Last week I sat in on Dichen Lachman’s Being Human conference call to discuss her addition to the cast. Lachman plays Suren, a vampire royal with an intense on-again, off-again (yet unconsummated) relationship with Aidan (Sam Witwar), our favorite angsty vampire. Season one of Syfy’s Being Human closed with Aidan dispatching his leader, confidant, and personal devil, Bishop (Mark Pellegrino), to become the interim leader of the Boston vampire clan. Season two opened with the vampire queen bestowing actual rule onto her daughter with Aidan serving as the daughter’s second-in-command. Although entombed in the ground for eighty years for an offense possibly involving Aidan, Suren will work with him to rule the Boston clan.
The actors and actresses I enjoy talking to most are those who put thought into their characters and the characters of their co-workers. Lachman surprised me through her humility, her understanding of the show and its inner-workings, as well as her awareness of herself as an actress. While I don’t know if she watched the show before they brought her on or after, her description of the show and the Aidan character seemed dead on. She detailed the show as a balance between tragedy and comedy, which it is.
There are some people who view acting as something incredibly easy. But, it isn’t. It’s hard work. I enjoyed hearing her describe character construction as “craft-based.” I was afraid that she’d play the character in the one-dimensional sexy, cold vampire temptress we typically see nowadays. However, in the interview she stated she wanted to avoid creating the stereotypical bitchy character, which excited me. She wanted someone more relatable. She described Suren as a “damaged” and “reckless” person, aware of her aristocratic inheritance, who iteratively pulls Aidan into the vampire world. Some of their conflict arises because she can't accept his new self. Lachman analogized it with re-meeting an old college friend only to discover they’ve changed. We won’t see Lachman overtly interpret the 80-year entombment's insanity or her character's modern-day adjustment. While she will experience some growing pains, the production staff viewed vampires as necessarily adaptable, whose long lives wouldn't view 80 years as a long period. Lachman didn’t know if they wrote Suren with her in mind or modified it, but she felt (and feels) a connection to her.
Although most actors pretend that CGI and other special effects fold effortlessly into the performance, she described the foibles of dealing with modern-day techniques. While she dealt with CGI before, she admits it’s the first time she had to incorporate it into the performance through body angles and mouth effects to help with the CGI vampire fang-growing. And, she laughingly described a scene where neither she nor Sam could see through their vampire contacts.
Her self-deprecating, self-aware humor impressed me. She gently mocked Hollywood for its alleged amount of therapists. Then, she laughingly mocked herself for requiring one for relying on her fans’ support. As an African-American, I liked that she remains aware of her race and her position as an Asian actress in Hollywood. She loves science fiction and fantasy because those genres do not pigeonhole her. She joked about a friend who calls himself an “Asian from the future” (which possibly describes her role in the sci fi universe). She enjoys Being Human because it allows her to interact in period drama through its flashbacks without marginalizing her as disposable Asian prostitute #1. She especially mentioned gratitude to Joss Whedon for the variety Dollhouse offered.
I managed to ask her three questions about where season two’s finale might leave her character, how her character's relationship with Aidan differed from Rebecca’s, and if Aidan and Suren might consummate their relationship this season. In response, she described more of her character’s backstory with Aidan. Vampire politics fought to keep her character romantically separate from Aidan (although I didn't ask why). Despite her current temptation of Aidan, he continuously cares for her, based on their shared history. Although Aidan killed every vampire in season one who he loved (the vampire child, Bishop, Rebecca), she couldn’t say definitively if their relationship would end violently or not. However, she feels the relationship differs from his on-again/off-again Rebecca relationship, due to their longevity. Regarding if Aidan and Suren might knock boots this season, she laughed and said we’re “very smart people” and could figure it out.
Overall, I enjoyed listening to Lachman, her melodic voice and her intense energy. Luckily, when I started to fear for the amount of energy and thought she threw back at us, she started to sound slightly tired towards the call’s end. I definitely look forward to her Suren interpretation, which she described as continuously growing. Last season, Being Human was my incredibly addictive TV drug and I hope that continues throughout season two.