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Interview with the Werewolf

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A werewolf walks into a pub, not an unusual occurrence on Being Human. That also sounds like the lead-in to a punch line, but werewolf George is anything but a joke, and Russell Tovey’s eagerly awaiting fans took their opportunity to interview the actor very seriously. On hand for a fan gathering at Cricketer’s Arms in Orlando, Tovey answered questions about his TV and film roles.


Although Tovey may be best known to U.S. audiences as George, his list of stage, film, and TV credits illustrates his versatility and increasing popularity. Perhaps best-known on stage and in film as Rudge in The History Boys, Tovey is also recognized by Doctor Who fans as Midshipman Alonso Frame. In addition, he is a playwright who appreciates the nuance of a good story.


When asked if, out of all these roles, becoming famous as a TV werewolf is a bit worrisome, the actor merely smiled, “Not at all.” Tovey emphasized how great it is for U.S. audiences to be aware of his work. “Sci fi, especially vampires and werewolves, at the moment is huge, and there’s a big following out there. I’m really happy to be recognized by that.”


Tovey is as curious as his fans to know what George will do next. “The writing is amazing. It surprises me,” he enthused. Although the first series increased the humor to offset the drama, Tovey liked the acting challenges provided by the second season’s darker twists. When asked where he might like to see his character go in future episodes, he joked that perhaps George and girlfriend Nina might settle down and have some little werewolf cubs. Wherever George takes him, however, Tovey seems happy to go on the journey.


Appearances at events like this smaller gathering enhance the show’s good word of mouth as much as sessions at larger conventions, such as Orlando’s Megacon or San Diego’s Comic-Con, where a Being Human Q&A is scheduled again this year. U.S. fan conventions are increasingly becoming an important way to market TV series, especially imports. Being Human is one of the latest in a series of BBC-originated programs (including Doctor Who and Torchwood) being marketed to U.S. cable audiences.


The actors appreciate and interact well with their fans, even if they still seem somewhat surprised at their growing American fandom. Although SyFy is creating a U.S. version, fans happy with the quirky original might find more to like about Being Human, instead of choosing between the two. As one of BBC America’s highest rated shows, Mitchell and company clearly have staked their claim on fans.


The Social Dilemmas of “Being Human”
The universality of the human experience makes this series especially marketable to global audiences. Undoubtedly, “being human” is often a drama offset by black humor, and Being Human merely plays up that fact. Even undead Mitchell or Annie still have to deal with peer pressure and the threat of not living up to expectations—whether that means becoming leader of the vampires bent on dominating humanity or deciding whether to go through the doorway to an afterlife shadowed by men with sticks and rope. Poor George not only has to worry about a safe place to spend the next full moon, but how his condition affects his love life and lover.


A strength of Being Human, as a series or reality, is the ability to laugh at the irony of modern existence and to band together with supportive friends and lovers to combat the aching loneliness of being “other.” Quirky but not campy, British but humanly universal in situation and appeal, Being Human helps audiences identify with average people whose futures are unexpectedly and unalterably changed in one brutal moment. In 2010, many viewers can relate.


The “monsters” in our world, as well as Annie’s, Mitchell’s, and George’s, seem to be winning the war. Seeing the “inhuman other” (that is, the series’ main characters) keep fighting back, even winning the occasional battle, is a compelling story that gives hope to fans. For that alone, Being Human deserves a closer look.


Sources


Lynnette Porter is the author of Benedict Cumberbatch, In Transition: An Unauthorised Performance Biography (MX Publishing, 2013) and The Doctor Who Franchise (McFarland, 2013), and the author/editor of Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century (McFarland, 2012), among many other books and chapters about television or film. She writes the monthly PopMatters column Deep Focus and wrote two essays published in PopMatter's Joss Whedon book (Titan, 2012). Dr. Porter is a professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.


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