Most of us geeks have, at one time or another, considered leaving geekdom and joining the real world. In that, we're all a lot like Mike Rowe, one of the heroes of the web series sensation Bite Me (the second season of which can soon be seen on FEARnet). The difference is that just as Mike decides to forsake his nerdhood, a zombie pandemic occurs, and he's forced to rely on the very skills and experience he thought he was done with in order to survive. Last week I caught up with Ryan Welsh – the actor who plays Mike – and he talked about how Mike grew throughout season , and what we can expect from him in season 2. Check out our chat after the jump.
How would you describe Mike Rowe?
I would describe Mike as a guy in transition, an interrupted transition. Essentially he's in that stage of his life where he must decide whether to grow up or not to grow up. And he's taken some big steps in the direction of growing up. Of course that's when the zombie apocalypse comes, and that interrupts his plans. And he's faced with a whole different set of problems. That's really where his central conflict is right now, just trying to navigate this new world that he's a part of; and still get all the things he wants. He wants a good relationship with his girlfriend, and he struggles with achieving that, and struggles with maintaining a good relationship with his friends. So he's very much stuck between his friends and his girlfriend.
Can you talk about how he develops throughout the course of season 1, and perhaps what's in store for him in season 2?
Sure. It's kind of like I was saying – when we start with Mike, he's moving out of the house. He's been living with his best friend that he's known all his life. They've been living in a house together. He's made the decision that he's moving out. He's gonna move in with his girlfriend, and there's a lot of anxiety and excitement about that. But there's also a lot of contention to that, because for a long time he's been with that group of friends and they've become used to being inseparable. So when he makes the decision to break that up, it's really like breaking up the Beatles. They've been in their own little world. He's kind of forced to reconcile the fact that he needs to find a way to bring those two worlds together, Lauren and his friends. So they can all survive the apocalypse and what's coming.
I think in season 2 we're going to see some pretty cool stuff. His relationship with Lauren is going to go to some new and challenging places. And the relationship with the guys is going to take a couple of unexpected turns. He's gonna have to step up and play his role in terms of the three of them and how they take to the challenge that's handed to them and how he works with Jeff and Greg. So he's got some big challenges ahead.
The show holds a lot of appeal for both gamers and horror fans. Did you consider yourself a member of either group before signing on?
Yes, yes. I absolutely did. I spent a lot of my time growing up in the basement, very similar to Mike, Jeff and Greg, in the basement playing video games and reading comic books, fully immersed in that world. So when the opportunity arose to be a part of a project like this it was so exciting, and I already had that vocabulary there. I felt like that was really useful. In terms of horror, in college I was introduced to a whole world of horror films, because one of my roommates, that's all he would watch. He got me into a lot of films, like Cube – small horror films that would build a cult following.
I think that's what I was coming from when I started the show. Ironically enough, I think I was probably the most geeky of all three of us in real life. This character, Mike, is probably the one who's trying to get the furthest away from it. But as Ryan Welsh, I totally embrace the world of geekdom.
What are some of your favorite games?
I'm a huge fan of the Left 4 Dead series. I like Call of Duty, that series too. The Batman games really rock: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. I thought Mass Effect was a great game. I haven't played the second one, but the first one, I was a huge fan of the story. I guess that's what it boils down to – I like games that tell a really good story. Games [for which] following the narrative is the most exciting part. That's definitely what I'm looking for some times.
What else are you working on right now?
There are some things. A lot of it for me right now is trying to take the success of Bite Me and roll it into the next project. So I'm meeting with a lot of casting directors and trying to nail down the next project. But also, Justin Giddings, who plays Greg in the series, he and I have a little something in the works that we're very exciting about. It's secret, I can't say much about it. But it promises to be something that our existing fanbase will really appreciate, and will also reach out to a larger audience as well. So when that is fleshed out a little bit more, of course, we'll be a little more detailed about it. That's kind of what I'm looking at right now.
What's your greatest fear?
I haven't heard that for a long time… I think my greatest fear would be just sort of coasting through my life and not actually engaging in it on a daily basis. What I mean by that is the idea that I reach the end of my life and I have the opportunity to look back, and I go, "Honestly, I know I did all these things but I don't feel like I was ever really there." That's my greatest fear. It's not being present in my own life on a day to day basis.
That's as good an answer as any I've heard.
The nutshell of all this is that Bite Me has been such an awesome experience, we've all grown together as a cast with Jarrett [Lee Conaway] our director. I can't wait to see the audience look at this next season and take it in. Because I think people will be really pleased by it.
Thanks for your time today, Ryan.
Thank you so much!