‘Beauty and the Beast’ exclusive: Austin Basis breaks down JT’s capture, big confession

JT -Monday night’s “Beauty and the Beast” was without question a big one for JT. Not only was he captured by “Tony Barnes” (who turned out to not actually be Tony Barnes) in hopes of replicating a beast serum, but following his eventual escape and the death of Tori, he finally let the truth come out to Vincent about his role in signing him up for the transformation in the first place. It was a watershed moment for the character, and for Austin Basis, some of the best material that he’s received all season long.

So what was it like going through some of these torture scenes, and how is JT’s confession going to shape his relationship with Vincent the rest of the way? We chatted with Basis about some of these subjects, and also got some great behind-the-scenes intel on how he prepared for these key moments. (Oh yeah, there’s a tiny “Breaking Bad” spoiler around the middle of this, but it’s not so bad as giving away the ending or anything.)

CarterMatt – This was kind of a crazy week for you.

Austin Basis – It was kind of fun to be the central figure in the plot that mobilized the [story] for the Fab Five or the Fab Six; I can’t keep track of who is working together all the time. (Laughs.)

What was it like for you to be chained up and tortured in the way that you were during this episode? Is there any way that you can ultimately prepare yourself for something like this?

I’m extremely self-critical; on some levels I feel like I succeeded, but there’s others where I wish I could have done a little better. Most viewers will buy it, but for me as an actor, since I’ve never been in that situation, you just have to use your imagination and what you have experienced. Most of my technique that I’ve learned and used throughout school and work bases all my choices on what I’ve actually [been through]. It’s tough when it is an extraordinary circumstance, where you are chained in a dungeon somewhere by your ankle, and you’re forced to use your skills to make a serum that you’ve never made before … you try to make it as real as possible.

I just tried to think back to times that I’ve been trapped or claustrophobic. I have experience with having headaches; I used to have migraines when I was a kid. You picture and add layers to that, [relating it to] when [in the episode] they inject something into your neck and you don’t know what it was, and you gotta have a remnant of that when you wake up. There’s a layer of what I’m doing, and me not being comfortable with what I’m doing because I have a headache from the stuff.

Then, I have to work basically by gunpoint, or this guy is going to kill someone else. I’ve been mugged before, and I know what that’s like, so you use things like that. Like when you are the most scared and hopefully that comes through with your performance. And hopefully you are able to remember your lines. (Laughs.)

Was there a part of this that felt like you were filming a whole different show? You are in a new place, and working with people like Tom Everett Scott, who hadn’t been on the show before.

There’s definitely a comfort when I work with Jay [Ryan], Kristin [Kreuk], or even Sendhil [Ramamurthy], because we’ve been around each other going on two years. I was put into a circumstance here where it was a new set, and it worked well with the situation because it had to be a new place for me. We’ve shot scenes in there since, and it doesn’t have the same effect that it did when I filmed [this past] episode.

As an example, you make choices for me and Jay to make it appear like we’ve been friends for our whole lives, and we haven’t. We’ve only known each other two years, but you have to make choices like that, and those choices become easier and easier as the actors start to get to know each other. When you first meet someone and you have to be ‘best friends’ with him, like we were in the pilot, that was [harder] because I had met him two or so days before we [started shooting].

There is definitely a disorientation when you work with new people and you try to hold on to your character, but I’m dressed differently, I’m chained up, and [everything is different because of it].When I’m working I like for things to be as real as possible … I want the action to be real … I wanted to be chained the whole time, so that I could feel what that is like. Kind of like Jesse Pinkman in the final season of ‘Breaking Bad,’ not to give away any spoilers.

Any ‘Breaking Bad’ reference is much appreciated!

The only [time] that I was actually locked into the chain and the clamp was the first take, because it was a wide shot and it made so much noise that they really couldn’t get any of my other lines, because it was dragging everywhere. That was a tough part for me, at least, because you have one experience with it being on your ankle, and you have to make it feel like you’re still chained the rest of the take. There’s a frustration that comes because the chain is pretty heavy, and you have to drag it around and make sure that you don’t trip on it.

It had to have been a pretty interesting day when you got this script. You realized that you were getting to do some of this sort of stuff, which you haven’t done that much of this season, and that you also were going to be getting the do the big confession scene with Vincent. Did you think that this moment was going to happen so soon?

Initially I thought it was just an interesting choice to try to set things up with Tess, like when JT confesses to Tess first. It layers an interesting dynamic into the story where [almost] everyone else knows, and the person who doesn’t is Vincent. There were a couple of episodes where we continued it on, and even in this episode he’s doing all this stuff for me, and he doesn’t know this not-so-small fact.

I think it came at the perfect time, because it couldn’t lay there too much. It couldn’t affect everything I did. It would [have been in the future a debate like] ‘should I tell him now,’ or ‘what’s the best time,’ or other neurosis that would add another layer or distract from what was the purpose of the moment.

I think that in life, too, it is one of those things where you have this big weight on your shoulders that you’ve already confessed to one person, and it becomes slightly easier to tell the person now that you’ve told someone else. I can only imagine being in certain situations, like if you like someone or if you’ve wronged someone, something like that. It’s affecting your half of the relationship and then it affects the relationship as a whole if [you stay silent]. I think it was done in a really good way. That’s one of my favorite scenes of the series so far, because it’s almost like back where it was back in the pilot, which may not be totally true, but in that moment it just felt like that.

I know you obviously know a little of what’s coming up, but do you feel like there is going to be more fallout from that moment beyond what we saw? 

I think the art of TV writing is that you don’t know if anything is fully resolved. It hasn’t necessarily happened yet, but there could be a scene between JT and Vincent later on in the season where they come into an argument or a fight, and this stuff gets dug up like a lot of other situations in life. You see this one elephant in the room that was talked about, but is everything really ever truly resolved, in the sense that it could be used as a weapon in the future? It’s Vincent’s weapon now, because if we come to blows in the future, he may pull that out of the hat as a dagger to JT.

From my perspective as an audience member, given everything else in Vincent’s life, it was probably a little unfair for JT to do it [then], since he was doing it for selfish reasons to get this off his chest. It’s almost also like ‘how much more rock bottom can you get,’ and why is JT going to wait until he comes out of this doldrum and then tell him, after he has his life resolved and his relationship with Cat resolved? He just lost this person in Tori who I don’t necessarily know that he had extreme feelings for, but there was a sense of losing someone who was [like] a partner to him. It was his perspective of losing Tori, and then not being good with Cat and realizing that he made the wrong choice. Then when it comes to JT, he realizes that JT is still there for him … In perspective to those other things, it’s not as bad as if JT told him and none of those other things had happened.

[In terms of mythology] there’s going to be things to come out about Vincent and Catherine that I don’t know yet, but could connect them deeper in the past. Not that they were alive then, but there was a lineage that’s happening.

Is there anything else coming up this season that you want to talk about?

We have about four or five more episodes [before the hiatus], and we’re about to film the episode before the hiatus, which has a cliffhanger. I think the next four or five episodes, there’s a mixture of fun and plot and character-driven stuff that propels the show into the next level of the story. It started with episode 12 with Tori’s death and JT’s confession, and the next level of Cat and Vincent’s resolution is going to be interesting to watch how that proceeds, and how things help and get in the way with that.

Thanks of course to Austin for the insight, which is pretty great when it comes to hearing about the process, and the emotions and choices that went into some of the big moves you saw on the show. You can follow him @AustinBasis over on Twitter.

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Photo: The CW

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