Austin Basis – Beauty and The Beast
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I’m developing, writing and producing a comic series that I created with a couple buddies of mine. I used to do improv and sketch comedy in New York for about two or three years. A couple of guys from the group that I am still in touch with and are friends with got together and we developed this one idea. We created a mini pilot that we are still finishing and plan on pitching in the near future.
Q) With this new season of “Beauty and The Beast,” will we be getting to see the more comedic side of you?
A) I think casting directors and people in the industry are more open to people doing everything. You have to be in the right environment. Most of the time someone like John C. Reilly who wasn’t in a ton of dramatic films. He just always is a character with slight comic relief. He got the opportunity though to be a part of this Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay world and seamlessly was able to be a part of it in the same way I’m hoping to do it. I always watched “Saturday Night Love” as a kid and my parents were big fans of Rosanna Danna and The Coneheads. So, I think everybody always thought I would be a standup comedian. I wasn’t really into that. I liked the character stuff more. I always had my sights set on “SNL,” even after college. I went down the acting path and either way it is really one or the other, you have to do a full commitment either way. I think for “SNL” you need a big comedy sketch background like with The Groundlings or UCB. I was on the path to be an actor. Once I realized I was a good ways down that path and making progress, I realized I would need to start over on a new path in order for “SNL” to be my goal. I played my acting hand and in a way I got pigeonholed into the dramatic, comedy or sidekick comic relief of dramas. My hope is to segway and I think it won’t be too much of a stress to be seen as a character in the comedy world.
Q) What can you tease is in store for your character this season?
A) I think J.T.’s journey and search for the truth about what he was injected with last season and what that means for his future will be explored. More scientifically it will be explored like what was in it, how does it effect his body and what are the benefits and/or side effects of taking what I’ve called a “non FDA approved substance” that saved his life. He’s on a journey while simultaneously starting his budding relationship with Tess (Nina Lisandrello). He is also managing the conflict that Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) and Vincent (Jay Ryan) run into and to a degree the whole team runs into because it has become kind of like a Scooby Gang now. Everyone has figured out who they are individually and in Season 3 it is finding out who are we in the grander scheme of destiny and this fight between good and evil.
Q) What have been some of your most memorable moments from filming this season?
A) There are definitely a couple. There are a couple of comedy moments that I feel will be fun for the fans to watch. I think in the same way of J.T.’s confession scene with Vincent from last season was a big scene for the show, Austin and the actors – we don’t really get to do that much on a show like this. There are a lot of twists and turns and not a lot of action or special effects. You have to cut through all the onion layers and get to the core of what things are about and what a relationship is about and life for these characters is about. I think there are a couple of scenes for J.T. this season that really cut to the core of what their issues are individually and as a couple. Some are more dramatic than others, but I think with J.T. and Tess there is always a sense that comedy is around the corner. I think the fans will get to see more of that this season.
Q) Who are some guest stars that you can share?
A) It’s hard because we filmed from August of last year until February. On Twitter fans know the guest stars because we actively tweet it. To say how they are involved in the show is hard because some of that stuff is spoilery. There are guest stars this season that people will recognize from other stuff. Because our shooting schedule is so far removed from the airing schedule that it is hard to tweet without spoiling stuff. People will see some familiar faces, some fun faces and some new faces.
Q) You are a part of social media. Why is that such an important way for you to connect with fans?
A) For me, personally, it is a sign of gratitude for what our fans (specifically) have done. I wasn’t necessarily in contact with fans of “Life Unexpected” because it wasn’t the same dynamic with Twitter and Facebook. I think we tried to do that. With that show, we created a cast Facebook page to interact with the fans directly and share photos from behind the scenes. But that was the beginning of this whole social media dynamic that is now a given and almost a requirement of actors. With our fanbase in particular, because they have been so vital and influential on our presence on the air and our past and future (awards or persistence and dedication) I think it is only fair that we include them in the process as much as we can without giving spoilers. To a degree, this season you have already seen the hospital scene, but we couldn’t really take too many pictures because it was kind of like a big reveal of the show. It was hard to take behind the scene pictures with that set and to take pictures with certain characters whether it is because of certain injuries or who they are. It is though a recognition to the audience for what they do and the part they play as an audience. I know from theater that is definitely a symbiotic relationship as they need each other and feed off of each other. It’s also synergistic in the sense that each thing separately doesn’t just work on it’s own. Together though the sum is greater than the parts. That synergy and symbiosis is captured in social media.
Q) What do you think it is that continues to make the show such a fan favorite?
A) I feel like with this third season the writers and in general the show is getting back to the roots of what drew people in in the first place, which was the romance and the epic nature of the mythology and action. There is the comedy that is not just shared with J.T., but with Tess and Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) who provide some comic relief, too. It’s getting back to the heart of the relationship between Vincent and Catherine and how that is effected by the conflicts that the team faces. To have a show that is running on all these different levels allows people to gravitate to any number of things in any one scene. Throughout a show, you never really abandon any of those elements. Sometimes the comedy is left behind because it is a life and death situation. But for the most part, those situations run simultaneously. Some of them rise to the surface like having a cool action shot, but also could have Vincent and Catherine fighting for the love of one another or someone is trying to save a life and all the guys come together to do that. I think at a ground level it really comes down to how the show is presented and who they see on the screen every week. I think the actors have tried to do (and to a degree has worked because it has resonated with the fans) is make the characters three dimensional and make the writing and plot twist and stories (however fantastical and surreal) down to a human level and make it about the human truth of the situation. I think also it is important to reach out and have that connection through Twitter and Facebook with the fanbase. I think the Beasties appreciate it.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure fans know about Season 3?
A) I would encourage people to watch and people that might have been disturbed with the show before to give it a second chance. I think we’re back on track for the potential for what the show could be. There is a lot of fun stuff ahead in the season. I’ve gotten some scripts for a few episodes in Season 4 and I’m already excited for them because this third and the fourth season will have episodes that for fans, TV watchers, critics and bloggers will kind of rise above the general TV landscape and be a couple episodes for the ages in respect to those who watch genre shows. There are a couple cool things that you haven’t seen in Season 3 yet. Come back for Season 4 because you will be rewarded.