You’ve probably guessed the plot: werewolves, witches and vampires live in the ‘perfect’ American community. This new show is like Desperate Housewives meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Truman Show on serious amounts of heat. ‘They’d love to have you for dinner,’ says the voiceover in the trailer, which dramatises the fact that werewolves and vampires cannot live next to each other. To make matters worse, a nosy policeman, who also lives in the gated community, gets in the way of the residents’ supernatural lifestyles. Rhona Mitra, who plays vampire Claire Radcliff, explains what we can expect from the new series.
How did you get involved in The Gates?
From what I understand, the producers were pretty far along in the casting process, but they were having a hard time finding my character. I changed agencies and someone from the show was with this agency as well. My name was brought up and, as it turned out, I was available. They sent me the script on a Friday; filming was due to start the following week, so I had to make a quick decision, then get my tushy down to Louisiana and morph into a vampire housewife.
What can you tell us about your character?
Claire is, on the surface, a wonderful, beautiful, pristine wife and mother. She has an abundance of elegance and decorum and culinary skills. But that is just on the surface. She lives in a community where appearances are everything. Everything revolves around what your neighbours think, behaving a certain way and maintaining certain standards. With all that comes a lot of pressure for anyone. But in Claire’s case, not only does she have to sustain a certain image, but she is concealing a dark secret of addiction.
What other kinds of monsters can we expect to see in The Gates?
I don’t want to ruin any surprises. A few things will come up that I don’t think anyone will have seen before. But living within human society, there are a number of different ‘breeds’.
Do all of these creatures know of each other?
Yes, but the humans don’t know who we are. There are certain rules we all comply with – or are supposed to comply with. Because of our heightened senses, we know who’s who. It is supposed to be a copacetic existence, but the creatures don’t get on very well.
What about you? Do know your vampires from your werewolves?
Maybe a little more than the average person. I actually really enjoy it. I think working with Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy [on 2009 vampire flick Underworld: Rise of the Lycans] gave me an appetite – no pun intended – to continue in the genre. It’s so fun, and you have so much poetic licence. There is no rule of thumb for vampires or werewolves. You adhere to certain rules and the rest is up to you. There is a lot of freedom in that. The thing that is so fantastic about the monsters in our show is that they’re not outwardly monsters. They are, potentially, an extension of ourselves. I get to be versions of myself, then I get to play other versions of myself that are hidden. It’s like eternally being a child, using my imagination. It’s so much more appealing than some procedural crime-drama. Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen, two fantastic actors, came back to a franchise three times over because they love it. There is a lot to be enjoyed.
If they were to do another Underworld, would you be on board?
I think I ended up being burned in the sunlight in the last film, so unless they go back somehow, I don’t know how they would bring me back. But if they did ask me back, I’d do it. Especially if Bill and Michael were doing it again.
How will The Gates stand out from all the other vampire shows?
There is a voyeuristic element to it. The producers have created an environment that could possibly exist somewhere; I think there’s a reality to it. We have dynamics between husbands and wives, parents and children, which we can all relate to. But you add in these supernatural elements, you get people thinking: how would these ‘people’ interact if they weren’t just out to get each other?
The Gates season one premieres on Thursday, March 3 at 10pm on OSN Series.