In a world filled to the brim with sci-fi shows about vampires, werewolves and witches, it can be hard for a new show about a pack of werewolves to stand out. But Syfy’s new series “Bitten” has one important factor that makes it necessary viewing in today’s TV landscape: The main werewolf character at the center of the story is female.
Meet Elena Michaels (Laura Vandervoort), an independent, strong, smart, human woman who fell in love with her hunky college professor Clayton Danvers (Greyston Holt), unknowingly thrusting herself into the world of lycanthropes. Five episodes in, we finally learned how Elena became a werewolf herself: Clay bit her (for reasons both we and Elena still don’t know or understand), thus ending their relationship but beginning her new life as the only female werewolf in the world.
Zap2it got the chance to pick Vandervoort’s brain about why she is the only female werewolf main character in pop culture today (and why Elena is the only female werewolf in the world on the show), plus she revealed some juicy scoop about what’s coming next for Elena and Clay, their pack, the pack alpha Jeremy Danvers (Greg Bryk), and much more.
Zap2it: You are the only lead female werewolf on TV right now, although there are some female werewolf periphery characters on other shows. Why do you think that werewolf lore is so female-averse?
Laura Vandervoort: I never thought of it that way, that I’m the only female lead werewolf in pop culture. I guess there haven’t been others. I’m very proud of the show for that alone. One of our writers is a phenomenal female writer and she just gets Elena and knows how to write strong women. But honestly I don’t know why it’s like that. We’ve all grown up with the male werewolf. It’s just always been a staple in that sci-fi realm. Obviously there are other female wolves on TV I’m sure, but perhaps it’s hard for audiences to accept a female playing this strong and dominant werewolf. I don’t know why it hasn’t come up until now but I’m glad that things are changing and that it’s accepted.
Do you think the fact that “Bitten” deals with the supernatural aspect in a mature way helps the audience accept a female lead werewolf?
Our show is a very sexy show. We all agreed that not only did we want it to be a sexy show because we are werewolves and there’s that inherent animalistic nature and that drive towards one other, but we also wanted it to be a really smart and well-thought-out show, to have the characters be intelligent and aware and not just one-dimensional. I think they did an incredible job with the flashbacks and everything they’ve put into it to show how many layers Elena has. There are so many surprises coming this season that are just so rich in her world, and things from her past come back.
Last week’s episode finally revealed Elena and Clay’s past, how they met, how they got together, and what broke them up: The fact that he bit her, turning her into a werewolf. Are we going to find out why he bit her?
Yes, he bit her and Elena doesn’t truly find out why he bit her until the finale. But she obviously feels betrayed and has hate for him, so that’s confusing. He’s the first person that she ever had truly fallen in love with and it’s the first family she’s ever known, and then she’s betrayed by him. She does escape to Toronto right after the first change and tries to survive on her own in Toronto and can’t, so she heads back to the pack and stays with them for a while before she ultimately leaves again.
Are we going to see that play out in more flashbacks?
Ummmm maybe? [laughs] I think the flashbacks definitely help tie in the books and make you understand where Clay and Elena are coming from and her attitude towards him. On Twitter, a lot of the fans are saying that they enjoy the flashbacks because it’s a different side than they’ve seen of Clay and Elena — when they were actually in love. I think you’ll probably see more.
Let’s talk about that first change scene, where Elena almost dies until Jeremy sees something in her and decides to talk her through it, and she survives. That whole scene was so brutal. What was it like filming that?
It was a challenging episode and that scene in particular was a full day. It was hard. I was in that little cage. Emotionally it was draining, and physically, I was throwing myself into the cage. I loved it in that I felt very challenged but at the end of the night I was crying and was cross-eyed and had blurred vision from all the crying. But it was worth it. I feel like it’s such an important detail to who Elena is and her story and her relationship with the pack alpha, how he helped her get through it.
He saved her life by talking her through the change, and as a result she became the only female to ever survive it. Will we find out what changed his mind to help her?
You’ll find out later on in the season why he helped her, what he saw in her to want to help her through it because usually with women there’s no point in even trying. But he talked her through it almost like she was giving birth. He was there to talk her through the change and the agony, and then it was like this new life was born when the wolf shakes itself out at the very end.
At the end of the episode, Elena left Stonehaven and the pack again to go back to her human life in Toronto. What’s coming next for her? What could possibly bring her back to Stonehaven after she asked Jeremy to let her leave?
I think she’s always going to be drawn back to Stonehaven because of Clay but mostly because of Jeremy. He’s her father for all intents and purposes, and she has to do what he says just in terms of the wolf nature. I have to listen to what he wants. If he calls me back, if he needs help, if we’ve lost a pack member or someone’s hurt, as much as she hates it she’ll always go back to him. I think there’s always an opportunity for her to return to Stonehaven.
But right now, she seems intent on living a human life. Is her werewolf secret in danger of being exposed to her human friends and human boyfriend?
I think so, it’s always in danger. It’s just getting closer and closer to the possibility. I don’t think she’s ever been safe and now that the mutts are invading her life in Toronto and trying to expose her and use it against her, she’s definitely in trouble. I think she’s starting to panic a little bit. She’s going to have to make some decisions about which life she can truly lead, especially with Santos showing up [in Toronto].
What can you reveal about the ex-con child molester Victor Olson and his connection to Elena that was teased in the last episode?
I don’t think I can say too much about that. But what you heard and what you saw is what you can expect. We know who Victor Olson is and what he’s done. And he clearly knows Elena. So people can put that together. You’ll find out in the next couple of episodes.
We’re just about at the halfway point of Season 1. What are you most excited for fans to see play out as we get closer to the finale?
Basically the relationship between Clay and Elena. That’s what people seem to be very interested in, their history and seeing them together and understanding what tore them apart. Our finale deals
with that a lot and we all worked so hard on it, so I’m excited for that episode in particular, on top of episode 5. It has so much heart and I’m just excited for people who maybe tuned in at the beginning and weren’t sure if the show was for them, and they’ve kept watching it and have been getting really surprised by every episode. I want people to stick around for the heart of the show and the characters and the skeletons in their closets and their relationships. There’s a lot coming up. Stay tuned.
Should we assume that the finale will end on some kind cliffhanger?
Hmmm. Maybe? [laughs] It should. I don’t want to say!
“Bitten” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Space, and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Syfy.