This past week the FoF had the pleasure of speaking with Austin Basis (JT Forbes) from the CW’s Beauty & the Beast.
There are spoilers ahead so if you aren’t caught up on Season 2 you should get caught up now to be prepared for the return of Beauty & the Beast THIS Monday, June 2nd on the CW.
FoF: This Monday, June 2nd on the CW will start the remaining episodes for Season 2.
Austin: Yes it is 6 more episodes. This season’s spring finale was March 10th. It’s been a solid three months since we have been on the air. This will be the final 6 episodes of season 2.
FoF: The fans were left with a big cliffhanger in March.
Austin: Yes, it was. Vincent and Catherine are back together and then Vincent is taken off to jail. So it starts with a fight to save Vincent.
FoF: How important of a role has the Beasties (fans) played in helping secure not only this renewal, but even last season’s renewal?
Austin: I think you can’t underestimate their position or their effect on the decision of the network. I didn’t make the final decision and don’t know everything that goes in but I have to believe that is one of the things and it was mentioned by Mark Pedowitz that social media and sales were the deciding factor.
I think the Beasties definitely have something to be proud of, both last season and this season. More so this season because the odds were really stacked against us, but over the past two years the People’s Choice Awards, the online presence and online polls and were trending and the websites dedicated to the show. We’re starting to get into, dare I say, Supernatural category where they have a huge fan following across the world to the point where they have conventions unto themselves. Hopefully one day that will be us. That day is not necessarily here yet, but the fans do prove to be a driving force in the lifeline of the show.
FoF: I can say the Beasties seem to be some of the most passionate fans, we’ve seen in the last five years.
Austin: Yes and I think they were so spurred on with this being the first season of TV that online presence was quantified and factored into a statistic. The Nielsen Twitter TV rankings were another statistic for the networks to look at. To see who online and on social media especially Twitter were talking about. I know there are a couple of different readings for online presence.
We rate pretty high on all those scales. You have Beasties all over the world staying up all night to help our show out there.
FoF: You mentioned conventions, how has it been meeting your fans? Whether it is an appearance or in your daily life?
Austin: I would say, definitely passionate is how I would describe it. They are passionate, committed and determined. I have gifts from Beasties around the world that show not only their passion but their creativity. That’s another thing, they have heart. There are common things when you talk about cult classic type of TV shows or films, where people interpret it in fan fiction, art, our show provides creative motivation and inspiration for a lot of different fans. What’s really great is I am a creative person myself and you see it interpreted through someone else’s eyes. You see a drawing or painting or a design. We have people that send me drawings and stickers… We have a fan in California that created custom Barbie dolls of all of us. She made a Ken doll into JT Forbes and gave it to me. They’re not making dolls like Hasbro or Mattel and selling them around the world, she is making her own. It’s a fun thing to have and a way to see the appreciation of a fan and really understand it at a casual level. We have fans that write poetry based off the episodes. We have fans that do video recaps of the episodes, which is people stepping out of the usual anonymity of social media. It’s intimate as they step out to create this.
You have people that are so inspired and passionate about the show that they are willing to put themselves on video celebrating the renewal of season 3 because everyone else in the fandom is doing that and risk making a fool of themselves and risk being seen but that’s part of the safety of online social media. I think our fans are different than that; they are breaking the barriers of the usual social media. They reaching out and making contact in ways that other fandoms don’t do. Our fans are meeting up with each other and hanging out and buying each other presents and sending each other gifts. To me this is a testament to their goodness.
FoF: Do you have any creative freedom when it comes to JT or is it all handled through the talented writers of the show.
Austin: It’s in the talented hands of the writing staff. For example, last season when we got picked up from a pilot there were three scenes with JT. In the first scene you meet JT, the scene with Vincent about how we aren’t going out in public, if Muirfield finds out about us we’re dead dead. Then Catherine coming back and now the secret is out, so the cat is literally out of the bag. In between the pilot and the first episode, I met with Sherry and Jennifer discussed about what JT’s and Vincent history were. What went into this whole thing?
What did JT know and at that time we discussed this and they were the ones that said that JT may be the reason Vincent got involved with Muirfield. We didn’t know how that would come out on how he was involved but we know at some point that it might come out and that’s great as an actor that gives me so much to work with. It’s this brotherly love but also the guilt that all the pain and strife that Vincent’s has gone through over the past ten years is JT’s fault or JT feels like it is.
JT didn’t create Muirfield and do all that stuff but he got Vincent involved and everything that has led from there, the domino effect has made JT feel guiltier and guiltier. I think that type of stuff would be discussed; were they just college roommates or childhood friends. So before we get into a few years down the road, I could play those things throughout the season.
I don’t know if they will ever use it but, Brad Kern pitched the third season to the network before we were picked up. Brad was thinking about story changes and came up as we were filming the last episode of season two, episode 2.22. A few of the other producers were like, Brad is going to be here, so here is your chance if you have an idea pitch it now, he is pitching the network this week. So, I emailed a couple of ideas. I don’t know if they could play out over the course of season three.
We get an episode in and if I don’t feel like it’s something that vibes with who JT is, I feel open enough to email them and say, I don’t think JT would do this, is there a different way he can respond to the scene at hand because this seems out of character for him or instinctually the right choice. Often they’ll agree with me or say, I think he needs to do this and explain it and pitch it to me and I buy it and you have the open conversation creatively that will create the best outcome for the character in the story and the plot.
Brad, Jennifer Levin and Sherry Cooper-Landsman have allowed that positive constructive collaboration to be cultivated and continued and now we are up to season three.
FoF: One of the things we enjoyed in season two are the layers to your character. Specifically your romance with Nina Lisandrello’s character, Tess. How much fun has it been for you developing this relationship?
Austin: It’s been great. No offense to the other actors, those scenes and the levels, the scenarios and lines we get written for us are the most fun, to me at least and I think Nina would agree. We work so much together the past five or six months that those scenes are the ones we look forward to. Those scenes usually have the most heart. They aren’t necessarily plot driven, most of the time they are character driven. Their evolution as characters and they happen to be evolving together. In those scenes there are elements of drama, elements of comedy and romance is a natural progression. Each of the steps is fun and we as the actors are having fun and hopefully it shows to the audience.
FoF: What can fans expect as we close out season two going into season three?
Austin: The next six episodes are primarily action packed. I think the way you finish off a season is similar to the first season where almost every commercial break there is a cliffhanger. The end of each episode there was a new piece of information that leads to the next episode. The spark that gets this going is Vincent going off to jail from episode 2.16. Now the rest of the team has to come together and figure out how to get out of this problem to save Vincent and make sure that this is not a permanent jail time for Vincent. There is a sense of high urgency to get Vincent since he can beast out at any time and remove the cover on Vincent’s other secret that he hasn’t shared with the world yet. Not only to get him out of jail but to vindicate him as well. You also will see the continuation of Tess and JT’s relationship, Gabe pursing Catherine. The elements of mythology that have been touched upon this season, in regards to the beast collar, Catherine’s great aunt Rebecca Reynolds…. All these things will be brought up in the next six episodes and will come to a head in the finale of the season.
FoF: You are the Celebrity Ambassador to the World Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Would you share with us your work with them?
Austin: I think now more than ever there have been more celebrities, musicians, actors and athletes that have been public with their struggles with type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes nearly 30 years ago when I was 9. Celebrities have used their struggles to bring awareness and raise money for research to improve the maintenance of this disease but hopefully one through research to find a cure for the disease.
My participation in the activities is to provide an example of someone who is lived with type 1 diabetes for most of their life and has succeeded and hasn’t let it get in their way. Actually in a way, I learned having it since a young age and dealing with the ins and outs of keeping my blood sugar a level, eating a certain diet and being on a certain regiment of insulin injections. There was a structure imposed by my type 1 diabetes and its maintenance. That has taught me as an adult, a person/actor to be structured with a regiment and to work at it. In fact, work even harder.
Athletes talk about how having type 1 actually spurred them onto achieve greater things because they had so much more to overcome. I have worked that much harder to prove that it hasn’t gotten in the way. That you can have a normal life as well. I wouldn’t call my life normal (laughs) but you can live the life of a person without type 1 diabetes. You set goals for yourself and you can achieve your dreams. Even if that dream is being a brain surgeon, professional soccer player, an actor, musician or anything doesn’t change what you can achieve. Being young and diagnosed with type 1 is heavy but it isn’t just you, it affects your entire family. Your parents more so than your siblings are charged with your care and have to learn along with you. They have to learn how to respond to ups and downs, reactions and lows/highs (of your sugar) and how you should eat.
What I hope to do and provide is an example for kids to look up to. I didn’t have many celebrities who had type 1 diabetes to look up to. So hopefully I can help with raising money towards everyone’s collective goal of finding a cure.
We want to thank Austin Basis for taking time out of his personal schedule to chat with us. Be sure to tune in on Monday, June 2nd for the return of Beauty & the Beast at 9/8c.
Be sure to follow Austin Basis on his Twitter feed here
To find out how you can help the World Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation here
Photo credit: Bobby Quillard
FYI Austin we have one of these for you: