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An Interview with Bitten’s Executive Producer JB Sugar and Actors Laura Vandervoort, Greyston Holt and Greg Bryk

Bitten

Bitten, the supernatural series based on the Women of the Otherworld books by Kelley Armstrong begins its final season February 12 on Space and February 15 on Syfy. Executive Producer JB Sugar and actors Laura Vandervoort, Greyston Holt and Greg Bryk discussed the ramifications of the previous season and shared insight into Season 3 with Talk Nerdy With Us. Read our interview below!

Where do we pick up Season 3? Is it going to be more closely about the wolf pack?

LV: “Elena has a premonition and we pick up the third season a couple of months in and she’s still dealing with that premonition, and what it means for the pack, and whether or not it will come true, if she will destroy everything that she knows. And she’s trying to, you know, get a grasp of that and understand that. Whether or not we see the witches again, I’m going to leave it to the audience to watch and find out. But we do focus on the pack much more this season and their dynamic and the relationships between them.”

JB: “To reiterate, yeah, more sentiment about Season 3 is much more rooted in werewolf, international politics, and internal politics within the pack as well. But we also still honor the seeds we’ve incorporated into Season 2 with the witches as you saw in the first episode and the premonition coming back. And there’s also fallout from Season 2 vis-a-vis Logan’s offspring and Rachel. And so that storyline stays alive throughout the season. And the implications and influence of the witch participation in our world still resonates throughout Season 3. So there will be some opportunities for some witchy hits amongst the wolf.”

We do have some time jumping around where we’re referencing things as being previous. Can you say — will the majority of the season be essentially a flashback that we’ll catch up in the timeline with or will we sort of in the middle of the season kind of catch up to what’s “real time” and then get back on track with things happening right now?

JB: “I mean, in the first episode, there is a bit of timeline jumping with the premonition and kind of dealing with the three months gap from where we pick up from where Season 2 left off. But other than that, the season does follow a pretty linear timeline with the peppering of that premonition still coming back and haunting Elena’s character throughout the season.”

Obviously, the pack dynamics are a lot different this season because Jeremy is sort of becoming almost a dictator. And now, Elena is keeping things from him. Clay will probably have to choose what side he’s on. Can you kind of talk about that, and also, do you think that Elena would ever completely go against him, against his wishes?

LV: “I mean, for Elena, it’s — she’s holding secret from, basically, her father figure in Jeremy. And he is Alpha and she doesn’t agree with his dictatorship at this point. And withholding a secret from him also puts Clay and Elena in an awkward position because Clay is very loyal to Jeremy. And, you know, like in most relationships, if I have an issue with someone’s sibling, it’s going to cause tension and it definitely does and it definitely causes some friction between the two of them throughout the season. And she does have to make a choice.”

GH: “Yes, yes, and I’ll also add to that as well. Yes. Clay’s position is definitely one of being stuck in the middle. In any normal relationship, your loyalty lies with the one you love and that’s it. But this is just a special situation and the fact Jeremy is the one all of us answer to and the one who basically created Clay and turned him into the man that he is, the sort of person that can actually function in society and then — so that’s…”

GB: “I molded you out of clay.”

LV: “Well done.”

GH: “Jeremy is taking his hard-line approach this season and Clay sort of comes into term with his violent past. And now, he’s sort of forced to do some things he doesn’t want to do anymore. And then, on the other side of that is Elena who’s trying to, you know, take the path of more tolerance, I guess, and it makes for some interesting conflict this season. That’s for sure.”

Greg, can you kind of expand on that and talk about his motivation? And do you think he’s going too far? I mean, how far is too far?

GB: “It’s interesting because this season, I think Jeremy confronts fear in a very meaningful way, his lost pack members and the way I ruled. The way I trusted myself to rule seems to have failed, at least to me. And it’s very interesting that (what we view), I’m afraid, we sort of — we resort back to what we know as children. And there’s to me a large (Malcomy) influence in that brute strength that we’re — I’m going to eliminate any threats because I don’t trust myself to keep the pack safe from those threats. So I think that it’s — (resonating) globally right now. When you get afraid of threats around you, you tend to lash out and you tend to want to be aggressive and you want to wipe out that rather than trust yourself to be able to coexist with it. So it’s a crisis of faith for Jeremy this year. He betrayed everything that he worked hard to become in the process of becoming something else.”

Since, you’re going into the third season now and you’ve had quite a bit of time with these characters, is there anything still about these characters that either challenges or surprises you that you’d like to talk about?

LV: “I think, you know, for myself anyways, every season I’m surprised and challenged. And I think that’s due to our awesome and talented writers, every time we get a script to start a new season off, I’m surprised at what they decided to bring in to the story. And we’ve definitely, you know, within the first season, kept it true as we could to the book, but we’ve had to take some sort of liberty creatively with the plot and go a little off book, especially the third season, almost completely off book. And I think that’s a necessity because it allows for our characters to expand past what’s already been written and to explore new avenues. And it also surprises the fans of the book. They now don’t know what is coming, especially this season, Elena — I mean, I feel like I have grown personally being a part of the show and playing Elena. I’m discovering, I’m more capable of things than I had thought I was, and I’m overcoming fears, and I’ve opened up more as an actor. And that’s because of Elena, and the writing and her surprises this season especially throw her world upside down and make her question who she is. I just love that there’s always something new and fresh for us to work off of every season.”

GH: “Yes. I was actually going to say pretty much the same thing as Laura.  I feel like all of us, at this point, know our characters so well and we know the core of our characters, what makes them (tick). But it’s up to the writers to throw a curveball at us and to put these characters we know so well and situations we don’t know so well and sort of see how we handle them. And I think that’s what’s so brilliant about our writing team is that they do that. They really do put us in either awkward situations or scary situations or physically demanding situations that really test our sort of knowledge of our characters, and how we would naturally react to those situations. So yes, again, it’s the writers that really keep it interesting and fresh and challenging.”

GB: “I had a bit of a nervous breakdown this year with the character, and I’d say this with all sincerity because when I pursued the role of Jeremy, the qualities he had, the qualities of the character exhibited were qualities that I wanted for myself as a man, as a leader, as a father, as my member of a community. And then this season, Jeremy is really forced to ask questions about why he does what he does and whether that’s really what he wants. And it really — it unsettled me in a really scary way and I went through a few months this year where I really was very rich for the work but it was really — it was a bit of a dangerous time for me, personally, because I can’t really separate myself from characters that well. And I started to question everything with my life. You go through your life with assumptions about yourself. You’re a father at 22; you’re married for 20, all those things. You take this position in your family, in your community, and then when the character starts questioning that and you give voice and flesh to those thoughts, it created some really interesting turbulence in my life.”

LV: “That also, if I may add, is what makes, Greg, you a brilliant actor and why we’re so lucky to work opposite of you. Greg has been our leader all three seasons and has been so supportive of all of us when we’ve been unsure about scenes or performances or even personal life. He’s our go-to man and he’s just phenomenal in every sense and we’re so lucky to have him. And, you know, we all love each other as much as our characters do on the show and the respect there is just the highest I’ve ever had for anybody that I’ve worked with this entire cast. And the fact that we put our personal lives into the show at times can be tasking on all of us. But we’re just blessed to have (Greg), and to have Greyston, and Steve, and J.B., everyone who just put everything into the show, their heart, sweat, blood, and tears, literally, heart, blood, sweat, and tears. We’ve all shed some blood for the show, so it’s been a blessing.”

GH: “We are blessed with love on that show, and without that desire to connect with each other on such a profound and human — in such a profound and human way, we wouldn’t do the things we do. And again, (they) talk about magic. When you get people to walk into your life, it just sparkles like that. It’s very special.”

JB: “And again, I wanted to add to that. I think we all agree and felt that chemistry, the dynamic on the floor and off the floor. I mean, the pack mentality that informs our narrative also informs our experience of making it together. And Season 3 found us as we were crafting the direction of the story, wanting to gravitate to a more character driven one because all of our casts are so comfortable in their characters, and brought so much to those characters that we really wanted to honor that. And Season 3 really gave us and them a great opportunity to explore deeper into character and motivations and to shake up, you know, the dynamics we’ve built over the past two seasons. And even know Season 3 is almost entirely off book, it’s still grounded in those great characters and back story informing every move that they make, you know, every single one of our players just elevated the material and couldn’t be proud of Season 3 and all of them.”

When you found out Season 3 was picked up by Syfy, did that affect the writing or any of the production? Did that have any effect on the story knowing that it would be exposed to a U.S. audience or do you find that Space Channel and Syfy Channel share the same production values?

JB: “Syfy is an acquisition for the show and an important one, and a great partner in that, although it rarely has Syfy influence to the creative direction and we’ve kind of always made the show we want to make and do our best to make it as good as we can. Obviously, Space and Syfy share similar sensibilities audience-wise and being a cable broadcaster as our Canadian broadcasters as well. We’re pretty much in line with all the parameters there. So the answer is no, it didn’t really affect it but we’re certainly very grateful that Syfy continued to be a supporter and broadcaster for us.”

How do you think the advance of the Season 2 finale will affect Clay and make him a different character than he was previously?

GH: “Well, I don’t really know anything of the premonition. You know what I mean? Like we sort of — that unravels throughout Season 3. But I think that’s something that Elena sort of keeps a bit of a secret to herself. A terrifying secret of that, but that’s not something that really — it affects us all in Season 3 but we don’t have the knowledge of it at the end of Season 2. I think, only Elena has that knowledge.”

JB: “There’s one conversation that Elena and Clay have in the great room about it but it’s, you know, you’re right and that Clay doesn’t know the extent in which the promotion is really haunting Elena in the background. And the various forces and new characters that come into play in Season 3 kind of exacerbate and extenuate the impeding fearing concerns around the premonition but — that she doesn’t necessarily share with Clay or otherwise.”

LV: “Yes, I think Elena feels it’s safest to keep it to herself while she sorts out what it truly means and she does sort of have a bit of a therapy session with a different character in the show. Off the top and throughout, you see snippets of it but she’s choosing to keep it close to her heart because she doesn’t want to break anyone else’s heart.”

Can you talk about the new character(s) at all? Can we trust him/them? Or is Elena going to have to kill him?

LV: “I think you’re going to have to watch. It is the character that is, you know, unknown to our pack, obviously to myself and to Jeremy especially. And that’s because he had done such a good job of hiding and think out of the way of the other packs but it does — his presence along with his other counterparts does cause a lot of stress for the entire pack. And it’s her choosing between, you know, her duty with her own pack and her possible future choices with — God, it’s so hard to talk about. And I think it can best be summarized that everybody, all of the cast members have to choose between duty and family. It’s what the sort of the theme is and what family, that is, you know, up to the audience to decide.”

Can you talk a little bit about what you want fans to know going into this season? Did you get to tell a final story or is it left open-ended?

JB: “Well, I’ll just take the lead and then the actors can check — can extrapolate. Yes, well the season was designed — as all of our seasons have kind of, even though there’s obviously continuity with the characters. The — each season really does have its own theme and we worked hard to construct seasons that feel wholesome and with beginnings, middles, and ends. And Season 3 ends in a very satisfying way and in a way that I think fans would feel fine with if it is indeed the final season but it’s also constructed in a way that leaves huge potential for more stories. And obviously, we’ve got many more books from which to mine character and narratives from. So, we’ve been focused on building and creating a great Season 3 and stranger things have happened in the world, and that’s really up to the fans and, you know, we’re just really proud of what we made and hope everybody feels as strongly about the season as they have the previous ones.”

GB: “Yes, and I think one of the nice things we did this season too is, you know, there were mixed feelings about… just from talking to fans about the witches in Season 2 and I think that this season, we sort of really sort of came back to the essence of what makes Bitten work so well and it’s the pack dynamic. It’s just the werewolf world. So we really sort of brought it back to I think what is best about our show and I think it will be a very sort of rewarding send off if it is that for the fans.”

What do you hope fans take away from this season?

GB: “It’s the reason we’re really blessed that the fans that have joined us in on this journey have been almost as invested in the relationships in the world as we have and we’re really invested in this world and I think, this year, JB, Daegan and Will and the rest of the writers, they have — they have made those relationships so intense and really pulled at the fabric of what it means to be a pack, what it means to be a family. Well, what love means; what relationships mean. It’s not easy to be a pack. It’s not easy to love someone. It’s not easy to do the right thing again and again and again but you try and that’s what this season is. I think it’s this incredibly heroic journey of all the characters to try to love the other people best. And I think as humans, that’s all we can ask of ourselves. It’s that you just try to love those around you in the best way you can and we’re flawed and we’re frail, but there’s so much hope, right?”

LV: “And I think as humans, that’s all we can ask of ourselves. It’s that you just try to love those around you in the best way you can and we’re flawed and we’re frail, but there’s so much hope, right? And I think as humans, that’s all we can ask of ourselves. It’s that you just try to love those around you in the best way you can and we’re flawed and we’re frail, but there’s so much hope, right?”

Elena talks about kind of wanting to — implies – it would be nice to go off with Clay and be separate from the pack. Do you think that Clay would be willing to do that for her or do you think that he couldn’t distance himself from the pack?

GB: “I think he definitely would be willing to do that for her. This — I think — there’s been a lot that’s been resolved in (Clay’s) sort of personal life, things that were maybe holding him back from letting their relationship move forward. And I feel like those are — those things personally are in the past for Clay. That being said, there’s hurdles, I mean, like the Season starts with a bang where (Jeremy’s) basically on a blood hunt. You join the pack or you die and (Clay’s) not OK with that approach even though he has to be OK with it and I think at this point, Clay would love nothing more than have a house with the woman he loves and sort of put the violence behind them both and try to live some sort of a normal life and — but they live very dangerous confusing crazy world and it’s tough to get to that in the world we live in.”

LV: “That being said, there’s hurdles, I mean, like the Season starts with a bang where (Jeremy’s) basically on a blood hunt. You join the pack or you die and (Clay’s) not OK with that approach even though he has to be OK with it and I think at this point, Clay would love nothing more than have a house with the woman he loves and sort of put the violence behind them both and try to live some sort of a normal life and — but they live very dangerous confusing crazy world and it’s tough to get to that in the world we live in.”

GB: “It’s like my girlfriend and I, we’re both actors and we’re traveling always, but we dream of that beautiful little house somewhere, right, that we can share, but like right now, that’s just impossible. There’s too much — our lives are too busy to make that happen and it’s sort of the same for Elena and Clay like they just — yes, they want this thing, but there’s shit that they have to deal with that’s why they get to that point. So it can be hard to even picture that dream or that house on the hill because you know almost how unattainable it is, but you have to dream.”

GH: “But it is Clay who actually takes steps to realize that dream in this Season.”

GB: “And it informs (Clay’s) personal (arc) in this season because he is put in an awkward position of having to balance his loyalty to Jeremy and the pack and his love to Elena and so, he is kind of projecting an ideal world where he can have it all and that is truly what he wants. He wants to honor his love for Elena and also, do right by the Alpha that raised him and took care of him all his life. So it’s a really interesting dynamic that involves the whole Season Three (arc). Not just from (Clay’s) perspective, but from the Elena — Clay relationship, the Clay — Jeremy relationship and the Jeremy – Elena relationship that’s — they’re very complex and a dynamic one that makes for great stakes and great stories this season.”

Are we ever going to ever get to see Jeremy shirtless?

LV: “Yes!”

Laura, I was really happy to hear that you’re going to be on Supergirl and I was wondering if you’d filmed those episodes you had and if so, what it was like to work with the other actresses who have played Supergirl like you?

LV: “Yes, I’ve shot an episode. My reoccurring character has a couple more episodes to go, but I play Indigo. She’s the new baddie. She’s a villain and she’s sort of described as the living strong-willed, super computer and she was sentenced to Fort Roz because she turned against the people of Krypton and now, I’m Supergirl’s most powerful adversary. That’s sort of the summary of what I can say. But it’s been great and I love that they have the nod back to the original characters, Dean Cain, Helen Slater and myself. I haven’t worked with Helen yet, but Melissa’s been wonderful and it’s definitely a different look for me and a different form of acting because it’s a more physical — everything that she does and who she is, is sort of — I’m building the character as I go, but it’s definitely based on her body language for sure based on what I look like. I’ve had to change how I go about figuring out a character. If that makes any sense. I just — she definitely looks different.”

I know that Elena will question (Jeremy’s) running as the Alpha, his decisions in Season Three, so Greg, do you think that if Jeremy ever stepped down as alpha that he will feel that Elena is capable of taking over in his absence?

GB: “I think yes. I think that Elena has a strength that would serve both our pack and sort of the culture of werewolves more generally well and I think sometimes, when you keep repeating the same patterns over and over again, you need to make a drastic change and sometimes that strong female energy is absent in decision-making and sometimes, I think it would be important to have that voice there, so yes, I would be very comfortable leaving the pack in Laura/(Elena’s) very capable hands.”

So looking back on the three seasons that you all have shot, can each of you tell me what was your favorite episode or favorite scene to film? And for JB, what was your favorite episode to have come together?

LV: That’s such a difficult question to answer. I don’t know if it is for you guys and Greyston, but there’s a lot of scenes and moments that I really enjoyed in this third season which we obviously can’t talk about just yet, but I think any scene throughout the first to third season where it was the pack having heart to heart or together or just calm in a room and having that dialogue that families have. Those were always scenes that I really enjoyed. I mean, our show is action packed. It’s sexy. It’s bloody, gritty. All of that. And those are things that I really love about the show as well and we all enjoy doing our stunts and being physical. But when it comes down to it sitting down at a table with Clay or Jeremy or (Nick), those are the moments I really treasure and remember because we’re connecting with one another. We’re looking in one another’s eyes and the feeling things that you don’t necessarily get to do when you’re doing an action sequence or with a larger scene. Those are important to me.

GB: “I mean, our show is action packed. It’s sexy. It’s bloody, gritty. All of that. And those are things that I really love about the show as well and we all enjoy doing our stunts and being physical. But when it comes down to it sitting down at a table with Clay or Jeremy or (Nick), those are the moments I really treasure and remember because we’re connecting with one another. We’re looking in one another’s eyes and the feeling things that you don’t necessarily get to do when you’re doing an action sequence or with a larger scene. Those are important to me. I mean, our show is action packed. It’s sexy. It’s bloody, gritty. All of that. And those are things that I really love about the show as well and we all enjoy doing our stunts and being physical. But when it comes down to it sitting down at a table with Clay or Jeremy or (Nick), those are the moments I really treasure and remember because we’re connecting with one another. We’re looking in one another’s eyes and the feeling things that you don’t necessarily get to do when you’re doing an action sequence or with a larger scene. Those are important to me.”

GH: “I have two that particularly stand out and it’s just based on the rawness of the emotion in those scenes. One was in the finale of Season Two where Laura was dying in my arms basically and like she was so available and so raw and I just — there’s something so — you know, when you’re on the last episode of a season and you’re not sure if it can pick up, but there’s a lot of raw emotions naturally because you know this could be the last time I get to do this, right. And it was just — there was something so beautiful about just how — just how available and accessible we both were in that moment. And it was something that always sort of stuck with me and then this season, there’s a beautiful part where Steve and I — Steve who plays Nick who was sort of questioning Greg and his motives and we’re in the great room and just Greg’s performance was just so — it was just like — Steve and I always talked about it afterwards. It was just like just watching this human in front of us just going through fucking hell. And all you can do at that point as an actor, a fellow actor in that scene is just fucking take it in and so it was just like, I get chills when I think about both those scenes. It was incredible and it’s just so nice — we don’t get those kind of things necessarily all the time on projects you work on. Scenes like that where just everything is stripped away and you’re just watching another human, so those particularly are strong for me.”

LV: “Yes and Greyston, I agree with you on that one. I obviously wasn’t in the other scene, which I heard was incredible because Greg is incredible, but the scene where I’m dying in your arms, I recall when we were rehearsing that, you and I both had trouble keeping emotions back. So yes, the trust there to be that vulnerable in a room full of crew that we also adore and love is rare and I think we’re grateful for that and Greyston, like looking up at Greyston in that scene was very difficult for me because he was so, so amazing.”

JB: “And for me, I mean, it’s a difficult task to choose favorite scenes. It’s total (selfish) choice, I mean, I’m constantly kind of oscillating between the macro of the show from all levels, whether it be creative, financial et cetera and then the micro where I’m dealing with individual lines of individual scenes and of course being on the floor as a director, intermittently doing all the second unit and then doing an episode each season. My most favorite place to be is on the floor working with this talented group of actors to bring to life these words that the writers and the producers worked so hard to craft and navigate the studio and network mechanisms to get a script to a place where it’s approved and ready to be shot. And the real magic does happen on the floor as those maps get realized and turned into tangible, three-dimensional things. This season, I got to direct Episode Five, which is a very special episode. It’s a little bit different from the other episodes this season. It’s a little bit more contained and a lot more character driven and it represents a real culminating emotional space for our entire cast and more specifically (Jeremy’s) character, as well as (Elena’s) character and those huge moments for Clay as well and it’s a really kind of culminating episode in terms of the buildup of where our characters have gone and where they’re going and I couldn’t be more proud of their performances throughout that from Greyston, Laura and Greg. I mean, just truly top-notch. They always deliver fantastic performances, but the Episode Five script, which is also written by Daegan Fryklind, our show runner and head writer and series creator. It’s just a — it was a special episode for a lot of reasons, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the fans react to it.”

GB:”It truly was a special episode for all of us to be a part of just because that was all really in the family, that tight original family with Daegan writing the episode, you directing, JB and it’s — it was so fun. Any of the episodes that JB directs, it’s just like you’re hanging with friends doing this project – you know what I mean — that you love. It doesn’t — like it never really feels like work, but in those moments, it truly doesn’t feel like work. It just feels like you’re hanging with people you love doing what you love and it’s just — those are the days you’ve got to pinch yourself.”

 

 

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