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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Being Human – Robson Green plays McNair

Robson Green as McNair and Paul Kaye as Vincent

Were you a fan of Being Human before becoming involved in series three?

I absolutely adore the show. I first knew about the show when a friend of mine, Declan O'Dwyer, was asked to direct the pilot. Declan told me about the plot and I just thought that sounded brilliant – what a fantastic premise!

I loved the notion of the relationship and the conflict that would appear through those relationships. I watched the pilot, which I loved, and another director friend of mine said he was working on the first series. What's really interesting about the first series is that people in the industry loved it – it's a very well respected show on many levels, not only creatively but technically as well. Make-up departments love the show and anyone who wants to aspire to better things in make-up want to be part of shows like Being Human, because they invest so much in the prosthetics.

What do you think is so unique about it?

It's simple, it's good writing and a good story – and it's very well told. But the premise is offbeat, that's the unusual thing, it is the relationships that are unique. When you listen to the words that come out in Being Human you're just compelled to listen. Toby has created a beautiful premise and a wonderful story – and it grabs you. Being Human was way ahead of its time, so to speak, and sort of pre-empted the rush in the vampire genre. But Toby was there at the start and I think that's what makes it different and why people want to watch it.

Before you got the role, did you have a preference as to what supernatural you'd play?

The one thing I had said to my agent was: "Get me something offbeat, unusual, something that is against the tide in what people see me in usually." I was on set with Derek Jacobi when the phone rang and Michael said: "How do you feel about playing a werewolf?" and I said no at first, but then he told me it was for Being Human, so I said: "I'll do it. I'll do it tomorrow!"

Derek said: "A werewolf in Being Human, that's a masterstroke! You'd be marvellous! Will one be donning fangs?" It was just fabulous and I was so excited, it was an absolute thrill and you know it's one of those few jobs where money wasn't important, it was just to improve as an actor, just to have the chance to develop and take on an exciting challenge.

And how would you describe your character McNair?

Well, McNair was just a good, hard-working, decent man with lots of integrity. He was living a normal married life and was making his way to the supermarket when he was suddenly abducted by four vampires – as one is on a Saturday night. He was scarred by a werewolf and therefore has become the monster for the rest of his life.

When they actually discover me, we've skipped forward 16 years and McNair now has a son – Tom. McNair has two objectives in life – to protect his son and the love he has for him for the rest of his life, but also to wreak revenge on every living vampire on the planet, with his number one target being Herrick.

How was the dynamic between you and Michael Socha (who plays Tom)?

As soon as I met him he was absolutely wonderful, just one of those rarities in what can be a very fickle and unreal world. He was a very real and down-to-earth young man, who had this lovely genuine approach. He also had that lovely glint in his eye and he had a certain edge to him that is very charismatic.

How does your character come into contact with the housemates initially?

Well, Russell's character come across my son Tom in a forest – this is when George realises there is another young lad like him in Barry. He tells Nina, and when George and Nina finally come across McNair and his son Tom, they seek advice from McNair. McNair has this whole philosophy that the transformation doesn't make you weaker – it makes you more powerful.

That's actually quite different to the other werewolves, because he seems to really embrace it.

Well, the approach I've taken on board is two things in the transformation – McNair enjoys and looks forward to the transformation. He's accepted his fate but, in some perverse way, is enjoying it and especially he's thrilled at the thought of transforming into a monster to destroy Herrick. He also teaches his son Tom to enjoy it, to embrace it, and therefore he will be strong. In McNair's words: "They will become a soldier for the cause."

How did you find the transformation scenes?

Well, I always find as an actor that you've got to step way outside your comfort zone in terms of performing – not only on a psychological level but on a physical level. McNair is a very physical character, so I loved the transformation scenes. I took on a personal trainer so I was prepared for the role on many levels – I enjoyed the thrill of it.

How does it compare with other roles that you've had?

Well, hand on heart, in the 26 years I've been an actor I can count on one hand, in terms of really enjoying the experiences, and Being Human was one of them. For many reasons, the main reasons were the quality of the cast – I mean, Russell Tovey is an exceptional talent, as is Aidan Turner, and I loved working with Lenora and Sinead.

The writing was wonderful, but just in terms of the challenge it was so different and so unexpected and it was just more for myself rather than the audience, if that makes sense. You know I was really stepping outside my comfort zone in many ways, and I think it's paid off.

Have you seen any of the finished episodes?

I have – I've seen some scenes that I'm very pleased with, in many ways. Working in Wales and Cardiff with the cast has been an experience that I won't forget for a long time.

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