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Bona Fide Fangirl and Supercool Chick—Meaghan Rath

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk around my other home about real geek girls and actresses who pretend to be geek girls. Well, I recently had the good fortune to spend some time getting to know a young woman that is both a talented actress and an honest-to-goodness geek. They might be a rare breed, but they do exist.

Meaghan Rath stars in Syfy’s hit reimagining of Being Human, the British series about roommates who happen to be a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf. As Sally the spirit, Rath has proven to be, literally and figuratively, the soul of the show. At Comicpalooza, Texas’ largest comic-con, in our interview and the panel I hosted with her, Rath revealed herself to be an authentic fangirl, giving all the right answers to all the telling questions.

Arriving sans handler or retinue, Rath was incredibly laid back, more an excited convention-goer than one of the leads of Syfy’s hottest new show. Greeting her many fans with a warm smile, she made everyone she spoke with feel like a friend. Comicpalooza was Rath’s first comic-con and she seemed genuinely thrilled by the experience as she eagerly posed for photos, signed autographs and took in the many crazy sights and sounds.

Considering she’s been a comic nerd since childhood, it’s a bit surprising that Comicpalooza was Rath’s first con. But she’s an equal opportunity fangirl; it’s not just comic books Rath digs: horror, exploitation, action, sci-fi — movies, books or television, it doesn’t matter. If you can geek out over it, she probably does.

In case you don’t know, Being Human is burning up the ratings. And from all those gathered for Rath’s panel, it was easy to tell that she is a big part of the show’s success. As I was standing outside the ballroom before the panel, several fans approached me to ask some variation on the same question: “Is this where that cool chick from Being Human is appearing?” And that’s the perfect description of Meaghan Rath. She’s a cool chick.

For a rising star, she really exudes a vibe of friendly normality. When talking, she has an easy laugh and a funny way of interjecting a quick “yeah yeah” or “uh-huh uh-huh” when a question is being asked. She’s like your best friend’s supercool older sister. You know, the one you always kind of had a crush on in high school.

Rath made all gathered for her panel feel like intimates, taking them into her confidence by sharing personal anecdotes and details of her life, such as whenever she dives into a swimming pool, she still pretends she’s a mermaid. Also, she would love to play a Minotaur some day. When revealing childhood supernatural encounters, she laughed, blushed and confessed charmingly, “I can’t believe I’m telling you guys this. I’ve never told anyone before!”

She also shared that, like any other normal person, she watches way too much TV. Favorite shows? “Lost is my absolute favorite.” Asked her opinion on the show’s hotly debated final episode, Rath had the perfect geek answer: “It was a great season finale, but not a great series finale. But that didn’t stop me from crying like five times.” She followed this up with a delightfully exaggerated impression of Lost‘s Ana Lucia, Michelle Rodriguez. (If you ever see her at a con, ask her to do it. It’s a hoot.) Other beloved series include Bored to DeathThe Walking DeadThe Killing and Curb Your Enthusiasm, because they’re awesome.

We then moved on to favorite directors, to which she replied, “Tarantino. I wish he’d cast me in anything.” Asked her fave Tarantino flick, she again had the perfect geek answer: “Probably True Romance, though I also really love Inglourious Basterds.”

This led to a discussion of exploitation, grindhouse and action movies, which Rath also loves. She wishes someone would give her the chance to show how badass she could be in a hardcore action flick — so casting directors take note: Meaghan Rath wants to kick ass. Asked her opinion on the best recent horror film, she again had the right answer (code for “she agreed with me”), professing a love for Drag Me to Hell and the singular comedic horror talent of Sam Raimi.

When someone inquired about actors she’d like to work with, Rath instantly morphed into a fangirl and replied, “Meryl Streep. Of course.” But then a little edge emerged when she revealed her respect for the work of Shannyn Sossamon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Disarmed by her candor, the crowd then started peppering her with quick queries like: Pirates or ninjas? (“Pirates.”) From a fellow Lostie, Jack or Sawyer? (“Sawyer.”) Fast zombies or slow zombies? (“Fast is way scarier.”) Star Wars or Star Trek ? (“Do I have to choose?”) What would you do for a Klondike bar? (After a long pause, she allowed, “I’d wax a hairy man’s legs for a Klondike bar. And I’d throw in his back too.”)

When one audience member asked, “Jason or Freddy?” (“Probably Jason. Yeah, Jason.”), it opened a discussion about horror reboots, which Rath has no problem with. Noting remakes are nothing new in Hollywoodland, she believes each generation has a different identity and can bring something new to something old. Asked what horror project she would like to see remade in 10 years, without missing a beat Rath laughed and answered, “Being Human…but only if I can play the vampire.” She’s had enough of the special challenges that come with playing a ghost.

As Sally the spirit, Rath cannot touch any of the other actors. And she has special furniture made with a hard material that keeps her from making a visible impression whenever she sits. As you can imagine, this becomes extremely uncomfortable for long periods. Also, because Sally always looks as she did when she died, Rath usually must wear the same costume and hairstyle. This has led her to develop hilarious, elaborate ideas on how the situation might be fixed, such as having her vampire roommate kill a hairdresser who then becomes a ghost that can do Sally’s hair.

Her dark sense of humor surfaced when she mentioned an upcoming project she just finished called Cyberbully, airing July 17 on ABC Family. “Sadly, it’s not about a mean android that picks on people,” she teased.

When her panel ended, Rath graciously gathered by the stage with her fans for one-on-one interactions and photos. In fact, she stayed so long, we were asked by the organizers to move the party to the back of the ballroom to allow the next panel to begin.

*   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The day before her panel, Meaghan Rath sat down with me for a quick chat. She’s an exceedingly engaging interview and seems truly excited about her life and her work. Sally, her character on Being Human, has gone through some major changes thus far, and in our brief talk, we discussed Sally, Syfy and just what the hell happened at the end of The Last Exorcism anyway?

So, Canada’s Meaghan Rath, how did you get started?

Well, it was always something that I wanted to do. I took a lot of acting classes and workshops growing up. And I was in this one workshop and I was 12 years old. And they had our pictures on the wall, and then a casting director came in and was casting for a film [the wonderful Lost and Delirious] and saw my picture and asked me to audition for the film. And I got the part. So I played “Allison’s Friend #3,” and I still think it’s my best work to date. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Really? But you were young, so there’s still time—

Yeah. And so then I finished high school and I wasn’t working at all. Once I finished, I really started getting serious.

I wrote your bio [for Comicpalooza's program]. I don’t know if you saw it, but it says you’re a female fanboy.

Uh huh.

You love Tarantino.

Uh huh.

And you love comic books. Tell us about that. How did you become a geek?

Well, because my brother, really. My mom was a huge Star Trek fan, so I grew up watching Star TrekStar Wars — both.

Right, all the Star‘s.

Yeah. [Laughs] And my brother is the biggest comic book nerd in the world. So, he has thousands and thousands of comic books. He would recommend something, and I’d read them all.

Did you sneak into his room when he wasn’t there and go through all his books?

No! [Laughs] I would just let him pass it along to me. So I read a lot of things and that’s how I really got into it.

Being Human is a genre-kinda thing. It’s horror-ish.

Yeah yeah. Totally.

Are you a horror fan?

Yeah. I’m a huge horror fan. There’s something about watching a movie and feeling scared, because you never feel that way. You’re never gonna be so, you know, terrified and anxious.

You get to feel that way and walk away from it.

Yeah, exactly. You know, I watched tons of horror movies, and I watched them all with like the blanket pulled up sort of covering my ears. Yeah, I love it. I just watched the last The Last Exorcism the other night.

That’s not bad, huh?

Yeah, I liked it. I thought it was pretty well done. I thought all the actors were really good.

Yeah, the brother especially.

Yeah, the brother was creepy. I didn’t understand the ending too much though.

Yeah, I liked the whole movie up till the last 15 seconds. The very last shot kind of makes the whole movie not work. I mean, if it’s found footage—

Wait. It’s found footage?

Well, I don’t know. The last scene makes it seem like it’s found footage.

Yeah, and what’s up with the whole birth?

The demon baby.

Yeah, but I mean the priest and the feet and hands tied up?

I know. All the sudden, Satan worship? Talk about deus ex machina. Or, devil ex machina.

Yeah yeah yeah. It’s weird.

So anyway, Being Human. When I heard Syfy was making it — I’m a big fan of all the Syfy stuff. Warehouse 13, I love that show. Ghost Hunters, you were on that!

Yeah. [Laughs] That was cool.

When you’re on Syfy, are you contractually obligated to do other things, or did the opportunity come up? “Hey, Syfy person, wanna be on Ghost Hunters?”

I think that’s how it happened. When I did Ghost Hunters, we were shooting. We were in the middle—

Being Human hadn’t started yet, right?

Yeah, we were filming.

I remember seeing you and saying, “Oh, she’s on that show based on that British show. She seems really nice!”

[Laughs] The bad thing was, it was crazy. It was like six hours of live TV — I don’t know how they do [it]. And it was terrifying. I was really scared!

It was really funny. It was like you were so excited about being there!

I was definitely the right person to have done that thing, because I really believe in ghosts, that kind of thing.

So you believe in ghosts, and now you are a ghost. Obviously they’re real, because you are one.

Yeah, exactly. No, I’ve always thought they were real.

So, Being Human. I hadn’t seen the original show. I was like, Sally — her character doesn’t have a lot to do here. Everybody else is turning into vampires and werewolves and killing people, and Sally just sits in the house. But you’ve become the most compelling character for me.

Well, that’s nice. What I think, if you watch the whole season, by the end of it, you really start—

You’re the character that’s grown the most. You’re becoming—

Yeah, I think that once Sally really sort of starts to come to terms with her power and can control it, she’s going to be more powerful than either of them. She’s already dead. She’s pretty much invisible.

Yeah. You were really scary when they tried to exorcise you.

[Smiles] Yeah yeah yeah.

You were really creepy.

I know. It’s funny. Every week, all my friends were, like, “I’m so scared” — parts I never felt were scary.

Well, you’re there and you can see all the cameras and everything—

Well, do you know what — the contacts I was wearing, the white contacts, I was really blind in them. I couldn’t see. I didn’t know how I looked.

Would somebody come out and grab you and lead you around?

Yeah. I was in the contacts for, like, you know five hours, six hours at a time without being able to see anything. So it was really kind of shocking. And I sort of got a glimpse into what it must be like to be blind. Because I was sitting, and I was pretty much quiet. It’s not like you can really join in on a conversation — it’s like, everyone’s talking. You know, I think I slept at one point. It’s really sort of challenging. The makeup took hours and hours and hours to get on, and even longer to take off.

So, Sally so far, she has not had a good history with men. You know, the reason you’re a ghost is because of your boyfriend. And then after you die, you met the perfect guy—

Uh huh.

And even he turns out to not be right for you.

Yeah, I mean — the thing is, Sally’s not really ready to be in love yet. You know, he has his issues, but it’s more about her. And she feels that in a relationship, she changes who she is for another person. Really, she’s not at a point right now where that can be different. But I’d love to see things evolve with [their relationship]. His character is so into me.

He really was.

It did end kind of abruptly. So I got to think, like, you know, maybe…

Bring him back in season two?

Yeah.

So, are you filming season two now?

We start in July.

All right. So, let’s sum up. Sally’s door is gone.

Yeah. [Smiles]

[She] can move things around.

Uh huh.

So, what happens next?

I don’t know!

You know something!

I actually don’t know!

You don’t know anything?

I swear to you, they have not told us anything. I haven’t seen a script. Nobody has told me any plot points at all. I know nothing!

All right. I believe you. Okay, thanks for talking with me. I really appreciate it.

[Laughs] Send me the article.

I will. And please check out [the website]!

I will!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Meaghan Rath joked that she’d like to play the vampire role in a Being Human remake. I leave you with Alex Epstein’s clever short film, You Are So Undead, a flick that not only allows Rath to play both a vampire and a teenager, it also lets her show the dark streak hinted at during her panel. [Editor's note: The short film was withdrawn by its owner, so you'll have to settle for a still and a trailer.] So, if you’re curious about whether Ms. Rath can drop the ghost act and don the fangs effectively, check it out. She can, and she has.

~Theron Neel

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