Austin Basis Talks VinCat, Season 3 Expectations, Season 4 Speculation (EXCLUSIVE)
Beauty and the Beast Season 3 is coming on June 11, but a special advanced screening of the Season 3 premiere will take place at Wizard World Philadelphia this Saturday. In anticipation, I had the opportunity to speak with Austin Basis, who plays my favorite character, J.T. Forbes, once again. This time, he goes into a host of different topics, from what we can expect in Season 3, whether there will be another love triangle for Vincent and Catherine, and early predictions for Season 4! He also discusses Vincent and Catherine’s apparent “destiny” that was revealed towards the end of Season 2, as it’s looking like these lovers were destined to fight supernatural forces. Or, at the very least, be together.
Of course, Austin is also an outspoken activist for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding Type 1 diabetes research. This Saturday, he will participate in the 12th Annual “Imagine Gala” in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. He will be in attendance alongside designer Kristin Cavallari (Laguna Beach, The Hills), boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, actress Jillian Rose Reed (Awkward), musician Adam Lasher (American Idol, Season 14) and KTLA’s Frank Buckley. At the event, entrepreneur and philanthropist Alfred Mann will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. It’s a ceremony that reflects that he has passion beyond his role on Beauty and the Beast.
Seriously, I could have talked with Austin all day, as this was a pretty easygoing interview about the show and its challenges, both for the actors and for the characters. Austin clearly loves what he does, and loves the show and its fans, which came through here. I hope you guys enjoy the interview, and I’ll keep you up-to-date on this weekend’s advanced screening, provided I can get in. Either way, I’m looking forward to Wizard World Philly this weekend, and I’d love to see some of you there! Until then, enjoy this interview!
Congrats on Season 4! It’s great that fans get to breathe easy for a season and not be so on-edge, and I imagine it’s great for you guys too. So congrats.
I was wondering if you could give us any hints about the season premiere? Any details we maybe didn’t get from the trailer?
[Laughs] A lot of times they throw stuff in the trailer that kind of leads people down the wrong path of thinking. It’s more of a teaser, because I feel like that’s what it’s doing, teasing people with things that might not be problems. Now, it’s going to be a small spoiler alert, but the show picks up a couple months later [after the season 3 finale]. Granted, usually when you plan for “a couple months later,” we don’t expect it to be nearly a year later, since it’s almost a year since we stopped airing last year. But, in the show’s world, it’s only been a couple months. We pick up with everyone trying to get back to their normal lives, and picking up in a domestic relationship between Vincent and Catherine. He’s going back to the hospital, she’s doing her daily detective work, JT is recovered and heading back to teach, and dealing with his near-death experience and still-budding relationship with Tess. And it’s relatively normal, until destiny kind of crashes into their world, and puts them back on the path they’ve been on for pretty much their whole lives. There are obviously new threats out there that will become apparent as the first couple of episodes air.
But I think for JT in particular, just to speak to that, there’s this real scientific curiosity into what actually saved him and how he was saved from nearly bleeding out. It’s more than a blood transfusion. He was injected with stuff, and he doesn’t know what it was or what it’s done. To not have answers? To be a biochemist, and who JT is, and not know what was done to him? That really nags at him and starts adversely affecting his positive relationship with Tess, and it starts to become a bit of a problem. He almost starts keeping his curiosity about it a secret, investigating and experimenting on himself like a lab rat. Because he can’t move on without knowing how he was saved and what, if any, side effects there are to this untested, un-FDA-approved serum he was injected with.
That’s interesting, because I’m kind of interested in the craft of playing a role like that. I mean, I’m not an actor, so I don’t know how difficult that balance might be. Going back to the trailer, we see that JT is still the guy we like, he’s still making quips, but he’s obviously been negatively affected by this serum. So how do you play on that contrast between the quippy JT that we know, and the JT with all this internalized angst over what was done to him?
Well, as we’ve met JT and as we’ve found out in previous seasons, JT was always riding the fine line. All that humor always came out of a negative emotion, whether it was guilt, uncomfortableness, fear, panic over being found out, fear over death. But, for the most part, in the first season and a half, it was guilt. And feeling guilty was driving a lot of his actions. He was a loyal friend, but he became inhumanly loyal because of the guilt over his actions that he thought would help Vincent – actions that wound up being the source of all of his problems since. So, with that in mind, I find, as an actor, that the best humor really comes out of the need to make people laugh, but to also release tension of some sort. The joke at a funeral in someone’s eulogy is because there may be a poignant moment coming up, or an emotional moment that just happened. So I find stuff that is not humorous at all unrealistic, because no one wants to sit in misery. No one wants to be upset all the time. And in JT’s case, it’s a defense he’s become very good at. I mean, he’s a very intelligent, borderline genius, but he’s made an art out of being a wiseass, and coming up with these witty remarks in order to release or defuse tension in his own experience. This season, the humor comes more out of his covering of what he’s dealing with, as opposed to what everyone else is dealing with. There’s going to be other things too, some physical comedy in a few episodes that’s going to be fun, but he’s always going to have more hero moments than he’s had before. In a few episodes, he becomes the guy who helps everyone out, or becomes the guy who does what needs to be done to save the day. So I think JT is really coming into his own as an independent part of the team, as opposed to just a loyal servant of Vincent and Catherine.
So is JT going to be caught up in the action in a more physical way? Is he going to be on the scene of the action more? And how does this affect his relationships with everyone?
Oh yeah! He’s totally in the mix and on-the-scene. Maybe in the first 6, 8 episodes in a row, there’s some sort of injury to JT or some sort of physical ailment that he has, to the point that he’s taken over Cat’s position as the damsel-in-distress. [Laughs] But his relationship with Tess is important for the show, in a sense, since the show revolves around the relationship of Vincent and Catherine. It’s Beauty and the Beast! But because that’s up on such a pedestal in the show, with this adaptation of a fairy tale and also in the fans’ eyes, we get to play the JT&T stuff as the juxtaposed version of a relationship where people are trying to manage and maneuver within a supernatural world. In a more real sense, there are more real moments that are derived from the supernaturalness of things, but are real issues couples deal with that, for the most part, Catherine and Vincent don’t struggle with, since they have different issues – some of which don’t necessarily have to do with their relationship. The source of their issues comes from that fact that Vincent is a beast, and that they maybe have a destiny together that has to do with them, together, fighting against the evil forces out there. So they’re in a different league, and a different frame work, from JT and Tess. It’s nice though to have the two wiseass characters have that sort of connection, and to have real issues to deal with as a couple. It’s fun to play those scenes with Nina [Lisandrello], because we’ll look at how we could make each scene come off the page in a believable way.
You guys are kind of like audience surrogates, in the sense that it never becomes normal for JT and Tess like it does for Vincent and Catherine. I mean, JT kind of reacts the way I would if I were plopped into this situation. I’d probably be cracking wise but it would still be super weird, and I’d probably continually end up being imperiled.
[Laughs] But that’s the thing! I feel, as an actor and as a person, I always gravitate more towards the person who represents the audience. Usually — just because I feel like a normal person and never feel particularly extraordinary in an unreal way — I just take it upon myself to tell that story as the audience’s vehicle into the world of whatever story I’m a part of. But that everyman quality and sense of humor is also partly reactive to the story that’s going on. So, as JT is partaking in a scene, there are moments where he’ll say something or react to something in a way that’s universal for the audience watching that same thing. And while it won’t take him out of the reality of the show, he will be subjectively and, to a degree, objectively commenting on the situation in a way that a normal human being would in this day and age, if there were beasts and serums.
I think, because he’s a scientist and a biochemist who’s seen what he’s seen and knows what he knows, the potential for anything to be possible is well within reach for him, whether it’s through his serum making, or whether it’s through his scientific exploration. He’s got a leg up on a lot of other biochemists, and it’ll be interesting to see if they take that to the next level in Season 4, to see where JT’s extra pieces of knowledge, through his experiences with beasts and Muirfield, will lead him. I don’t know that he’s necessarily going to write a book about it, but I think he’ll be more unique in the world of biochemistry because of his experiences.
On the subject of character growth, do you think the 13 episode order means we’re going to get less of the Case of the Week type stories, or if it’s going to be more of a serialized drama?
Case of the Week, to me, means that you’re watching each episode separately, in a Law and Order type of way. The original Law and Order is very much like that. Even though, in later seasons, the stories of the detectives started bubbling to the surface, there’s still a Case of the Week mentality, for the most part. But I think, with our show, it’s more like some of these other dramas, like Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. There’s always a Case of the Week, but every episode single episode has interweaving storylines with the main characters. So you can’t watch episodes out of order, since it would spoil the sequence of events for the characters. You can’t just pick up in the middle of the episode and know what’s going on with regards to everyone’s story. There are storylines that need to be followed in a more sequential way. We have a Case of the Week in the same way Supernatural episodes have a Case of the Week, like how we follow the overarching story of what the Winchester brothers are going through. With Season 3, there will be a couple of episodes like that. But the overall question is what do they have in common, and how do they relate to Catherine and Vincent’s destiny? Are they connected, and to whom? Is there a serial reason or a source for these cases? There’s not too many of them, but the dots start connecting pretty quickly this season, and it starts becoming a singularly focused, serialized major case, as opposed to every episode being a different case. All these individual cases start leading to bigger cases, which all tie together by the end of the season. They all tie in with the comedy, the action, and the romance. There’s a LOT more romance this season. And because it’s 13 episodes, it’s really packed. Imagine all the action and sci-fi mythology stuff that was packed into 22 episodes is now in 13 episodes. We’re able to run on all cylinders, and have stuff happen in every single episode that advances the story, the plot and the characters along in a way that’s more dramatic and immediate than in double those episodes.
I’m excited to see how much more focused and straightforward 13 episodes ends up being, and if that changes the sort of overarching story of the season. For instance, like Vincent and Cat: their relationship last season dealt with more external threats, with a love triangle with Gabe. But with just 13 episodes, are we past love triangles and that type of thing, or are the threats to their relationship more about the danger?
I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say, and I think it’s good for the fans to know, that the trailer is slightly misleading. We’re past those love triangles and those relationship threats. The things that threaten their relationship now is maintaining this normalcy against all odds, and against supernatural foes and threats that become apparent and present. There is an internal debate over whether they’re destined to fight these foes or if they should ignore them and maintain their normal life, and there’s a back-and-forth throughout the season on whether they should accept these challenges or do their best to ignore them. Because they have this safety net now of their daily lives, working at the hospital, working at the precinct, coming home, and spending their nights peacefully, together. I don’t know how exciting that show would necessarily be, but it still would be a challenge since he’s a beast and she’s human, and he still has issues he needs to deal with. This isn’t just two people cohabitating, it’s a person with superhuman powers trying to tone those down for the benefit of his relationship. If he’s going to use his beastly powers for the sake of good, where’s the line? Is it an eye-for-an-eye, where you cross a line if you kill someone? And can he control himself if it gets that far? Will he accept his destiny? Those are the challenges, because he’s fighting threats that are more powerful than ever before. So the threats to the relationship aren’t romantic, it’s more the danger. There are a lot of issues like that, in addition to the fact that there are two relationships that are trying to be maintained in this world, between Catherine & Vincent and JT & Tess.
That responsibility has me wondering if Vincent being a public figure, in a way, will factor into this season? I mean, the man was on The Talk, for crying out loud!
Yeah, The Talk! [Laughs]
I mean, people know who he is, even if they don’t know what he is. He’s a hero but he’s also an infamous character in the public eye, in some respects.
Well, I think to fans of The Talk, or any other daytime talk show, he may be recognized. But not everyone is going to recognize him. Like, not everyone is going to recognize our cast walking around places! [Laughs] Unless you’ve been the person who’s been on posters, you don’t really get recognized a lot, which is sort of how it is for me, and Nina, and Nicole [Gale Anderson], and even Jay [Ryan], to a degree, because he sometimes wears a hat and sunglasses when he’s out in public. I think Kristin [Kreuk] is the only one who deals with that. But for Vincent, how many people have watched that episode of The Talk? In New York City, what’s the rating? In America, how many millions watched it? What are the odds of running into one of those people? I think you’re only as big as the people who’ve seen your show.
Yeah, I figured Vincent was more of a special interest case instead of a national headline…
But I mostly just wanted to be sure.
Definitely. I mean, it’s hard to tease Season 4 before people have seen Season 3, since I’m not sure what’s going to happen in Season 4, but I do think there may be aspects that start to delve into that stuff in the future. I haven’t gotten a script yet. It’s hard! We did the last episode three to four months ago, and people haven’t seen the first episode that we shot back in September of last year, so remembering stuff about the first episode without spoiling anything for down the line is almost impossible to do, the more I keep talking! [Laughs]
That sort of ties into my last question. Do you know if Season 4 has a direction in place? I know you haven’t gotten any scripts yet, but do you know if there’s a plan that builds off of what Season 3 establishes?
Yes! [Pause] I’m trying to think what I can say that is not going to spoil Season 3. Season 3 is action-packed, with very few segments or acts within an episode that go by without some sort of event or plot point happening. And, again, because it’s packed into 13 episodes, so there’s lots of stuff that happens every week. Lots of action, lots of chases, lots of romance. JT is on it, Cat and Vincent are all over the place, and sometimes they’re on the run. There’s a whole series of things that put the plot into overdrive, and I think to play the moment after that would be interesting. I don’t know for sure, since I don’t have a script, but I don’t think it’s a huge spoiler to say that some of these conflicts will be revisited in Season 4. I think we’re going to continue investigating and exploring character relationships more, as opposed to having the characters be pulled along by conflicts that force them into action. For instance, without all these challenges that the main five characters are going to face in Season 3, who are they? What do they do when they’re faced with a normal life? How do they deal with that, and is that enough for them? Is it enough for Cat and Vincent to just be a detective and a doctor, and not have to deal with this destiny that’s been set out for them? Same thing with JT and Tess and Heather. Who am I when I’m not doing what everyone has known me to do? Who is JT without those challenges and conflicts, without the serums and the hacking and the tranquing? Without destiny calling, you kind of settle into a funk, because when destiny doesn’t call for a few months, you start to wonder why. You start to get anxious. Why aren’t I needed in the same way that I used to be? Is destiny really done with us? All the ins and outs of what that emotional process is for each character is something I think we’ll explore. But I think it’s the calm before the storm. I don’t know what it will actually look like, or if the producers even want that out right now, but Season 3 is absolutely action-packed. Everything that made the show successful – the twists and turns, the romance, the mythology – all of it finds its way into Season 3. I just want people to see it already! I know the fans have waited long enough, and they deserve to be rewarded for getting us to this point. It was their hard work and dedication, and their enthusiasm for this show, that brought us here. And if they respond to it like we hope they may, then maybe people who watched the first season and tuned out might tune back in when they find out that the show is what it is now.
I couldn’t possibly be more excited about Season 3, honestly. I’m hoping to get a seat for the advanced screening at Wizard World in Philly.
I hope if you do see it, you get to write about it. I enjoy reading tour stuff. Your episode recaps are some of the more inquisitive and well-written ones I read. I’m not sure how much you can actually write about it, since it’s almost a month before the show will air. But I’m curious to how you’ll react to it.
That really does mean a lot, especially coming from basically my favorite character. But I still feel like there’s a lot people aren’t giving the show credit for. That’s why I’m super literary about it. I want people to see the show the way I do.
But I wanted to thank you again for the interview. I love talking to ya, it doesn’t feel like work.
It doesn’t really feel like work for me either, getting to talk about doing this, because acting isn’t worth anything if there isn’t someone to appreciate or enjoy the work. Not that you’re necessarily doing it for that, but it’s nice to know that with fans and writers like you that they’re seeing the stuff that’s underneath it all, and all the different levels of what you’re doing. Just knowing that you’re entertaining an audience means a lot. I hope you enjoy the screening and I hope you get in! I think you’ll really enjoy the premiere.
Oh, I’m definitely looking forward to it. Congratulations again on the success!
Thank you. Talk to you again soon, Nick.
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