"I was excited about working with [Kevin Murphy] again and also working with Tom Welling whose company developed the show. I worked with Tom a couple of times on 'Smallville' and we had gotten along together well and worked together well and I really enjoyed all aspects of working with him."
THE CATS MEOW
by: Lisa Steinberg
Q. What are some of the recent projects that you've been working on?
A. Actually right before "Hellcats," literally two days before, I finished up a guest star role on the new show "Facing Kate" which is a new USA network series that will start airing in January. Before that I was doing season 1.5 of "Caprica," the "Battlestar Galactica" prequel.
Q. What can you tell us about the premise for your new show "Hellcats" and about your character Jake?
A. "Hellcats" basically kind of takes you into the world of competitive cheerleading and it revolves around the character of Marti Perkins who is played by Aly Michalka. She loses her scholarship to law school and needs to find a way to pay for school now and realizes that she can get a scholarship through cheerleading. She kinds of signs on to that and realizes that the competitive cheerleading world goes far beyond just pom-poms. The story mostly revolves around the football and cheerleading world at this university in downtown Memphis.
Q. What made you want to be a part of this project?
A. The people that were creating and producing it. I had just finished working on "Caprica" and Kevin Murphy, "Hellcats" executive producer and head writer, was show running "Caprica." When "Hellcats" was coming into production he had sent me a message saying he was doing a new show and would love it if I would be a part of it. I absolutely jumped at the chance to work with Kevin again. He's a phenomenal writer and a fantastic producer and human being! Again I loved "Caprica" so I was excited about working with him again and also working with Tom Welling whose company developed the show. I worked with Tom a couple of times on "Smallville" and we had gotten along together well and worked together well and I really enjoyed all aspects of working with him. They are two people I wanted to work with and they just happen to be the producers of the show so it was a no-brainer.
Q. Where do you draw from for your portrayal of Jake?
A. Mostly from the writing and also just going through the script, studying this character, and creating. Many things fall into place for myself as I read. When Kevin was pitching the character to me there was a little bit of reference to Robert Downey Jr., old school Robert Downey Jr., and there has been a little bit of influence from that. Some of the other subtle influences for Jake have come from some people that I knew that are from the South that I worked with. I was in the Northern Mississippi and Memphis areas for a couple of months a couple of years ago. Any time I've been to the South I've met the most interesting characters and there is always a lot of character studying going on. Little things here and there, mannerisms and dialect that I've drawn from from interesting different characters that I've met in the South, specifically in the Memphis and Tupelo areas, that have sort of been brought into some of the more subtle areas of Jake.
Q. Is there anything about the role that you find challenging?
A. We're right at the beginning of the show, we're a few episodes in, so for me in my mind Jake is still really developing. So to really land into this solid character and the more meaty storylines that Jake is just starting to happen right now is a challenge. Probably the most difficult part so far is just bringing some authenticity to this character who is a Southern boy. I'm Ryan Kennedy and I'm a Northern boy and so bringing some of that and also keeping it authentic is a challenge. When it comes to Southern characters I've found that they are sometimes played just completely normal in mannerisms and voice and dialect or completely hokey. Trying to keep a nice balance of authenticity to the character I would say.
Q. Was there instant cast chemistry or did it take some time to develop?
A. This cast is lovely, everyone on the show is lovely. To be honest when I first signed on I thought I was going to be doing a show with a bunch of young, pretty girls. I thought on one hand this is great, but on the other hand I was sort of worried about the drama aspect that I'd be working with, a handful of drama queens. To be honest everyone is lovely, everyone is fantastic, everyone is professional, everyone is very talented. They are all just great people and great to work with, they've been great to hang out with. Yeah that all came together very easily, we all kind of worked together well and are pretty comfortable around each other.
Q. Do you have a really memorable moment from filming the show?
A. I had a baseball sized bruise on my arm that didn't go away for a while so that became a memory! In one of the episodes there is a little bit of a skirmish in a bar and we were doing the stunt work and Matt Barr who plays the character Dan and I were kind of going at it a little bit and I wanted Matt to just go for it. I said, "Don't worry about me, don't worry about hurting me, just go for it on this one take." He really went for it and I went flying across the room into the side of a table and hit the side of my arm into the table. I never bruise, so you know it was a good shot, and I had this massive baseball sized bruise on my arm for a while that's just fading now.
Q. What do you think it is about the show that will draw viewers in?
A. There is football and there is cheerleading, sports and beautiful women, you can't go wrong with that. On top of that actually one of the greatest things that is such a huge part of the show is that we have some of the most incredible dancers, acrobats, gymnasts, and stunt people on this show. These guys are phenomenal and they are passionate and love what they do and are so talented. We have dance sequences and different stunt sequences, the cheer sequences, this stuff is just so incredible to watch. I was fortunate enough to step outside of my trailer instead of waiting around for my next scene to start to go and watch some of this stuff because these guys are so good. When I came to Vancouver and moved here a lot of people that I first met were Hip Hop dancers and break dancers and all kinds of athletes of the dance world. They had this passion and a lot of them would just go and do these shows for free outside and just kind of entertain the city. I'm not used to that where I'm from, I'm from small town Manitoba, so seeing the passion that comes from the dancing world and now they're getting the opportunity to go and do it and get paid for it, it really brings this incredible energy which bleeds into the rest of the show and really kind of inspires everybody. This stuff is incredible to watch and it's going to be very entertaining. To top it off we've got a great cast and great people working on it. The show is going to look fantastic too, that's going to be a big draw. Our DP is Stephen McNutt who was the reason that "Battlestar Galactica" looked so great, and "Caprica" looks so great, he did the episode "Defying Gravity." He's a phenomenal DP, everything he touches looks amazing, so the show is going to have a great look to it on top of all the entertainment that's already been stuffed into it.
Q. Is there a place online where those interested can go to learn more about you and keep up with your projects?
A. I think there are some third party fansites but honestly up until this point I've really avoided Twitter and Myspace and all the stuff that pretty much everyone in the world is doing. There isn't anything out there right now that either myself or my management have officially put up yet but there has been an interest and growing requests for a fansite type of thing and Twitter type of thing. I think the bottom line is that I want to support the fans who are supporting me so sooner than later we will be putting some stuff up. As of right now IMDB.com and these third party fansites.
Starry Mag has also talked to a couple of other actors from Hellcats. Check out their interviews with Robbie Jones and Sharon Leal.