What was it about the UK series that interested you?
What attracted us most about the UK series was a really refreshing take on that type of a genre show in that they were not beholden in any way to normal genre conventions. At the same time, you never forgot what these characters were at their heart because of the metaphors that they used that basically fueled the drama, the pain and the emotion of every episode. They could not escape it. You might forget for a moment or two who they are but the show itself never lets you in the end forget that their greatest battle is trying to be something that they can never be.
We absolutely adored the British humor? we thought the writing was just absolutely wonderful. There was a certain raggedness to the show, and I say that with enormous amounts of respect, in that it wasn?t too hung up on genre rules in terms of the rules of the Vampire or the ghost, in fact they twisted many of them. For myself, coming from a genre background for the last several years, that was very refreshing. You realize that you can break the rules and do it in a way that is wonderful and satisfying.
When you say break the rules, do you mean the same kind of vampire lore doesn?t apply? For example Aidan is free to be out in the daylight?
That?s exactly what I mean. I think one of the normal genre conventions they reinvented was first and foremost the vampires being out in daylight. Also, the ghost in the British series, Annie, can be seen by people, she can pick up objects, so it?s a lot different from the normal conventions from what you?d expect from a ghost. We ourselves sometimes pull back and sometimes go further, exploring how we can twist some of the rules, which has been a lot of fun.
How is your Being Human different from the UK counterpart?
I think particularly in the first season we wanted to start from where they started and wound around to many of the places that they ended up, but not all of them, to keep a certain element of mystery for the fans of the UK version as well. I think where we differed was the UK version has a 6 episode season and we have 13 episodes. We had a lot more opportunity to explore different aspects of our characters that they maybe didn?t have time to get into, so in that regard we have introduced a lot more of our main characters. For instance, our character Bishop, who is played by Mark Pellegrino, has a lot more back-story.
We also play very much with flashbacks in our version that really deepen our understanding of the relationship of these characters. For example, we get a lot more insight into the vampire relationships as they progressed over the decades by flashing back to the 60s, 70s and the revolutionary war. We also get a deeper understanding of the friendship between our main two vampires.
Another way we differ is we have explored our character?s immediate family more, in particular our werewolf Josh, who is being forced to confront what he ran away from after becoming a werewolf. We get to see not just a sibling that he ran away from but his family as well.
I think what we?ve had the opportunity to do in our show, is really develop what would normally be called supporting characters. They have become very much a living, breathing force of their own. Which I think they did remarkably well on the UK series by the way. I just think we?ve just had a little more space to stay with these people.
In terms of the genre conventions, Anna and myself pulled back somewhat on some of them. We made our ghost a little more ghostly to illustrate a little more of her loneliness, her isolation and her separation from society. So we wanted to step her out a little more incrementally, again because we had more time, we didn?t want her to be too advanced too quickly. I think with our Sally we really tried to base many of her ghostly powers very strongly on her emotions which they started in the British series with one of the great mysteries of this season and we?ve broadened that a little bit.
With our vampires we?ve introduced a couple fun new elements to vampire lore, which are sprinkled throughout the season. For example, we took what people would normally expect a vampire?s reaction to garlic would be and introduced it in a more surprising and fun way, which you?ll see in episode 7.
In what ways do the problems facing the three main characters mirror real world issues faced by 20 somethings?
Our characters, like 20 somethings everywhere, are first and foremost trying to make their way in the world. Like many 20 somethings they have a certain burden or secret or ?otherness? to them that they are either just learning how to live with or trying to overcome. I think everyone feels at some point a sense of isolation like our ghost Sally or an anger management or shame issue like our werewolf Josh or a type of ?addiction? like our vampire Aidan. I think many 20 somethings can relate to these struggles? we?re just doing it on a slightly different canvas. Our 20 somethings at the heart of it are just trying to be like everybody else. That?s all they want. The harder they try, the more their otherness gets in the way of them succeeding. I think that normal 20 somethings can relate to that in the way that we all have those things that we try and keep down.
What binds Aidan and Josh and Sally together as roommates?
What binds them as roommates first and foremost is this unshakeable desire to make something more of their situations than they could have done alone. And in many ways, they need the help of someone sort of like them, to be able to hang on and do it. I think in the case of Aidan, you?ve got a vampire who is struggling with addiction. He?s got the choice between two worlds. It?s the haven of this house that allows him to many times make the choice to go back to ?humanity?.
I think Sally is in danger of not only being isolated but becoming what many ghosts, in our universe at least, have the potential to become if not tethered in some way to this world? a slightly unhinged, revenge seeking ghost. I think Josh and Aidan serve as that tether for her.
Josh?s tendency would be, before he met Aidan, to disappear into the shadows of society based on the shame he feels from what he?s become. Sally and Aidan, particularly Aidan because he met him first, help him come out of his shell and realize that there is a life to be lived here. Life is not over when you become a werewolf.
How does Josh meeting Aidan change the course of their lives?
I think Aidan is a vampire who has flirted with being something other than a vampire for many years and he?s fallen on and off the wagon in terms of drinking live blood or not drinking live blood, so in Josh he finds the closest thing to a sponsor you could have as a junkie. For Josh, Aidan is nothing less than a lifeboat. When Josh became a werewolf his first instinct was to run away from everything he knew and cared about. It was not until Aidan met him that night in the back of an alley (which we are exploring in episode 13 and which the UK version explored first) that Josh began to fully comprehend that there was a life beyond turning into a werewolf.
I think they are genuinely friends and they really need each other to make this experiment work, which is why they?re such a pleasure to be around when times are good and why things are so painful between them when one of them slips.
In general vampire, werewolf lore, the two don?t get along?
The genre convention that we?re playing with is that traditionally vampires and werewolves are sworn enemies. The fact that Aidan would extend a hand to a werewolf speaks of Aidan?s general personality. At the heart of Aidan?s character, there?s a nurturing spirit.
For Josh, when he meets Aidan, he?s becoming aware of the vampire/werewolf conflict. It?s been a rough education for him. In many ways you could say that Josh in this desire to co-habitate with Aidan and Sally, has gotten the roughest end of the stick in terms of the things he?s had to endure at the hands of vampires, because of his relationship with Aidan. This is by no means a utopian living arrangement.
How do Aidan and Josh change the course of Sally?s life?
Aidan and Josh changed the course of Sally?s life, or her afterlife as it were, in a very profound way because they can see her. She?s been haunting this house where she died six months ago, unable to leave, unable to be seen by anybody. It changed Sally?s life very much that she now has friends. Aidan in particular, being much older, has had a lot of experiences with ghosts, so he?s able to serve as a bit of a mentor, giving her tips in terms of increasing her ghost powers. You know when you say ?Get a life,? that?s what they are saying to Sally. They have really saved her from turning into that ghost whose rattling in the attic with no one to speak to forlornly for all time. They have truly saved her afterlife.