Last night, Syfy debuted their new series Bitten with the series premiere "Summons", with the inaugural season continuing Monday, January 20 at 10 PM ET with "Prodigal". The show follows Elena (Laura Vandervoort), the world's only female werewolf, who strikes out on her own to start fresh in a small town. However, before long, she is drawn back to her ancestral homeland of Stonehaven, when several of her kin are mysteriously murdered, as Elena finds herself torn between two very different worlds.
Laura Vandervoort and Kelley Armstrong, the author of the novels this series is based on, recently participated in a conference call where they spoke about the physicality of the show, how the idea for the books came from an episode of The X-Files and what initially attracted Laura Vandervoort to the role.
Laura Vandervoort first spoke about her background in martial arts, and how the show gave her the ability to use that part of her repertoire, while teasing a big fight sequence in the season finale.
"I grew up doing martial arts. So Elena feels like, you know, the other part of me. I relate to so much about her. Obviously, not the werewolf part, but the fact that she can take care of herself physically. I think it was great that the writers wrote in some extra hand-to-hand combat scenes. And especially in the finale -- we have this epic fight that I just had a great time doing. And we had great stunt coordinators that help us so as incorporate the animalistic side to the fighting. It wasn't a part of the audition, but, you know, I think it definitely benefits the character. The fact that most of the actors on the show are physically able to do the fight scene sequences."
Kelley Armstrong revealed that her initial idea for the novel series came from an unexpected place, a Season 1 episode of The X-Files, although she was inspired by the episode in a much different way than you might imagine.
"For the books, Bitten actually came out of an X-Files episode. I was in a writing group. And as part of a writing group you're expected to actually write new stuff. I was trying to come up with an idea, sat down and watched X-Files. It was way back in their first season. Their one and only werewolf episode. It was your typical big guy who changes into some beast like thing and goes around slaughtering people under the full moon. And I said that's not how I would do werewolves. And for a writer, that then sparks how would I do them? And I wrote a short story with this character named Elena and I loved that world so much that I wrote a book. Which goes to show you how long ago I started writing Bitten. It was the first season of the show; it is old stuff."
Laura Vandervoort also spoke about what really drew her to the role.
"I actually received an offer for the role -- which was amazing, first of all. And ended up speaking to (executive producer) J.B. (Sugar) on the phone just to get an idea of the premise of the show and how it would look and how the wolves would be done. And so we spoke for about an hour. And I heard how passionate he was about the project - he's our executive producer. And it just sounded like something I'd really been looking to do-such a layered thing-and the character who is both flawed and strong. I read the books. I read Women of the Otherworld and Bitten and did a bit of research. And as soon as I realized the amazing quality of what was there I jumped on. And we did some auditions and chemistry reads with the guys and we just sort of hit the ground running-no pun intended. I mean it was the most challenging six months I've had thanks to Kelley and the writers. Every day was a challenge for me. And there were days where I didn't know if I'd be able to handle the emotional side of it or the physical side of it or just being in every scene. And I did. And I'm so grateful for the experience."
Kelley Armstrong talked about how she wanted Elena to be someone who was comfortable with being a werewolf, as opposed to many werewolf characters who see it as a curse or a burden.
"I mean it is my first published novel. So it was way back. And I wanted to create a character who would be a werewolf and be uncomfortable with that role, but ultimately come to embrace it. So often we, at that time, saw werewolves that was a curse, something that you wanted to end to get out of. And I wanted a character who, while she would feel that she should think that way, really deep down doesn't. And Bitten was about coming to understand that what you think you should be is not always what you're meant to be."
Laura Vandervoort agreed with the author, while adding that Elena is a character many modern women can relate to.
"I agree with what Kelley said. A lot of, you know, there's a lot of parallels with Elena in the show and women in general. You know, Elena flees to Toronto to try to hide who she truly is and try to have this almost perfect image of what she feels people need from her, but she's just pushing down the animal inside of her. And it's such an amazing character that a lot of the skeletons in her closet are explored this season. You learn a lot about her history and some of her demons come back. So every episode was shocking to us when we'd read it. We had no idea, you know, where they were going to go with it. So I think even if you're not a sci-fi fan you're going to find something that you truly love about this show because it's not just about the sci-fi. It's not just about the werewolves, it's about the characters and their relationships and it's just very layered."
The actress also spoke about how Elena is torn between her wolfpack and the new life she has tried to start.
"It's complicated. She grew up in a foster care system - so never really had much of a family dynamic. So once she's Bitten into the pack it's conflicted because she is the trade. They didn't - it wasn't at her, you know, it wasn't by her own will. They bit her. And she had to survive it on her own. But at the same time she finally has a family that she's always wanted and people who will look out for her. So she's torn between, you know, what she's always wanted and how she got it - and then the life that she should be living in Toronto. But eventually within the season you realize that she is very close with the pack and she is their best tracker and she does love them all equally in different ways. And wants to help them and help the family."
Kelley Armstrong also spoke about embracing the changes that the writers and producers made for the TV adaptation.
"I really didn't have any influence. And that is what I felt was the correct stance to be taken. I mean a TV show is an adaptation. It is another version for a different medium. And to take a book and translate it directly to screen would make a very boring book. Because I will warn you, in Bitten I spent way too much time in Elena's head. And to put that on the screen would have been boring. Somebody else has to take it with fresh eyes and reconstruct it for a different medium. And I personally feel that by getting involved -- I'm, of course, so attached to my characters and so attached to my world that I would be objecting to things that I shouldn't be objecting to. And I was so thrilled with the early scripts I read. I was so thrilled with the writing and how they got the characters. And yes, there are changes, but there should be. And I was quite happy to leave it in everyone's capable hands and just step back."
Bitten airs Monday nights at 10 PM ET on Syfy.