'Being Human': Sam Witwer on tonight's 'brave' finale
Being Human closes out its freshman season tonight on Syfy, and if Sam Witwer’s (pictured, right) warnings are true, it stands to change a big part of what fans have come to know about the show during its 13-episode season. And considering the various predicaments in which we last left our trio of other beings (Aidan was dying, Josh was on his way to being a were-daddy, and Sally’s door is open) there’s no telling where this is headed.
In a chat with EW, Witwer talks about the show’s future as it preps for a second season and addresses how the cast dealt with the inevitable comparisons to the British series this season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Retrospectively, has the volume of positive reaction come as a pleasant surprise to you, considering people were ready to tear it apart?
SAM WITWER: The thing that I said a few times before we started was, “Look, I don’t think if someone sits down and watches our show, I don’t think they’re going to not enjoy it.” Whenever people were asking about the British thing, that was my response. You may enjoy the British series more or you may like ours better, but the fact of the matter is you’re gonna have a good time. In the meantime, I was telling the cast members, “Look, I was there during the Battlestar Galactica thing. I was in the cast and, boy, there’s gonna be a backlash. Don’t listen to it. Don’t worry about it. It’s more about what people are saying a year from now rather than when we start airing, so don’t listen to the backlash.” And [fans of the British series] were really sharpening their claws, and they were getting ready to dig into us. When we started airing, they just kind of left us alone, which was a huge surprise for me. If I’m gonna be honest, I’m not surprised people have been enjoying it. I’m surprised that we haven’t been beat up on. And we have been a little bit here and there, but I was expecting that we were gonna get Battlestar Galactica-levels of backlash — and we didn’t. They kind of grudgingly accepted that we were doing something that was worth doing. So that was the biggest surprise. I was very happy about that.
As you should be.
They were right to be concerned. And anyone that had a level of skepticism was correct to have that level of skepticism, because the British series is so good. It’s such a good idea, and it’s so well executed. I don’t know how many people realized this, but we are partnered with the British series. We are part of that family, and their creators have been a tremendous asset to us because they’ve been able to … [pass] along what they learned from making their series.
Did you watch the British version?
Actually we didn’t. We stayed away from it. We wanted to make sure that our take on the characters was totally unpolluted. So independent of each other, [the cast] decided not to watch. I saw part of the first episode before I auditioned, and the moment that I decided I really wanted to do this show, I was, like, “Well, okay, I can’t watch this now — not until I’m done.” Now, that’s changed at this point. We all have the Blu-rays of the British series now. Now that we’re done with our first season, it’s time to dig in. For example, I watched the entirety of the first episode, and I love it. I just preordered my season 3 Blu-ray, and it’s time to burn through it.
Pre-order? They make you order these? You can’t get them for free?
[Laughs] That’s a good point; I didn’t even think about that! Well, you know what, I’m happy to support them financially. But, you know what, it didn’t even occur to me. Rob Percy, one of their creators, visited us on set, and I didn’t even think for a moment that I could just ask for copies. Anyway, I’m happy to buy them. But I’ll say this; I’m really impressed with their cast. Now that we’ve been through a season, watching the first episode of their series, those three are really great. They’re fantastic.
They really are. But I find your approach to it very interesting.
When we first started getting reviews on our first three episodes, I head back from someone who said, “I’m a huge fan of the British series, but I’m gonna watch yours. Now that I’ve seen three episodes, it feels like three different characters who are in a similar situation.” And I thought that was a great take on it, because we really weren’t intending on playing the same characters. We were doing kind of our own thing. And, of course, there’s the fact that we have thirteen episodes to do what they did in six, [which meant] that you’re going to see a lot of new material. A lot of things that were not in the British series, and that’s a lot of fun. And then also we have different takes on certain stories. I know — and I haven’t seen it yet — but our Bernie storyline, there’s a couple of episodes that cover what happens to this kid. And the British series did the same type of story, but ours took some turns theirs didn’t and ended up very differently than theirs.
So what can you tell us about what’s next for the trio and how it’s been seeing the evolution of their friendship throughout the season?
That’s a very good question. So, when we started, everyone was really not just comparing our [first] episode to the British [first] episode, they were comparing our episode 1 to the entirety of the British series. So they were going, “Woah, the chemistry is not there!” They were saying all these things about, “Oh, these three are not meshing,” and what they were not necessarily being cognizant of — and what I think they’ve discovered now — is in the British series’ first episode, they’re already in the house. They’re already bantering, and they already know each other. And we don’t really have a sense for how long they’ve been there, but they’ve been there for a little bit and know each other. Our series shows you how they met each other. These three characters don’t know what to do with each other. [While filming the first episode], we had this pretty sharp comedic timing, and the producers asked us to not do that. Their argument was, “It’ll be sitcom-y if we see your characters meet each other and suddenly they have all this banter. It’s not good storytelling.” They’re like, “Around episode 6 or 7, then you can do whatever you want, but you guys have to have a little bit of a weariness about each other.” So we did that and now when we started shooting the last couple episodes, it really made it clear why they asked us to back off on the chemistry, which, by the way, is hilarious, because you usually get the opposite note on set.
So the choice to have that dynamic in beginning made sense for you by the end of filming?
Yes, and it’s very nice. In fact, we have moments where we reflect on exactly what you’re saying. So that’s cool. I don’t think we verbally reflect on it, but we visually reflect on it a lot. We have a lot of moments that are designed to remind us — sometimes literally and sometimes in kind of a metaphoric way — of how far these characters have come with each other. So it’s kind of fun.
Are we gonna have a cliffhanger ending to the season?
For the most part, we do resolve a lot of storylines in very satisfying ways. It’s interesting. Having said that, I remember talking to Jeremy Carver about this. Me and Mark [Pellegrino] — I don’t know if you’re aware of it — were in some of the same Dexter episodes together. [Witwer played Neil Perry, the computer analyst who falsely claimed to be the Ice Truck Killer.] We never actually worked with each other, but we were in some of the same episodes. And one of the things I said to Jeremy is, “Hey, you know, in Dexter, they killed the Ice Truck Killer.” So basically I was just saying, “How far do you want to resolve all things things?” And the answer was, they wanted to resolve the hell out of a lot of these things. And they’re very satisfying when you see them. I thought, in a weird way, that was a brave choice.
The Being Human finale airs 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.
(Maggie Pehanick contributed to this report)