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SFX Issue 192

March 2010


Aidan Turner

There’s not enough romping in Being Human, reckons the guy who plays vampire Mitchell

While he’s got the looks to play a vampire, you have to wonder if Irish actor Aidan Turner has quite got the attitude. “I need sun!” he implores. “I’ve got SAD!”

To be fair, Mitchell, the vampire Turner plays in Being Human – currently back on BBC Three for its second season – is certainly one of the screen’s swarthier bloodsuckers. Edward Cullen may look like he’s auditioning to be the Joker, but Mitchell looks like he must have been sired while taking a Mediterranean vacation. So it’s not so surprising that when you ask Turner what he’s enjoyed best about working in the second series he responds, “We got to see the sun this time. My overriding memory of filming last year was being cold, but we started filming a bit earlier in the year this time.”

Not that he’s dissing Bristol, where the show’s filmed. “I love Bristol,” he enthuses. “Some of the shots we’ve got this year are fantastic. I struggle to believe some of these locations are in Bristol. Really gritty, dirty, iconic locations.” He sure knows how to sell the place.

We’re chatting in his trailer, which, for someone who professes to love the sun so much, is incongruously parked inside a gargantuan old warehouse next to the Being Human studio. He’s been shooting scenes from the second episode on the set of the house shared by the unlikely trio of vampire Mitchell, ghost Annie and werewolf George. And he’s loving being back.

“The atmosphere has always been amazing on this set,” he says, “but the energy is different now. Because last year we didn’t know what we were making. We couldn’t put our finger on it. When something’s so densely written as Being Human , it’s kinda hard to gain any perspective on what the show is like. I’m not a big TV watcher anyway, but it was not like anything I’d seen. So you immerse yourself in this world that is so bizarre, and then you emerge after three months going, ‘Jesus, what did I just do?’ It’s like you going out one night and getting absolutely off your head, and then you wake up the next day and go, ‘Oh my god, what happened?’ That’s what happens when you go to the wrap party. You go, ‘I just spent three months on something and I can’t really remember any of it.’

“But this year we know it’s okay. We’ve seen the show, we’re all very proud of it, everybody loves it. The entire cast is back. So yeah, there’s a great feel this year.”

Part of the buzz comes from the fact that just prior to series two the main cast and the show’s creator Toby Whithouse all went on a press jaunt to the US, to promote the show at the San Diego Comic-Con. “It’s bizarre. It’s crazy. It’s like Glastonbury for geeks. The episode only went out in America the night before, and these people were completely aware of the show. All the questions were very articulate. They were very aware of the show, which kind of led us to believe maybe they had seen it on the internet, you know? It was eerie, but it was brilliant. They’re the loyal fans.”

It’s all a bit bewildering for an actor who confesses he’s “not a really big fan of anything supernatural,” though he does admit that he thought the idea of playing one of the undead was cool. “I got one of those moments. It happened to me once – ‘Shit, I’m a vampire!’ And I never got it back unfortunately, because it felt great. But that seems to be the best way to do it, because as soon as you go and play it, you’re involved in other things – costume fittings, learning dialogue, meeting other actors. And you kinda forget how crazy the whole scene is so you never really think about it again.”

Despite his sun-worshipping side, Turner does think his looks played a part in getting him the role. “There’s a certain sort of stereotype that people have about a vampire. I guess I kinda have that look. I have big moveable eyebrows. My hair was already long, so they could slick it back. But they were also casting to get people who bounced well off each other.”

He also worked closely with the show’s costume designer Stewart Meachem, to nail Mitchell’s look.

“I get on very well with Stuart. We talked about a look, how gothy we wanted to go, and how not gothy, how contemporary… Mitchell, being a guy over 100 years old, would have a lot of back catalogue stuff – old boots, old leather jackets, destroyed jeans, vintage stuff, so there’s a kind of mix and match of stuff there.”

The effort of creating the image was worth it if his fan mail is anything to go by. He admits to getting quite a bit from teenage girls but reckons that his first ever piece of fan mail came from somebody a lot younger. “Yeah! She was only six, and it was the cutest letter in the world. I wrote back and her mum posted something on Facebook about how lovely I was.”

Six? And watching Being Human ?

“Yeah, that’s the first thing I thought. Obviously her mum got her to write it. You could almost see her hand holding the crayon.”