We had the pleasure of chatting with Being Human writers/producers Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke, as well as main characters Sam Huntington (Josh) and Meaghan Rath (Sally). Check out the interview below!
Jeremy and Anna what the decision was behind opening the series with a set of tracking shots and then switching to the hand-held cameras for most of the series?
Anna Fricke: Are you talking about the shots of Boston?
Jeremy Carver: No, he’s talking about – we’re going to get to your answer I just have to recreate the image in my head.
Jeremy Carver: I can tell you this, let me speak in a more general sense that the idea here was always to do a mixture of, you’re talking purely from a filmmaking standpoint, was something that we worked out in conjunction with our wonderful co-executive producer and director of the first two episodes, Adam Kane.
The idea was always to mix sort of a more classic style with a (vera kay) style given how a scene, a character or a moment might call for it.
So, to speak a little bit more generally to your question is that the camera movement and decisions made were very deliberate and are a signature style of the show if that helps.
Since Josh and Aiden have an entire world to explore and 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 kind of develop the character or provider her with (an illusion) of her story?
Anna Fricke: I’ll speak to that first. Sally – that is part of her journey throughout the whole season is how does she come to terms with who she is and what she is and how does that relate to her physical capabilities?
So that is something that will be a story point throughout the season of what she can do and where she can go.
And the way we always talked about Sally as a character is her abilities and her ability to sort of transcend her current ghost form is very tied to emotion.
So as she sort of comes more to terms with things she will be able to be more physically capable.
Jeremy Carver: And also to speak maybe to the heart of your question, which I don’t think we’re spoiling anything here, is that Sally is not strictly confined to the house for the duration of the show for reasons that Anna just spoke to. This is Jeremy.
Meaghan 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.
Anna and Jeremy, can you talk a bit about the process of bringing the show to America and the similarities and differences between this version and the BBC version?
Jeremy Carver: In terms of the process, the process is a fairly generic one in a sense of (you’ve got) shows (in) a wonderful premise that was thought it could have a second or a new life in a different market. And Anna and I, when presented with this opportunity, saw it, as fans of the original show, as a tremendous honor to be asked to take over this role as well as a tremendous challenge.
And one of the things we strove to do from the very beginning was to basically use elements of the original series while reimaging a series all of our own. And I think that starts with many of the new characters and storylines that we created and it is carried to a wonderful degree, might be the wrong word, with the absolutely incredible and distinct cast that we’ve had the pleasure of working with along with all the other film makers.
So, I think you’re going to see a show that gives a very nice nod to the original version which for fans of the original I think they’ll be confronted, in particular, with several situations, characters, moments that they may think they recognize from the original which are then spun out in very, very different ways in our version.
With all of the choices people have in the genre with vampire shows and werewolf projects, how would you like them to know this show is different from the other shows that are out there?
Anna Fricke: I think that the (at the heart) and, I’m the first to say, I’m a huge fan of all of those shows. I pretty much follow all of them and this show definitely has the elements of genre that you love but I think that what sets this particular version apart, and what we’re proud of, is that really at (a part) it is a character-based relationship show.
You don’t have to be a fan of any sort of vampire movie or show or any kind of genre show in particular 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 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.
Now, Sam and Meaghan, can you talk about how you identify with the supernatural aspect of your characters in human ways?
Meaghan Rath: That’s an interesting question. Okay. Well, I think that for me, I think that the whole being invisible aspect of Sally really helped with this feeling, the emotions, of what she’s going through.
What I like about her so much is who she was in her life and she was someone so passionate and involved and someone who really wanted to make a difference and she’s still that same person in her death but everything is stripped away from her.
She has this longing to be involved and help people and now people can’t even see her and she can’t even touch anyone. So I think the whole supernatural aspect of that really helps to get into her mindset.
Sam Huntington: Yes, I think what Meaghan said is exactly right. It’s like the supernatural element of each of the characters is kind of what forms who they are as, for what it’s worth, people. You know I mean, for Josh, he is defined kind of 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.
And, so, you know it affects how you play it. It’s – you kind of put yourself in the shoes of the character and what they’ve gone through. And I think that’s kind of what’s cool about the show is that it’s what makes it more human. You know, you really kind of try and literally put yourself in these people’s shoes and it makes it actually kind of easy.
Jeremy and Anna, can you talk about, from a writing standpoint, how is the conflict different for vampires and werewolves than it is for humans?
Jeremy Carver: How is the conflict different for vampires and werewolves than it is for humans? Well, I’ll speak in a broader sense. For most vampires there is no conflict at all; they’re a vampire and humans are humans and that’s just the way the world works.
And I think where a conflict for a vampire like Aiden comes into play is he wants to be something less than what he really is or, in (average), something more, we’re saying human.
But there – from the vampire point of view a human is less than a vampire, right? So Aiden is flipping that around and saying, well, I think being human is more than being a vampire and so thus comes his conflict; this guy who is trying to constantly fight what is, essentially, instinct. And he’s got to fight that every moment of every day and we play with that very much in addiction metaphor which we carried throughout the season.
For a werewolf I think you’re seeing a character of Josh who relates to being a werewolf maybe how other werewolves we may or may not meet might relate to it. And it’s very much tied into who Josh was when he was a normal human being which is rather insecure, rather uncomfortable with himself and his place in the world. And to add to the fact that on the 30th day of every month he suddenly becomes something other worldly is a tremendous, tremendous burden for him to bear.
Now, if we were to just talk about strictly humans I think why the show is so relatable and these characters in particular is that I think there are fairly few humans, particularly in their early to mid 20’s, who don’t have some aspect of themselves that they don’t consider to be monstrous in some way and are constantly struggling to overcome this, choosing rather to share or to hide this monstrosity with friends, lovers, etc. And so in that regard, I don’t think that struggles between a werewolf with a conscious, I’m sorry a vampire with a conscious, a werewolf and your typical 20 something human being are really as far apart as we might think.
Anna Fricke: I would also say that it sort of goes back to the voiceover in the first episode, the consequences for these monsters is much worse. They want the same things but when they get out of control the consequences are worse.
So when a vampire goes on a date and becomes really passionate with a woman and looses control she could die. When a werewolf sort of gives into his lustier side or his angry side…
Jeremy Carver: …people could die.
Anna Fricke: People could die. So it’s just sort of…
Jeremy Carver: That’s two dead women for those…
Anna Fricke: There are highs. I think that their highs are higher and their lows are lower and that’s sort of the difference between the monsters and the humans.
Jeremy Carver: True. So true. My wife…Thank you.
How well do all of you guys get along working on the show?
Sam Huntington: Swimmingly, from everyone all across the board. You know, I’ve been asked a lot since we’ve wrapped, so what was it like? And I can say, speak completely from my heart when I say, it’s probably – you know, obviously the material is amazing and it’s a dream come true, really, but I’ve got to say, for an experience the people have made it for me, everyone, all across the board.
So, we’re really, really lucky. Really, really lucky because potentially, you know, you never know how long the show could go and I felt a lot about how awful it would be if I didn’t love everyone so, so, so, so much.
So, it’s been a pleasure.
Jeremy Carver: You know to add, I mean you’re doing this show which may be – (the set) of the show is less unique now than maybe it was a couple of years ago but you’re dealing with a show where the writers (room) is in Los Angeles, the set is in Montreal and you’re dealing with, which is novel to me, I’ll speak for myself, the notion of dealing with a French/Canadian crew.
So it’s just a little bizarre walking into the set of a show that’s for the Syfy Channel and everyone’s speaking French. There’s a little – it took me a moment to orient myself but…
Anna Fricke: He had a French application on his iPhone…
Jeremy Carver: I did, I had…Yes. And…
Sam Huntington: Hilarious.
Jeremy Carver: But the – I’m talking about everybody on that set were some of the most dedicated professionals…
Sam Huntington: For real.
Jeremy Carver: I mean, they were absolutely the real deal when it came to a crew. I mean, all the way up to the top and because people were so professional and cared so much about what they did, there was a certain trust that set in. And when that trust sets in I think people are – frankly, a certain fear goes away and a certain comfort level kicks in where everybody could afford to be very much themselves because they knew the person they were dealing with was, I’ll use a Vietnam reference though I wasn’t there, was in the shit with them.
Sam Huntington: Yes.
Jeremy Carver: You know, and I mean these guys up on set worked such grueling, grueling, grueling hours that – the fact that they’ve emerged with even stronger friendships intact is quite remarkable, I think.
Sam Huntington: I’ve got to say just real quick too, it’s (tough to submit) the material too because everyone believed in it so much that they really, really cared to make it the best that they could.
And, like you said, it goes all the way up just all the way across the board. So that’s probably why that was the case because that’s not always the case.
Anna Fricke: I don’t really think I’ve ever worked with a cast that’s so tightly knit and gets along so well. Usually there’s one jerk in the bunch or one diva and that’s really not the case here. And I mean even from the beginning, from the audition process, I actually thought that the three of these guys knew each other beforehand because they were that at ease with each other.
But I’ve just never seen a cast – you know, like part of it is they work grueling hours and they’re isolated in Montreal together but I’ve never seen a cast that so genuinely cared not only about what was going on with them in the episode but what was going on with everybody. Because we always try to make a point after the table reads, since we’re not there, to talk to everyone if there are any questions, is there anything that you want to talk about? Any concerns?
And what I’ve always noticed with this amazing cast is that it’s not always about them it’s about, well, what’s going on with Sally’s character, Josh’s character? And how does that relate and it’s just really refreshing to see. It’s a really generous, gracious, cast.
Meaghan Rath: And this is Meaghan. I just want to add that also I think what’s amazing is that for the three of us actors, the energy between us in life is very similar to the energy of the characters. And I often feel like the Sam’s are my older brothers which is feel is like sort of Sally’s whole situation.
They’re very protective of me and it’s nice. I feel very safe all the time with them and they’re the best scene partners you could ask for. I mean, I never have to worry going into a scene with either of them that something won’t be there. And if there’s anything that I’m worried about beforehand I know that if I just sit there with them in the moment it will all work out because they’re so talented.
Have any of you met the people who do your job on the British version of the show?
Sam Huntington: No, I haven’t. We met Rob Pursey who is just a lovely guy. He’s one of the original creators. He’s one of the creators of the original show…
Meaghan Rath: If we met I think there would be a tear in the times pace…
Sam Huntington: I think there might be. A whole might open up and the universe…
Jeremy Carver: This goes to the earlier question because they’re running at the same time.
Sam Huntington: Yes, yes. Yes, that’s true. Oh my God, there’s some weird sucking thing that…
Meaghan Rath: That’s how we get to the (source)…
Sam Huntington: No but actually, you know what, desperate to. Would love to…
Meaghan Rath: Yes.
Sam Huntington: Would love to even just like Skype with them or like at some point just talk to them even if they hate the show I would still love just to hear and meet them and talk to them.
I don’t think they will hate it but…
Meaghan Rath: We want to fight.
Sam Huntington: Meaghan wants to fight everybody.
How do you honor the original series and yet transcend it?
Sam Huntington: I think simply the fact that we’re doing it says a lot. I think we honor it because it’s such great source material. It’s such an amazing show and we want to do it. You know what I mean? And it’s a great platform to create something individually vibrant and different and fun and cool and I can speak as a cast member.
I think the world of the British cast and thought about that everyday and how to honor them and how to respect them. But I think ultimately what we’re doing is exactly that, is honoring them.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, I think that…
Sam Huntington: Hopefully.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, I think Sam is exactly right. The notion of the fact that we’re doing this project at all is a form of honoring their show. And in terms of transcending that show, let me just say that the greatest honor would be to take that show and to be forging our own path, which we are, and create something that’s equally as wonderful as what they’ve come up with, yet different. Which I think – I know all of us here are very proud of the fact that we think we have.
Sam Huntington: Absolutely, 100%.
Now, and Jeremy and Anna, so as writers, what do you find your biggest challenge then as you’re taking their original stories and then building on them and changing them and going forth?
Anna Fricke: I think you pretty much just said it. It was sort of watching – and we made a point of not watching the episodes of the original first season repeatedly. We sort of watched them and enjoyed them and then tried to sort of put them out of our minds so that we could have the freedom to use them as a springboard and not be too married to them.
So I think that that was the biggest challenge in working out the season with our writers in the writer’s room; sort of taking what we enjoyed and holding on to that. You know, we’re not going to try to change things that are working beautifully but sort of saying to ourselves, well what if this happened with this character? What if this storyline took this turn?
And I think that the more we were able to give ourselves the permission to use original storylines and different endings to certain stories that maybe familiar to people who watch the original episodes, the more successful we were.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, I think, and you and Anna both stated it well, it’s that interweaving of the old and the new that was the biggest challenge.
But, you know, often beyond the challenge it was a great, great sort of adventure, that’s right, he just called it an adventure, given the – we were put in a position where you’ve got this whole canvas laid out in front of you. They’ve got six episodes, we’ve got 13 and we’re basically saying, okay, well we like this but what if we did this?
And I’ll give you one sort of concrete example is we’ve got a character played by the wonderful Mark Pelligrino who is loosely modeled after the character of Herrick in the original show. And we said to ourselves, well, gosh, you had this amazing, amazing relationship here in the present, these two have known each other for 200, 250 years; there ought to be a history there worth telling.
So we spent a good portion of this Season One investigating the relationship between Aiden and Bishop through flashbacks and we introduced a lot, a lot, of surprising twists and turns in that relationship which really reached – really, really makes the present day, in our minds, that much more richer.
So that was one example in which we took, you know, what we would call a challenge and made it into something that really worked for us.
Anna Fricke: And that was also on a very basic level why we decided to change their names, the character names, so that we wouldn’t be constantly thinking of the original.
We just wanted to think of it as like, look at this cast and look at these actors and think about, who are these people?
Jeremy Carver: And to add, and I’ll just keep going here, we can write all the scripts we want and we’re very proud of the scripts that were written, but once you find and identify the best people possible to play these roles and you walk on to that set on Day 1 and they open their mouths, you’re just instantly transported into a different kind of show…
Anna Fricke: Yes, it’s immediately a different show, yes.
Jeremy Carver: These are a different kind of amazing actors and it’s just – they make it incredibly easy to loose yourself in our version of Being Human as opposed to dwelling on the version that is running concurrently on BBC America.
Sam Huntington: That’s very nice of you to say.
Meaghan Rath: Thank you.
Sam, were you concerned about taking on a role that’s going to require you to, you know, not have cloths on often?
Sam Huntington: Ah, yes.
Was this an issue and how do you deal with that?
Sam Huntington: You just shut off, right? I mean…I would imagine it’s a lot like being a prostitute.
No, I – well, I don’t have to imagine that hard. It was a rough early 20’s for me but, no, honestly literally I think it’s like the first paragraph of the first episode of the first script is Josh stands naked in the woods.
So I pretty much knew going into, even the audition process, that this was something that was going – that this could be a reality for me. And, to be honest, it was terrifying, but in all seriousness kind of liberating and it got really easy after a while.
You know, needless to say there’s certain tricks that you can employ to hide your good parts or, mediocre parts in my case, but you just kind of get used to it.
And the other thing that actually came into play was the fact that I was so comfortable with everyone on set, it was across the board that it wasn’t really – you know, it was like standing naked in front of your buddies. You know, it wasn’t – it got really, really normal. It got really normal oddly.
So, yes, at first there were a lot of nerves but those actually got squelched very, very quickly.
Anna Fricke: Did you think we were going to make you strip in the audition?
Sam Huntington: You did. Do you remember the third one that was…
Anna Fricke: Oh, right. Maybe I fainted.
Sam Huntington: Maybe I did it and…Yes, yes, yes. Maybe you weren’t there that day. It was just Jeremy that day. I always thought it was great because it was at your house but…
But, no, yes and I actually – I think it actually also adds a lot to the vulnerability of the character so I think I was always actually kind of happy when that was – when nudity was the case because it helped me, it really helped me be more vulnerable. So that’s a huge part of it and an important part.
Jeremy and Anna, I was just wondering what you guys are brining to the show from your time on previous shows? I know you all have worked on things like Supernatural and Everwood and I was just wondering what you all are brining from those experiences to the show?
Anna Fricke: I think the combination of Supernatural and Everwood sets up for we can do monster street fights and family dinner scenes.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, yes.
Anna Fricke: That’s sort of it in a nutshell. I mean, just like speaking for the shows that I’ve worked on, I definitely worked on relationship shows basically and like that’s definitely what I gravitate towards, sort of two people in a room talking.
So I’m always very comfortable with that aspect although I think also this show gave us an opportunity to – no writer likes to be pigeonholed and it’s very easy to be pigeonholed based on what was the last show you did.
So I think we were both excited to break out and show that we can do other things that maybe were not expected of us.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, I think it’s probably very easy to sort of categorize myself as (genre) and Anna as relationship when that’s really just not the case. Like Anna just said, and I’m saying now, in the case of what we last worked on, I think more important almost in the shows that you worked on – well, in terms of their content is in terms of running a show is how to make a good television show.
And that goes from good storytelling over the course of a 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, I mean, this is the boring version, but basically to run an organized fun productive place to work.
I mean, I guess that’s more of a management side of the issue. For me from supernatural I practically was terrified of horror films before I worked on Supernatural. (Slide) a little bit in that interview but…
Anna Fricke: Yes, I had to prep him for the Supernatural interviews because…
Jeremy Carver: Yes, a couple of white lies in that interview but I quickly – I caught up. So in terms of genre, I mean, there are certain (commissions) of genre that you need to be sort of steeped in so you’re at least – even if you’re twisting it you know what you’re twisting.
Anna Fricke: But I think what we, look for and we have two other tremendous writers Nancy Won and Chris Dingess and ultimately the core, like our writers room, is comprised of storytellers.
Jeremy Carver: Yes.
Anna Fricke: You know, Chris and Nancy have worked on a wide variety of shows as well from Reaper to Brothers & Sisters, Eastwick and, you know, they also have worked on sort of both sides of the playing field.
And at the end of the day they were really looking or, like I said, storytellers, personal stories, personal experience and that’s what drives it at the end of the day.
Jeremy Carver: And just to go one tiny step further is, for those of you on the phone who have enjoyed what you’ve seen so far, I mean, I think I can absolutely promise you that it only gets better and the stories get so much richer and deeper and more original. And the conflicts and the moral situations our characters find themselves in just pile up as the season goes on and I just – I mean, honestly, you know we would be all lying if we said we didn’t enter into a project like this with a certain amount of trepidation and expectations.
And I think that all of us to a person are so proud of what’s coming down the pike and what you’re all going to see beyond what you’ve just seen.
What kind of research you did into the roles as both a ghost and the werewolf?
Meaghan Rath: Well, I’m a big believer in ghosts myself…
Anna Fricke: I didn’t know that.
Meaghan Rath: Yes, I am. As a matter of fact, the first house I ever lived in was haunted and so I’ve sort of been, and my parents are kind of 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, Sally doesn’t – she died six months ago at the beginning and she doesn’t know what’s going on. And so it’s appropriate that I too am now finding my way and figuring out what I am.
So I was just sort of going through it as she was.
Sam Huntington: That’s funny. That’s very similar to the Josh character in that, yes, it’s very new to him too. He turned into a werewolf two years ago, or got turned into a werewolf two years ago, and so he’s going through a little bit more. He’s, you know, obviously he hasn’t come a long way in those two years he’s just kind of been biding his time until he really doesn’t know what’s going to happen.
So he – 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 kind of was looking at Josh as a character more than the genre aspect of him.
So yes, I mean, a lot of it was the wonderful material that we were given and just kind of working that and forming that into what I thought that the character was and luckily it was not hard because I’ve always felt very close to it.
Sam, your character is different than what’s usually portrayed on shows, a lot of current shows, there’s a typical werewolf. I wanted to know what direction do you plan on taking Josh that will keep him unique?
Sam Huntington: That will keep him unique, I think it’s built into the character, you know? I mean, like you just said, it’s the atypical. It’s not the typical werewolf, you know. And that’s what attracted me to the role and something that I carry through the season. The wonderful writing has definitely been, you know, my guide.
But, yes, I mean his humor has a lot to do with it. His kind of hatred for who he is has a lot to do with it and I think that’s what opening can be interesting for people to see too. So as far – I try to carry a lot of that humor and a lot of that almost innocence of Josh throughout.
How easy or challenging it’s been to have Montreal pose as Boston and why Boston?
Anna Fricke: I can – I mean I think it has been somewhat of a challenge because we can’t…I mean, the show it’s not the town. We’re not going to ever really be able to have like huge aerial shots of Boston. And I think we chose Boston for a few reasons.
I think we sort of said in the beginning when we were discussing it that you hadn’t really seen New England in this kind of show. You know if you look at Twilight you see the Pacific Northwest and Vampire Diaries and True Blood you see sort of southern gothic.
And we really wanted to take actually something that we really liked from the British show which was to have sort of an urban working class neighborhood feel.
And I’m also – I’m from New England and actually so is Sam Huntington.
Sam Huntington: Yes.
Anna Fricke: I’m from Hancock, Maine and he is from Hancock, New Hampshire.
Sam Huntington: Something we found out very early on.
Jeremy Carver: Headline.
Sam Huntington: Bonded us, yes, exactly. Right. Oh my God.
Anna Fricke: And my dad lives in Boston. I went to high school in Boston. So Boston just sort of had a good feel for us. We obviously are very limited in terms of what we can show of Boston.
Jeremy Carver: But Montreal, that said, has proven to be wonderful as a backdrop.
Sam Huntington: It’s amazing. Yes.
Jeremy Carver: It’s got just enough locations and the exterior feel to double for Boston and choosing one more thing to add like Anna was just saying in terms of choosing Boston, I mean, it also tied in really nicely to our character back stories particularly of Aiden and Bishop.
Bishop turned Aiden during the Revolutionary War and Bishop himself came over as a settler originally from Europe to basically make his way in the new world as a vampire, you know, seeking sort of new territories to hunt and to prosper in which goes some to his back story in this season.
So, Boston has proven very well to sort of tie into sort of tying our vampires coming over to the founding of America. And also it occurs to me that our vampires are very much a New England breed of vampires in that they are not – you’re not going to see our vampires wearing leather dusters and leather chaps. You know what I mean? With like dagger tattoos across their forehead, although…He begged for a dagger.
Sam Huntington: Oh, yes.
Jeremy Carver: But so I would say our vampires are very much of the New England modest variety if that makes sense. If you’re familiar with the sort of New England mindset which is a sort of more hard scrabble, modest mindset that is very much the sort of way our vampires assimilate into society to sort of fall into this mindset which I think is kind of cool to our show.
Sam Huntington: Yes, it is cool. I never actually thought about that but that’s cool.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, there’s a lot of brick in Montreal too. It looks a lot like Boston.
Anna Fricke: Yes.
Jeremy Carver: It’s good. You know, having spent a lot of time in Boston, it’s a great double for Boston so…
Being Human premieres tonight on Syfy at 9/8c!