Interview with Sam Witwer of Being HumanMarch 12, 2014
If you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre, particularly on television, then you’ve probably seen Sam Witwer. From the expansive universe of SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, to the heroic adventures on CW’s Smallville, to the dark humor of SyFy’s dramatic series Being Human, Witwer has delivered time-after-time in roles that reside only in our imaginations. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Sam about his role in a variety of entertainment mediums, as well as his dedication to the fans.
The fact that Sam has been involved in so many beloved sci-fi series really piqued my curiosity. He provided a rather modest response as to why, “Well, you know, I just get hired for this stuff.” He added, “It seems like the stuff that I’ve done that has gotten the most exposure is the genre stuff.” But, not without a sense of humor, he quoted Michael Corleone from The Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
As I came to learn over the course of the interview, Sam is a student of theatrical entertainment, and I was impressed with the unflagging nature in which he consumes it. Witwer himself is a fan of such things at heart, and as a fan, he’s able to portray roles in a manner in which he would enjoy watching. On his ability to physically and verbally manifest those ideas, Sam said, “If you’re a fan of this stuff, you’re already used to stretching your thinking a little bit, and that’s definitely required to give them (roles) justice.”
He expounded on just how far his thinking is stretched, “The fun thing about these genres is that there’s circumstances that you never really get to play around with like a lot of traditional shows: when do you have to imagine being 200 years old? On Being Human they throw me ridiculously challenging material… the challenge is always making it as real as you can make it.”
As most fans of Being Human know, the show concludes on April 7th, after four successful seasons. Sam was extremely open and honest as to why the show was ending: casting challenges, budgetary concerns, and also the difficulties of coming up with original material. Witwer expanded on that last notion, “The British series has done 37 episodes about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost with two different casts. We’ve done over 50, so between them, that’s a hell of a lot of stories with vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. I mean how many more can you come up with before you run out of ideas… I think it’s good to go out on top, it’s good to go out while you’re strong.”
It was refreshing to get a blunt, yet honest answer, and it speaks to the desire of the cast to deliver quality content, Sam concluded, “None of us wanted to do a bad version of the show, none of us, we cared about it way too much.” As a fan of pop culture, and one who often spends money on things made out of paper or plastic, I appreciated that Witwer and the rest of the cast weren’t just going to collect paychecks if the content didn’t meet their standards.
As a fan, I can appreciate that sentiment, and I shared with Sam my experience of meeting him at a local convention a few years ago as a fan of his work (Smallville). Not all actors choose to attend conventions, especially while they are still in the prime of their careers. However, Witwer is someone who makes regular appearances throughout the calendar year.
His response as to why he attends so many was honest and straightforward, “The conventions are exhausting, but they are important, right. They are important because it’s important to look the fans in the eye, shake their hands, give them some respect because these are the people you’re doing it for, for one thing, and these are the people that are supporting your career.” He continued, “These people are the lifeblood of your career, so it’s important to have a relationship with them, I think.”
As my interview with Sam came to a close, I expressed my appreciation for his gravitas not only in the roles he played, but in the way he approached those opportunities. In addition to acting, he is focusing on his music career with his band The Crashtones – about to release their second album. Make no mistake, it’s not because there’s a shortage of opportunities. Sam has read numerous scripts, but he is one actor that cares more about the material than the money, “I don’t do these jobs for the money, I really don’t. I do them if they are challenging and they have the potential to be good, and that’s the motivation.”
For the fans out there that enjoy seeing Sam flesh-out characters that we can only imagine, it’s unfortunate that he won’t be frequenting our television sets in the near future. With that said, it’s comforting to know that the next time he does, he’ll be giving it his all, not just for himself and his craft, but for the fans.