The sci-fi drama series Bitten, based on the first of best-selling author Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld novels, tells the story of lone female werewolf Elena Michaels (Laura Vandervoort), a woman desperate to escape a world she never wanted to be a part of. The betrayal of having been turned sent her running to try to lead a normal life away from her pack family, until she’s pressured to return to help track down a killer that threatens to expose the secret existence of werewolves. The show also stars Greyston Holt, Greg Bryk, Steve Lund, Michael Xavier, Paulino Nunes and Paul Greene.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Steve Lund (who plays pack member Nick Sorrentino) talked about how he came to be a part of Bitten, what attracted him to the project, why he chose to read the book before doing the show, playing a character who doesn’t limit his sexuality, why Nick gets along with and understands Elena, playing the duality between man and wolf, what viewers can expect from the remaining episodes, why he’d like to have the wolves’ super-hearing, and his hope that he’ll get to return to Haven before the series is done. Check out what our Steve Lund interview after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
STEVE LUND: I was down in L.A. last year for pilot season. I hadn’t even really been there more than a week, and I got this audition for this project. I was actually auditioning for the role of Clay, initially. I had a callback, so I was familiar with the story and I’d done some work on it. They gave us all backstory, and that’s when I started looking into the books a little bit. I was really amped about this project. It seemed great. And the fact that it shot in Toronto was an alluring factor for me. I was thinking that would be great, but then I didn’t hear anything for a good month. Typically, when that happens, it means they’re not going forward, so I was out of my mind. There were several other projects happening for pilot season, but then I got the call one day from my agent. She said, “You’re being considered for one of the lead roles on Bitten. When are you coming back here?” I had literally just landed. They flew me back to Toronto to shoot an episode of Beauty and the Beast, so I had just landed back in L.A. It was the next morning, and she was like, “When are you coming back?” I thought it was a good opportunity had a good feeling about it, so I just packed up my car and took off on Friday morning, and drove three days straight, across the country. I got to Toronto on Monday morning, sick as a dog. I had been sleeping in my car, in these really random places off the side of the road, including one haunted house in Oklahoma. It was really cool, actually. And then, I auditioned three more times, for the role of Nick. Then, it happened. They put me through the ringer.
Did you decide to read the book for backstory, before embodying this character?
LUND: I did decide to read the first book, before and a little bit during shooting. I think I had a really good handle on the character, at least in my opinion, and from what the producers and writers have been telling me. For me, it was mostly just to submerge myself in the whole world and the whole story of it. It was this nice escape that the book offered me, while we were shooting, to get away from the lights and the cameras. I was able to just disappear for awhile into that world. That really helped me to get familiar with the whole mood, the storyline and the characters. I don’t think it was necessarily that I was looking for reference material, although their was plenty of that, but it was mostly to try to get the feel of the book.
Were you nervous about taking on a character from a popular book series that fans would have a certain expectation of, or did it feel like some of the pressure was off of you because you aren’t playing Clay, and you aren’t part of the Clay-Elena relationship?
LUND: Yeah, definitely. I don’t envy them sometimes. And Nick is a fun character. There are great moments for comedic relief. I really enjoyed playing him. But, there is still that concern that a lot of people will feel wronged, in a way. People have so much invested in the novel series, and we’re thankful for that, in so many ways, but also weary. We don’t want to do anything an injustice. But at the end of the day, this is a different medium. TV adaptations are just that. They’re adaptations. They’re not going to be word for word. It’s created for an entirely different deal. So far, the support has been great and the feedback that we’re getting has been overwhelmingly supportive, so we’re very pleased with that.
LUND: I don’t typically watch a whole lot of werewolf-specific stuff. But the sci-fi genre is so much fun to work in. The possibilities are endless. There are so many fun things that you get to do on set, so I get excited when those things come around. In terms of my own watching, I’ve stayed away from the craze. I’m not one to jump onto something, just because so many people told me it was great. I’ve avoided Twilight and True Blood, and that sort of thing. I like to discover things on my own. But what I do like about our show, and what I think would attract me, is that we’re werewolf-specific. We don’t venture into other species, at least not at this point. People don’t get too overwhelmed with different dimensions and whatever. The other thing I found attractive about this show is that it’s very family-oriented. It’s a human story, first and foremost. The werewolf stuff is just secondary. It’s just something that we have to deal with, as a metaphor for anything else.
The first season of any TV show takes time to find its footing. When did you feel that things were really clicking and the show was hitting its stride?
LUND: I think we’re a pretty exceptional case. This is my first series and the most involved that I’ve ever been with a TV show, or any project, for that matter, so I didn’t have a whole lot of reference. But, I just felt that it was so easy and so natural to bond with these people as human beings, and not necessarily as co-workers. That really lent itself to our work. I can honestly say that I loved everybody that I worked with, from the cast, the crew, the writers, the producers and each of our guest directors. It seemed to just be this very, very happy place. I loved stepping onto set, every day. All of the worries that I have, in my normal day-to-day life, were just washed away, as soon as I stepped out of my car and into the parking lot. It was this beautiful, embracing thing, and I think that’s communicated on screen. I certainly hope so. So, I would have to say that it was pretty automatic. We never looked back. There was no drama and there were no real wrenches in the gears. It was pretty seamless.
This is a character who clearly doesn’t limit his sexuality or who he finds that pleasure with. Was it important to you, that if you were going to play a character like that, that it just be part of who he is and nothing something that he or his family make any issue of?
LUND: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s a choice, as an actor, to decide how you want to embody a character. But in terms of my own inner monologue, throughout Nick’s life, he’s struggled to be taken seriously and he’s struggled to become his own man. He’s a pretty laid back guy, so it has never been an overwhelming concern for him, but there is this matter of identity that he has, as a priority. That was one thing that’s really great for him. Who cares? Skin is skin. It’s beautiful and all for him. It’s just a celebration. I really like that about Nick. It doesn’t take away from the story. It just makes him a lovable character and provides a utility for him, as a person.
LUND: That’s a great question. He grew up without a mother, and I grew up with two sisters and a mother that’s been very present in my life. I’ve always felt that I gravitate towards women and have a little more of an understanding of women than some other people. I have that strong feminine side. Laura [Vandervoort] and I get along very well, for that reason. There’s just a compassion there, and a really lovely one. I’m understanding that she’s a little lost in this whole world. She’s the only woman, so I can only feel compassion for that and empathy for that, and try to be there for her, as much as I can and in any way that she needs. I think that’s a really lovely thing about Nick and was very easy for me to bring off of the page.
Because you’re essentially playing this duality between man and wolf, were there things that you wanted to do different with your physicality?
LUND: The creative team didn’t want to hit that over the head, so much. There are moments in the script that it’s needed. From a logistical standpoint, we have a heightened sense of smell, keen instincts and animalistic urges, and that does play, here and there. But we didn’t want that to dominate our scripts. There are things you can bring to the character to introduce that duality, but we didn’t want one side to overshadow the other. We wanted these characters to be as real as possible, but also live with that secret. That needed to show to the audience, as well. It wasn’t like I’d be walking around on all fours, but certainly you bring a unique intensity to the character. That really helps to introduce the beast mode.
What can viewers expect from the remaining episodes?
LUND: It does not look back. It just keeps going. The stakes get higher and higher, and the intensity gets higher and higher. The finale episode is just this incredible pinnacle of all of this intensity. It is one epic hour of your life.
When these wolves are in human form, they can listen in on conversations and hear what people are saying? Do you think that would be a positive or negative, in real life?
LUND: I think that would be awesome. Totally! You could spy on people that are gossiping about you. If somebody were like, “Oh, man, Steve always stinks,” then I would know that I have to take care of my hygiene. It would be helpful. I think I smell pretty good, so maybe that’s a bad example for me. I’m an Old Spice man, I’ll say that.
You’ve spent some time on Haven as the Colorado Kid. Now that that show has been picked up for twice the episodes next season, do you hope you’ll get to return before all is said and done?
LUND: Yeah, absolutely. That was so much fun to shoot and to play. My character, specifically, was a very heralded one with that storyline. It was to step on set and be the Colorado Kid that everyone had been waiting for. There was definitely some expectation, and I was like, “I hope I don’t let them done.” But all in all, it was a wonderful experience, and I would absolutely love to go back and work with those people. Shawn Piller, the executive producer of Haven, has kept in touch and is good friends with Laura, as well. He came to visit our set a couple of times, when he was here in Toronto, and he came to our wrap party. I was just begging him to have me back. Laura had played my wife on Haven, and there was maybe some potential that we would recur, but because we both got snatched up by Bitten, they had to rewrite some scripts. Or maybe he was just telling me that to make us feel better. I guess there is the possibility to return. That would be amazing. Even if it was just a flashback, I’m sure we could work it out, scheduling wise.
Bitten airs on Monday nights on Syfy.