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An Interview with Austin Basis (JT, 'Beauty and the Beast')

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An Interview with Austin Basis (JT, 'Beauty and the Beast')
Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin
December, 2012

The 2012-23 television season has brought many great new dramas, especially in the sci-fi genre (my personal favorite) and the CW brought us a couple of fantastic new series this year. The story of Beauty and the Beast has been told in many different ways (most probably think of the Disney version) and the CW managed to bring the classic tale to life once again -- with an interesting twist. This version has the beauty and her beast, with the beauty being Catherine, a NYPD detective who was saved years ago by a beast, a former doctor who was turned into a military experiment that went terribly wrong. Now in hiding, Vincent is protected by his loyal friend JT and is falling in love with Catherine... knowing their relationship will likely never work out as long as he is being hunted down by the people who created him.

Austin Basis plays JT on the hit show and I had the pleasure of speaking with him about unusual fan encounters, his favorite television shows and his intense role in the CW drama Beauty and the Beast.

Q: Growing up, what was the worst job you ever had?

Austin:
"Well, I worked at Burger King for a couple of hours and I was just at the point of watching the videos and doing the training by the time I quit. The second worst job I ever had was when I was a teenager... my father worked at a meat distributor that delivered meat to catering halls and butchers in the Brooklyn area. He had a connection to a chain of butchers called Meat Supreme in Brooklyn, so I went to work there as a stock boy one summer. It was extreme manual labor; I was constantly stocking shelves that were constantly being depleted because it was a very popular store. At that time of year it was very hot so I would get constant headaches because of the change in temperature. The store had extra air conditioning because there was a lot of meat, and you go in the back where the butchers are chopping the meat and it's even colder. Right next door to the butcher area is the kitchen, so it would be really hot and then you go to the back of the store and there's a refrigerator where there's hanging beef, and beyond that, there's a walk-in freezer. I would then have to go into the basement where it's hot like the pits of hell. It motivated me to work harder. And stay in a field where I don't have to do hard labor."

Q: Which role has been your favorite to play?

Austin:
"Your favorite role is always the one that you're currently doing. I enjoyed the experience of playing Math on Life Unexpected. That was probably the longest, involved character I've ever played, and most real to who I am. The role of JT is too, but I think Math showed more of a vulnerability. I also played a character on named Spruce on Supernatural and it spurned into a spinoff web series called Ghostfacers. I do like playing psycho killers, but I don't get to play them that much."

Q: Tell us about JT on Beauty and the Beast...

Austin:
"JT is first and foremost a bestfriend to Vincent. JT is trying to constantly juggle both their lives. He's trying to come up with the cure for Vincent because his background is biochemistry and he has the tools at his disposal. He's not one to hide his emotions and he wears his not emotions on his sleeve. He's also a bit of a wise ass. I enjoyed getting to exercise that muscle. The writers just write the best lines for my character."

Q: Is there a chance JT will find a cure for Vincent before the series ends?

Austin:
"I think there's going to be an episode that's going to bring up the question that if there is a cure, would Vincent take it. He's had to use his abilities and his superhuman powers to save this girl and his best friend and even himself. The fact that he would be cured and would take away the risk and whether he would be able to survive in a world without his abilities. I think it's going to have to be a choice to cure himself or live in his protective world."

Q: What similarities do you share with JT?

Austin:
"I think obviously there's that wise ass and sarcasm we share. I think JT is a little overt with it and less empathic with his sarcasm. I think putting 150% into a relationship is second nature to me. I feel like with JT, that's how he survives. He survives on an almost inhuman loyalty and devotion to his best friend at the expense of his own life and well-being. He put his life on the back burner to focus on his friend. Obviously that's an extreme version of what me Austin gives to my friends and family.

Q: Have you had any unusual fan encounters?

Austin:
"I spent one New Year's Eve in Boston with my wife back when Life Unexpected was still on and there was a street car that goes back and forth to make sure nobody drives drunk. We were waiting for the street car to pick us up and there was this girl I saw out of the corner of my eye giving me this look like do I know that person? My sister in law leans over and says, 'It's him.' She starts freaking out yelling 'Austin Basis' and reciting everyone's names from the show. After a few minutes, she calmed down and became embarrassed."

Q: Do you follow any TV shows on a regular basis?

Austin:
"I watch a lot of cable channels you probably don't get in the States. Networks series I watch are Modern Family and Scandal. We also watch Homeland, The Walking Dead and my favorite show, possibly ever -- Breaking Bad."

Q: Do you use Twitter to keep in touch with your fans?

Austin:
"I do - I tweet and talk and exchange with my fans. My Twitter page is @austinbasis."
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