Michael Socha interview: Being Human series 5

Interview Louisa Mellor 29 Jan 2013 - 07:01

The countdown to Being Human’s fifth series continues, with a chat to the man behind werewolf Tom, Michael Socha…

Contains spoilers for Being Human series five (though we've left out any major revelations).

Though they've already given their interview, Michael Socha (the actor behind Being Human's naive but deadly werewolf Tom) has brought co-stars Damien Molony and Kate Bracken along with him to talk series five. As their characters do in the show, their company seems to bolster and relax him, helping Socha to make the majority of this chat unrepeatable either due to his frequent, punctuating swearing or the raucous laughter he provokes, usually with just a facial expression, every other question. We've salvaged what we could from it, and left out any of the major spoilers.

(Incidentally, you should know that today, Socha is in costume as an employee of Being Human's Barry Hotel, wearing a white shirt, black trousers, black tie, burgundy waistcoat, and a badge bearing the legend "Ass Man"...)

Who did your badge?

Michael Socha: They did. I’m not to blame. It’s all costume. I quite like it though. I’ve embraced it. The local ass man…

As the longest serving member of the Being Human trio, does that mean that everyone treats you with the respect and deference that you deserve?

MS: Yeah, when I walk in in the morning, Damien’s like on one knee and that. No, none of that. Absolutely not, no [laughs].

Tell us a bit about where Tom’s going this year

MS: This year I think is Tom’s adulthood. He’s got to the point where he’s still a bit clueless in some aspects of life, but all in all Tom is nearly there with normality really, with society. Each series he’s grown up a little bit more and I think he’s now reached his equivalent to a sixteen or seventeen year old.

He gets led astray a bit though. He still trusts very easily, he’s so influenced. He sees somebody he likes and he’s like ‘I want to be like them, I want to have what he’s got. I want a bit of that’. And a new character has led him a bit astray somewhat, a few times that’s happened to old Tom, he gets led astray by somebody he’s very much influenced by. 

Does that make him quite easy prey for Phil Davis’ Captain Hatch?

MS: Yep, but I think we all are. I think each one of us is quite easy prey.  I think all of us are sort of wrapped under his spell from the very off.

Can we expect more of the Tom and Hal bromance this year?

MS: Yeah, it’s brilliant fun. Hal’s Tom’s definite best friend, but then they really hate each other a lot at the end, and this time it’s serious. We fucking want to kill each other this time.

Damien Molony: I do think that Hal would die for Tom in a heartbeat, and Hal would die for Alex in a heartbeat. But because we trust each other so much we just don’t expect that, because Captain Hatch is so gentle and so mischievous, that he really creeps under our skin and starts to pull us apart, and everything that we’re doing we think is good to each other, but he has a way of manipulating us that we’re completely taken unawares by.

MS: Tom sort of sees Hal and Alex as his family and it’s like, other people get involved in your life, but you’ll always go back to your family. These other people go into Tom’s life, like Larry, and like Kirby last series and he gets right into it, he’s really with them and he leaves his family for a little bit, he’s like ‘fuck it, I’ve got another ally, I can roll with him’, but then the shit hits the fan and he always ends up going back to his family, he always ends up back there.

DM: When you see the relationship really start to pull away, it’s really sad to read it because from my very first audition I’ve been friends with Michael and you see the fact we have to say these horrible things to each other, and we also don’t even know we’re doing it. Hatch is the puppet master, he’s just pulling things apart. 

There’s no more café then, in this series?

MS: No, I’m the Ass Man of the hotel [laughs].

But is there a similar dynamic between Hal and Tom?

MS: I think I was the man in charge at the café. I was the man who could, but this time, Hal is the real ‘Man’, rather than the ‘Ass Man’.

DM: We have a great employee of the month competition which starts with this great montage scene of the two of us getting up with our tool bags of like sprays and sponges, so that really gets us going. There’s lots of that bickering and stuff that was so much fun.

MS: A food fight, that was fun.

DM: For the food fight, I had little sandwiches with cucumbers in to throw at him, and he had these stale four day old scones. The bruises on my body, oh my God! 

Michael, how did you find working with Phil Davis?

MS: He’s a legend isn’t he. He’s great as well, playing that decrepit old man it sets it all up for later on, he’s just incredible. When I first saw him in that wheelchair, I thought, how the fuck is he going to play an evil bastard, he’s just horrible, he’s a mess. But then everything he does is so calm, everything he does is with a little bit of a smile, it’s really creepy, it’s great. I like working with him, he’s a great actor.

Does Tom get many transformations this time around?

MS: I don’t and I really enjoy doing them. I don’t get any transformations this time around, the back end I do, so a bit of nakedness but no screaming and teeth. I really do enjoy doing them, it’s a bit of a shame.

What do you enjoy about the transformations?

MS: You just get to have a fucking go at screaming your head off. I’ve never played any part anywhere close to Tom, and I’ve never got anywhere close to doing what Tom gets to do. Transforming is just fucking great, honestly, I’ve said it loads of times. When you finish that scene, you walk away and just think ‘fucking hell, I really, really feel great now’ just let a load of things rip, even personal things, when you scream like that it’s fucking great.

You have to be quite uninhibited to do that…

MS: Yeah, but you do anyway in any acting job. Yeah, I fucking love it.

Are you given the opportunity to improvise in Being Human at all, as you are in Shane Meadows’ This Is England?

Not like straight impro, but thankfully they do allow me to add my own little things in there, because sometimes I find it a lot easier if they do allow me to not say it exactly how they’ve written it. I think that’s the same with all of us isn’t it? If we want to do something we can have a go at it, both the directors, Dan and Phil [Daniel O'Hara and Philip John], will allow us to have a go at it and they’ll say nah or they’ll go, actually, keep that. Yesterday, I think it was yesterday or the day before, it’s all a fucking blur, but I was under the table and I just banged my head on the table and they kept it in, just little things like that. I couldn’t really change the speeches but I’ll add in a little ‘mate’ or ‘like’ or something and put things in different orders maybe. I don’t necessarily stick with the same order, just so it feels nicer for me to say and easier for me to say. 

How did Toby explain the character of Tom to you when you first got the part? 

MS: He didn’t explain it to me, I just went to the audition and got the part. When I first joined I slowly found Tom, I think that’s how it happened but it was written in the script anyway, you have to kill all these vampires but then he was really fucking desperate for friends and desperate to meet people other than his dad and to live somewhere other than the woods and thankfully, he has.

Tom enjoyed his first ever birthday cake last series, what other firsts can he expect this year?

MS: Responsibility. He’s got somebody to be responsible for this time, in this series. He’s got somebody that looks up to him and who takes advice from Tom, and he really rolls with it, he even lies to them about being engaged to Vanessa Mae, he’s got a commonwealth medal in the discus he tells him, but it’s really fucking sweet. Tom fucking loves it, he takes this parental role, but that ends… that ends [big laugh]. 

I thought he’d get a shag, but he didn’t get a shag. No shagging for Tom. If Toby wrote a shagging scene for Tom, it’d just be like ‘Tom wouldn’t do that’ [laughs].

But Allison with two ls [played by Ellie Kendrick] is coming back?

MS: [Nods and raises a lascivious eyebrow] And I’ve got the bed made up with rose petals and it’s going to be great. Yeah, she is coming back. But is she really there, is she not? You know what I mean?

How have you found the fan reaction to the cast changes in Being Human?

MS: I’ve never really tried to win people over and go ‘please fucking enjoy it, please accept the new cast and me’, but I think it’s fucking mad basically. My life changed as soon as I started Being Human because I’d done another show and they were both quite popular and then all of a sudden I was getting recognised and I do often speak to fans about what they think of Being Human, because the fans of Being Human are quite hardcore, they’re really into it like, they’ve watched it from the very beginning, and a lot of them just say nah, at first I was a little bit disappointed that Aidan the vampire’s gone, and Russell Tovey’s gone but I think they’re okay with it now, some are even saying it’s improved, well, maybe not improved, but they’re really enjoying it still, if not more.

Michael Socha, thank you very much!

Being Human returns this Sunday the 3rd of February at 10pm on BBC Three. Read our interview with Damien Molony and Kate Bracken here.

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