Sam Witwer previews the end of BEING HUMAN
Fans of Syfy’s BEING HUMAN have seen the show go on quite a journey- having to establish itself as a show that stood alone from the British show of the same name; get fans of old and familiar shows to fall in love with them (ps, we did); find a rhythm between actors who clearly loved spending time with each other; and ultimately, go out with a bang, creatively. The exciting 4th season that balanced love, humor, and a little bit of supernatural craziness is coming to an end tonight with the series finale that puts an exclamation point on a wild ride. With the show coming to an end, I spent some time with series star Sam Witwer (Aidan) to talk about what he’ll remember most, and what he wants to say to fans efore we see Josh, Sally, Aidan, and Nora one last time.
I’m sad because we have to talk about the finale of the show but I’m excited because I feel like the show has been so creative this season. Let’s talk about where we are going into Monday night’s series finale.
It’s interesting. We revisited some of the main issues that these people have had, and some of the things that they’ve done wrong, and the comic elements that these guys are carrying around. For my character, there’s this whole concept for vampires, the moment they become what they are, they lose their souls. So Aidan knows that should he die, that’s it. He’s kind of used that as justification. He’s killed people, but really, how bad is that? Some people he’s killed, he’s seen their ghosts; other people he’s killed, they got their door. He’s used it to justify why he shouldn’t kill himself, because he’s got more to lose than they do, right? He knows he’s causing suffering, it’s awful, it’s terrible, but is it as bad as killing a vampire? No. The moment Henry shows up, and says “no, we can become ghosts, too,” Aidan’s entire life is thrown into question. The way that he’s been conducting himself, and the way he hasn’t had the strength to off himself. Of course, you find out it’s not true, it’s Ramona playing a lie, that Aidan is correct – vampires don’t have a soul, and can’t become ghosts, all this stuff. But it does put him in a mindset where he’s thinking very clearly about the terrible things that he’s done, and that’s where we’re going into the last episode. This guy, very, very aware of what’s come before. He’s reviewed his entire belief structure, and his value system, and ultimately, that last episode is about whether or not this guy is deserving of any kind of redemption, and we’ll see if he is or not.
How far into this season did you know it would be the end?
We knew before we shot anything. We knew before it was written. We were in a situation where, very unusual things were happening behind the scenes, and it required us to have a conversation. I talked to the executive producers and show runner, Anna Fricke, and the question was, do we continue this on, and try to do further seasons, and could end up making a bad version of the show? Or do we call it while it’s under our power. When this started happening behind the scenes, our budget went down. It was a very unusual situation. No one had been in it before. Syfy had to pull some heroic measures to keep the boat from sinking and all kinds of stuff that happened. Originally, we were going to be renewed for two seasons at once, and this weird stuff happened and the results we that we weren’t [laughs]. The opposite of what we were planning on doing, and what we had talked about. So at that point, it was like, we can give you a good fourth season, but we can’t guarantee a good fifth season. At that point, we’ll be out of money, we’ll be out of favors, and we can’t guarantee a good fifth season. So we had an opportunity.
Here’s the thing – good writers and good actors are not in this for the money. We’re in this to tell satisfying stories. Given a choice of risking a bad fifth season and giving a fourth season we could all be proud of, and ending on our own terms, the more artistic amongst us, the choice is clear. You go for the sure thing; you go for what you know you can do well. That’s basically what we did. I’m happy with that decision. I’m even more than happy that Syfy honored that decision. That wasn’t a foregone conclusion either. You never know what their motivations are going to be, and at first, they didn’t necessarily commit to the idea this final season. They let us write it, but they didn’t necessarily commit to it, then they said, oh, we’re going to do it, we’ll preserve the ending, and we’re not going to ask the audience to buy into a bunch of weird stuff for the sake of prolonging the show. It would have been weird, it would have been strange. When you see the finale, you’re going to realize that you can’t do a show after this. It’s done.
Looking at the finale, being involved in the show for so long – do you look at it, and say “this is where I thought Aidan would end up, this is where I thought it would end?”
Seriously, you have a notion, a very vague notion of what it could be. You don’t necessarily know what it’s going to be. In my case, I have images. Images in my head of what the ending of the show would look like, and they were visual images. I remember bringing this up to Anna Fricke, and saying “I have this vision of what the final shot would be, but I don’t know what that means,” and Anna said, “you know, funny you should say that, because we’ve been having the same thought; we’re starting to talk about what that might mean.” It gives you a little bit of confidence, for some reason on an instinctive level, people are having the same reaction, the same idea. Hopefully, that works for the audience. It definitely worked for me.
Looking back – do you have favorite moments of working with the cast? You’re such good friends with them – what is something that stands out that you’ll always remember fondly?
[laughs] I remember the audition process. Meeting these idiots and for some reason, knowing how to work with them. I don’t know why it worked out like that. We were all very confused. How is it that I know when to sit back, and Sammy knows when to pump this up, and Meaghan knows when to fill in the gaps? There was always this wonderful comedic timing with us. It’s funny – it was so strong, that the producers asked us to tone it down, and not use it for the first seven episodes of the first season. We were like, listen, we’ve seen the first episodes of the British series, and they kind of have this groove going into it, but [the producers] were like, “yes, but in the British series, it’s not clear how long they’ve been in that house. In our series, it’s entirely clear how long you’ve been there. You just got there. You’re going to make it seem like a sitcom if they see you meet each other and immediately have this comedic banter. We need to see you guys work into that.” So we always were a little bit amused when we read the early reviews of our shows and people were like “they just don’t have the comedic banter that the British show had.” Yeah, we were asked not to. Assholes. [laughs]. It’s funny. In the reviews we read now, all they talk about is our timing, and the way we work together. We always had that. We had to give you a show that evolved into that. Otherwise, we would have lost the reality of the show. It would have been too kitschy, too cute. As funny as the show is, it is a drama, so you have to pay attention to certain rules of reality. Like people having relationships that evolve, rather than having relationships that are pre-packaged.
I love how the relationships have evolved – it’s been such a journey that we took with the cast. And it does suck as a fan to see the show come to an end, but I’d rather get the good stuff now, and not frown on the show later.
Isn’t that the truth? If I could tell you some of the ideas that were thrown around for a fifth season, it might have worked, but also it very well might not have. We were on pace to do what we were going to do. That’s just how it was. It’s always more fun to have the artistic come before the commercial. We have such trust with these show runners. Just from my part – the creative opportunities were incredible on this show. Because it was so modestly budgeted, I felt it required a lot of attention on my part. I think the producers learned that what turned me on was the creative opportunity, but not necessarily credit. Not like “he wants this power, this influence.” It was that I want to learn things that I haven’t done before. That I got to write and record music that was used on the show? That I get to write stuff in scenes here and there? Sure. That I got to take the camera crew on the side and shoot a scene, because we were overwhelmed and running behind, and we didn’t have a proper second unit? Yeah, I got to do that. All of these wonderful things, the kind of experience you get when you’re working on an independent film with your friends. That’s what it felt like working on this show. Another thing I always chuckled at – when we started the show, hearing the British cast say how much money we had. It’s like, no…. [laughs].
We don’t have any. We’re limited to one or two takes because of time and money. We’re doing the best we can with very little resources. I just went and did by buddy Dave’s show GRIMM and I was re-introduced to the world of a TV show that had a budget [laughs]. They had water, bottled water, at the craft service table! This is insane! Look how many people are here, how many producers. Where like, on our show, we had one creative producer on set, one! And by the way, he could never be on set, because he was in the editing room. Stefan Pleszczynski was doing the job of like, three producers. Adam Kane was doing that same thing. Anna Fricke is juggling untold plates, trying to keep this afloat. When you don’t have people to supervise it, guess who gets to step in? Me, and Meaghan and Sammy, and Kristen. What ends up happening is that it was all of our shows. It was not like going to work for someone. It felt like we were going to work, doing OUR show. Which was so much damn fun!
Does that hinder you going forward, knowing what you had? Does that change your future approach for show?
Ultimately, the odds of having this level of creative control are not entirely great, on the other hand, you work into this. This show didn’t start like that. I think I would have been fired immediately if I had tried pulling the stuff that I tried later in the show [laughs]. When you have the right people, when you have communication, you start understanding each other, you start really getting what each other is about, and that’s really what happened on our show. We all got to know each other, we all got to understand each other, and what each other wanted from doing this stuff. Ultimately, we all got on the same page. It wasn’t always like that. I think, Season 3, the writers, the actors, the producers, we all started getting entirely on the same page, and that continued through Season 4. Would I have liked to do more work with these people? Certainly. Would I have liked to do bad work with them? No, none of us would.
Do you have a plan for what’s next?
Well, okay, for my part, I just have been saying no to a lot of stuff. I am not the kind of actor who gets a job and then immediately buys a Porsche [laughs]. I save my money as I always have. I live a simple life; I don’t need a lot of money to carry on. One of the main reasons I do that is to carry on. As much as I loved being on BEING HUMAN, I got lucky. Being under contract is terrifying. You sign away your life for anywhere from 4 to 6 years, they’ve got you! [laughs] You belong to them, and that’s the end of it. I’ve been very specific with my representation. It’s like, guys, unless it’s fantastic and I really like it, I don’t want to do it. So show me scripts that you think are good, and even some of those, I’m like, eh, I’m not crazy about this, I don’t like this. I’ve been taking my damn time. In the meantime, I’m working and doing some other stuff and trying to get some of my own stuff off the ground with friends of mine. As for other people’s projects, my plan is to be very selective.
What about the music world for you?
That is continuing on. I’ve really gotta finish this second album. I’ve made quite a bit of progress this past year, it’s just that acting stuff has been continuing to get in the way! It will get done. It’s definitely progressing, so I’m very happy to say that.
What would you say to fans as the show ends tonight?
I would say thank you for coming along on this journey with us. It was a personal project for all of us. Like I was saying, it wasn’t like you were going to work, and punching a clock, and not really investing. By the way, there are plenty of actors out there that do just that. That show up, and say their lines and their investman doesn’t go much further than that. That was not the case on this show. People were willing to bleed on this show. We got extraordinarily invested in the thematic heart of what the show is, what we were saying to the audience. For the audience to have stuck with us, it’s very meaningful to us. We were sharing our lives with these people, and that’s a wonderful thing. I think all of us feel very bonded these days.
Tune into the series finale of BEING HUMAN, titled “There Goes the Neighborhood Part III,” at 9/8c on Syfy.