We Interview New Synth Stanley! Dino Fetscher Talks Joining ‘Humans’ As A New “Orange Eyes”
‘Humans‘ returned to Channel 4 again tonight at 9pm, and we get to meet our first major “Orange-Eyed” synth character, Stanley, played by Dino Fetscher (‘Paranoid’, ‘Cucumber’). Stanley comes into the service of a reluctant Laura (Katherine Parkinson) after she has her first meeting with the Dryden Commission.
Towards the end of last year, we had the chance to visit the set of ‘Humans’ during filming and have a chat with some of the stars, including Dino, who chats a little about joining the show and finding his synth-legs!
So how would you describe the new “Orange-Eyed” synths?
The way I’d describe is they are like the iPhone X of synths! If you’ve seen the other series, they’re kind of updated and their hardware is configured to not be conscious, so they’re completely unconscious. They’re the new safe models they really can’t harm you. They just have the best technology, do lots of things wirelessly. In terms of our costume and look, everything is just pristine… and also unnervingly perfect.
How do you go about playing that?
The choreographer, Dan, is absolutely incredible. So I had “Synth School” with Ukweli and Holly who play Anatole and Agnes. It’s such specific work. I think the magic of the show is a lot due to what Dan has put together and created. So, we went through everything from how you look from left to right, to standing up and sitting down, to walking, to turning around. It’s so specific. Everything you see, something as small as a synth going to [pick something up], Dan will be with them for like, 10 minutes going “okay, lead with your left, turn here, don’t look…” So we did that, we had a day with them. Then we had all of the original synths and we did another day. Then I have a specific with Dan working on specific “orange eyes” choreography. Things in the arm, where the tension lies. I developed a different kind of charge… And then just lots of practice! Then I walked around Clapton Common for days being a synth [laughs]. People looking at me like I was mental. But it was good, and then it kind of drops into your body, and you’re able to think about it less.
The other “synths” who have done it before have said it’s about minimising movement, so it’s the same here?
Totally. It’s not like a massive difference in terms of the movement. The difference between “green eyes” and “orange eyes” is mainly in the arms and tension, and a few things like charging. But it’s all kind of the same in terms of, whatever uses the least amount of energy. So whatever conserves their battery power the most. Everything is very smooth, nothing is superfluous.
So is the point there that they are less human to put people more at ease?
Yes, I think that’s the idea. When Dan and I were talking about moving forward with what’s happened, with them becoming conscious, I guess this was dehumanising them in a way. So they have a “standby” mode, where are “green eyes” are more proactive than that. You don’t need to tell them [to do things]. Anita would go off and clean and always be doing something, whereas “orange eyes” will follow a command and when they’re not needed they go into a kind of shut down mode. So they’re more in the background, you can forget them a bit more.
How’s it been joining the show in the 3rd Season? Where you a fan beforehand?
Yeah, I was! I watched both series beforehand, so it was pretty cool. And I actually filmed a tv show last year called ‘Paranoid’, and that’s when I watched it on DVD. I was doing “synthing” around the house because it freaked my housemate James out quite a lot [laughs]… So I was like [synth voice] “hello James…” I just really enjoyed it! So when got my audition through I was like “YEEESSS!” Because I work very physically, lots of my training has been physical like dance, I was very attracted to the idea of something that specific and focused. So it was a real thrill and honour to join the show and such an amazing cast and team.
What’s been the most challenging thing for you so far?
As an actor, there are lots of things you rely on or you use in terms of helping you become more human and natural. Things like intonation, pause in movements… And then, all of a sudden, that’s gone, and it’s things like you have to be specifically careful where you blink, or that my costumes so tight but I can’t show that I’m breathing. Intonation has to be perfect, there can’t be pauses. It’s kind of like Siri you know, it has to be delivered in a perfect way with the words stressed exactly in the right way, and can’t be too loud… So those kinds of technical things have been the biggest challenge. Because, obviously, all my work usually is towards creating a truthful performance as a human, so it’s stripping that back and being so precise. But it’s been a great challenge and a lot of fun.
How does Stanley fit in with the family?
So, Laura [Katherine Parkinson] is on the commision to talk about what’s happened with the synths and they’re all coming together to see what decisions need to be made. And as a part of that, it’s a requirement for everyone on the commision to have an “orange eyed” synth. So I’m kind of her PA, chauffeur, and bodyguard. She resisted initially until Neha played by Thusitha [Jayasundera] insists and says “you have to have one of these or you can’t join”, so Laura agrees. So in I come! It’s reminiscent of Anita in Series 1, that’s the kind of vibe I am. It’s kind of comical with lots of the “I’m sorry I don’t understand the question” sort of things. And trying to be helpful, misunderstanding colloquialisms or instructions… But he starts to become a real part of the family, and I think that Laura starts to enjoy him being there, and they develop a relationship which is quite interesting, every though he is unconscious.
The family have seen all variations of synths, so what is their initial reaction to him and what is the reaction from the “green eyes”?
I think initially, Laura she’s resistant, but because they’re unconscious the “green eyes” see them as enslaved, and it’s taboo. And she’s obviously fighting for their rights, so it’s not good for her from that perspective. Sophie loves synths, so she’s thrilled! Toby’s happy. As time goes on and he acts as a protector, a friend, a helper, organically I think the relationships become quite positive and they’re grateful for him.
Are you sort of a replacement for Joe given he is no longer living with the family?
Ooh, err! [laughs]. I wouldn’t say that was the intention in terms of the writing, no. I don’t kind of jump into Joe’s shoes, but I think it’s definitely a help because she’s gone from being a two-parent family to a single mum household. So even though Laura doesn’t really want to admit she needs a hand, when it comes, she’s grateful for it.
How do they do the physical “orange eyes”? Is it contact lens?
No, it’s not actually contacts, It’s all CGI. Which I think is better because, with contacts, it would be very difficult to light them in particular ways. And the way they do it on the CGI really gives a true glow and adds to that synthetic robot vibe.
Are there any tv or movie robots you looked at for inspiration?
Yes! I looked a Fassbender in the newest ‘Aliens’. He was very useful for me. And then just rewatched lots of the earlier episodes. Then one of my favourite films, ‘Blade Runner’, which isn’t technically the same, but useful to help with the mindset.
If you want to hear Dino actually talk, along with Lucy Carless (Mattie) and Leo himself, Colin Morgan, all three interviews are available on the Geektown Radio podcast. We also chatted with Katherine Parkinson, and you can find that interview here.
‘Humans‘ airs Thursdays nights at 9pm on Channel 4. If you missed the first 2 Seasons or episode 1 of Season 3, you can catch up right now on All4. For our US cousins, ‘Humans’ Season 3 comes to AMC on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.