Think you have problems? Tell that to Josh, a former medical school student whose life was irrevocably shattered when he was viciously attacked by a werewolf. Now once a month, he battles the creature lurking within while struggling to fit into society along with his two new unique roommates, the vampire Aidan (played by Sam Witwer) and the ghostly Sally (Meaghan Rath). Based on the popular British series of the same name, Syfy's horror/comedy/action show Being Human kicks off January 17th. Actor Sam Huntington (who formerly starred in TV's Cavemen, as well as the films Superman Returns and the as-yet-to-be-released Dylan Dog) spoke exclusively with me about why starring as Josh is anything but a curse.
It's been reported you were the last one cast for Being Human. Was the role of Josh difficult to land?
It actually was because I think the role of Josh was ambiguous for them. They didn't really know what they wanted. I had a very good idea of how I wanted to play it and how it should be. We all read together, Meaghan, Sam, and I, and we were all up for it at the same time. But then I had one more step to go through because they just weren't sure, which sounds bad, but I think it was more of a look thing than anything else, which it so often is. Because of that, when I did get it, it made it feel a lot more triumphant. It was an even better moment, if that's at all possible.
Initially, were you concerned Being Human might turn into Twilight-light?
No, and the reason is I read the first two episodes before I went out for it. I was so impressed by the writing and was taken aback by the originality of it. It's way different than anything out there. It's funny and of course it's moody, dark, and it's angsty with all that wonderful stuff that makes that supernatural world sing. It's got a quality unlike anything I've ever seen, genre or not. I wasn't worried about that. Also, I know what kind of actor I am and what I wanted to bring to it. That alone is very different than anything currently out there.
Typically, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts don't hang out. What brings Aidan, Josh, and Sally together, and are they good roommates?
Yeah, I think they are the best of roommates. They become instant famous friends. No, Sally is subsequently thrust upon us because we move into the house and she's already there. What originally brings Josh and Aidan together is initially Aidan's doing. He wants to change his ways and better himself. He sees in Josh a vessel, a way to feel good about himself. It's almost like a charity case. He finds there's more to Josh and they become really close, despite who they are. I think it's one of those things that was just meant to be in these creature's lives.
Out of these three supernatural misfits, why might Josh be worse off than the other two?
I think Josh is worse off because first of all, he had tremendous potential in his life which he's had to completely let go of and block out. Even if that's not what he had to do, he felt he had to do that and I think that tortures him. Josh doesn't want that. He's a loving person, a sensitive guy, so that tears him up. Physically, once a month the pain he has to go through is excruciating. But more than anything, it's been emotionally horrific for him.
So at this point, how is Josh dealing with this curse?
More than anything, Josh wants normalcy. I think it's unfortunate because over the course of the season, he's realizing it's never going to happen. Normalcy is a thing of the past. That's what he wants more than anything and Josh will live and die fighting for that. Once again, it's the beautiful arc of the character. He's not dealing well when we first find him and accepting it. It's his journey during the first season, this learning to cope, live with it, and accept it.
One of the hardships comes from Josh isolating himself from his family so how does reconnecting with his sister further complicate matters?
Well, it's kind of obvious. He's ostracized his family because he doesn't want to hurt them. Not only will they not believe what he's become, but if he does let them in, Josh could potentially kill them. The danger his sister presents is enormous. She's not only like his best friend, but she's his blood. It's terrifying for him. Josh is skirting that tightrope of letting her in, which she wants to do so desperately, but realizing by doing so, he's really jeopardizing her.
The series has a lot of heart and horror, and it seems you are infusing Josh with your trademark goofball energy.
Absolutely! Yeah, that's what was so wonderful about this part. I don't have to reach for it because it's right there. The humor is built in and amazing. At the same time, it's all appropriate. None of it is slapstick or silly. Josh is a goofy guy so it comes out naturally. It's not forced. The cool thing is there's another side to him which is very raw, very emotional, and deep. The three dimensional aspect of this character has been such an amazing thing but yeah, Josh is just hilarious.
You were all hairy for the TV series Cavemen. What kind of hell are you going through wolfing out on Being Human?
Well, you just said it, man. It was hellish! The difference between Cavemen and this is Cavemen was every day. For Cavemen, I'd go to work at 3 a.m., slap a wet fish on my face, and be that for 19 hours every single day. This is a much more intensive makeup since it's my full body, face, and hands. And hands....you wouldn't think that was the hardest thing about it, but it is so the hardest part. But so far, I've only had to do it six or seven times. It was intense, but not nearly as laborious as Cavemen.
What is Being Human's take on werewolf lore?
Pretty traditional. They've taken a few liberties, just to add to the depth of the show, but it's pretty traditional. Every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf, the werewolf is visceral and raw, and he's just truly an animal that loses his self control. One of the things I haven't seen before, but we do on our show, is the closer it gets to the full moon, the stronger Josh gets. The night before the full moon, he's almost super human and the match of a vampire. That is another cool aspect of the role – I can be this total bad-ass which is the total antithesis of who Josh is. It's all a metaphor for what's underneath anyway.
The pilot introduces the main characters and their unique circumstances. What else can we expect in future episodes? Is there an overall arc for the season?
Absolutely, but I don't want to give too much away because it's so beautiful. The writers were so tight-lipped with us during the course of the show and it was such a lovely surprise every time we'd get a new script. But yes, although they all work singularly and each episode is spectacular, each of us has a very defined arc throughout the season.
Looking at their problem, does Josh get sucked into the conflict between Aidan and Bishop, who seems like your big bad?
Yeah, I don't think there's any mystery surrounding that. I would say Bishop is the big baddie but for Josh, yes and no. Aidan only gives him as much as is absolutely necessary so I think Josh is on the outside of it for a lot of it. Then, he's reeled in as necessary.
Thanks to Superman Returns, you've already tackled a pre-existing franchise, so are you prepared for the fanboy expectations and feedback?
Yeah, 100 percent! To be honest, I'm trying really hard not to pay attention to it right now, which will be my goal as this process goes along. The people predisposed to hate it are exactly that. I'm not going to worry about them. I'm obviously hoping they will tune in and we change their minds, because it really is a great show, but I really want to reel in new people who the show is going to be fresh for. I don't care about the other stuff so much so I feel blessed to be part of it. I'm psyched to be able to play in that world so I hope I do it justice.
Touching on some of your other genre projects, any word when the comic book-turned-movie Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is going to be released?
Honestly, I have no idea. I've been in Montreal for the last six or seven months so I'm out of the loop. I know there's been a couple of screenings I've missed in Los Angeles which is a bummer. I saw it a year ago and it was great. I don't really know what the hold-up is and I know Brandon [Routh] doesn't either, which is weird.
What was so much fun about teaming up with Brandon again for this type of movie?
Well, Brandon is one of my best friends, so as soon as we saw the opening to do this movie together, it was obviously the coolest thing that could possibly happen. Also, we were really made for the roles, so it was one of those situations where one hand fed the other. We helped each other and both really believed in the material. It's working with your buddy, and there's nothing better.
Can you also talk about your other horror flick, The Gatekeeper?
Oh, we never did that movie. We were going to, but it was one of those independent movies where the financing fell through. It was a great script. I don't know what's happening with it. They had Ron Perlman playing my counterpart in the movie and I believe he was going to do The Hobbit and then that fell through. The zombies were a lot more traditional than in Dead of Night, that's for sure.
Going back to Being Human, we have to ask: brooding vampire or animalistic werewolf....which one is sexier?
Werewolf, dude! Come on! That's in the eye of the beholder. Personally, if I'm a guy presented with a female vampire and a female werewolf, it depends on the time of month. If she's a wolf, I probably wouldn't go there but if I've gotten some kind of promise from the vampire she won't kill me during the process of our intimacy, then that might be the way I'd go. Or for the other 30 days of the month, I'd go for the werewolf, no questions asked. It's looking at your options and who is going to kill me.
Come on! It's got to be Team Josh all the way!
I agree! Team Josh! You're the first one who's said it! [Laughs.]