He’s big. He’s bad. He’s one of the nicest guys you could ever talk to. I’m talking about Greyston Holt, the actor who plays the tall, brooding Clayton Danvers on Syfy’s hit show Bitten. Hailing from a small island near Vancouver, British Columbia, Greyston has enjoyed his time molding Clay (ha-pun!) from the character in the book series to the man/wolf that he is now. It’s taken a toll on his body with all the amazingly choreographed fight scenes, but Greyston clearly loves it and looks forward to many more seasons to come.
Have you read the books that inspired Bitten?
I did. When I found out I was going to test for the project for the role of Clay I picked up the first book in the series—it’s called Bitten—and it’s amazing as an actor to have such a rich source material to draw from and create a character around. After the first season we went fairly wide and away from the book, so I just read the first one. Like I said, it was great to have such an amazing rich base knowledge of the character and the story line to go on and then have the artistic license to go our own way.
Do you feel it’s important to stick to the original story, or do you like the way that it’s kind of gone off on its own, taken its own life?
I like the path that we’ve forged here. I think the first book worked well as a first season. What works well on books doesn’t always work so well on-screen and you sort of have to take some artistic liberties to make it work with a ten episode, fourty-five minute episode story line. I think our writers did a great job and created some really interesting story lines on their own.
In the TV series, Clay comes across as much more civilized than in the books. Was that your choice as an actor, the director’s choice, or the writers’?
(Laughs). That was all me. I wanted to humanize him a little more and make him more relatable. I think it works well. It’s really a family drama—a pretty dysfunctional, screwed-up werewolf family. I didn’t want to distance him too far from what everyone else was doing. I wanted our relationships within the pack to shine through, and I think if Clay was too—If I played him as he is portrayed in the books I think he would be … he’s not that likeable a lot of the time, you know? I just wanted people to relate to him a little more and not be isolated from the rest of the pack.
What’s your process for “getting into the head” of being a werewolf when you’re on-camera?
There are a lot of traits of Clay’s that I have personally. I can be a goofball but I definitely have an introverted, quiet side that I draw from a lot of times when I’m working as Clay. And we also have such a great cast and our sets are so amazing. Once you step into that world it’s easy to put that face on and the longer you do it the easier it becomes as well. We all know our characters so well at this point. Three seasons of a show allows you to do that. Initially it was a challenge for me for sure. I have a couple of qualities similar to Clay. It was a character I created. But it was a challenge for me at least for the first couple of episodes of season one to find this guy and see how he ticks and make him believable.
You guys go through a lot of different fight sequences. How much training to do you and the other actors go through for that—the choreography and everything?
Quite a bit. I don’t have a history of martial arts or fight choreography so Bitten was sort of my training grounds for that. And I learned fast; I picked it up fairly quickly. We have an amazing stunt choreographer, this guy named John Stead. He’s been working in Toronto and around the world for many, many years. He’s based in Toronto and he’s such a great, great guy. He’s patient and he has an amazing team of stunt performers that work with him. That being said, it’s lengthy fight rehearsals. For just a short fight we’re looking at at least a couple of hours. Some of the longer fights—I had a big fight in season one, I think it was episode ten, where I’m fighting two mutts in Philip’s apartment—that was a ten-hour fight rehearsal and then we spent the better part of a filming day, almost ten hours, to film the fight. Those larger fights, and this season I have a huge fight coming up with another antagonist that pops into the story line around episode six, and that was another twelve-hour fight day. I was definitely battered and bruised. (Laughs). It’s another skill that I can add to the belt. I know for Laura it came a lot easer. Laura, who plays Elena, has a black belt in karate so she picks it up very quickly and her movements are very precise, where as when it comes to big lumbering lugs, you know? It’s definitely something I’ve practiced and I’ve seen my progress over the three seasons. It’s a nice skill to have now.
Have you received any interesting injuries while filming those scenes?
Anywhere from knees in the jaw—I got my clock rocked pretty good last season; I was seeing stars and I had to sit down for a good half an hour. And then what gets beat up a lot is your forearms because you use the block a lot. You can wear some padding but you can only wear so much padding under your wardrobe and whatnot. Scrapes, bruises, nosebleeds, you name it.
Sometimes Clay has to do pretty terrible things at his Alpha’s request; is it hard to shoot those interrogation scenes?
You mean am I disturbed by it? No, I’ve never been squeamish when it comes to those things. It’s just part of the character and part of the story. It’s a necessary part of the story. It’s never been something that’s been difficult for me. You just fall into it and get to be a sicko. It’s fun.
How do you think Clay will react to fatherhood?
To fatherhood? Oh, man, I think Clay wants to pay it forward. Jeremy sort of brought him everything he has in his life and crated this man out of this feral werewolf that he found when I was just a young child. I think there’s a lot of Clay that just wants to pay it forward and make sure his son or daughter doesn’t have to go through the same heartbreak, same loss, same fucked up life growing up. So I think he’ll embrace it wholeheartedly. If it were to ever happen—we may never see that day anymore. (Laughs).
What are some of your favorite activities to do when you’re not working?
Eating. Playing music. I play guitar, I’ve been playing for a lot of years so I still like to play and write music. Food—I’m a total foodie, my girlfriend and I both. We love exploring new food and restaurants when we’re in a new city. And when I’m home in Vancouver, I just love being outside. I grew up on a small island near Vancouver called Saltspring Island. I always grew up out in nature and connected to nature so that’s very important to me to be a happy guy. When I’m home in Vancouver I’m always up hiking or snowboarding at Whistler. Getting out on the boats. When I go back to Saltspring to see my dad I’ll go crabbing and play music with him. He’s an incredible drummer so he and I like to jam out—he’s got a pretty good studio built out there on the island. So yeah, music, food, travel. All the good stuff.
Bitten airs Fridays at 10 pm EST on Space and Mondays at 11 pm EST on Syfy.