There’s a new vampire in town on BBC America’s Being Human. And starting this Saturday, you’ll get to meet Hal, the 500 Year Old Vampire, as well as the actor who plays him: Damien Molony. Though Molony is a completely new face to television, he’s being thrust into the middle of a long running, reinvented franchise. At the end of the third series, ghost Annie watched as her roommate – werewolf George – killed her boyfriend, the vampire Mitchell, to save him from a fate worse than undeath.
Enter Hal, and returning werewolf Tom, who will team up with Annie to fight an invasion of the Old Ones, ancient vampires whose aim is to take over the world. Oh, also? Hal is an Old One. So there’s that. We chatted with Molony over the phone before the fourth season premiere this weekend (the first three episodes have already been broadcast in the UK), to find out what makes Hal different from Mitchell, what it’s like to wear ridiculous mustaches, and whether there’s a chance the UK and USA versions of the show will ever cross over:
MTV Geek: You haven’t had a lot of TV or movie acting roles before Being Human. What’s it been like going from the stage, to suddenly being on a TV special effects extravaganza?
Damian Molony: I couldn’t believe it! It was my first ever TV job – my only TV job to date. I did the audition, they gave me the role, and I didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for. I knew the show was hugely popular in the UK – and obviously even more so in America. I suppose I was kind of nervously excited about the prospect of doing this amazing TV show. I arrived the first day, and my first scene was with the baby. The baby plays a major part in the entire series, and I wasn’t really sure how to act in front of the camera! They were being very patient with me for the first couple of days… I just learned, as much as I possibly could throughout the entire series.
Geek: They say don’t work with babies or animals… But you were doing both right off the bat!
DM: [Laughs] Straight away! My very first scene, we were having lunch, and the baby was actually crying in the trailer. So the parents said, “Now is a great time to shoot the crying scene with the baby.” I was thrust into this big emotional scene with the baby, during the lunch break where I was preparing myself. But it was great, just so exciting. The cast, and the crew specifically are so passionate about the show, everyone works so hard… It made my job so much easier.
Geek: You’re playing a 500 year old vampire… As a guy, who ISN’T 500 years old, how do you approach that as an actor?
DM: I suppose you find the maturity in the character, and realize that most of the things that happen, he’s probably seen three or four times. He’s been alive for so long, he’s experienced everything there is to experience as a human being. So he’s kind of finding that, I’ve been there, I’ve done that… Believe me. But the reason this show is so fantastic is that it thrusts Hal – and all the characters – into situations that they would never normally find themselves.
It’s a very interesting question because he has traveled the world, and he has torn across Europe as a bloodthirsty vampire, and suddenly he’s in a barbershop in London trying to stay off blood. It was a real challenge finding that maturity, and that grounding, and that knowledge. I suppose it’s kind of a lived in, weathered mentality that everything has happened to you before… You’re just trying to get on with your life.
Geek: You sort of just addressed this, but what makes Hal different from previous Being Human vampire Mitchell?
DM: Obviously Hal is a lot older than Mitchell, and Hal is… On the cool spectrum, where Mitchell is 11, Hal is the complete opposite. He has lived the life that Mitchell had in the ‘50s and ‘60s, of tearing through society and the world, killing women and being a legend. Hal has this bloodthirsty, horrific streak that defines him as this evil Old One. Hal has been trying to stay clean for the past fifty years in this regimented fashion, with Leo the werewolf, and Pearl, the ghost… They’ve been hiding in this barbershop, trying to avoid contact with the outside world. Whereas Mitchell would go out and work in the hospital as a porter, Hal has literally kept himself away from that, hiding in his bubble. When we see him in episode one, he’s still in this safety environment, with 1950’s clothes, and 1950’s hair, and a 1950’s way of speaking, because he’s been hidden away from everything. As the series goes on, he gets immersed into modern life, with Tom and Annie. He’s developed these OCD tactics and techniques to keep his mind clean. Certainly, in terms of Mitchell and his long, black leather coat, Hal is more about his pressed linens and tweed suits.
Geek: One of the cooler aspects of Being Human this season is ‘Being Human: 1955’… Can you talk about that a little bit?
DM: In the first episode, you see a little bit of Hal, and get a taste for what’s happening. In the second episode, it’s really about proper introduction to this other supernatural trinity that has been living in South End. Annie thinks that she is this amazing woman who managed to keep a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire living together in relative clam for the last three series. She finds out in episode two, suddenly there’s this other household that has been doing it equally well – if not better – in another part of the country.
It’s an introduction to Hal, and his relationships with Leo and Pearl. Ultimately, it’s the beginning of Hal’s moving to the house, and getting to know Tom, and getting to know Annie, and coming to terms with losing Leo and Pearl, moving away from them… And now changing nappies, and feeding babies on a regular basis.
Geek: One of the hallmarks of being a vampire on any TV show is getting to wear ridiculous wigs… Have you had the chance yet?
DM: [Laughs] Episode three aired here last Sunday. I have a fake mustache, which has probably gotten more airtime in the papers than my blood-covered torso, that was also in the same scene. That’s the fun part of it, really. In the same way you get to put in fangs, and you get kind of black eyes, putting on wigs, and mustaches, and cool clothes… That’s the best part of it, I always think. You look in the mirror, and it’s like looking at a different person.
Geek: We’re just getting the first episode this week, but with three episodes out in the UK already, what has the reaction been like?
DM: People really seem to like the new household… The new team, I suppose of Annie, Hal, and Tom. We’ve started to come together, and people seem to be really warming to it. Obviously, it was an incredible TV show that constantly raised the bar for the last three years. Going in a new direction like season four is a bold move… But people seem to be responding to it really well, which is so exciting for me. Everyone works so hard to make it as good as it possibly could be, because we know there would be questions asked by the real die-hard fans as to whether Being Human was still good. People seem to have really warmed to us on Facebook, and the blog. I’m really excited to see what everyone in America thinks of it, because the people in America have been so supportive of the show up until now, and hopefully they can stay with us for another couple of series, which would be great.
I hadn’t seen much of the show before I got the job, but as soon as I got the job I watched three series back to back, and I became a massive fan of the show while I was filming it. I really can’t wait to see what the people in America think, especially because the people in the UK have been so positive about it.
Geek: I realize this is totally not up to you, but do you think there’s any chance of a crossover between the UK version, and the USA version of the show?
DM: I think that would hilarious wouldn’t it? I think that would be great. The American show is doing so well, and it’s a credit to the writers of the UK version and the cast that its had this amazing crossover appeal. I’ve never seen the American version, but I know certainly from the online stuff that its doing incredibly well. It’s airing at the moment, and it’s very, very popular. Best of luck to them… It’s great for Being Human fans, that they get to watch a great UK show, and a great US version, it’s brilliant. But I think it would hilarious to see one episode where the UK people go on holiday to America, or vice versa, and suddenly we have to break bread with each other. You could write it!
Geek: Great, thanks! This is working out really nicely for me.
Geek: Last thing, and then I’ll let you go… What’s coming up for Hal over the course of the season? What’s going to make fans scream, go crazy, and get them excited about the new series?
DM: Hal is an Old One, obviously, and there is now from the get go the constant threat that the Old Ones that have been hiding in South America for the past few hundred years or so are finally returning to the UK to take over the world. I think Hal, deep down in his mind knows that when the Old Ones come, he’s going to be faced with a real decision whether he can fight them off, or if he’s not strong enough, he might join them and become one of them, and take over the world with them. He’s faced with that new terror of what will happen when they come.
Another great part of the show is Hal’s relationship with Tom… They’re so different, and they start the series absolutely at each other’s throats, hating each other, vampires and werewolves don’t get along. Over the series, you see a warmth and respect develop between the two of them. And hopefully by the end of the series, they’re close friends. It was developing that with Michael Socha, because he’s such a wonderful actor.
The way the show works, there are moments of sadness, and moments of real horror, and gore. But part of the reason the show works so well is that there are these wonderful comic touches to it. That’s the incredible writing of Toby, and all these people… There are some hilarious episodes this season that I was laughing reading on my laptop. Then you hear them at the read through, you see them on the screen brought to life… And that’s what’s really exciting for me.
Being Human returns to BBC America on Saturday, February 25 at 9/8c.