Ryan Kwanten is a Sydney-born actor best known for playing the heart-throb Jason Stackhouse on HBO’s vampire series True Blood. During a visit home the 37-year-old told Kate Waterhouse about the “mad” show, his hopes of discovering Australian’s next big star, and what ruffles his feathers.
What are you doing while you’re back in Australia?
Usually the first thing I try and do is either: a) get some Aussie seafood; or b) jump in the water. Then outside of that, see the family, catch up with some friends and hear some good Aussie music. And I’m back for the release of True Blood’s final season on DVD … It was seven good seasons of just shooting this maniac, mad show. It was really the best experience in my life.
Back in your Home and Away days did you ever think you would be on such a huge US hit TV show?
I’m a glass half full guy and I’m definitely ambitious. But you can’t predict just what an audience is going to sort of latch on to. You certainly hope. You don’t know how long the vampire world is going to stay [popular]. We were lucky enough to have the kind of writers that could keep sort of manipulating that world and keep it interesting for people to keep tuning in every Sunday.
Being a star in a vampire show, you must have some interesting fans!
Of course [laughs].
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done?
The great thing about those fans, though, is that they are beyond loyal; the kind of fans that would stick around for seven years. Yeah, they’re crazy and out there, but so am I. So they kind of appeal to my sensibilities.
Were you sad when it all came to an end?
Yeah. Obviously there was that sort of initial sort of farewell. But look, HBO is notorious for throwing the industry’s biggest parties. And our show was notorious for drinking three times the amount of any other show. So they threw a very lavish, True Blood-style wrap party for us.
What did it include?
[The] whole sort of entertainment bonanza. There were dances, there was DJs, there was a live band, there was more alcohol than you want to deal with, food. It was ridiculous.
What’s next in the pipeline?
Just more work. I love what I do. I think when you love what you do it’s hard to even call it work. I’m actually sort of moving into producing as well.
What is the best part of your job?
Jumping into someone else’s skin. In a weird way, I’m sort of a professional pretender. And I love being able to let all the drama that maybe sort of festering or inside of me [go] and release it on camera and then keep my life outside of it drama-free. And it’s easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
What is the worst part?
At times, you sort of feel like a pawn in someone else’s game. So as your star rises, you work your way up in the chess game of life.
If you could play any role or any character, what will it be?
There’s nothing specific. I’ve always enjoyed watching Paul Newman, for instance. I love Cool Hand Luke. For me, I love playing broken characters, characters that are flawed, that you’re not quite sure if they’re going to last to the end of the episode or to the end of the film. You, as an audience member, have to kind of almost pick them up and push them through the scene.
Will you ever move back to Australia?
Yeah. I don’t know [when]. Looking for the near future I have to be placed in the [United] States, just for little things that I’ve set up. It’s so hard for me when I do come back because I know that my heart belongs here. So leaving just rips my little heart out. But it just makes me want to come back more.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I’m a pretty simple guy, so it doesn’t really take that much for me to put a smile on my face. I love the water. I’m such a sort of water baby, so any time a dip in the ocean. Whether it’s freezing cold or delicious, I’ll jump in there, catch up with friends, watch movies, do some yoga, go hiking, watch music, at least see sort of one or two music acts.
Who is your favourite artist?
That’s too big a question. It’s like asking my favourite person in the world. No, I can’t do that. No way.
What sort of music do you like?
Right now, really into sort of house music.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Moving into the producing world a little bit is very alluring to me. I’ve got a business background so I really want to move into that kind of field. I also really wanted to start discovering younger talent.
Kind of what happened to me. It only takes one person to really believe in you and your talent to help foster that career. I could think of nothing better. So I hope to come back here and spot a couple of young Aussies and help them on a similar path to what I have.
Australians are doing so well in Hollywood.
Yes, and I’ve become so much more patriotic since moving away. I have so much more fondness for the country that I grew up in, and I’m protective too. If anyone says anything bad about another Australian or the country, it ruffles my feathers real quick.
Why do you think Australians are so successful in Hollywood?
It’s our work ethic I think that they really appreciate that over there. When I go to auditions in the States, they still have the tendency to hold scripts and read lines in auditions, whereas no Australian would in their right mind go walk into an audition still holding the script. You go in all guns blazing. That way, at least for me, I know that I gave it everything.
WE WENT TO The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room, The Rocks.
WE ATE Woody Island Oysters; Crab & Lettuce Tacos; Serrano Jamon.
WE DRANK Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
I WORE a Rebecca Vallance dress