Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Sinead Keenan Interview BEING HUMAN
by Christina Radish Posted:August 10th, 2010
On the surface, a television series about a vampire (Aidan Turner), a werewolf (Russell Tovey) and a ghost (Lenora Crichlow) who all share a flat together sounds like something that would be more campy than anything. But, in its two seasons, the BBC drama Being Human – a witty and extraordinary look into the lives of three twenty-somethings and their secret double lives – has become a fan favorite and a cult sensation.
During a recent interview, co-stars Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Sinead Keenan talked about expanding the world in Season 2, hinted at the possibilities of Season 3 and revealed how lucky they feel to be a part of something that is so special to them. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
What did you guys think when you first heard the concept and then read the script for this show?
Russell: I thought it sounded like a kids’ show. It didn’t seem like it would ever work. Then, I read it and realized it was just so much more than that. That’s why it’s great. The levels in this show are so much more human than they are supernatural. That’s what its selling point is, and that’s why so many people connect with it.
Sinead: The cross that everyone has to bear – whether it be werewolf, vampire or ghost – is incidental. It’s about their relationships.
Lenora: These characters were all originally written as very human characters. Toby had developed them as human beings, and then the supernatural just lent itself. All of the supernatural elements of Being Human are deep-rooted and can be very easily drawn back to human traits and the human condition. All of that is very evident in the script, as soon as you read it. I remember going in for the audition and I thought it was such a stupid idea when I was told about it. I was like, “Give me a break!” And then, I read the script and I laughed out loud, and I thought, “Either this is really clever, because I drew the parallels from what was there on the page, or maybe I’ve read too much into it.” I thought it was such an interesting, different way of approaching all the relationships and dynamics of a flat-share. So, I went into my audition saying, “Is this where you’re going with it?,” and when they said yes, I was like, “My god, that’s really interesting.”
Aidan: For such an obvious idea, it just came out original, which is weird. It seems as though it’s the most basic supernatural idea possible, in some ways, but Toby has created this show that stands on its own, which is really cool. We’re all very happy it worked out.
Lenora: And that it’s not a bad joke.
Do you feel that the connection between Annie and Mitchell has to do with the fact that they’re both associated with death?
Lenora: Yeah, I suppose it is.
Aidan: I don’t know. Annie is hot, from Mitchell’s point of view.
Lenora: Annie is beautifully, fantastically, wonderfully fit, and Mitchell is all right, in the right light, but I think their connection is deeper than that. They’re both very stuck. They don’t age. They’ve each got such very individual fights. They each have things in common with each other’s fight, but they are quite unique.
Aidan: It’s stability for Mitchell ‘cause Annie is not going anywhere.
Lenora: And, Annie sees the good in Mitchell.
Aidan: And a lot of people don’t see the good in Mitchell. He’s been running for so long from this problem and this disease that he has. Suddenly, he moves in with a wolf, which is something he never would have done before and, in a lot of ways, Annie is the anchor in the house because she doesn’t go anywhere and she’s such a nurturing person. That’s exactly what Mitchell needs. He needs someone to look after him ‘cause he doesn’t have anybody else. I think he’s naturally drawn to Annie, almost immediately.
Lenora: I think that’s true of all of their relationships. For these characters, there isn’t really anything to live for because they’ve got these things forever. Annie could just not get out of bed in the morning, quite understandably. There’s no need to. As much as she grows and develops, and discovers this and that, she’s stuck, and the same with Mitchell. Mitchell is always going to have the lust, and George is always going to have this once a month deal going on. For them, they feel like they have to show up for each other.
Russell: It’s co-dependency.
Lenora: It’s like a co-dependent nightmare. They get up for each other and give each other a reason to stay close to humanity and their true selves. And, they all do that for each other. Nina pulls George back, constantly.
Russell and Sinead, how did you approach the relationship between your characters in Season 2?
Sinead: We were very lucky, from an acting point of view. Toby is a great writer and the scenes we had were a gift. If the writing is good, you don’t even have to work really. Honest to god, your work is reduced hugely, if it’s there on the page. And, working with Russell is fantastic.
Russell: You’ve got to know your lines. If you’ve got big scenes like the ones we had, and you know your lines, then that’s a given and you can forget about that and explore. If you’re in that moment and you’re still thinking, “What’s my next line?,” then it’s a lot harder job, as an actor. This is so dynamic and it can go anywhere, so you have to be in the moment and just have that planted.
When you’re in that moment, do you ever go off script?
Sinead: Not hugely.
Russell: I have, but it’s never made the grade. I can riff for hours and do a whole episode of just improvising, but it never stays in. It’s not even on the DVD extras, so you’ll never see it. But, yeah, we can change it and move around. You can put the odd line or word in, but you want to respect what’s written there, a lot of the time, because it’s good enough anyway, and who are we to elaborate. But, we do sometimes.
Lenora: We do. I love watching Nina/George scenes because what is really beautiful is that they’re listening to each other. A lot of the time, especially with TV, there’s such a turn-over with actors. You do learn your lines, you know your character and you know your marks, but then you just forget to listen to the other actor and let that infiltrate your performance, and move you and motivate your next line.
Russell: It’s so much easier when you do.
Lenora: But, especially working at that pace, I can see how one can forget, not having loads of time to rehearse and practice. I always feel that I get reminded of that when I’m watching George and Nina, and they’re listening to each other. George can’t say something without Nina hearing it and reacting to it, and that’s key.
For the original cast, what has it been like to add Sinead to the cast for Season 2?
Russell: It’s an even number now, and that’s always a good thing. Odd is dangerous. Even is balanced. I think it’s great. It’s just a testament to how good Sinead was ‘cause Nina was originally written as a couple of episodes.
Lenora: And now she’s getting her own spin-off, Being Nina. It’s not about having an even number. It’s about having Sinead Keenan. If it were anyone else, we’d be like, “How come? Aren’t we enough?” It’s obvious why Sinead is still here. She’s fantastic.
Sinead, when did you find out that you were going to stay on the show?
Sinead: Initially, they knew Nina would come along and be a love interest for George, but Toby always said that, when a character goes into a relationship, it can get a bit boring, so she would probably find out about his werewolfness and leave. But, luckily, I got a stay of execution and I got scratched, at the very last minute. That’s when I knew that I’d probably be in the first episode of Season 2 because we’d have to find out what happens, but then I was like a bad penny. I just kept showing up and they couldn’t get rid of me, and I’m still there. I’m very lucky and I’m very glad.
Russell: I think the balance of the four of us works. It’s nice for George to have love and that security.
Lenora: And, they represent something that’s a different side of the house. We are so close and we’re all within reaching distance of something lovely and normal, and it’s there, but it’s complicated.
What do you think about the American version of the show that’s being done now?
Aidan: We think it’s pretty cool. It’s going to be a very different show, I would imagine, ‘cause they have money and we didn’t have any of that, really. They have a budget, those lucky swines. But, it will be a very different show. There will be tons more episodes. It’s a huge testament to the brand that is Being Human, and to Toby Whithouse and his amazing, creative mind. But, there’s no fear. People know that we exist. Budget doesn’t mean better.
Russell: It’s good for us that people know we exist and that we’re there. If we were just on British TV and American audiences didn’t know we were there, and then this show came out and was celebrated, we’d be like, “Hey, we’ve been here for three years!”
Aidan: The Mitchell character has a new, sexy name as well, which is really cool. He’s going to be called Aidan, in the new series. That’s the truth.
Lenora: Yeah, he’s being called Aidan, after our very own Aidan Turner.
With Season 3, how much is the supernatural element going to play into things?
Lenora: I think they’re all more comfortable. There’s a level of acceptance, in Season 3. We all can not only laugh at our conditions, but we’re accepting them and moving on, so there’s a little bit more comfortability in our own state. And, we’ve got each other now.
Sinead: And, we’re in a new place, so it’s almost like a fresh start.
Lenora: Yeah, it’s a new start with a level of acceptance. We’re not fighting the impossible anymore, and things that we can’t change. There is an everydayness about it now, which just leaves playtime.
Russell: Annie passed over in the second season, so we start off the third season in a place of complete angst because we’ve lost one of our best friends. One of the cogs has stopped cogging.
Lenora: They just get a dog and a gerbil, and then it’s, “Annie, who?”
Now that you’ve played these characters for a couple of seasons, is the transition easier when you come back?
Lenora: Oh, it was not hard to come back.
Aidan: I don’t think it was ever anything but easy anyway. This job is super easy for all of us ‘cause it’s so enjoyable. It’s a blessing to come to set every day, and hang out with friends. It’s always been that way. Now in Season 3, it’s just getting better. It really is, especially as personal relationships build up and we get more familiar with the crew. They’re our family.
How long are you in make-up for the werewolf transformations, and how much is CGI?
Sinead: We actually don’t have any CGI.
Russell: There’s none.
Sinead: We don’t have the money.
Russell: We have CGI eyes and, unfortunately, we have to put teeth in, every now and then. We’ve got new contact lenses for Season 3. The transformation days are long days, but you know that and you know you’re going to be stark naked, so you’re going to sit in make-up for hours.
Sinead, are you going to be naked on the show as often as Russell is?
Sinead: When I was reading the scripts and I found out that I was going to be a werewolf, I thought, “Oh, sweet Jesus.” Russell does his transformations fantastically and is very willing and able to take his clothes off, at a moment’s notice. And then, I read the first episode where Nina transforms and it said, “And, in the morning, she wakes up and there’s a coat covering her.” I went, “Now, you’re doing that because I’m a girl. Thank you for that, but it should be equal opportunity.” So, at the very end of the day, poor Lenora got an eyeful. There was a coat covering my derriere, but it was shimmied down a lot more. But, yeah, I do get a little bit naked, just not as much.
Russell: Everybody is behind me when I have to be naked. There will be people behind me with booms and make-up, and they can see everything, but they love it.
Sinead: You can’t think about it too much, otherwise you won’t do it. You just have to do it and then think about it later.
Russell: And then cry afterwards.
Sinead: Yeah, exactly. I weep in a corner.
How complicated will Annie and Mitchell’s relationship get, ,over the course of the series?
Aidan: In the second season, Mitchell has a lot of things to deal with, and love and personal relationships aren’t at the top of his list. He’s got to sort some stuff out first and make sure that his mates don’t get killed. I don’t know. Maybe in the third season.
Lenora: By the end of Season 2, when Annie goes, just how much they need each other really hits home for all of them. There’s just no point in one without the other. The idea of Annie passing over, the idea of George being killed and the idea of losing Mitchell to the dark world of vampires means that everything would just be gone.
Aidan: The boys realize how much they need her, especially Mitchell, when she does cross over.
Lenora: It would be complicated, but complicated doesn’t mean impossible.
Aidan: It could work. We could make it work.
When you do work that’s this good, with people this talented both in front of and behind the camera, does it make you more selective in what other projects you want to get involved with?
Lenora: Oh, yeah, we’re snobs.
Russell: I hope so. When you work at a certain level, you want to maintain that level. The only thing you have, as an actor, is choice.
Sinead: I think we’re all very aware that this is a very special project. It’s not like a job. It’s very rare that you go to work every day, wanting to go to work every day, and getting on with everyone, for the most part. We have fun.
Lenora: And, I think we push each other as actors, which is rare. Honestly, I’m inspired by watching these guys, and it’s lovely to have people your age group, who are your peers, that you can vibe with and chill with, but then also, creatively and professionally, go to for advice and be inspired by and admire. And, we’re all so different as well. None of us are going to be head-to-head for parts, so there’s no competition. There’s just complete love and support for each other, as actors.