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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Being Human – Russell Tovey plays George

Being Human

Russell Tovey plays George, a down-to-earth hospital porter who every full moon transforms into a blood-thirsty werewolf.

He explains that there is much more to Being Human than the supernatural element.

"There's so many layers to it – it's not just about a vampire, werewolf and ghost – it's about three people struggling with life and trying to cope, which everybody can relate to. I would describe it as a kind of This Life/Cold Feet/Buffy."

After the response to the pilot Russell couldn't wait to be back on board for a full series.

"The response was amazing – I've never been involved in anything that has got that sort of reaction. My friends watched it and even said that's the best thing I've been in! There were whispers and rumours that a series was on the cards after the pilot, so when I got the official call it was incredible."

On reading the scripts Russell was instantly excited about the journeys that scriptwriter Toby Whithouse takes the characters on.

"With Toby's writing you're completely like 'wow, where did that come from?!' Everything is just brilliant; when it comes down to one-liners, or a situation and everything is just off-centre and quirky and suits the piece."

When describing George, Russell explains: "He's a screwed up fellow but he's also got a heart of gold, he's a sweetheart and he doesn't want to hurt anyone. I think people will find him a bit odd but he's a very endearing, loveable guy.

"He just wants to be normal, and I suppose a lot of people in life struggle with this if they're somehow different. They just want to be the norm but the point is, what is the norm?"

George couldn't be any more different to his laid-back flatmate and best friend Mitchell, but it's these differences that make the relationship work.

"He loves Mitchell to pieces – but he has a problem with him in the fact that Mitchell seems to be sorted and cool and calm and collected, whereas George is this neurotic Jewish, slightly camp at times, guy! They have a kind of odd couple relationship."

His relationship with Annie is slightly more complicated, as Russell explains.

"It's complete sods law to George, moving into a house to be normal and then there's a ghost there! So I think for George his relationship towards Annie is slight resentment and a slight annoyance. He's always battling against her being around because it doesn't fit his quota of what he wants to be the norm."

Transforming into a werewolf for the series was a multi-stage process involving Russell, a seven foot animatronics werewolf, two prosthetic heads and a prosthetic torso.

Talking through the transformation Russell says: "It starts off with me, then me with fake teeth and contact lenses, then I've got hair laid on to make my face look hairier. The next stage is me with a prosthetic neck, then there's two different prosthetic heads and a prosthetic torso. It's mad, when we were watching a playback of it I thought 'is that me? Oh no that's the head!' because it looks incredibly real!"

There was one element of filming that Russell took time to get accustomed to: "I'm naked a lot so you're running through the woods and there's a 20 strong crew watching you and it's cold! I'm playing a Jew in this but I'm not Jewish so I don't think they'll ever be showing any full frontal shots – I'm not that method!

"Once you've been filmed naked once you become normal with it. I filmed one scene and they gave me the option to film it with my clothes on and I just said 'Let's do it with the clothes off, eh?'"

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