UPDATE January 24, 2013 5:44 pm EST: Drew Struzan took to Facebook to clarify his comments in our interview. He said, “Misunderstood…A couple of friends at Disney were fantasizing about the new STAR WARS movies.
“Disney” has said nothing to me and I expect nothing. That a couple of friends were wishing is only an expression of the hope that many are sharing but says nothing regarding the Studio itself. Even if ‘they’ did ask, which Disney has not, I’d rather leave the new films to the next generation to interpret. I’ve had my time and they were exceptional blessings for which I will forever be grateful.
Tomorrow is a new day…drew
There is so much awesome here, it’s hard to know where to start. A little while back, I chatted with Being Human‘s Sam Witwer about what was coming for vampire Aidan and the gang in Season 3, as well as his role as the voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He showed me one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan had done a brand new piece for Being Human, featuring Witwer and co-stars Sam Huntington, Meaghan Rath and Kristen Hager. I know you know his work. He’s done art for Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial… the list is endless. Check it out below (and continue to scroll down for some close-ups).
Witwer not only just told me all about the amazing experience, but he got Struzan to answer some questions about the process as well. In addition, Struzan broke the news that he’d been asked by Disney to do the art for the upcoming Star Wars film! Now, nothing is set. He’s just been asked, but trust me when I say, this would be an incredible collaboration! Check out Struzan’s book here. It’s beyond beautiful.)
Being Human airs on Monday night at 9/8c on Syfy. Witwer also says that you shouldn’t miss what’s coming for Darth Maul. It’s going to be epic. “What’s coming is the darkest, most adult that Clone Wars has ever gotten,” he said. Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs at 9:30 am on the Cartoon Network.
Fanhattan: [to Sam Witwer] Do you remember the first Struzan poster you ever saw?
Sam Witwer: I believe the first piece I saw… Well, actually that’s quite impossible for me to determine. I mean, his work was everywhere and ever-present when I was growing up. I think the first one I was conscious of could quite possibly have beenIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I think that poster was the one where I became conscious of a certain style that I liked and recognized, fronting many movies I was dying to see. As I grew older, that style was vivid in my mind. It was a thing. Then one day I walked into a book store and saw a book that had these big letters, “Drew Struzan” and somehow, by osmosis, I understood immediately that “Drew Struzan” was the guy that created all those wonderful images that stuck with me.
Never say never, [laughs] because…in fact, I got a couple calls already this week on Star Wars from Disney… — Drew Struzan
Fanhattan: How did you meet him?
Sam Witwer: I became part of a small group of friends through working on The Mist. Frank Darabont and I became buddies, and through him I met David Schow (father of splatterpunk and screenwriter of The Crow), and it was at some get together with these gents, either at Frank’s or at Davie’s that I was introduced to some guy Drew. I’m terrible with names so I probably forgot shortly thereafter. After getting into a few discussions with the guy, I think it dawned on me perhaps later in the evening or the second time we met, “Wait, you’re Drew Struzan.” It’s kinda funny. I got to know him the same way I got to know his art. We talked. I liked the guy. Then somehow it occurred to me, “Oh, this is Drew.”
Fanhattan: How did the collaboration come about?
Sam Witwer: Drew watches Being Human and digs what we do. I’ve admired his work for years and dig what he does. Done! … Actually there was a bit more to it. I feel very strongly about Season 3. I mean, I like my show, don’t get me wrong, but this season was special to me. I think it’s an order of magnitude superior to what we’ve done so I thought it might be nice to do something special to mark that. Frank gets Drew to do art for every project he does, so I talked it over with him, “Do you think Drew might be into this? Doing art for my show? I mean he’s retired and stuff.” Frank reminded me that retirement only means Drew does only what he wants now, and suggested I call him up. I got Syfy’s buy-in on my crazy idea and called Drew and he was … well.. hell, he was extraordinarily generous. As for collaboration, I just told Drew, “Make my show.” … And so he did.
Fanhattan: I know you said you were there for the process. Tell me about that.
Sam Witwer: Well, being a huge fan of Drew’s work and also his friend, I availed myself of the opportunity to see the master at work. So I came in every day to see how the painting was coming along. On a couple of occasions, I actually just sat and watched him work for an hour or so. That was fascinating. I mean, I’ve admired his art since I was a child and now I got to see the actual techniques, the particular movements, and honestly, the physical strain that makes a bunch of paint come alive on a canvas. …Makes that paint into a character with a narrative and emotional value attached.
It was really astounding. At first, I think Drew was like, “Oh man. This Witwer guy is in my space.” Eventually, I just became part of the room. I certainly wasn’t stupid enough to say, “Well don’t you think there should be a little purple here” like some executives Drew has told me stories about. I kept quiet and stayed out of the way and eventually Drew started to enjoy himself. I mean it. I saw him have fun with it. At one point when things started to take shape, the guy was showboating around the canvas like a prize fighter when . It was striking. The painting changed quickly and dramatically. It was really quite a thing to see. The show behind the show. It all comes down to this. He paints. I don’t paint. I have no idea how the hell he does what he does. I still don’t. But I got to watch him use a talent that I don’t have. I read Davie Schow’s books like “Internecine”… I don’t know how he paints with words, but I can observe the effect. I don’t know how Darabont crafts a visual story, but I can sit in the editing room and appreciate the talent at work. It’s just one of the more curious things about human beings. We all bring something to the table that others don’t.
Fanhattan: [to Drew Struzan] Are you a fan of the show? What sort of info did you need from Sam before starting the project?
Drew Struzan: Yeah, certainly I’m a fan of the show. That’s a big part of the reason I accepted it, because — if you don’t know, I’ll clue you in. I’m retired. I retired four years ago from being an illustrator because, to make a long story short, it became unappreciated and too much bother, and I didn’t need to do it, so I quit. It turns out I’ve been saying this a lot lately, answering this question, but when a friend calls, a friend answers. So, between being a fan of it — when I think about being a fan of it, I think about when I first heard about Being Human, it wasn’t the American version. It started out as a British version. My wife and I both loved that show. In fact, we don’t watch TV. And that was so intriguing that we would make the time and watch it every week. And when it started to come out in America, I didn’t think they could outdo the British version. But man, they sure did! I hate to say the American point of view on it is so much cooler, but I think it’s freer. More open ended. It has a lot more power and possibilities to develop as a show, and it sure has over the first two seasons. So yeah, I’m a fan. I’m not fanatical about anything in life, but we sure love the possibilities, and they are so fulfilled. So to be able to work on something I really like for a change, and not something I had to do for a job was indeed a great pleasure. I’m a fan of Being Human. Yes siree.
Fanhattan: Did you get any info from Sam before starting the project?
Drew Struzan: Any project I start, I want to make sure I had the spirit and the warmth and the power of it, it took for anyone to invest their time and money in it. Not just the writers and producers or the Syfy channel, but the actors themselves. They must have had some good reasons to do it, so when Sam asked me if I would help support the idea of the show, I wanted to talk to him to find out what it was that would motivate him and was moving him, to see if I was on the right track with how I think it ought to be sold and what the real motive of the picture was. So yeah, we got together. We talked about it. He was in Montreal shooting it, so we just did it on the telephone because we’re friends. We communicated very well. We talked it out. We talked about the possibilities, so we really came to the most powerful direction of all. He gave me information, and more than that, once we got the idea of where we thought we should go with what the picture represents for the third season, we said, okay, now we need some pictures. I’ve seen the show, but [laughs] I couldn’t draw the three, and then it turned out, four of them from memory by any means. So we decided to have a photo session, and Sam arranged that, and all the other actors and Syfy got behind it, and we did a photo session directly designed and shot for the purpose of painting the pictures. It made it just a splendid engagement because I had exactly the materials and the expressions and the poses I needed to paint what we agreed would be a really neat idea.
Fanhattan: Last time you and I chatted, you talked about being retired, so I’m thrilled to see new work from you. Are you working on any big new projects.
Drew Struzan: Oh, well, never say never, [laughs] because…in fact, I got a couple calls already this week on Star Wars from Disney. Oh my god, I’m trying to be retired! You know, I spent 35 years painting Star Wars. [laughs] I painted Star Wars before most of you were born! But I guess there is always a chance. There’s no intention. But I would love to have a day off every now and again, and I have to work a weekend and all through the night. If the opportunity arises, it will be a real temptation. But it’s going to have to be a real temptation to get me away from my wife and my little grandkids and my family. Away from the green trees and the blue skies for a change instead of just locked in the studio. But, you know, never say never. All things are possible.
Fanhattan: Can you talk about the process from concept to production, the color choices, the very cool blood splatter…
Drew Struzan: Very cool blood splatter? [laughs] Last year or so I did a painting for The Walking Dead. It was a pure “monster movie” and you had to paint — fantastic Frank [Darabont] said, “I want to see thousands of walking zombies.” Being Human, it’s so much more than a monster movie. Not saying that Walking Dead wasn’t a wonderful thing, but I don’t think Being Human is a monster movie. It’s about, as the title says, being human. People trapped in a situation that was no choice of their own. [Aidan] didn’t want to be a vampire, [Sally] didn’t want to be a ghost, [Josh] didn’t want to be a werewolf. They wanted to be human, so they’re struggling together as friends and a family to be something more than the disease they were stuck with and trying to be human. So I wanted to paint something that says these are people in a bad situation, trying to be the best of the humans that they really are. So we talked and talked about it and I thought — usually you see a monster like a vampire or a werewolf and we’re scared of them. And I said, what if it’s the other way around? Because that’s how the show really appeals to me. They’re people that are scary things, but they’re scared of being found out. They really want to be human beings and have love for human beings. So I thought it would be kind of neat to turn the tables on them and say no, they’re sort of afraid of us. That we might find out who they really are. So they’re holding together as a family and they’re trepidatious about who’s looking at them, and they’re looking at us, and we have this whole little thing going. If you look at it long enough, I think you’ll see that that’s what’s going on.
And of course, the color scheme, it had to be dark and frightening a bit. It’s nighttime and the moon is out. I didn’t want it to be colorful. It’s not a Disney film. It’s kind of a frightening experience. So I made it dark and kind of grey. And the blood — hmm, well, you’ve got to tell them what it’s about. [laughs] Plus, the red on the grey is just beautiful. There is nothing I paint that I don’t want to be beautiful. It may be scary, it may be frightening, but there is something redeemable here. And if it’s pretty, you’ll look at it and get the whole story.
Being Human airs the second episode of it’s third season tonight on Syfy 9/8C.