The Hot Seat: Ryan Kwanten

The True Blood and Griff the Invisible star loves breaking down the male ego.

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Illustration: Dan Park


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Thanks for waking up at 8am to talk to me, Ryan.
I am an early riser, so this isn't bad at all! I've already done half a day's work, I'd say. [Laughs]

In Griff the Invisible you play a character who feels that he's special in a way others can't understand, and that he might be better off living in a dream world.
I've always believed in stories that utilize the power of the imagination. We get told as adults to suppress that imagination, and that it's easier if you conform as opposed to being an individual. I thought that was the really beautiful thing [about Griff]: being broken down into what he thought society wanted him to be, then falling in love and realizing that there was someone else exactly like him out there.

Griff is bullied by his coworkers. It's telling that the superpower he seeks is invisibility.
[It's] ironic. The more invisible he tries to be [in real life], the more nervous he gets. And that gives him the impetus to start trying different things that will [truly] make him invisible.

Did you ever wish you were a superhero?
This sounds bizarre, but I always loved pretending to be the villain. For me, the villain had this kind of tortured upbringing, and I felt like they always had more to fight for.

Unlike most people who are bullied, Griff actually has the balls to fight back. But the way he retaliates is so specific to his secret persona, like the tricks he plays on his coworkers.
Yeah, it's sort of at that point where his worlds are colliding. He's in full belief mode, where he thinks that he is invisible and is going to get the ultimate form of revenge. It works for a little while—but his plans have very quickly caught up with him on the security camera.

Griff is introverted, and Jason Stackhouse, whom you play on True Blood, is the opposite of shy. Are you drawn to extremes?
They both have this sense of innocence and vulnerability, and that's what I like to play. There's something magical about breaking down a male's ego, or this facade of bravado that every male has, whether it's Griff or Jason.

Have you been waiting for Jason, who is human, to have his supernatural "freak" moment?
People who are waiting for the freak in Jason are gonna be surprised. I'm not going to say pleasantly surprised, but they're definitely going to be surprised, as he will be surprised! I've always said that I think it's hilarious that there are so many supernatural powers on the show, but out of everyone, Jason wants some sort of power the most.

You're Australian, and Jason is a Louisiana boy. What American words are most difficult for you to make sound natural?
Nothing, really. But there are American words that I love saying; for instance the word buddy. When I say it [with my normal accent], it's not sexy, it's very flat. But the way that Americans say it—I can't hear that word enough!

Is it true that you've been writing a novel for the past 19 years?
I did a lot of writing when I was younger, but I obviously haven't had that much time since the acting has taken off. It's been very tough for me, I'm about three quarters of the way through, but it's been tough to find those scarce hours of the day to get back to it.

Are there any other sides to your secret life?
Not really...I guess my life is what would seem boring! But I feel like anything but. I'm on True Blood for six months the year, and I shoot anywhere from two to three films in the other six months. I haven't got any dependents just yet, so I figure I may as well be free while I can.

If you could be a were-something, what would you be?
Believe it or not, black panthers have always been my favorite animal. I love the fact that they're slightly misunderstood.

Griff the Invisible opens Fri 19.

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