Ghosts Star Rose McIver Opens up About Show’s Very ‘Technical’ Filming Process

Ghosts is a show that follows a woman named Samantha Arondekar (Rose McIver), who decides to turn an upstate New York mansion into a bed and breakfast alongside her boyfriend Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar). However, after Sam has a near-death experience, she discovers that the house is haunted by eight different spirits who now need to coexist with the couple.

Because Sam is the only one on the show who can see the ghosts, many scenes must be shot twice. According to McIver during an interview with Variety, since their filming in Montreal and it’s French Canadian, they call it “fantômes” and “sans fantômes” — with ghosts and without ghosts. So scenes are typically shot first with the spirits, then without spirits.

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“It’s definitely more technical than I ever would have expected a half-hour sitcom to be. We do have a lot of fun on set, but it’s definitely some of the most focus that I’ve had on a project — trying to remember physically where people are located, whose voice was coming from where, the energies that they were each giving in each take, [which] I want to be matching.”

McIver said she tries to take a photo imprint of what they’re doing during the scene and when they’ve left. Since there are 10 of them, the whole project is a massive exercise in listening. Make sure they make enough room for everybody, serve each other, and set each other up to knock it down. According to her, that’s what works so well in the project. “It’s a very generous cast.”

“It’s very technical for our crew as well. Like, we can’t have a piece of furniture move that they’ve been sitting on. For example, when one of the guys sits down on a bed, so that they’re not physically leaving an imprint, which we normally would do, they put a board of wood underneath the sheets. There are lots of little details like that that people have to think about all the time. For something that ends up coming off very fun, I have a great deal of respect for all of the concentration that has gone into it.”

Rose on Being Sam

Right now, McIver is actively filming Season 2 of Ghosts, which is based on the British show of the same name. According to the actor, the roadmap for both shows is the same, with the same premise and some of the same characters. However, any opportunities they had to ground in their own truths and ideas would just help creative ownership over the characters.

“I’ve watched the first few episodes of the original British series. At some point I’m going to dive in and finish it, but I really wanted to have some good momentum going with what we were creating, without feeling like we were just trying to do an imitation. I’m a huge fan of the first few that I’ve seen, but I just didn’t want to psych myself out too much by watching Charlotte [Ritchie] absolutely nail the performance the way she does. I wanted to build my own thing,” said McIver.

When it came to making the character her own and differentiating Sam from the original series’ Alison (Ritchie), McIver said that she doesn’t think of it as becoming somebody else. For her, that adds an extra layer of work she doesn’t feel she needs. Instead, McIver likes to strip away what doesn’t serve Sam in Rose. Such as identifying with Sam’s need to be a people pleaser.

“I’ll come to the character and be like, ‘Which parts of Rose really resonate with Sam? What can I kind of hone in on in myself that feels like her?’”

One way that Sam and Allison differ is that Sam has a whole episode focused on her mom, who has become a ghost herself. McIver approached shooting that with the mind frame that Sam, whose always wrapped up in fixing everybody else problems, hasn’t been able to make peace with the dynamic she had with her mother. This is why Sam having Jay is so vital for her.

“I think she has found this incredible rock in Jay, who is so deeply supportive. We always talk about how if the ghosts each have a superpower, Jay’s superpower as a ghost would just be just unconditional love. He stays with her despite — I mean, we know what the premise of this show is. It’s outrageous that he just sticks around, really. And I think she knows that, and he’s probably been the key to her being able to develop trust and intimate and meaningful relationships in her life, and very much a key for how she relates to the ghosts as well.”“[Ghosts] has made me process some things for myself on a deeper level, and I really hope it does that for the audience as well. We’ve had some pretty amazing interactions with fans. Conversations about mortality or things that you don’t expect to come up in a half-hour sitcom have really been provoked through the show that I get to be a part of. It’s been a huge gift. I’m just very grateful that we get to come back and make more of it.”