September 4, 2013
When I first saw Blood Ties, I was relieved to see a “good guy” vampire who was not tormented by guilt. The concept fell in line with my core concept that it is not what we are but what we do that determines our moral nature. I was delighted when Kyle Schmid agreed to the interview because this was an area I wanted to discuss with him. Unfortunately, his production schedule only allowed us to do this interview via internet. We were doing some follow-up questions but his time demands have made it impossible to complete those in time for this interview. I hope at some point in the future, we will get another chance to go more in depth. For now, enjoy the visit with two of our favorite vampires.
This is Jeannie Musick with Kyle Schmid,
actor from Blood Ties, Being Human, and currently Coppers.
Tanya Huff found an interesting piece of history in her discovery of Henry Fitzroy’s lingering illness followed by the order that his corpse be wrapped in lead and taken in a closed cart for secret interment – particularly since Henry VIII openly accepted him. That is a dream piece of information for an author to build a legend on.
JEANNIE: I believe you were 23 when you began the role of Henry Fitzroy in Blood Ties. In real life, Henry died at the age of 17. So, you were a 23-year-old playing a 488-year-old vampiric 17-year-old, if that makes any sense. As an actor, how did you play both the youth and the age?
KYLE: The youth wasn’t something that I focused as I find age doesn’t necessarily reflect wisdom or inner depth. I focused on the years of which Henry had lived. The weight of those years and how they played a part in who he had become presently at the time of the show.
JEANNIE: I noticed that you had the pocket watch that you used to connect yourself to an older mentality. Were there other tools that you used in that way?
KYLE: Wardrobe for me has always been something that transforms me with any character. The set design of Henry’s apartment was beautiful…fit for a king (or son of). There were other props as well. His ring and a leather dog tag necklace were pieces of his history that he refused to let go. I imagined the ring had been his father’s and the leather dog tag a memento of a long past war.
JEANNIE: You mentioned in other interviews that Henry’s use of sex was his way of giving back when he was always taking. In other words, he traded ecstasy for blood. Yet his partners in the series were still victims because they were unaware of the trade. How would Henry justify that and how would Kyle react to that?
KYLE: Tricky question. I suppose to justify the sex; more often than not, the partners were sexually attracted to the character before he ever needed to play any mind games with them. I think they got what they wanted. Personally, I’ve always seen vampires in a way of being the most primal of human beings. The catch there is that humans have evolved in their ‘hunter killer’ capacity whereas vampires still rely on fresh blood to live. In understanding this, and seeing as Henry as someone who has grown to be able to control his urges and not kill every victim, I see it as being the lesser of two evils.
JEANNIE: The most interesting thing about Henry was his lack of guilt. Modern vampires who are “good guys” tend to mope so much, you want to stake them just to put them out of their misery. Henry seemed to lack that morose nature. Yet once when he was mad at Vicki, he commented that when you live as long as he has, someone has to die. How much guilt did your Henry feel or was he completely comfortable with what he was?
KYLE: I think Henry said it best, although the guilt I’m sure was buried deep under the understanding of necessity.
JEANNIE: We share our favorite episode, “Heart of Fire” (#8). You said you loved it because of the physicality and demand on you as an actor. As a director, I always am watching the acting and if something sends a chill or catches me off guard – that is when I get excited. You saying grace over the priest got me. What were your reactions to the religious implications of Henry’s tortures, victories, failures, and prayer (rat, Vicki, Mike, priest) in that episode?
KYLE: I thanked our writers everyday on Blood Ties. Peter Mohan is still a close friend. As an actor to have great meaty material like that is what we always hope and pray for. It was a very demanding episode. As for the implications… I think Henry and myself [had] a rough time of it all. At the end of the day, survival is the only thing on your mind.
JEANNIE: While Henry seems happy and adapted to his life, the truth seems that he can never have a real relationship. He can have a temporary relationship with someone, like Vicki, but if he turns her, he loses her because of the territorial instinct. At any time when you were playing the role, did that thought every affect your construct of Henry? If so, how?
KYLE: It was always an ongoing joke between Dylan, Christina and myself of who Vicki would end up with. The reality of the situation was simple to me – if Henry wins the prize he essentially ends up killing the woman he loves. I found that’s what made the construct of the Henry/Vicki relationship so beautiful. It was bound to be a tragedy. There was just something I loved about that.
JEANNIE: At one point, there was talk of a new series with Henry Fitzroy based on Smoke & Mirrors. Do you know anything about that?
KYLE: I really don’t. It was a brief rumor years ago. It’s been much too long now.
JEANNIE: Once again, you were Henry. However, this Henry was similar yet different. He seemed just as lacking in guilt but not as moral, yet still loyal to Aiden. Would you agree with that?
KYLE: I think Being Human’s Henry evolved into the guiltless vampire he is. Henry as a human was a very weak human being who always saw in others what he couldn’t achieve himself. Aiden gave him that power. I see more often than not in reality, that those who are given power where it wasn’t before – can easily go to the dark-side, hence our Henry.
JEANNIE: Going into this Henry, how did you create him differently? I am not talking about different histories. What did you do to keep us from blurring the lines?
KYLE: I don’t think it was much of a challenge really. I never saw the characters being similar what so ever. I like to create original characters with the material I have. With the help of the team over there (A. Kane, A. Fricke, I. Latinksy, among many others) it was easy.
JEANNIE: Did you know at the beginning how your character was going to die?
JEANNIE: I believe makeup and costume are partners with the actor in creating the character. When Suren had you had flayed, the makeup was grotesque. I read it took four hours to apply and two hours to remove. How did that makeup inform your acting?
KYLE: Man that was a harsh day. Thank god for that make up team, they are fantastic at what they do. It helps a ton. The only reason that scene turned out so well because of them.
JEANNIE: Both of your vampires had the ability to manipulate others. How did they feel differently about their ability? How did they use it differently?
KYLE: Blood Ties Henry, was much more skilled at it and used it out of necessity. Being Human Henry really walked that moral gray line at times…although he used it out of necessity as we saw, I’m sure there was a point when he used it for his own personal gain.
JEANNIE: Which vampire did you enjoy playing better? (Which Henry did you have more fun with?)
KYLE: They were both fun, but I guess I’m partial to Fitzroy. 22 hours of television and starting a series from the beginning was something that I’ll always hold close to my heart.
JEANNIE: Has anyone ever taken you for a “real” vampire? What did you do?
KYLE: No. Although I’ve received some very odd mail at times.
JEANNIE: What have your vampires given you? What did playing Henry Fitzroy given you? What did playing Henry Durham give you?
KYLE: Playing those characters has given me a lot. Not only have I learned so much about the business, acting and myself but the introduction to the syfy world fan base is something that I’ll always be thankful for.
JEANNIE: Why do you think people are so attracted to vampires today?
KYLE: Danger…eternal life…sex…
JEANNIE: You have played in many supernatural movies. Which would you prefer playing: supernatural hero, supernatural villain, romantic hero, villain, comic, or action?
KYLE: Supernatural Villain/Romantic Hero/Action not necessarily in that order.
I would like to thank Kyle for his time and willingness to do this interview.