You’ve heard it all before – boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, (and vice versa), they get married and then go off to live happily ever after. Well, the supernatural TV drama Bitten has taken that story and turned it on its head. In its version, werewolf meets girl, werewolf falls for girl (and vice versa again), werewolf bites girl and the girl ends up becoming world’s only female werewolf. As for all the rest, let’s just say that it is a very complicated and emotional work in progress. The werewolf in question, Clayton Danvers, is played by actor Greyston Holt, whose introduction to the Bitten world was unlike that of his prior projects.
“In the first scene that I shot for the show, I had to drop my pants and put my [posing] sock on,” recalls the actor with a chuckle. “I was completely naked, which was a good icebreaker. So shooting the first episode of Bitten was fun. We were kind of finding our way a little bit with our characters and feeling out our chemistry with one another as actors. There wasn’t a huge amount of rehearsal time or prep time, so we were definitely learning as the series progressed, and it just felt good to get in front of the camera and start telling this story.”
Based on one of the books in the Women of the Otherworld series by author Kelley Armstrong, Bitten introduces audiences to Elena Michaels (Laura Vandervoort), a werewolf who leaves her Pack to make a new and, hopefully, “normal” life for herself in Toronto, Canada. Among those she leaves behind is Clayton Danvers, her ex-lover and the werewolf whose own bite turned her into a werewolf. In the show’s pilot episode, the Pack leader, Jeremy Danvers (Greg Bryk), asks for Elena’s help to track rogue werewolves or “mutts” that are slaughtering humans as well as their own kind. The situation subsequently escalates and threatens the future of the Pack, which forces Clayton to expose his dark side.
“Clay is a very impulsive and violent type of guy,” explains Holt, “and he can tap into the violence so fast. It’s just like a switch that he turns on, which was probably the most challenging thing for me about the character, because I’ve never been in a fight in my life. I’m like a total softie and do not like violence at all. So it was tough for me when it came to playing scenes where, let’s say, a mutt pisses Clay off or someone says the wrong thing to him and I have to switch on that anger and intensity. It’s fun to play those types of scenes, though. Yes, it’s a challenge, but that’s why we [actors] do this, right? If it was the same thing all the time, then it would get boring, not only for me but for the audience that’s watching.
“One of the things I really like as season one of Bitten goes on is that I’m able to show a more compassionate side of my character,” continues the actor. “Elena was brought into this world against her will because of Clay, and he does a lot of the things he does because of her and for her. A big part of that is toning down the violence. You’ll see even more of that in the last few episodes, and it’s a big change that Clay makes for Elena. Funnily enough, what surprised me most about my character was finding moments to play his softer side. It’s not all just brute strength, violence and intensity with Clay, and it was interesting for me to explore that. In episode eight [Prisoner], there are a few of those scenes, and there are a few others coming up between him and Elena where he lets his guard down even more.”
Clay’s adoptive father Jeremy was initially none too pleased when Clay acted on his feelings for Elena and bit her in order to ensure their future together. No other human female had ever survived a werewolf bite, but luckily for her she did. Despite any reservations, Jeremy welcomed Elena into their fold and was disappointed when she chose to leave. Her return to the Pack’s home of Stonehaven rekindles all manner of unrequited feelings of love in Clay’s heart, which he struggles to control as to not endanger his wolf family.
“Clay’s loyalty is ultimately to Jeremy,” says Holt. “He’s their Pack Alpha and the one who saved Clay. He took him under his wing when he was seven years old and running around feral in the swamps by himself. Clay didn’t even speak English. He was basically just like an animal living in the woods, so Jeremy took him under his wing, domesticated him, taught him the ways of the Pack and pretty much made Clay the man that he is today. Jeremy is the only figure like that in his life, which made for an interesting dynamic onscreen, because his word is final. At the same time Clay’s only ever love is Elena, and that constant tugging between his feelings for her and his unwavering loyalty to Jeremy was a wonderful inner conflict for me to play.”
Throughout Bitten’s first season, there are scenes where Clay takes off his shirt, along with various other bits of his clothing, as Holt spoke about earlier. The actor’s well-toned physique is put to the test on more than one occasion when his character engages in some heart-pumping, fist-flying, bone-crushing action sequences. Did the actor do any type of prep for the more physical elements of his performance on the show prior to the start of filming?
“I do CrossFit, which is sort of my morning routine to just stay in shape as well as keep fit and strong, but I didn’t really do anything specific for the show,” he says. “We had pretty lengthy stunt rehearsals prior to filming the fight scenes, and that was the only real training we did in that regard. Again, that was like a learning curve for me, too, because I hadn’t really done a ton of fight stuff before. There are some wicked fight scenes coming up. In next week’s episode [Vengeance], Nick [Steve Lund] and Jeremy have a sweet fight scene, which is one of the better fight scenes in my opinion, and they just keep on getting better and better. Viewers will see some other fights in episode 10 [Descent], and there’s a big blowout in the season finale.”
In the season one Bitten episode Stalking, the mutts ambush the Pack, leaving Jeremy and Antonio (Paulino Nunes) mortally wounded, and Antonio ultimately succumbing to his injuries and dies. Clay and Elena manage to find and capture Cain (Noah Danby), one of the mutts, and in Prisoner, Clay resorts to desperate and painful measures to try to save Jeremy, who was poisoned during the mutt attack.
“Prisoner is definitely one of my favorite episodes from season one just because I had a lot of really juicy, awesome scenes in it,” enthuses Holt. “Noah Danby is a great actor and it was a real treat for me to work on it with him. Two of my favorite scenes are in this episode, and are probably my favorite scenes from the entire season. I really like the one where Jeremy, who is weak, is lying in bed and Clay puts his head down on his chest and kind of has a quiet moment with him. As the Pack’s Alpha male he’s always portrayed as the strong one, and for Clay to see Jeremy in that weakened state and really connect with him is such a powerful moment. Greg is an amazing actor and I love working with him.
“The other scene I enjoyed is towards the end where Clay castrates Cain. Other than running my lines beforehand and maybe focusing on a few specific beats that I wanted to hit, I just went into that scene playing off Noah. Again, he’s such a talented guy that it made my job easier. To see his pain and suffering and being in that moment just kind of worked in the end. [Co-executive producer] Wil Zmak did a terrific job writing this episode and I had a ball filming it. All of our characters had such strong story arcs to play over the whole season, which was a joy for us as actors. I’m really interested to see where our writers take Clay and the others, hopefully, in season two of Bitten.”
Although he appears to be a natural in front of the camera, Holt never imagined as a child ever growing up to pursue an acting career. “When I was younger, acting wasn’t even on the radar,” he notes. “I always wanted to be a musician, and I still play the guitar and write music. So that’s what I hoped to do, but it’s a tough industry to break into. Then kind of by chance, going into my last year of high school I needed an extra arts credit and there were a few options, one of which was Acting 12. I took it on a whim and ended up really enjoying it. I told my parents about it, and my Mom mentioned to one of her friends at work that I was doing acting. Her friend said, ‘My sister is an agent in Vancouver; you should go see her.’ So we did and she’s been my agent ever since. I eventually moved to the city to work on the acting and I’ve since been picking away at it for the past nine years.”
Holt has worked on a variety of made-for-TV movies as well as the miniseries Into the West. He has also appeared in several series including The 4400, Blood Ties, Smallville, SGU: Stargate Universe, Fringe, The Killing Game, Flashpoint, Once Upon a Time, Arctic Air, Cedar Cove and Durham County, in which he played the recurring role of Ray Prager, Jr.
“I think Durham County really turned the page for me and allowed me to believe that I really could do this [acting] professionally,” says the actor. “At first when you just get a couple of roles here and there, it’s hard to imagine you can make a career out of this, as much as you want to. Durham County was my third or fourth job, and I was super excited when I booked it. I spent a couple of months filming in Montreal and I fell in love with the city. I was 20 at the time, so it was like a whole new world for me. I was staying in a hotel and getting per diem every day to go buy food. It was awesome. The show itself was so well-written and I learned a great deal from my fellow actors, because I was really green at the time. The role was amazing; I played the son of a serial killer whose father also raped my character’s girlfriend. It was pretty crazy, messed up stuff, but, again, juicy material to work on as an actor.”
In addition to his work in Bitten, the actor can be seen in an upcoming episode of the long-running TV show Supernatural. “I actually booked the lead guest-star in this episode, but then I couldn’t do it because one of the shooting days conflicted with another TV show I’m working on,” says Holt. “So they offered me a smaller part, but I have this sweet scene with the show’s two leads, Jensen Ackles [Dean Winchester] and Jared Padalecki [Sam Winchester] where they’re interrogating my character, so that was a ton of fun to do. The show is shot here in Vancouver and it’s on its ninth season. I had yet to get on it, so I was stoked to finally get this part and work with Jensen and Jared.”
Just as Durham County came along at the right time in Holt’s career, the same is true of Bitten. “Getting a lead role on a series is one of the top goals for many actors,” he says, “so this is a big deal for me. I’ve had leads in movies and supporting roles in series, but Bitten has reaffirmed for me that, yes, I’m doing the right thing work-wise. Filming 13 episodes of a TV show is such a journey and I feel very lucky to have had a lengthy amount of time to find a character and play his story arc over a season. So this has definitely been the most rewarding job and career move for me so far.”
As noted above, all photos copyright of Canada's SPACE Channel and Bell Media, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks! Bitten airs Saturday nights @ 9:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. PST on SPACE, and in the States, on Syfy, Monday nights @ 8:00 p.m. EST/PST.