Five Minutes with "True Blood"'s Ryan Kwanten
Jason Stackhouse on “True Blood” has changed a lot over the past few seasons—he’s gone from playboy to radical Christian to killer. But it’s Ryan Kwanten, the Australian-bred stud who plays the Southern deviant on HBO’s guilty pleasure, who has made each of Jason’s phases compassionate, sexy and real. We caught up with Kwanten, on the morning after the show earned an Emmy nod for Outstanding Dramatic Series, to find out what’s in store for his character this season and what the talented actor is doing when he’s not conversing with vampires.
Your character, Jason, always seems to have some new problem surfacing.
Yeah, he is just like one of those little stress-balls. He is always getting squeezed and poked and prodded, pulled in all different directions, but for someone with his—how should I say this—cerebral failings, he does pretty well for himself. It’s an interesting time in his life because he’s got to learn to think for himself.
We have heard that one of the ways he starts to move on is through a mysterious new love interest. Tell us a little bit about her.
The character’s name is Crystal and she’s sort of the first character that we’ve met in the life of “True Blood” who has the potential to really sweep Jason off of his feet, show him what it’s like to be in love. She’s played by Lindsay Pulsipher, who is a very intelligent, very good-looking young actress. She’s really turned what could have been a caricature into something with a lot of subtext and a lot of weight.
Jason is basically the definition of a redneck—always in a sweaty muscle tee, drives a truck, says “ain’t” a lot. You’re an eloquent Australian—has it been difficult to find common ground with your character?
Yeah, well I’ve had to deal with the wardrobe. I personally wear like a size 30 or 31 jean, but Jason somehow squeezes into a size 28—so that was, something to get used to. The accent actually came surprisingly naturally. I’ve always kind of prided myself in doing that stuff. I’ve never had an accent coach or anything and everyone has sort of embraced the accent that I’ve found. Amazing numbers of people have come up to me thinking not only that I’m from America, but also that I’m from the deep South.
Kwanten on set
You definitely offer a comic relief on the show, and now you’re on set with Steve Zahn filming the adventure-comedy-fantasy film, “Knights of Badassdom”. Do you prefer comedy?
I definitely enjoy comedy; it makes for a very fun shoot. But at the end of the day, if the script is good, it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing. I like to be constantly challenged. I go to New Jersey next to film a movie called “Truck Stop”. It’s a very heavy sort of drama, where I play a pimp, of all things. Then from there, I have a film back in LA, which is an action film.
When you do actually have a day off, what are you doing?
I live a very normal life. Pretty much all of the drama in my life, I try to leave it on set. Most of my friends are out of the business so it keeps me pretty sane and centered. I just sort of do, you know, what anyone else would be doing—going to the beach, exercising.
We’ve heard you’re working on a self-help book called “The G-Strategy”. Is this your first foray into writing?
It’s not exactly a self-help book. It’s a satire of a self-help book. I’m kind of poking fun at the whole self-help craze, which has kind of exploded in the past five years. But I have done a lot of writing. I’ve sold a lot of scripts back in Australia, and written poetry that’s been published, though this is my first attempt at long-form fiction.
Are we going to be seeing your scripts in Hollywood at any point?
Not necessarily, but perhaps at some point I’ll get into producing. I’d love to give other young actors the same sort of chances and opportunities that I had. To have the ability to discover someone—there would be nothing greater.
Photos: top, WWD. All others, courtesy HBO.