In-depth with Ryan Kwanten

November 9, 2010 by  

The Scoop on Red Hill

Ryan Kwanten HBO True Blood

Ever-popular, Ryan Kwanten has given a slew of interviews recently. On hiatus from playing Jason Stackhouse on HBO‘s True Blood, Kwanten is currently promoting his recently released film, Red Hill. A private screening was held in Los Angeles on October 25th, with the public release being on November 5th.

Red Hill is an Australian Western, written and directed by Patrick Hughes. Kwanten plays the role of Shane Cooper, a young married cop who has to defend his new town from an escaped convict out for revenge. Filming took place in a very remote area of Victoria called Omeo. Kwanten had never been there, and was flung into his first scene with a rain machine in sub-zero temperatures, after having travelled for 23 hours.

How Kwanten Became Involved with the Film

True Blood's Ryan Kwanten in Red Hill

Ryan’s interest was initially piqued when he heard it was a Western, as he’s very much a fan of the genre. When asked if he’s a fan of classic Westerns, and whether he has a favorite, he says:

“Huge fan. I have to name three. The Searchers, High Plains Drifter, then, not necessarily a classic western, but Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That’s my favorite film of all time.”

While reading the script, he grew to like the story and the lead character, which is why he chose to take on the film. The fact that it was to be shot in Australia was “a beautiful by-product.” Kwanten shares his thoughts on the movie, and his character:

“I started turning the pages, and obviously Shane Cooper is a reference to the movie Shane and [actor] Gary Cooper. But then I thought this character couldn’t be more different from the classic iconic western hero. Shane was a guy full of [falsehoods] and fallibilities, yet you’re so used to seeing the John Wayne/Clint Eastwood style, who no matter what force was put up against them, you felt like that they’d be okay, that they were going to draw their gun quicker. I felt with Shane, you never quite knew that. Every time he got knocked down, you were kind of helping him up. That was a really endearing quality, and I find it far more fun playing those tortured, bruised and battered characters than I do the impenetrable ones. I thought, if [director Patrick Hughes] can dedicate that kind of passion to this film, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t join him on this journey. This could be the beginning of something special. I really feel like I’m going to look back in 10 years and say, “Wow, I was part of the first Patrick Hughes film,” in the same way that I’m sure actors of the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple do.”

How Does He Feel About Panthers?

Kwanten has struck a balance in his feelings toward the animals — familiarity, with a side of healthy fear.  Having worked with black panthers on True Blood, he was ready when he learned there would be one in Red Hill. He was ready, that is, until he found out it turned on its owner in a fatal attack! When asked whether the panther in the movie is real or not, he replied:

“I have shot with panthers. I’ve worked with them on the show but this was not real. We’d planned on using a panther from New Zealand but two days before we planned to use it, it ate its owner so they shot the panther scenes in L.A.”

Now that is something you never want to hear. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the poor soul who lost his life.

So how do you shoot a scene where there’s supposed to be a panther in your immediate vicinity? Director Patrick Hughes came up with a creative (and amusing) solution: play the cat yourself!  While Kwanten would act, Hughes would pretend to be a panther off camera. According to the actor, it was his “finest bit of acting to keep a straight face and try to stay in it while my director was licking his paws and carrying on.” Such a consummate professional!

What’s On Kwanten’s Plate Now, and What He Has Coming Up

Coming out in March is his other Australian project, Griff, the Invisible, a superhero film shot last year in Sydney. Of that role, he says he had to “beg, borrow, [and] steal to get.” Happy to be in his hometown, he got to spend half the time at home with his parents, in the same room he had as a teen. Kwanten had this to say about home cooking, and being back in his old room:

“Mom’s spaghetti Bolognese [is great] and dad does a good stir fry and barbeque too. My room hasn’t changed. My toes are now hanging off the edge of the bed and I’ve got these ridiculous leopard print sheets. I don’t know what I was thinking!”

He also lent his voice to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, for the character, Kludd. Filming for Knights of Badassdom recently finished, a horror/comedy (think Shaun of the Dead). He got to work with Summer Glau, Steve Zahn, and Peter Dinklage.

He has plans to produce two movies next year, starring in one. He will both produce and play the lead role in The Family, with the lead being Charles Manson. He will also be playing a young, single guy in The 20-Something Survival Guide, another Australian film.

Our jack of all trades has also written a book! When asked what else we can expect from him, he responded:

“I’m producing two films next year and I’ve got a novel coming out next year too. It’s a satire, a spoof on self-help books. It’s called “The G Strategy”. Should come out March or April next year.”

Is there anything the man can’t do? He’s got quite the impressive resumé, and will most likely not stop there. Onward and forward, Ryan! We’ll be with you every step of the way!

Sources: My Fox Orlando — ‘True Blood’ Star on Panther Co-Stars

Teen Hollywood — Ryan Kwanten Takes “Red Hill” — Interview: Ryan Kwanten

(Photo credits: and