Ryan Kwanten generously took time out of his day to chat with us about the character of Jason Stackhouse and what he’d be doing if he weren’t acting. He also reveals his favorite Scrabble word and recommends a new Australian TV series for Mel. Download and listen to the interview below. (NOTE: This is stereo mode, so be sure both your left and right speakers are on!)
UPDATED: Transcript added below, compliments of McM.
(TB.net) What drew you to the role of Jason Stackhouse?
(Ryan) Um…just his kind of – instinct, you know, jump off a cliff type of mentality, there wasn’t a real –it was kind of liberating to play a character that has no real thought process, he’s really just flying by the seat of his pants.
(TB.net) Is he more impulsive than you are?
(Ryan) Far more.
(Ryan) Yeah. I have my moments, but they’re just moments, whereas he tends to live his entire life that way.
(TB.net) It’s fun to watch but I don’t think it would be fun to live.
(Ryan) (laughs) Or live with, yeah!
(TB.net) Yeah. Well, Ryan, I know you’ve read at least a couple of the novels by Charlaine Harris, but Jason doesn’t get a lot of character development in the books. So, how did you approach the character?
(Ryan) I’m really one of those sort of actors that likes to sort of not anticipate the future, so I read 2 books and realized that I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself. And I knew, sort of, Alan was fleshing the character out as more than they were in to book – as he did with some of the other characters – to make I guess the series I guess more TV savvy. So, um, obviously I was in his and the other writer’s more than capable hands.
(TB.net) And he really has developed into – I mean, in the books he’s not all that sympathetic but in the series he’s become somebody that you’re really kind of rooting for. He’s quite endearing. And for me I think I sat up and took notice in that scene where Jason – it’s right after Gran’s death, and he’s been so upset with Sookie, but then he’s in bed with this woman, and he starts crying. And it was a very powerful moment, and it was a moment when I sat up and when, “whoa, what is going on with this character?” For a scene like that, how do you prepare?
(Ryan) Well, I mean, you kind of draw on sort of emotional things that have happened in your life, whether they be a death or something like that. We’ve all experienced those things. And I think what I quite often find is that, um, everything sort of hits you at once and usually when you least expect it. It’s in sort of the day-to-day activities. And so Jason in that kind of – having sex is somewhat of a day-to-day activity for him, as ridiculous as that sounds. And that’s when it really sort of hit him, and that’s when he had an epiphany and decided to change his life. That was the word I was looking for earlier, by the way, epiphany!
(TB.net) Epiphany (laughs) It’s appropriate. It was, it was a powerful, powerful moment.
(Ryan) Well, thank you! That’s great to hear.
(TB.net) What are your thoughts on Jason’s relationship with Sookie?
(Ryan) Um, I think he very much feels the older brother and he needs to sort of set the example. And yet, Sookie is by far the most, the more mature of the lot – of two of them. Um, yeah, I mean obviously he loves her and no matter how much sort of water under the bridge or bad blood is spilled between them there’s still this undying love.
(TB.net) I really like the scene where he, um, tries to kind of stand up to Bill as the older brother, you know, when Bill comes to meet the family. And Jason kind of tries to say “I’m the man of the house” and Gran’s like, “No, not really.” (laughs)
(Ryan) (laughs) Yeah, right!
(TB.net) But it was a sweet moment for Jason, you know, with Sookie. He’s trying to be the big brother, like you said.
(Ryan) Yeah, they actually – we had a couple of really nice, kind of heartfelt scenes. ‘Cuz it’s funny, everyone seems to think that we work together all the time because we play brother and sister. But I really only had a good handful of scenes with Anna and we really enjoy working with each other. And this season we’ve had the opportunity to do a couple of big sort of emotional scenes which has cemented the characters’ relationship more, you know. And uh they’re fighting for each other, so it’s bigger than just themselves as well. So it’s really quite sweet.
(TB.net) I’m looking forward to that. What are you most excited about for Jason in season 2?
(Ryan) Uh, well, I know a lot more than you do -
(TB.net) Yes, well, without divulging anything that would have Alan Ball on your back- what things are coming up that you in particular have been excited about being able to play?
(Ryan) You know what’s good is that the writers just consistently keep not just me but every actor on their toes, so you really just don’t know what to expect. Each script sort of outdoes the one before it and just when you feel that they can’t outdo themselves any more they continue to do so, and I think this series is really going to be groundbreaking for many, many reasons.
(TB.net) Um-hmm. Well, we can’t wait.
(TB.net) Yeah. Is there any chance that Jason will get another stable love interest in the next season, something like what he had before with Lizzy Caplan, or…?
(Ryan) No…I was sort of saying earlier that I think his love interest is faith at this point and his –his – devotion to this new church sect, which he’s trying to put all his efforts into.
(TB.net) That’s quite a turn around for him!
(Ryan) Yeah, he’s all buttoned up with nowhere to go!
(TB.net) (laughs) Hmmnnn…I wonder how long that’s going to last, but –
(Ryan) Yeah, me too, me too! (laughs)
(TB.net) …you don’t have to answer that, though!
(Ryan) No, I mean he uh…there’s…he definitely gets tempted to break his vows.
(TB.net) Ah! Well of course, the temptation – that’s just part of the character. He’s going to be tempted. Yeah, I can see that happening.
(Ryan) Yeah! So it should be some interesting times for him.
(TB.net) I read a comment that you were working mostly with the Newlins, of course, because you have such – the Fellowship of the Sun story line is such a strong one for Jason this season. Because you’re kind of removed from them, what do you guys do during your downtime on the set? Are you able to interact with the other actors? You know, with like Anna and Stephen or Alex and all them, or are you bonding with the Fellowship people now?
(Ryan) Yeah, I’d say for the majority of the season there’s sort of 4 main story lines going on and Jason is sort of both in Dallas doing his light of the day thing and um so there wasn’t an abundance of interaction with the other cast other than read-throughs and things like that. We all – whenever we’d get together at read-throughs we’d sort of catch up on stories of what has been happening with other things, do you know what I mean?
(TB.net) Yeah –
(Ryan) ‘Cuz we’re all kept in the dark so much.
(TB.net) Oh – so some of this is going to be new to you guys as well as you’re watching –
(Ryan) Oh, yeah, totally! Totally.
(TB.net) Yeah. It’s exciting, isn’t it?
(Ryan) Yeah, it makes it more intriguing for us, still, I mean, we sort of know what happens but don’t know exactly how it was played out. Since things can change, and do change, from script to screen.
(TB.net) Well – switching gears here, just a little bit, if you weren’t acting, or couldn’t act for some reason – which obviously we know that you can – but if it didn’t pan out for you, what would you be doing?
(Ryan) Um, one of two things, and I’ve got a business degree, so it would be something in probably the business world. I know that’s rather broad, but ah, it was at the time I was finishing my degree when my acting took off, so I never really got the chance to sort of focus on anything. Um…I’ve always sort of been intrigued by human resource management, so maybe somewhere there. Um…and then, either that or a professional athlete.
(TB.net) Oh, yeah, I can see that.
(Ryan) As a triathlete. I was very much into sort of triathlons back home in Australia.
(TB.net) And you still keep up with that a little bit too, as much as you can, don’t you?
(Ryan) Yeah, I mean, I still to the biathlons, or up until sort of a year or two ago I was doing biathlons out here, and I qualified for the world championships and all that type of stuff.
(Ryan) Yeah! So, I’m still really competitive but just ah, haven’t had the time to compete.
(TB.net) Well! Color us impressed! Speaking of being competitive, we heard that you were the King of Scrabble.
(Ryan) Uh, yeah! I don’t mind a good Scrabble game.
(TB.net) Well, we read that and we kind of issued a throw-down, but you didn’t answer (laughs)
(Ryan) You issued a throw-down to me?
(TB.net) Yeah! Well, Liz is a major Scrabble player, and um, I’m a big fan of the Speed Scrabble.
(Ryan) The what Scrabble?
(TB.net) Speed Scrabble?
(Ryan) Oh, Speed Scrabble! Yeah, I’ve never actually played it, but it sounds like right up my alley. ‘Cuz there’s nothing – I don’t think that patience is really a virtue.
(TB.net) No, me neither! (laughs)
(Ryan) But ah – a quick game’s a good game, as my Dad’s always said.
(TB.net) Yeah, and these are quick. I mean, the adreneline’s pumping, and you know – I don’t think it’s a biatholon – the equivalent of a biatholon but it will get you going.
(Ryan) No, it’s endurance of a different kind, though.
(TB.net) Exactly, exactly. Mental endurance.
(Ryan) I warn you, I’m not a – I’m a dirty player.
(TB.net) Oh! (laughs) All right! Well, what’s your favorite 2-letter word to play in Scrabble?
(Ryan) Ah, – well it’s the Chinese symbol “key”, or “chi” some people say it? [spelled] “Q” – “i”
(TB.net) Qi – yep! Yep! Yep! It’s a biggie! It’s a good one.
(Ryan) So there you go, see?
(TB.net) It’s not a secret, Ryan. (laughs)
(Ryan) I know it’s not a secret – it’s how you use it.
(TB.net) That’s right. Watch out for him.
(TB.net) I don’t know – I’m not scared.
(TB.net) I’m a fan of some of the Australian series – I just finished watching “McLeod’s Daughters”, all of it –
(Ryan) “McLeod’s Daughters”, yup.
(TB.net) Oh my gosh, that was an undertaking. I did it in 13 months. But now that I’m done with that, I miss my Australian series! What do you recommend?
(Ryan) Oh, um, I mean Summer Heights High – that was obviously on HBO, that was a great Australian series. But if you’re actually – are you talking about importing stuff from –
(TB.net) Yeah, importing…
(Ryan) …Oh, right! There was a great, um, cop drama that came out of Australia called “Underbelly”.
(Ryan) Yeah, I highly – I haven’t seen it myself, but um, my friends and family said it was phenomenal the first season. The second season – not so good, but the first season was great. I’ve actually got my parents in the car with me now, so they’d be able to – they’d know more. [asks them] What good Aussie series have come out recently? [background voices] – Yeah, they’re drawing a blank.
(TB.net) OK, well that’s all right. They can get back with us later if they want to. (laughs)
(Ryan) (laughs) Yeah –
(TB.net) While you’re working. All right. Well, I do think we need to wrap it up.
(TB.net) Really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us, Ryan, and we’re looking forward to seeing you when season 2 starts!
(Ryan) Oh, thank you so much girls, have a great day.
(TB.net) OK, thanks Ryan!