Top 6 Things You Should Know about Syfy's Bitten
With its new werewolf series debuting tonight, Syfy recently held a press call with star Laura Vandervoort and Kelley Armstrong, author of the Women of the Otherworld series on which the show is based; and we have the Top 6 Things You Should Know About "Bitten" before watching the premiere.
Vandervoort elaborates: I grew up doing martial arts. So Elena feels like the other part of me. I relate to so much about her. Obviously not the werewolf part, but the fact that she can take care of herself physically... the writers [even] wrote in some extra hand-to-hand combat scenes. And especially in the finale -- we have this epic fight that I just had a great time doing. We had great stunt coordinators that help us incorporate the animalistic side to the fighting. It wasn't a part of the audition, but I think [my background] definitely benefits the character [along with] the fact that most of the actors on the show are physically able to do the fight scene sequences.
Armstrong explains: I was in a writing group. And as part of a writing group, you're expected to actually write new stuff. I was trying to come up with an idea, sat down, and watched "X-Files." It was way back in their first season. Their one and only werewolf episode. It was your typical big guy who changes into some beast-like thing and goes around slaughtering people under the full moon. And I said, "That's not how I would do werewolves." And for a writer, that then sparks, "How would I do them?" And I wrote a short story with this character named Elena, and I loved that world so much that I wrote a book... I wanted to create a character who would be a werewolf and be uncomfortable with that role but ultimately come to embrace it. So often we -- at that time -- saw werewolves [as having] a curse, something that you wanted to end, to get out of. And I wanted a character who -- while she would feel that she should think that way -- really deep down doesn't. And Bitten was about coming to understand that what you think you should be is not always what you're meant to be.
Vandervoort describes them: Our werewolves are actually more down to earth. They’re life-sized to any other wolf. It's not a fantasy show. It's as realistic as we can be with the situation at hand. And the wolves have the actors' eyes and the same coloring -- their fur is the same coloring as the hair. Obviously we are dealing with a mythical idea of werewolves, but we're trying to make it as true to life as we can. And that's making sure the werewolves aren't any different to a typical wolf.
Armstrong adds: This book was written in the 90s... the late 90s when I didn't have to worry about what else was out there. My point of reference was, like, The Wolf Man and American Werewolf in London... I'm saying, "Okay, what's currently out there, and how can I be different?" If anything, the fact that I wrote about werewolves was a huge strike against me because nobody knew how to sell a book where the werewolves weren't monsters. So when I’m comparing it to other things, that's a whole lot tougher for me because... I built mine from folklore. I'm a huge folklore geek, and I went through everything I knew about werewolves and cherry-picked what bits of folklore made the most sense if putting it into a contemporary context where I want people to believe that the werewolves could actually live next door. So there are lots of things in the folklore -- like they can only be killed by a silver bullet -- [that] don't realistically work if you're trying to say they have existed for hundreds of years unknown. The only Teen Wolf I know is that old Michael J. Fox movie. So totally different, different thing.
Vandervoort chimes in: I'm sort of the same world. I love Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf -- and that's about it. I really didn't watch a lot of werewolf movies or TV shows. But I know there are some out there. They are for younger audiences, and I think they're more geared towards the teens... "Bitten" is very much adult in that it's risky and it's raw and it's sexy. And like [Kelley] said, it is to the point where you feel like you could live next to a werewolf and not really know because of the way they’ve lived. They live in this beautiful home. They're cultured. Our pack alpha -- played by Greg Bryk -- is just very intellectual and artistic. They sit down to nice meals, and they only kill what's necessary for food or to protect. They're very educated. And so they're not monsters even though Elena has trouble at the beginning seeing herself as anything but a monster.
Vandervoort explains: That's been a wonderful part of the show... We don't have to do the furry prosthetics and [sit] in the makeup chair for four or five hours in the morning. We have a wonderful visual effects team; some of them worked on the Life of Pi -- on the tiger's fur. So they're just amazing artists who know exactly how to make the fur move and [look] in certain lights. And we have a German Shepherd that will run throughout the scene, and we'll get the motion of the wolf and then capture that onto camera with our visual effects wolves. So... it's more of the transition from human to wolf that the actors portray -- the bones shifting and snapping and contorting. And then after that it's all visual effects with the actors' eyes.
Vandervoort describes it: It's complicated. She grew up in a foster care system so never really had much of a family dynamic. So once she's "bitten" into the pack, it's conflicted because... it wasn't by her own will. They bit her. And she had to survive it on her own. But at the same time she finally has a family that she's always wanted and people who will look out for her. So she's torn between what she's always wanted and how she got it -- and then the life that she should be living in Toronto. But eventually within the season you realize that she is very close with the pack and she is their best tracker and she does love them all equally in different ways. And wants to help them and help the family.
Armstrong further explains: What I was doing when I was creating my werewolves is really basing them on -- as much as possible -- a wild wolf pack... it's not as if being bitten brings you in, but what it does is it strengthens that instinct for pack. It strengthens that instinct to need to be with others who are like you and to form tight, tight bonds -- as an actual wolf pack does. So while she's not drawn to these particular people, she is drawn to the idea of needing to be in a close-knit group like that. And, of course, because of her circumstances, it's the American pack.
Vandervoort adds: At the beginning [when Elena abandons the pack], all she's truly thinking is she needs to escape and she needs to get away from the people that have betrayed her -- especially Clay. And just get back to Toronto and live a normal life. But... within the first year of being back in Toronto and staying away from the pack, she does feel this internal pull to be with them. And like Kelley said, I think that that's just maybe a part of the DNA or just a family mentality that she's never had that she finally does. So it is tough for her. I don't think she shows it. But it is tough for her to be away from the pack. And obviously... they need her... she is rare. She is the only female to have ever survived the bite. And she is the best tracker. And they all do have a love for her, but they also respect the distance that she needs to deal with what has happened and how much her life has changed.
Armstrong says: I really didn't have any influence. And that is what I felt was the correct stance to be taken. I mean, a TV show is an adaptation. It is another version for a different medium. And to take a book and translate it directly to screen would make a very boring book. Because I will warn you, in [the books] I spent way too much time in Elena's head. And to put that on the screen would have been boring. Somebody else has to take it with fresh eyes and reconstruct it for a different medium. And I personally feel that by getting involved -- I'm, of course, so attached to my characters and so attached to my world -- I would be objecting to things that I shouldn't be objecting to. And I was so thrilled with the early scripts I read. I was so thrilled with the writing and how they got the characters. And yes, there are changes, but there should be. And I was quite happy to leave it in everyone's capable hands and just step back... this is my work envisioned by other writers and by actors. And I'm thrilled to have that happen. I'm thrilled to have current readers see it on a screen and new people see it. But it's not supposed to be my books translated to the small screen.
"Bitten" kicks off on Monday, January 13th, at 10PM following the season premieres of "Lost Girl" (Season 4; 8PM) and "Being Human" (Season 4; 9PM) on Syfy. It's also airing on Space in Canada and HBO Nordic in the Scandinavian countries.
A new breed of werewolves is coming to Syfy with the acquisition of the first season of the new Canadian scripted series "Bitten" from leading independent studio Entertainment One (eOne). Season 1 of "Bitten" consists of 13 one-hour episodes.
Based on the New York Times best-selling Women of the Otherworld novels by Kelley Armstrong, "Bitten" is an emotionally charged supernatural thriller starring Laura Vandervoort ("Smallville," Ted) as Elena Michaels, the lone female werewolf in existence.
Desperate to escape both a world she never wanted to be part of and the man who turned her into a werewolf, Elena (Vandervoort) has abandoned her Pack and taken refuge in a new city. There, she works as a photographer and hides her werewolf existence from her new boyfriend. When bodies start turning up in her Pack’s backyard, Elena finds herself back at Stonehaven, the werewolves’ ancestral domain. Torn between two worlds and two loves, she quickly realizes that – when push comes to shove – she’ll stop at nothing to defend her Pack.
"Bitten" also stars Greg Bryk (A History of Violence, "Rookie Blue") as werewolf Pack “Alpha” Jeremy Danvers, Greyston Holt ("Alcatraz," "Durham County") as Elena’s werewolf ex-boyfriend Clayton Danvers, and Paul Greene ("The Client List," "Wicked Wicked Games") as Elena’s current beau, Philip McAdams.
Episode 1.01 - "Summons"
Elena, bitten and turned into a werewolf, flees to Toronto but is pulled back to upstate New York when an all-out war between rogue mutts and her Pack family begins.
For more info visit "Bitten" on Syfy.com.
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