If you only know Ryan Kwanten as Jason Stackhouse in the HBO series "True Blood," you may have some major misconceptions about the man. First and foremost, he's not dim.
In fact, as we found out while discussing the Australian actor's pop culture obsessions, Kwanten is actually quite witty, well-read, and downright thoughtful.
Kwanten phoned us last week while promoting his new film "The Right Kind of Wrong," which opens in select theaters and On Demand and iTunes today. Kwanten plays Leo Palamino, a failed writer and husband who unfortunately falls for the girl of his dreams on the day she's getting married to another man.
"He’s also the subject of a blog called 'Why You Suck,' which pretty much outlines every single one of his fallacies and it’s a call to arms for anyone who’s ever been in a bad relationship. So, he sort of becomes the poster child of that. Obviously, that makes his life very difficult to live," says Kwanten about the role.
Fortunately, our relationship with Kwanten has been nothing but good. Unfortunately, it only lasted about 20 minutes. But you can really learn a lot about someone in that amount of time, if you ask the right questions ...
What was the first movie you remember seeing?
Ryan Kwanten: The first movie I remember seeing, this is going to sound bizarre, "Mask," and it’s not "The Mask." It’s a movie with Eric Stoltz ... and Cher, of all people. That’s the first one I remember seeing. I’m sure there were ones before that, but that was a very kind of seminal moment because it was also the first time I can remember sort of crying at a film. Then obviously being a young boy you did everything in your power to cover that up.
What movie do you always stop and watch when you see it on TV?
RK: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The undeniable chemistry between Redford and Newman. It never takes itself too seriously. It’s just very easy to watch. Look, that’s one of a host of ones. I could easily keep going but that’s my favorite film. It’s just good fun.
What movie makes you cry every time, besides "Mask"?
RK: "Philadelphia." I think it was Tom Hanks’ raw, visceral performance just sort of really stuck out at me. Then it’s funny. Every time I do watch it I see other things. I see the way that Denzel crafted his role, the kind of shot making that Jonathan Demme did and the affect that that film had on our society at the time. To think that an A list actor like Tom Hanks is willing to take a chance on that role, I thought it was really kind of powerful too.
Who is your TV crush?
RK: For me, it’s not necessarily that. Even though I’ve worked with her for seven years now I still love working with Anna [Paquin]. But in terms of like a crush, I’ve always fancied Jennifer Connelly, but she’s not in the TV world, she’s in the film world. I don’t know what it is about her but I quite clearly do. I’ve seen her in interviews and I think she’s got two degrees, so there’s some real intelligence behind her. I love her choice of films. She makes some great choices and she’s had a great career. She’s got an exceptionally talented husband too. So, my chances are next to nil.
What movie or TV character would you hate to be trapped in an elevator with?
RK: George Costanza. He would immediately go into panic mode. I’d imagine it would somehow set off a whole series of chain reactions of … what would you call it? Like itches or problems that suddenly come to surface. Suddenly he can’t breathe or he’s claustrophobic ... he can’t get his regular meal. I’m sure George would come up with a whole host of reasons to annoy me in that situation. It would be fun for the first 10 minutes but then no.
If you were kidnapped what movie or TV character would you call to save you?
RK: The Hulk is the first one that comes to mind ... What a story, what a story. It all comes back to story.
What is your TV guilty pleasure?
RK: I wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure because I love watching it is "True Detective." There’s nothing guilty about it. In fact, I could finish a tub of ice cream while watching it and still not feel guilty.
What was your first concert?
RK: It’s an Australian artist and you may or may not know him. He’s a guy called Johnny Diesel. He played in a band called Johnny Diesel and the Injectors. I was actually under age and I saw him at a bar where I sort of snuck in the side.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
RK: You know, I’m a fantastic listener and I try to avoid any chance to sing karaoke. Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I will go out of my way to avoid singing but if I have to it’ll be "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones.
Well that segues nicely into our next question: Beatles or Stones?
RK: Wow. If you’re putting a gun to my head, which it sounds like you are I’m going to go Stones. But it depends. I could wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly regret that decision, send you an email and say, “No. No. I take that back.”
What song would you want to play for your wedding first dance?
RK: Oh man. Well, my mom and dad got married to "Surfer Girl," which is a Beach Boys song. I’ve tried my very hardest and I still haven’t heard the song because I want the first time that I hear it to be on my wedding day. I don’t know whether it’s going to be the first song, but that’s going to be one of the first songs that plays.
What book changed your life?
RK: Oh, "To Kill a Mocking Bird," without a doubt. It struck such a profound cord with me. I didn’t read it until later in life. Obviously, I think that kind of book is on the school curriculum for an American growing up, for an Australian we have our own books. So, it was a really nice, deep understanding that I got from that book about sort of the American way of life and a little bit of history in there too. It’s got one of my favorite quotes in there too when Atticus says, “Courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” That also is very Leo Palamino. He knows he’s licked before he begins but he sees it through no matter what.
Who is the most random person you follow on Twitter?
RK: Oh, this is a horrible admission but as of now … well you know what, the most random person is a cat, Oscar the cat. It’s not even a person, it’s a cat.
Has another celebrity ever made you star struck when you met them?
RK: Yeah. Al Pacino. The first time I met him it was almost like he was walking in slow motion and it felt like someone was spraying a fog machine and he was just sort of walking through in slow motion to this group of people who we were all waiting for him to do a table read that I got the honor of being at the table with. But yeah, that was a very kind of auspicious moment for me to meet him and to work with him.
What character from movies, TV literature or music would you bring with you to a desert island?
RK: Jessica Rabbit.
RK: Really, you have to ask that question? Just because she could make a canoe and she could get me off the island in a heartbeat, because she’s so resourceful.
See Ryan Kwanten in the theatrical trailer for "The Right Kind of Wrong":