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Nobody’s Fool: Ryan Kwanten

words by Brad Liberti

photography by Aleksandar Tomovic

Despite what you may have heard, Ryan Kwanten and Jason Stackhouse are not the same person… Whereas one is thoughtful, measured, and charmingly eloquent, the other is brash, reckless, and somewhat averse to critical thinking. While one has bedded virtually all of Bon Temps’ most eligible babes, the other’s been too busy working to capitalize on his heartthrob status. And while one freely references Nobel-Prize winning astrophysicists, the other almost werepanther.

“I’ve always loved that Albert Einstein quote, “I don’t think of the future… it comes soon enough,” said Kwanten, (in case you had them confused). He’s referring of course to the fast-approaching end of True Blood, the hit HBO drama on which he’s played the eternally loyal if trigger-happy Jason since 2008. And who can blame the guy for not wanting to get ahead of himself? Differences or not, this character has become a part of him… “Any actor will tell you that whether they’re playing a small role or a large role, there is a piece of them in every single one… Jason in some way, shape, or form has made me a better man and I’ve definitely put a little of myself into him too, over the years.”

Needless to say, he doesn’t take too kindly to folks judging his onscreen alter ego, not without at least attempting to understand the guy’s motives. “I think Jason is almost like the moral compass of (the show). As ridiculous as some of the situations he gets himself into can be, everything comes from a place of reality with him. Jason is who he is, and if he’s funny, or naive, or just plain dumb, that’s (simply) his truth within that particular situation.”

Fortunately, Kwanten has been able to explore that truth unabashedly each season; something he attributes to “HBO and the kind of show-runners that we’ve had… Alan (Ball, True Blood’s creator) has always said that the show is ultimately about the horrors of intimacy and I think my character very much goes through the complete evolution of that.”

Literally… considering some of the more compromising situations that the fun loving lothario has found himself in over the years. But the actor isn’t complaining; he knew what he was getting himself into early on: “My very first day on set, season one, was such an in-your-face reveal of Jason. It was the scene where he’s having oral sex with Maudette Pickens (Danielle Sapia), and no joke, the first time you see him, he’s coming up from between her legs. That day, I sort of thought to myself, if I can get through this, anything else will be as easy as making a piece of toast.

He of course got through the memorable scene, but the writers had many more where that came from… anything to keep him, or more importantly, the audience on their toes. And Kwanten wouldn’t have it any other way. “The show never ceased to keep shocking me, but that’s what I really loved ultimately; that level of unpredictability in each episode.”

With that in mind, you won’t catch the actor dropping any serious hints about what’s in store for the Bon Temps gang in these final 10 episodes, but he will dangle a few carrots: “Season 7 sees Sookie (Ana Paquin) and Jason together a good amount again. The showrunners (specifically long time TB writer, Brian Buckner, who took over the reigns from Ball in Season 6, although Ball has remained heavily involved) have really made an effort to bring it back to where it all started, which is about the town and the people that inhabit it. And when the sh** hits the fan in Bon Temps, the (siblings) definitely have each other’s back.”

Family bonding aside however, it appears that Einstein is right about this too… the future has arrived soon enough. Luckily, Ryan Kwanten has several high-profile upcoming films to promote (including Claudio Fäh’s Vikings: A Northman Saga, John Herzfeld’s Reach Me, opposite Sylvester Stallone and Danny Aiello, and Daniel Alfredson’s Kidnapping Freddie Heineken with Sir Anthony Hopkins) which should keep him busy well into the next year.

As for saying goodbye to True Blood though, or more importantly, deciding what to do when the dust finally settles, the actor can’t help but reflect upon the wise words of the famous German scientist. “I don’t believe that I ever fully understood (that quote) until this moment in my life. I feel like I’ve sort of set myself up well beyond where I thought I would ever be, so it’s time to take stock of where I am, smell some roses, and eventually make a pretty selective next decision.”

Words even Jason Stackhouse could live by!


photographer ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC www.alekandsteph.com

stylist WARREN ALFIE BAKER www.warrenalfiebaker.com

groomer SIENREE @ Celestine Agency

art director AMANDA ELKINS www.amandaelkins.com

special thanks SILVIO HORTA

Production Bello Media Group