Monday, January 30, 2012

Kristen Hager talks non-monstrous job of 'Being Human'

Hager as Nora, courtesy Syfy

So you think transforming into a werewolf is ugly business? Try joining a new series as a recurring love interest/lycanthropic character originated by another actor on the British source material. As if that's not quite enough of a challenge for an actor, add in the fact that the showrunners for this re-imagined series plan to go in a completely different direction than the original show, and your character could get a silver bullet in any episode.

Still, as tough as that seems, Kristen Hager isn't concerned. Already an accomplished actor with film and TV credits including I'm Not There, AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem, Wanted and the MTV vampire show Valemont, Hager is loving her new digs on the Syfy network's Being Human - werewolf changes, threat-of-death and all. Though she hasn't quite moved in and begun paying rent on the house of werewolf boyfriend Josh (Sam Huntington), vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) and ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath), she is the show's fourth roommate as nurse Nora.

Similar to actress Sinead Keenan, Hager's counterpart on the British version of the show, Hager plays Nina as a suffer-no-fools smart-ass who manages to fit in with the menagerie of monsters quite well as a formidable foil. But Hager ups the level of sexy toughness with Nora, and her character arc in Season Two appears to focus on her anger and reluctance to join the crowd of the cursed - while also dealing with the joys of a supernatural pregnancy.

Paranormal Pop Culture caught up with Hager to talk about her role as Nora and joining the trio of actors for a second season filled with beastly action, as well as how she has managed to spend so much time in the paranormal world with aliens, zombies and cute vampires.

PPC: One of things about the show is how much chemistry there is amongst the actors. We're initially introduced to the three (Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meghan Rath) and then you kind of join in. Was it daunting to join this tight group as sort of the fourth roomie?

KH: The moment I first met Sam Huntington, he gave me a big hug and was like, "it's so great to meet you." It was the exact same thing with Meghan, and the exact thing with Sam Witwer. I've never worked with such open, inviting, fantastic actors. From day one I felt like I was immediately part of a family, which is unlike any other job I've ever had. It's such a special, special group.

PPC: During the second season you're hanging out in the house a little bit more, so is there a sense of sort of a girls vs. boys now we've got two women and two men?

KH: Yeah, there's so much excitement when I can finally see Meghan. And when Megan was on, she was like, "I'm doing a scene with another girl!" because all her scenes have been just Sam and Sam.

PPC: The Sams seem like the typical nerdy boys, and Megan seems to kind of tolerate it and go along with goofiness a lot of times. Is that sort of the dynamic?

KH: Oh yeah. Everyone's always taking the piss out of each other and making everyone laugh and definitely, you know Sam Witwer likes the Star Wars stuff. But Meghan as well is super funny and they're just three incredibly dynamic individuals. I don't know, I just think that they play so well off each other that they're so excited and happy, but I am so excited and happy, too to be able to play along with them. You definitely do have that sense when you're around them that are always on and engaging.

PPC: Is that a good challenge for you because it keeps you sharp?

KH: Yeah, exactly, but also more than that. It makes the days go by quickly and it makes me really love going to work.

PPC: Is that typical for most of your jobs, or is that kind of unique?

KH: No, it's so unique. I've been fortunate that most of the sets I've been on, everyone's always been very friendly and easy to work with, but this is by far the exception. It is like I literally getting home at night and can't wait for it to be 5 a.m. the next day so that I can get back to work because it's so much fun working with them.

PPC: Since this is a reboot or re-imagining of the UK show, what choices did you make to sort of not mimic or not be too closely compared to your British counterpart Sinead Keenan?

KH: I chose to go into this entirely on my own. I've never seen an episode of the British series. I just decided to do my own thing, so I have no idea how similar our characters are. I know nothing about the character arc. I didn't want it to influence me and I felt like it would.

PPC: So then, at what point did you find out that you would become a pregnant werewolf?

KH: There were some whispers on set, but I literally found out when I got the script and saw the line that says, "Josh, I'm pregnant."

PPC: As far as the werewolf part, you got the scratch at the end of the first season ...

KH: Exactly. People talk and I obviously knew without having had to have seen the British series - I knew that Nora turns into a werewolf. So there was always that at the back of my mind that that could potentially happen. And then there's the scratch. Nothing is set in stone at the end of Season One, but I was like 99.9% sure I'd be a werewolf and sure enough we start with a bang in episode one.

PPC: Was there ever a thought process like, "I got this job, I like it, I like my coworkers, but I'm sure they're going kill me off because I'm the obvious choice, and the love interest"?

Hager, Huntington, Rath examining new werewolf digs
courtesy Syfy
KH: That thought was always there, too, at the back of my mind. But you know what? If there's one show you should die on, it's this show because you could always come back as a ghost. I'd be like, you have to bring me back. But you'll find out in Season Two that a lot of people may or may not show up again at some point later in the season. I think you can figure it out because of that. So yeah, of course I was always worried that they could kill me, but dying on the show is not the end. [laughs]

PPC: And of course, it would seem like you're referring to Mark Pellegrino's character, Bishop?

KH: Of course. Yeah. Well, him and others.

PPC: And is Mark going to come back as a zombie or a-

KH: Wouldn't that be perfect? To mix it up with more, bring in more of the supernatural element?

PPC: Back to Nora. The show is very sexy but vampires always get to be sexy. Is there anything sexy about being a female werewolf?

KH: I really had to wrap my head around this and really try and find out what's sexy about being a werewolf. It is like becoming a vampire: your senses are heightened and you feel incredible in your body, and are connected to nature and very grounded and very powerful. So therefore, yeah, it is sexy. It makes you feel sexy, and so I really had to, you know, embrace that part of it because physically - turning into a dog is not the sexiest of transformations!

PPC: With Sam Huntington, he can tear off his shirt and then kinda do the incredible hulk thing and writhe on the ground. But you, as a woman on TV, have to cover things up a little bit more. So whose transformation is more difficult?

KH: The best man, Sam, hands down. He wins because of the fact that you can't really have me busting out of my shirt or ripping my shirt off all of the sudden, so even though I literally spent four hours with a prosthetic - with the prosthetic people ahead of time doing all the casting - I actually have the chest cast, and the back, and the face, etc. but because it's less exciting without my clothes ripping off, I really didn't have to wear as many of the prosthetic pieces as I got made. So he has it worse than me because he had to spend hours and hours and hours. Whereas I just really had cheeks, claws, and then the dots on my face when they do the CGI. That was pretty much the extent. I don't even know if I'm allowed to be saying this, but that's the extent of my transformation - which is great for me, but a lot of waking up in the nude in the forest. They definitely compensated by there being many, many wake-ups [after changing back]. Which is something they can show because you can place appropriate leaves in appropriate places.

PPC: What about this new kind of breed of werewolf that you guys encounter?

KH: I could definitely tell you that they come in as powerful werewolves, like none we've ever encountered before. And even though I immediately dislike them, I may end up liking them more than I think I will because I feel like they have a lot of answers to a lot of questions that I have.

PPC: Nora is so outwardly pissed off about what happens to her, so is there any potential for her to go off on her own or, instead of being a love interest, becoming more of a rival to the other roommates?

KH: In theory but Nora's got a good journey this season. There'll be a lot of surprises I think, and a lot of struggles trying to figure out what this means to her. I'm going to have some difficult decisions to make. That's probably all I should say for now.

PPC: You did attack, and maybe kill, a vampire in the second episode. Do we see you get a lot more action?

KH: I definitely have a lot of action as you put it. Yeah, there's some good action sequences that's going on in there, for sure.

PPC: What was your interest in this kind of genre before this job came along?

KH: My career has gone off in this direction. I've done a lot of sci-fi stuff, so I felt very comfortable in this world.

PPC: Do you enjoy watching those kind of shows and movies and stuff, like vampires, werewolves, ghosts?

KH: Oh yeah, definitely. Since I was very young. I loved The Lost Boys as a kid, and then Bram Stoker's Dracula. I've always loved the genre. You know, I think every girl, like every adolescent girl growing up has a vampire thing. I don't what it is. There's something weirdly romantic about them, hence the reason why Twilight is such a success.

Courtesy Syfy
PPC: And you just completed a movie called A Little Bit Zombie?

KH: Yes, I did. It is a Canadian independent film, that's actually premiering at the Gala Canadian opener of the Victoria Film Festival in a month? Actually not even a month, maybe in February? Two weeks? And so yeah, I'm heading up there. I haven't seen it yet, but it's a really funny, zombie romantic comedy. I'm a human; my brother turns into a zombie, and it's like he becomes infected with some sort of virus. We're trying to figure out what's wrong with him, and it turns out, it's a zombie virus.

PPC: Anything else on your horizon?

KH: At the moment, I'm auditioning and waiting to hear what's happening with Season Three of Being Human. I have another Canadian film coming out called Servitude which is a comedy coming out March 30 across Canada about a bunch of waiters taking over a restaurant, the system fighting the system.