I managed to catch up with the star of CW’s Beauty and the Beast’s Austin Basis, who stars as ‘JT.’ He was kind enough to answer some questions I had now that the show is halfway into its second season.
- We’re half way into the 2nd season, what are you seeing for the show’s future? Does it look like the show’s taking off?
AUSTIN: What I’m seeing is new relationship dynamics with Gabe and Catherine, and Vincent and Tory and Tess and JT and nothing says that just because people have been coupled off for a couple of episodes means that they’re getting married and spending eternity together. It’s just another vehicle of finding out another level of who these people are, and so you’re really getting to see exactly who they are and you’re going to find out from JT’s perspective a little more of the history between JT and Vincent, especially in the next episode. But then, from that and from his bromance with Vincent and them having worked together for ten years to figure out what’s going on with him, they’re finally going to make some headway because of this connection with Tory.
- Are we going to see some more Vincent/ JT ‘bromance’ moments? How do you think it’s affecting JT the lack of being with his best friend?
AUSTIN: I think it’s affecting him greatly, there’s more negatives than positives I think because of his loneliness and forced independence, he has been drawn to Tess as a kind of a confidante, partner and potential love interest, and he definitely has built these feelings because the more conflict that arises with Catherine and Vincent the more Tess and JT spend time together. I don’t know how they’ll [Vincent and JT] spend time on their own but from my perspective it’s always been tough and JT’s loyalty has overcome the lack of connection between Vincent and him since Vincent has returned from Muirfield’s clutches, so there’s this constant effort from the beginning of the season, more so on JT’s part because Vincent is so embroiled in a whole other conflict that to reach out and to make contact and to reignite and to spark that old friendship and ‘bromance,’ that’s just like the connection between Vincent and Catherine even though his memory is not totally clear or totally in focus that it’s always there underneath everything they do. He sensed that even when he couldn’t remember her that there was a connection that he trusted her. He could see or he could feel that there was a connection with this woman I think in the same way JT and Vincent, just in Vincent’s natural dependence on JT from early in the season, in more of a helpful kind of way has been that natural relationship that they’ve had for the past ten years, and instinctively Vincent has always come to JT for help and maybe he learned it from Cat relying on JT for his hacking and chemistry skills, but I think the first episode you see the JT/Vincent ‘bromance,’ that is episode 2:10. 2:09 is where we’re going to pick up pretty much right where that left off the end of 2:08, where the mid season finale left off. He’s still shot, he’s still bleeding to death, I forget what the episode’s called but it’s something like ‘Bleeding to Death,’ and it’s something to that state where he could die so it was a much more epic event on the table, on the back-burner is this ‘bromance’ that’s going to find its way into episode 2:10 where you’ll see an old kind of, I guess I liken it to the Valentine’s Day episode where JT has to give Vincent advice on picking up women, and then you also find out some crazy, mythological stuff, and obviously secrets and revelations and all will be heavy in the next two episodes. You’re going to get a lot of information and I think JT is going to turn the corner but he is because of his forced independence become a little more of his own man, but he is I think only as comfortable as the safety of his best friend and to be honest, a brother’, because they don’t really have anyone else, or have had anyone else in their life, so they depend on each other and I think they think of each other as brothers.
- JT and Catherine’s bond has evolved considerably, from hostile to being worried about each other.
AUSTIN: I think for the two seasons we’ve had a couple different breeding crews, Sherry, Jennifer and now Brad. Sherry and Jennifer and a couple of other writers, had written on both seasons, but there the collaboration was what I think was the main underlying driving force of JT and his relationship with anyone. And so early on had they wrote it into the script where JT is constantly berating Catherine to get out of their lives and it’s all to protect their safety. It’s a shock that she comes back in the pilot in that scene, but there’s always in episode 1:02 where he sees Catherine coming to the warehouse and even though he has this gut reaction to get her away and avoid this situation because he’s been down that path and it’s too dangerous for everyone including him. There’s a note of, not sympathy, but an understanding. From 1:02 and all the way through the end of season to the three months where they were the only two people looking for Vincent, I guess Gabe was kind of helping, but they were really depending on each other, and it’s amazing that writers can write that and trust that the characters will keep their integrity intact and to be able to evolve in their relationship which is natural, which happens in real life. A lot of shows you watch, nothing changes in the dynamic of the characters and the show goes on, they all the serve the same purpose, especially in sitcoms, but more so in dramas.
- Fan question by Charrise Hopkins: Can the cast do a homemade Christmas video for us Beasties to help us get through the long winter hiatus?
AUSTIN: We could try to do that, we did a lot of behind the scenes stuff last season, and we did it pre-approved, and so because we’re doing it for a network in a studio there has to be approval and it has to go through a lot of different channels to be approved. So if we do it on our own we may be able to do it and I could try but I can’t promise anything, because honestly it has to be a time when all of us are on set in the same scene which has happened in the whole series maybe three or four times? It was on the houseboat when it was the first time in 2:07 every one of the main characters was together in a room and again at Gabe’s apartment in 2:08 which was the second time. Other than that we’ve all never worked together all the same time, so it’s really hard to kind of do that but we could try. Hopefully we’ll do something but if nothing else then probably a picture, a beastie greeting card.
- Will there be a good side to what Tory does to Vincent?
AUSTIN: Immediately because of the way the character is presented I think the audience assumes that it’s a set up for a love triangle which is like a very small aspect of the purpose I feel that Tory serves in the greater interest of the story. Because of Tory there will be a connection in 2:09 that will lead Vincent down a path to find out who he really is, and what Muirfield did to him will start to be revealed, and that’s all because he came into contact with Tory. You’ll find also because of that connection and because of that door opening that you’re going to see ultimately Catherine’s connection to Vincent and the deepness that it goes beyond just meeting and falling in love. It’s kind of cliche to say that they were meant to be or it was in the stars, but it kind of goes along that line. I’m speaking from knowing the plan but not knowing the details of how they connect because I haven’t read those scripts and I’m not in the writer’s room, but knowing where this is going and what has happened so far in the episodes you guys haven’t seen, there is an underlying connection that bonds Catherine and Vincent, and without Tory’s entrance into this dynamic Vincent might never have known this, and Catherine would never have known either. I don’t know how that’s going to be discovered, what the actual connection is but there is a mythology that goes deeper into the past and into their relationship and Muirfield.
- Fan question by Ratevia Evans: What’s his ideal end game for BatB? What would a series finale look like for JT and other main characters if he were to write the script for that episode?
AUSTIN: It’s still too early to write that ending but I was a big fan of Twilight zone growing up and there’s an episode where the character is deformed and everyone else is normal, so she’s kind of a beast in a normal world and she goes in for plastic surgery and gets her face changed and then wakes up. And so she has her normal and everyone else has a deformed face so she’s looking for that beauty and it turns out to be all perspective. So in my ideal world I feel Vincent’s DNA has mutated to the point where he’s always a beast and it turns out that like in a walking dead everyone has the disease, so everyone becomes beast and Catherine’s the only one that’s not a beast and so technically in the world of beasts the roles are flipped so that you realize that they’re together but Catherine’s the beast and Vincent’s the beauty. That would flip the Beast story on its head.
- BATB is our favorite show? What’s your favorite show?
AUSTIN: Well that’s kind of easy I would say Breaking Bad. I just think from beginning to end it was executed almost to perfection, acting lighting, cinematography, I was hooked from the first two minutes of cold open of the pilot. The acting on the show, the stories, the cliffhangers, every episode just pushed the limit. The idea of writing the characters into a corner and then figuring out how to get them out, and not necessarily having a long term plan which Vince Gilligan had because he wanted to turn this perfectly respectable Chemistry teacher and have him break all the way bad.
- You’re working with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Are there any other projects you’re looking into?
AUSTIN: Well we’re filming in Toronto, but if we were in LA or New York there’s opportunity that I go a certain amount of days that I could go audition and do a guest star in another show, but all that stuff needs to be approved and it’s a lot harder to do that from Toronto. So I put auditions on tape and sort out other things, like my ultimate goal is, once this season is over, to hopefully do a couple of films in the hiatus and hoping that we have a season 3.
Catch Beauty and the Beast on the CW, Mondays @ 9/8 Central.