Sunday, January 16, 2011


Interview with Russell Tovey and the cast of Being Human

18 January 2011

Being Human is the supernatural drama about werewolves, vampires and ghosts. Russell Tovey (George), Aidan Turner (Mitchell), Lenora Crichlow (Annie), Sinead Keenan (Nina) and new werewolves Robson Green (McNair) and Michael Socha (Tom) tell TV Choice all about the new series.

What can you tell us about where the third series of Being Humanpicks up?

Russell Tovey: In the last series, we left Bristol and ended up in a little shack somewhere. Annie dragged the evil Kemp into purgatory and now the three of us have found a former B&B in Wales to move into. Annie keeps appearing via the TV, and Mitchell vows to get her back. The first series had a lot more humour, the second series was very dark. I’d say that this series is a combination of the two – a nice balance.

What kind of an emotional state are they in?

Aidan Turner:
Mitchell has a lot of stuff to deal with, and slips back into drinking blood quite easily. Regrettably, but enjoyably.
Lenora Crichlow:
And there’s a different threat this year – it’s from within!
Aidan Turner:
We find out what’s stronger – friendship, love, supernatural or the devotion to other things that maybe one deems more important.

As new faces how has it been joining this established cast?

Michael Socha: They hate us. They spit in our coffee (laughs). No, really they’re all cool and have been very welcoming. I’d just finished being on a set where everyone was like a family and I thought that I’d never be accepted as a guest artist on another job. But they’ve all really welcomed me and Robson

How many episodes are you in?

Robson Green: I’m in episodes one, four and seven.
Michael Socha: I’m in three, five, six, seven and eight.

What do we know about McNair (Robson Green) and Tom (Michael Socha)?

Michael Socha: McNair is tough!
Robson Green: He goes around protecting Tom. The objective of the two of us is that we’re soldiers and we go out to kill vampires. Nobody messes with McNair. We did a simple scene where I was just meant to roll over in bed. Apparently I even looked tough when I was asleep. But I’m the biggest softie! We’re the hunters – and the hunted.

George was always quite resistant to meeting other werewolves before. But for reasons that we won’t reveal, he decides to get to know McNair and Tom?

Russell Tovey: Yes, it’s to get information from them, but they’ll also be in a position where they’re united – as werewolves.

How do they come across each other?

Michael Socha: Tom and George spot each other while they’re dragging their chickens on strings just before the full moon. They can smell other werewolves, and then they track each other down. Tom’s quite immature. He hasn’t seen the world yet and he’s eager to meet new people. And one of them is very pretty!

What are your filming days like when you have a transformation to film?

Sinead Keenan: On those days, my alarm goes off at 3.30am. They’re manic days – lots of screaming and transforming.
Russell Tovey: It really is a whole day. It’s not like you can fit the scene in and then go and do another scene where you’re just washing up by the sink.

Did you give Robson Green and Michael Socha any tips?

Russell Tovey: Robson’s a big fan of the show, so he’d have seen how I do it. But he and Michael had some training from a woman who specialises in ‘movement.’ The actual werewolf transformation is always going to date back to An American Werewolf In London. It’s an homage to that.
Robson Green: One day we spent 10 hours in make up. But McNair and Tom control their transformation. They use it, and enjoy it – unlike the way George and Nina transform.

Did you have to do any training for the action sequences?

Robson Green: I’d taken on a trainer anyway – just to get into shape for stuff like this. It’s really great when it says on the script, ‘He leaps about, runs and jumps and attacks and fights.’ And you obviously have more than one take, so you have to do it again and again. And Michael was great.
Michael Socha: I just kicked off – but I really hurt my hand punching the vampires. I think I got a bit carried away!
Aidan Turner: I did a scene where one take brought us into the kitchen and I was kicking the life out of one of the characters. We were up the stairs, in the kitchen, back upstairs, buttons were breaking, people getting pushed. It was like The Bourne Ultimatum! We were on wires and everything!

Aside from Lacey Turner in the first and last episodes, are there other guest stars as well – like James Fleet as George’s dad?

Russell Tovey:
Yes. Throughout the series, George has always said that he wanted to see his mum and dad because he did a runner from his family when he found out he was a werewolf. I don’t know if I planted the seed for the scriptwriters, but it’ll be nice to see George’s family and a bit of his past.

Isn't Paul Kaye in the first episode?

Robson Green: Yes, he plays Vincent, who is the master of ceremonies at the cage fighting, and the leader of this unit of vampires. It was like being in the set of Batman – he was just like the Joker. I think he has the greatest line in the whole show – but I won’t spoil it!

What can you tell us about the zombie that comes in?

Lenora Crichlow: The zombie exposes Anne to all the things she’ll never have again, and the standard idea that there’s a beginning, middle and end. Often the things that happen in Annie’s adventures really make her realise just how in limbo she is, and just how unsettling that can be when you’re looking at that for all eternity.

What is it like for them all discovering that former head vampire Herrick (played by Jason Watkins) is back?

Russell Tovey: It’s a bit terrifying for George. His big thing at the beginning of the second series was that he never wanted to kill someone, and never wanted to use the wolf to his advantage. But then he killed Herrick – and he used the wolf to do it. Now that Herrick is back, it may have alleviated some fear in him.
Aidan Turner: We know that Daisy and Cara brought him back.
Lenora Crichlow: He hasn’t come back as the old Herrick that we met last time. He’s changed.
Aidan Turner: He’s come back as the last person he remembers being, which was a man from Victorian England. It’s very weird.
Lenora Crichlow: And he ends up in the attic of the B&B!

Sinead, you don’t use your own natural Irish accent to play Nina. Is there a reason for that?

Sinead Keenan: When I initially read for the role, I read it with an Irish accent. But when they called me back, they’d already cast Aidan, who’s Irish, so they asked me to use an English accent. We’re both from Dublin and I think they were concerned it might be a bit strange. But on the first day of filming, they said I could use either and I decided to stick with the English accent.

Is it true that the series is being remade in Canada?

Russell Tovey: It’s already been cast.
Sinead Keenan: We’ve got nothing to do with it. The format has been bought and they’re not sticking to the scripts. They’ll have about 22 episodes and they’ve basically got the concept and will do what they like.

How do you feel about that?

Russell Tovey: Well our version has already been on BBC America, so they’re familiar with it and we’ve been out to promote it in the US. So the Americans and Canadians will know that it’s a British show and can make a comparison. If the new version had come out, but ours had never been seen over there, that would have been annoying and upsetting, because no-one would have known we exist. Hopefully it’ll help bring even more press to our show.

By Elaine Penn

'Being Human' Week: Q&A with Russell Tovey

Monday 17-1-2011

The Being Human gang have decamped to Wales for the show's third series, so earlier this year we took a trip to the new set for a few on-set interviews. We kick things off with Russell Tovey, aka the often loveable, occasionally terrifying werewolf George Sands! Read on to learn what's coming up for the gang this time around, and how George feels when a resurrected Herrick rears his miraculously-reattached head!

Where do we find the characters in episode one?

"They're trying to find a house and they find their new home. They're not settled to begin with, because Annie's not around. As soon as she's back, I think they feel like they're sorted and life's great. It's positive for George, Nina and Annie, but for Mitchell, it's a negative that life is so great. He always has to destroy. That animal in him always comes out and he has to serve that."

How do you feel about the show's move from Bristol to Cardiff?

"It's great. There's a massive new set and it just gives it a lot more scope. It doesn't seem like a big change really. They're both great cities and it's nice to get to know Cardiff now. It's also great for the story. It suddenly feels more fresh in a new environment and suddenly you can explore new ideas in the house. There are new props and new furniture to jump over!"

How does the show deal with Annie being tied to the old Bristol house?

"Well, we worked out that Annie was able to be tied to the friendship in the end. That was the thing that kept her here - the love between the friends. So wherever we go, Annie has managed to go as well. Also, in the last series she was pulled over to the other side and she's gone. She crosses over and then comes back, so wherever she arrives, she can regenerate, become stronger and survive in that way. That's it for Bristol and now she's living in limbo in Cardiff!"

What's happening with Herrick in this series?

"Herrick comes back. He doesn't come back for a few episodes, but it's terrifying for George. The thing with this world is that nothing is the end. When he appears, it sends George into shock. He's killed this guy, he's ripped his head off and there he is again, with no scars and looking absolutely fine. How do you explain that? That just defies all laws. I think it's terrifying for everybody."

How does it feel to have two new werewolves (played by Robson Green and Michael Socha) on set?

"It's brilliant. Finally, more werewolves! In this series, George and Nina really settle into each other. They know they've got each other now and that's it for them. I think they feel more open to exploring and we open ourselves up to more werewolves, whereas before George didn't want anything to do with it. He transformed, but he was human the rest of the time and that's it. Now he's really open to it and wants to know everything. George and Nina want to know all the folklore and everything to do with it. It's also great for the fans to have more werewolves in the show. Plus, it's great to have Robson and Michael around. I think it's about time. We've had about a million vampires, so it's time to have some more werewolves!"

Has George given up on finding a cure for his condition?

"Yeah. All he's ever wanted is to be normal, have kids and fall in love with someone. He's now met someone. He's given her the curse, but she's accepted it now, so it's as normal as it gets for him. They both look after each other. They've got a home and jobs again and they've got their condition under control. There's a basement in the house where they can transform if they need to, or there's the old chicken-on-a-string trick! It feels like life is going great for them, but Mitchell kind of gets left on the wayside a bit. We've always been dragging him back to humanity and it's a lot harder to bring him back this year."

Is it a challenge keeping the character of George fresh after three series?

"It is a challenge, but I think really that solely lies with the writers. I think they have the biggest challenge. We just get given the material and we bring that to life. We've been really blessed that there are new guest writers coming in, and [creator] Toby [Whithouse] has still got these incredible ideas for story arcs that you can really connect to. The hard work is done by them. If it was [the actors] having to write it, I think we'd all be panicking now! We'd definitely have run out of ideas, but they keep it going."

How much input do you have into the character?

"We put ideas in of what we'd like to do and Toby can either take those or ignore them. Normally he ignores them! But the input that the writers already have is that they know how we are now with our characters. They write for us [as actors] and I think a lot of writers say that when they have an actor in mind, it's easier for them to write. I think that's what they've found with us."

What other hints can you give us about this series?

"The threat comes from within. Herrick comes back too - that's bad! Tricks end up being played on the group from an outside influence. People are being tricked into believing things. The whole thing with Mitchell killing all those people on the train in the last series is a huge storyline. Will anybody discover that Mitchell is the guy? So that's a massive cloud that looms over this whole series for Mitchell and for everyone else."

What is the best thing about being part of the series?

"It's just a cool show. The storylines and the writing are brilliant. As an actor, you want to play every emotion. In the space of an episode, I'm naked, crying, laughing, being stupid, being earnest, being serious. There's an emotional arc constantly and it's just great to play as an actor. Now we're in the third series, the show's got a following and people love it. It's always nice to keep going back to the show when people are so behind it."

As the only actor to have been with the show since the pilot, how do you feel about the whole Being Human experience?

"It's been incredible. It's been a massive part of my life. I remember doing the pilot and thinking 'This is brilliant, I'd love this to go [to series]'. Being with the show for this long, I only have positive feelings. If you get involved with a project, you want people to watch it and like it. People do love this show and that's awesome."

Being Human returns for a new series on January 23 on BBC Three.

By Morgan Jeffery

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