Last Monday (January 13th), SyFy’s newest monster show Bitten premiered its pilot, entitled “Summons.” In the show’s first hour, there’s murder, sex and a patented love triangle all set up. Oh, and a pack of werewolves, including the only female werewolf in existence: Elena Michaels, played by the obscenely beautiful and talented Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, V, Ted). The show is based on the book series Women of the Otherworld by Canadian author Kelley Armstrong, and the show’s pilot wastes little time delving into the mythology and monsters. Always a good thing.
One of the surefire breakout characters in the werewolf ensemble is Nick Sorrentino, a fun-loving man with a voracious sexual appetite. To get you primed for tonight’s second episode (“Prodigal”), I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Lund, the charming actor bringing the fan-favorite book character to life on the small screen. In the following conversation, Steve Lund teases us on what’s to come for the freshman Syfy show for his character and his family, the Danvers clan. We also learn that he may or may not be on the run from the law at this very moment.
Pop Insomniacs: I’m just gonna dive into it, because that’s what your character does. Not many people can top your entrance to the show: a threesome with a man and a woman. That certainly sets the stage for some very interesting things with Nick. He’s one of the youngest of the Danvers pack, and has to live up to his grandfather’s legacy as an Alpha. What can you tell us about your character and that introductory scene?
Steve Lund: Well yeah, it really reveals a lot about his day to day life. It showed a little more than the other characters, but that’s sort of the motif of the first episode, was just to jump right into it. That opening scene really sets the tone for everything. But yeah, Nick is a guy who enjoys the fruits of life. One motto you could say he lives by is “Skin is skin, man.” You get it wherever you can, you know? He’s a fun loving guy and he lives a pretty privileged life. Nick is a fun character, he’s always the lovable guy, has a calm candor and an easy charm about him. That’s very useful in a lot of instances where you’re dealing with very hot personalities, and some very primal characters.
PI: You cut the tension.
SL: Exactly right.
PI: Were you familiar with Kelley Armstrong’s book series, Women of the Otherworld, before getting the role? Have you read them since?
SL: I wasn’t terribly familiar with them before. But when I got the initial breakdown for the auditions when I was in LA, a year ago, that’s when I sort of started to research them. They provided with a bunch of backstory for each of the characters during the audition process, because the show had already been green lit for 13 episodes, so they had all of the material that Daegan [Fryklind], our creator, had been working on for years, prior to that. That’s when I started to take an interest in the books. I’ve read two of them so far, which is awesome to be able to have as an actor, all of that really rich source material, really wonderful stuff to draw from.
PI: You kind of touched on my next question, about whether there is a benefit to playing a character from a fan-favorite book series. Is there a lot of pressure to live up to fan’s expectations, or the preconceived notions they had of the character?
SL: Right. Yeah, that’s a very important topic. In any book series, people will have to come to terms with the fact that it’s an adaptation, simply. And that it’s not always going to be word for word, or line for line, you know? But we stay pretty true to the books, and Kelley Armstrong herself has shown quite the confidence in us, and is very happy with the product that we’ve produced. But, in terms of fans, they have loyalties to this book series, and therefore have special relationships with these characters. So there is some expectation there that you’re going to fall in line with exactly how the character is written in the books. I didn’t necessarily feel like that was a challenge.
I think, for me, it was quite a great character for me to play, and obviously a lot of fun, but very relatable. I think there’s some of the struggles and some of the qualities that Nick has, that I possess in my day to day lifestyle, so it’s been nice that way. But in terms of having all of that backstory and all of that stuff, I think it’s very beneficial for an actor. Any time that you get a character, you end up writing your own backstory for that man, so in this case you’re jumping into a body who already has life, and you merely have to pick up wherever they left off, instead of creating stories for this guy.
PI: Some of the homework is done for you.
PI: After having taken a look at your resume, you’ve been on a lot of sci-fi and fantasy shows [like Alphas, Being Erica, Lost Girl, Haven, Defiance, Hemlock Grove, etc.], and now you’re a full-fledged monster. What’s it like being a werewolf, and what attracts you to sci-fi and horror?
SL: Oh man. It’s so much fun. The stuff I get to do… for work, are you kidding? It’s the most wonderful job in the world. Get to snap people’s necks, rip their throats out. Hang on, one second. Just driving right now, and there’s an ambulance behind me. But I’m okay now.
PI: You’re not driving away from a murder scene? Just snapped someone’s neck?
SL: And running from the authorities? That’d be a great interview, wouldn’t it? That’d be high octane.
PI: I might just say that, if that’s okay.
SL: Do it. You have my permission. It’d make me look like a badass. Yeah, I’m really doing research on my character; I’m actually murdering people all the time.
PI: How very method of you.
SL: [laughs] Exactly. Yeah man, sci-fi is a boundless genre, there’s no limit to what can be done. I really like that aspect of it, of course. I am a big fan of drama, but the great thing about our show in particular, is that it does have those very humane and dramatic moments. It’s a human show first and foremost, these people have those primal instincts and those animalistic qualities, but are dealing with real world issues like love, family and identity, that sort of thing.
PI: I think the beauty of a genre show is that you can actually go further than just a straight drama. And by putting in these monsters you’re really just making a statement about humanity.
SL: Exactly. It’s just an extreme take on a lot of the same issues we have in society. Just a nice, fantastical representation of what every human undergoes in their lives, you know?
PI: If you’re judging by the pilot, it seems like Bitten is a werewolf-only show, but the books introduce vampires, clairvoyants, witches, half-demons, and all sorts of supernatural creatures. Is the show going to follow suit?
SL: You know, as far as I know, I think that we are going to stay exclusively to the werewolves in our storyline. I know that at least in the first season that we’re staying strictly to the werewolves. We don’t go into the Necromancers or anything like that. But I’m not sure exactly what the future holds for the show. My only hope right now is that people enjoy it enough that they give us a second season. We’ll take it from there, but we’ll see how things go. You know, if you’ve watched sci-fi shows, that they continue to expand and grow and lead to who the hell knows.
PI: The first season is about establishing the world, which as you’ve said, is the werewolves and then from there if you get that second season…Getting the first 13 episodes from the get-go is a great start.
SL: It’s amazing dude.
PI: What can we look forward to with the rest of Bitten’s first season? What trouble will you get into?
SL: Well, we have an order that all the wolves need to live by. The rules and regulations and stuff that we’ve established over generations that have preserved our race. What we’re dealing with right off the bat are some rogue werewolves, who are known to us as Mutts, and there’s a little bit of a Mutt uprising and a band of these misfits and a couple psychotic people that come into play. We’re sort of stricken with the challenge of staving off extinction by these people who are trying to kill us. A lot of violence. Things get ramped up in the first few episodes and just takes off. In my opinion, the first episode is the slowest, that’s for sure, and things kick off and never look back until the finale, which is massive, epic… unbelievable. I just had a chance to see some of the footage, and it looks unreal man. People can expect to be at the edge of their seat every Monday night, I can tell you that much.
PI: Awesome. Anything in particular that you get to do? You didn’t get to transform in the first episode, but I’m assuming [you know what they say about assuming], based on what you’ve said about your character, that you’re going to get to… wolf out.
SL: You know what dude, I don’t really think this is a spoiler or anything, but my character doesn’t actually ever change on screen. Yeah, it’s kind of an annoying thing. You don’t ever see my dude go through that particular transformation. But I do get some interesting combat sequences. We’re all fighting all the time. The thing about our werewolf mythology is that our transformational process is very painful, and very exposing, and makes you very vulnerable.
So therefore when you’re faced with an enemy, a baddie, a bad guy, you don’t always have the option to change, because that subjects you to being attacked, and subsequently killed, of course. So a lot of the time, you’ll see us fighting in hand to hand combat, in human form. We’re obviously living in the human world, so there’s a lot of training we have to do in a sort of martial arts style. And I love that shit dude. It’s awesome.
PI: That actually makes a lot of sense. At first I was sort of confused, but if they want to keep their identity secret, like you said it’s a human world. Also the whole vulnerability aspect: when you’re changing is exactly when an enemy would attack you, makes a lot of sense. It’s obvious, but I never really thought of that.
SL: In different shows, they can change on a dime, like in the Twilight series, they just do it in a heartbeat kind of thing, back and forth. For us, it’s a lot more of an exposing process.
PI: It’s more like Hemlock Grove, which you also appeared in for a couple episodes, I believe. Anything else you wanna tease about the show?
SL: The one thing that I like to talk about in these interviews is just what it was like for us on set. A lot of people see our onscreen chemistry really take off. The first episode is literally when we were first meeting people. The scene where my father and I, and Clay and Jeremy are all in the war room in the basement, and we’re hugging because we haven’t seen each other in awhile. It was the first time I met Greg, who plays Jeremy. We shook hands and then all of a sudden we’re hugging and trying to making it seem like we’ve known each other our whole lives, and really, we’d known each other for about 2 hours.
But it was amazing how quickly things happened for us in terms of the dynamic. We really created this family on set, to the point where it absolutely magnetic. We were always all there for each other, we became very close friends, so much love and compassion and support on set. It just made the work transcendent for what it is on screen, and you’ll notice that as the season goes on. You can really see that there is a lot of genuine love for one another, and when we’re tasked with all these scenes and storylines, it really serves us as actors to actually have compassion for one another. I love going to work every day man. I love those people and I miss them when I’m not around them. I see them whenever I can. But I had the greatest time of my life filming this series. Literally the highlight of anything I could’ve ever imagined when I set out to become an actor. It’s only made me want more. I’m just so thankful and so grateful.
PI: Now you have to get another season. Hopefully we can help bring more attention and viewers to Bitten, which airs every Monday night at 10 PM on SyFy. I was intrigued by the pilot so I’m looking forward to seeing what you and the other werewolves get up to.
SL: Good dude. It only gets better. Honestly, episode 2 is better than episode 1 and so on and so forth, until the season finale, and you are just going to be SHITTING YOUR PANTS [words can't adequately describe Steve's high pitched voice when he gleefully says this].
PI: Alright. I’ll send you the bill for my diapers then.
SL: [laughs] That’s awesome. You’re the man.
See the man, Steve Lund, in action as Nick Sorrentino, on Bitten, which airs on SyFy every Monday night at 10 PM.