Interview Date: 07/19/2010
Run Date: 07/27/2010
The lovely Lenora Crichlow is mostly unknown to U.S. audiences, unless of course you’re a fan of the BBC America series “Being Human” (Saturdays at 9PM). Crichlow plays one third of a trio of roommates comprised of a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost. The striking actress [dis]embodies the latter - the spirit of Annie Sawyer, doomed to an afterlife of making tea and wearing the same eternal grey outfit. And yet in Crichlow’s performance there’s hope for something better, as Annie tries to make it in a world she shouldn’t even exist in, alongside her two best friends. Lenora took time out in between shooting Season Three and heading off to Comic-Con to talk to Bullz-Eye about what sets “Being Human” apart from other supernatural fare, the ongoing progression of the concept, and her phantasmagorical Uggs
Bullz-Eye: Lenora! How are you?
Lenora Crichlow: I’m OK, Ross. How are you? Nice to hear from you.
BE: Actually we met briefly last year at TCA.
LC: Oh, did we?
BE: Yes, you were standing in a hallway and we talked for a little bit. Are you going to Comic-Con this year?
LC: We are! We fly out tomorrow, and we’ll be in San Diego for Friday and Saturday, and so that’s really exciting.
BE: Now, if I remember correctly, there was quite the stir when you guys appeared there last year.
LC: The response was really amazing, very unexpected, and very, very lovely. So lovely we’re coming back!
BE: I just finally got done watching the first season [of “Being Human”] and I got to see the first episode of Season Two, as well. Season Two starts this weekend on BBC America, so we’re a little bit behind you guys. I want to start off here with kind of a full disclosure: I’m more than a little tired of vampires and werewolves these days.
LC: Well, listen, you and me both. I’m with you on that.
BE: Now, that said, I really like “Being Human.” Do you have any advice or how would you get someone to watch the show if they said to you, “Hey, I’m sick of vampires and werewolves”?
LC: The thing is, “Being Human” does just what it says on the cover. In most of these vampire shows and werewolf shows – supernatural shows in general – there’s some kind of, at the essence of the show, a real celebration of their supernatural selves. The vampires and the werewolves are really glorified (although I haven’t seen “Twilight”) and I think “Being Human’s” stance is struck so differently because it actually comes from a place where the ultimate for these characters would be to be human again. Every single supernatural issue that comes up can quickly lead back to something within the human condition. Even though it is a supernatural show, it just gives the whole thing layers. The characters of Annie, George and Mitchell were originally written without being a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire, so the characters are very fully developed. It has a huge amount of comedy in it, it has amounts of angst, mystery and drama, but at the heart of the show I think you’ve got three very well-rounded human characters, which is something that whether you’re into sci-fi or not you can tap into and relate to. I love the show and I love being in the show and I think as an actress it certainly gives me a lot more to play with when I can bring everything I play with Annie right back home and right back down to earth, and you know, sort of grounded in some sense of reality. I don’t know how good I’d be at being too much out there. As fun as it is, it really does ground the show – the fact that they’re all trying to be human. That’s the show’s selling point and uniqueness.
BE: Well, I will say this – I’m not at all sick of ghosts. (We both laugh.) In fact, Annie is kind of, for me, the unexpected element of the show, because I genuinely have no preconceived notions of what might happen with this character.
LC: Absolutely. Neither do I. She, like Mitchell, is in the space she’s in now for eternity. For the writer that’s a huge challenge to keep it fresh and take her journey to other places, and characters that come into Annie’s life - or death, or should I say afterlife - aren’t there for very long because she’s in this transitional period, so it’s very tough I’m sure to think up things for Annie, but also when the things do come along you’re like, “Wow! Ok. Oh, right. Yeah.” She actually doesn’t move on very much, and she doesn’t have a fight. Mitchell has a fight – the goal to keep from drinking blood. Often when the chips are down and you’ve got something to aim for, that can keep you going. But for Annie it’s just this kind of abyss of nothingness forever. And that sometimes is even more terrifying. Interesting character to play, and write for I guess!
BE: I would imagine so. Do you think of her as a tragic figure?
LC: Very tragic. She is so tragic, because of her situation and, because as much growing and as much healing and as much facing up to and developing and working on herself that she does, she can’t move on, and it comes up a little bit in Series [Season] Two, and then it’s really explored in the third series that we’re looking at now. Just the little things that, you know she is alive, she is a presence, her mind still works, and so she is growing and developing her wants and her needs. Her lifestyle is opening up, and her sense of self is becoming more secure. Of course the natural thing would be to go out there and grab life with both hands, and she can’t. So it’s a very tragic situation. The character itself, I think, had she not died, would probably have its tragic side, but I think the Annie that we see grow and develop is someone that is incredibly passionate and giving and loving and emotional, and those are good traits to set someone on the right road, so I don’t know how tragic she’d be without her situation, but her situation just makes your heart bleed.
BE: It does. It does. There’s no question about it. I feel bad for her that she’s stuck wearing the same clothes forever.
LC: Tell me about it!
BE: How many copies of that outfit do you have?
LC: A lot.
BE: Will she ever get to change out of those clothes?
LC: No. There are some quite subtle changes to her clothes that I don’t know if people have picked up on. Basically as she grows and develops, they shift – they layer up, they layer down, they morph into slightly different things. So that kind of keeps it interesting for me. I’m grasping at straws here – a long grey cardigan as opposed to a short grey cardigan. But she is stuck in that outfit in that state, which is a brilliant way of slipping into character in the morning. You know, you get into character, you curl the hair, and Bob’s your uncle, there’s my girl. It’s quite, now for me, the iconic Annie thing. I can’t imagine her wearing anything else. You could throw at me the idea of “If she could change, what would she wear?” and I’d be lost. It’s part of her identity now.
BE: Well, it’s a very cute outfit, so don’t get me wrong.
LC: Thaaaank you! Can’t hear that enough.
BE: It’s cute, what with the Uggs and all. It’s nice.
LC: You gotta love the Uggs.
BE: You do. You have to. I’m sure you never complain about your feet hurting at the end of the day.
LC: No. This is thing, and I’ve had many a job where I have, so no complaints from me.
BE: Like I said, I only got to watch the first episode of Season Two, but it really seemed like the stakes had been raised tenfold, as far as the possibilities for the show. With this character Kemp, everything just seems to have changed. Am I correct in saying that?
LC: Absolutely. I think Toby [Whithouse], our writer, whose objective would be that each series [season] has a new threat. Series One was the vampires. Series Two are the humans. Series Three is going to have a whole new threat from a different side and of a different sort. And that’s what keeps it interesting. The stakes are very high in Season Two. There’s a lot to lose now. The three of them have found each other now. They have something to live for, they have something to protect, so they start living for each other, because at the end of the day, individually, there’s nothing to go for. They’re all pretty hopeless cases, their conditions being something they will have for life. So I think now that we’ve got Season One out of the way, and we’re a solid unit, that’s at stake now – their friendship, their house, the relationship and the fun they have.
BE: There was something in particular in Season One that I loved, and it was really, really small, too. I think it started in Episode Two. You were being manhandled by Dean Lennox Kelley and you called him Owen. It was just this great little moment, and then I think in Episode Three – bam! Wow. Even at the time it was happening, I thought, “Wait a minute, there’s something going on there.”
LC: Yeah, yeah. It goes to show that Annie is in such deep denial. It was such a deeply buried truth about the reality of her death. And that’s something that continues – her absolute fear of being real about the men she’s with is unreal. She wants it to be as perfect as it is in her head, and she really struggles with the reality of the relationships she’s in. I think that’s a very common thing when you’re in love, or when you have so much love to give, and you choose someone and you invest in them, and you just make it work. And if that means putting on a smile, if that means forgetting very quickly, if that means making excuses, you just do it. And that is something that Annie does. She doesn’t want the pain of the reality of the man she’s with, even if it’s not that bad. She wants to smile, make a cup of tea, and say happy family. It’s a dream; it’s what she wants out of life. Ultimately she wants a family, she wants to be loved, she wants to give love.
BE: She seems as though she’s just getting more and more powerful as the series goes on.
BE: That’s not my imagination either, hopefully.
LC: No. She definitely grows in who she is, and in her ghost state. She’s definitely finding her feet as it were – really growing into those Uggs.
[Huge burst of laughter from both of us.]
LC: She’s owning every grey cardigan she slips into. [More laughter.]
BE: That’s hilarious. Well, Lenora, anything else you want to tell our readers?
LC: Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and keep watching, and I hope they enjoy Season Three as well.
BE: When is that going to be on the air in the U.K.?
LC: I think in January sometime, because we’re filming at the moment, and we just finished the first three episodes. We’ll get it to you as soon as we can!
BE: That’d be great. Thank you for your time, Lenora. I really appreciate it.LC: Thank you Ross. My pleasure. Speak to you soon.