of Lucasfilm)

Switching gears to the new season of Being Human, Witwer is proud of the work he and colleagues Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath have put on screen. Last July, the crew received a warm reception from fans at San Diego Comic Con. “It was really great to look the fans of the show in the eye and thank them for watching.” Even though we’re only one episode in, I had to pry about season two. Witwer confirmed plans are in place (“I’ve heard some interesting ideas”), but was tight-lipped about any specifics.

Where Witwer did share the details is what’s in store for his character in the coming weeks. Last season saw Aidan struggling between his old life with the vampire family of Boston, and his new life in the apartment with werewolf Josh and ghost Sally. With former big bad Bishop out of the way, things still aren’t getting any easier for Aidan. His vampire nature, treated like a drug addiction on the show, causes him to shun other vampires in an effort to stay clean. “This season, he doesn’t have that option,” Witwer said about his character’s efforts. “There’s a little bit of backsliding this season, unfortunately.”

He promises some character traits of the old Aidan will start to surface sooner rather than later. “We heard a lot in the first season that this guy was scary, and he was ruthless, and everyone was afraid of him. This season we get to see that. We get to see why people were afraid of him. We get to see that dark guy people talked about.”

(Photo courtesy of Syfy)

Witwer also promised viewers will learn more about vampire society, which was touched on last year with the introduction of the Dutch, and in the premiere last week with the mysterious Mother coming to town. “These guys all have to hide, it’s not a very glamorous lifestyle,” he said, adding that things weren’t always so clandestine. “Back in the 30s, we get to see what events caused the vampires to all hide in the shadows. We get to see what part Aidan played in that story.”

I asked about the curious eating habits of vampires, most obvious being that many of them end up with kool aid mouth after each feeding. Witwer laughed, “It’s hilarious that you say that. Yeah, you’re absolutely right.” Seriously, it seems like unless Aidan’s drinking directly from his coffee mug, it ends up running down his chest. We agreed, in his more ravenous moments, it is completely character appropriate. “A blood orgy,” he called it. “That makes sense.”

Before I let him go, I had to ask Witwer how he pitches the show—a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost live together and try to teach each other how to be human—to other people he talks to. The concept’s kind of a hard sell to the casual TV viewer. He asked me what I do. I told him my strategy: give it one episode and if you aren’t interested in going further, I won’t bring it up again. “I think that’s the best pitch you can give,” he said. “You’re doing the same thing I would do with Battlestar. Here’s season one, you don’t have to watch the whole thing. Just watch 30 minutes and it’s all here in case you get intrigued.”

It seems like he’s doing  a good job based on some of the people he’s gotten hooked recently. “I don’t know if he’ll watch it, but he said he wanted to based on the pitch,” Witwer teased. “I pitched J.J. Abrams on the show. He started laughing and I said yeah, it’s crazy. He said no, I really want to watch that, it sounds like a show I want to watch.” Mr. Abrams, I think I know where you can get a copy.

Being Human airs Mondays at 9/8c on Syfy.

Find more Poptimal coverage of Being Human here.

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OUR THANKS to Josh and Poptimal for the article.

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