So your latest film Blunt Force Trauma is soon to be released on DVD in the UK. Tell us a little about the movie, Ryan…
Sure I would love to. For me, it’s a modern day representation of one those existentialist road trip movies and it was such a nice departure to play a very iconic 70s style man. It really appealed because I feel like the modern day man has sort of been sugar coated a little too much. He’s lost a little of his robustness, I guess we could say.
Getting back to the story of it all, my character John is a gun slinger on a journey to track down the greatest gun slinger of all time – Zorringer (Mickey Rourke) – and on the way to this meeting, he runs into Freida Pinto’s character, Colt, and they forge this bond.
It was the relationship between John and Colt that really sold me on the project. They’re characters that you just don’t see anymore whether it’s in mainstream or indie films. I was really impressed by the writing – and the directing.
The film was shot in Colombia. Did you get much of a chance to see the country in between takes?
We filmed all over Bogota [the capital] including the favelas – very poor neighbourhoods – where locals where literally just sitting out the entire time watching us. They would all cheer at the end of every take and really get behind the project. It was nice because Colombia has such a tarnished reputation and they really do have a pretty flourishing film community down there, as far as their crews go. But in terms of really capturing Bogota or Colombia in film, it hadn’t been done before – at least not to my knowledge or to a mainstream audience – so it was nice to travel there and know that we were shooting in places that a Western audience had never seen.
What was it like working with Mickey Rourke (Sin City) and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire)?
Great as I hadn’t worked with either before. Freida was just an absolute darling – I would go to battle with her in a second. She really touched my heart and came to this role with such vigour and truth. And Mickey – well you know Mickey is Mickey. He has his own legacy that he has really left on the business, and you can’t help but feel this when you’re on set. He makes you step up-to the plate and I appreciated that challenge.
We mentioned Mickey and Freida but they’re just two of the talents you have worked with. Who has been your favourite co-star to date and why?
Chris Bauer who I worked with on True Blood. Chris has been in the acting game for a good couple of decades, but has such a lustful way of looking at life and this gives him such a curiosity with who he is as a person – and then the choices that he makes in his characters. So yeah, Chris would be my choice.
It was arguably your role as the (often shirtless) Jason Stackhouse in HBO’s True Blood – a supernatural series set in the fictitious US town of Bon Temps, Louisiana – that propelled you to fame. It’s been 14 months since the show wrapped – do you miss it?
I obviously miss the people but I was nostalgic about the show mid way through season two, yet alone at the end! I’m very chuffed and honoured that we managed to keep a crowd and continue the show for seven seasons. I was happy to do that… and then to let it lie.
You started out on Home and Away. Summer Bay seems to have served as a Hollywood launch pad for many Aussie actors – Chris Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Melissa George, Simon Baker, Naomi Watts et al. Why do you think that the Aussie soap has produced so many stars?
I don’t know why exactly, but I can tell you about my experience of those four years on the Home and Away set. I didn’t have any acting experience prior to Home and Away. I didn’t go to acting training so it was my chance to figure out what the whole caper was about; to not be afraid to make mistakes and to fall down. It was a very embracing show like that. I worked a lot with Ray Meagher who plays Alf and he had such a great way of looking at the craft of acting. I mean the guy has been playing that same character for so long yet still found this freshness to him, and had such a sort of mentor quality to me. So I really enjoyed those four years. But as an overall thing? To be honest, I really don’t know what it is.
Maybe the casting team just have an exceptional eye?
That’s a good call. Yes, for sure.
Do you ever find yourself curling up on the sofa and watching Home and Away in your downtime?
Not really. I’m based in LA and working pretty solidly so when I do get a spare half hour, my natural inkling is to do something outside.
You’ve been in LA for almost 15 years now. What do you miss most about Australia?
First and foremost, my family. But I also my beach – which is Queenscliff Beach – and the Aussie beer, a good Crown Lager or even a VB. I miss our Aussie seafood, like Sydney rock oysters, too. They’re unbelievable.
Which medium do you prefer: TV or film?
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it’s about two things for me. Firstly the script – as long as the character is calling to me and connecting to me in a way that is new and challenging, then I’ll do it. The second thing is that in a film I only have anywhere from nine minutes to two hours to create an arc and a flow and a character that could potentially exist. Whereas in a series I have potentially many seasons – i f all goes to plan – to create that character. So it’s a very different way to look at it and very different from an audience’s perspective too. That’s why you have that idea now of binge watching where guys and girls will sit down and become engrossed in a box set and before you know it, the weekend has flown by…
Any plans to step behind the camera in the near future?
I recently directed a music video for my brother’s band, Bow and Arrow. My brother and his wife have put together a fabulous album and I directed one of the songs on that called Midnight. They kind of threw it at me at the last second. I thought I would get a little overwhelmed but I’ve realised that after being in the business for 20 years, I’ve learned a thing or two and I got to put that into fruition. I really, really enjoyed the experience.
Lastly what’s next for you, Ryan?
I have an animated film called Blinky Bill – a very iconic Australian figure that we’re sort of re-energising – coming out. And then, you know, a few things that I have been working on this year as well. I’m keeping busy but still maintaining enough time to sort of not lose sight of who I am.
Thanks Ryan! Blunt Force Trauma starring Ryan Kwanten will be released by 101 Films to DVD and Digital on 5 October 2015. Check out the official trailer here