This past Friday, January 10, 2014, I got the chance to do a one on one interview with Austin Basis. As a fan the opportunity seemed like an amazing opportunity, from an interviewer perspective, it was nerve wracking due to the fact that Austin has done so many interviews as of late for various blogs, magazines and podcasts.
Let’s start with the basics that every Beastie should already know. His full name is Austin Lee Basis. He was born on September 14, 1976 (that makes him a Virgo by the way). He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, right near the Coney Island boardwalk. He has two loving parents, Shari and Arthur as well as a younger brother Jeremy.
Austin - The Author
An Actor Without An Audience: Poetry For Artists, Lovers and Everymen was published in 2011. The book came out of his need to express himself freely after Life Unexpected ended. He was drawn to writing poetry because poems don’t necessarily need to conform to any rules the writer decides the structure and the next poem can be the polar opposite of the poem on the page that preceded it. The book is only available in a digital format. That decision was decided due to the tablet e-reader boom as well as the fact the poetry publishing circle is quite small and hard to break into.
Living with Diabetes
At an early age Austin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which later went on to become an inspiration to want to be a doctor. When Austin was younger it was much harder living with diabetes due to strict scheduling of his meals, watching his insulin levels as well as taking the required series of injections daily, although that never stopped Austin from believing he could do whatever he set his mind.
Now days, it’s not much of a fuss thanks to his handy dandy insulin pump. I think it very refreshing that Austin talks so openly and freely about living with diabetes. It is his hope that his message reaches young people with diabetes so they know that they can still achieve any goal they set for themselves. When he was growing up there were no actors or athletes that had diabetes or at least weren’t publicly open about it so it his hope that he can be for someone what no one was for him.
Austin is a celebrity ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The Juvenile Diabetes Research foundation is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure type 1 diabetes. They are making some extraordinary breakthroughs on the medical technology front, everything from artificial pancreases to apps that can work with your smart phone to keep track of all you important levels such a blood sugar, insulin levels, etc.
Was acting always the dream?
Ever since Austin can remember, he’s loved making people laugh, dressing up and performing. His fondest memories are of Halloweens from his youth where he dressed up as Dracula on more than one occasion. But his wasn’t always sure that he would be an actor. In high school, he thought about playing baseball professionally. Later on in his academic career he was on the fast track to becoming a doctor, for whatever reasons that didn’t work out. Fortunately, he figured out that what he wanted to do and turned his full attention to acting. Taking some sound advice from a mentor he pursued a post-secondary education in theater.
When asked if he ever considered being a teacher, which is the family business by the way, both his mom and his brother are teachers, the answer is yes. He even did a little substitute teaching at his old middle school, Mark Twain Junior High School for the Gifted & Talented once upon a time. Obviously, that was not where his passions took him but he did state that he had wonderful experience while it lasted and reconnected with some of his favorite teachers even becoming close friends with some.
A Scholar and a Gentleman
Austin has such a lovely educational pedigree, which provoked me to ask which methods of acting he draws from the most during his acting performances. He uses the Lee Strasberg method, which is an adaptation of Constantin Stanislavski’s method that is a group of techniques actors use to develop lifelike performances that focus on drawing from their personal experiences and applying it in some way to the character they are playing.
Fun Fact: Always striving to improve his performance Austin enlists an acting coach, a fellow graduate from The Actors Studio Drama School. They watch his scenes together and breakdown the scenes and evaluate the acting choices. That was a pretty cool tidbit to discover and I applaud Austin efforts in striving for excellence.
Behind the Scenes Dish
Did you know that Beauty and the Beast doesn’t do table reads? I read that mentioned on Sendhil Ramamurthy’s twitter line and wasn’t sure if I read that right or if it was a one-time occurrence. Since I had the opportunity to ask, I did. Turns out Beauty and the Beast haven’t been doing table reads for most of it runs. It was done away with early on during the first season. The show is much action oriented and gets revised a lot so it makes sense, that in order to stay on the tight 8 day shooting schedule something had to give. Some actors like table reads, some actors don’t, most are pretty indifferent. Austin doesn’t mind doing table reads as it offers a chance to see the bigger picture sooner but is perfectly fine with not doing table reads.
The topics of sets came up somehow and while Austin likes the Gentleman’s Club he kind of misses the old dark, dank, warehouse. He also shared that the Gentleman’s Club was originally a location but got recreated into a set. The only thing that got lost in translation during the building of the set was the stain glass roof. It had to go in order to accommodate lighting. He went on to talk about how he likes the subtle progression of the Gentleman’s Club into more a geeky lair now that JT lives alone. If you look close enough you can see more of JT’s personality coming through in the surroundings.
JT is the most relatable character on the show. The character is often the voice of the audience as well as the comic relief. JT Forbes one liners are epic and often touted as highlight of an episode among Beasties. So I was curious to know if the actors in general are allowed leeway and room for a little improv from time to time. Turns out they are in most cases. That’s awesome to know that the writing isn’t rigid and set in stone.
If you are a JT Forbes fan and you have been wondering just when we’re going to get an episode that features JT more prominently, I’ve got the answer, episode 2x12 is basically a JT centric one and the so is the next episode after that, 2x13. Austin says the whole cast, especially and he and Jay had a lot of fun shooting those episodes in particularly. I for one can’t wait to see them interact more.
The bombshell about JT being the one who gave Muirfield Vincent’s name for their trial is not a new development. Austin has known that practically since day one. Hopefully, that plot point will open the door to a plethora of character development for both JT and Vincent. Austin seemed very excited that the truth was out and the open though he couldn’t really go into any further details at the time.
Speaking of the bromance, we can look forward to more JT and Vincent screen time during which JT will continue to be the voice of reason and a hardcore member of Team Catherine while VinCat is separated. He will be the loud and constant reminder that Cat and Vincent are meant to be together.
Photo Credit:Bobby Quillard
I just have to say, Austin Basis didn’t disappoint one bit. He came across pretty much as I (and probably most Beasties) picture him to be, smart, funny, personable and downright charming. Oh and did I mention that he quoted Othello during our interview? You just have to love a man who can work Shakespeare into a conversation.