Beauty and the Beast on The CW
By: Lynn Barker
This new show on The CW will follow “The Vampire Diaries” and end the night with romance as well as action, drama and mystery. Kristin Kreuk of TV’s “Smallville” is Beauty and Jay Ryan of “Terra Nova” is her hot Beast. There have been many versions of this classic fairy tale including the Disney animated version, a TV show starring Linda Hamilton and the recent movie starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer. This one is different:
Story goes: Catherine “Cat” Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective, who is haunted by her own tragic past. When she was a teen, Cat witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Cat would have been killed too, but someone – or something – saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn’t an animal that attacked the assassins…though it was strange and terrifying, it was human. Since then she’s liked “bad boys”.
Years have passed and Cat is a police detective working with her equally talented partner, Tess Vargas (Nina Lisandrello, “Nurse Jackie”). A new case leads them to handsome doctor Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan, “Terra Nova”), who was reportedly killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2002. Cat learns that Vincent is actually still alive and in hiding for the last 10 years to cover up his secret: when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Cat is stunned when Vincent admits he was the “animal” who saved her the night of her mother’s murder. They end up solving crimes and, despite obstacles, gradually falling in love.
Q: Jay, is your character just a good guy who sometimes looks “beastly” or….?
- Jay: He’s actually more like Jekyll and Hyde, and as you go through the series, you’ll notice that more as it develops. It’s almost like two people inside this one character. The beast is more of like a serial killer, and Vincent is trying to suppress him throughout.
Q: Like a ticking bomb?
- Jay: Yeah, you don’t get a lot of that in the pilot, but as we go along, that will become more apparent, and the beast will become much more dangerous.
Q: Kristin, your Catherine (Beauty) character is a really good martial arts fighter. I’ve read that you’ve learned martial arts for a long time, but, in most of your TV roles, you don’t get to use it. Was it fun to be someone who is really good at defending herself?
- Kristin: Yeah, I think that in this, after Catherine sees her mom killed in front of her, she’s very committed to being somebody who doesn’t have that happen ever again. And so it’s cool for me to be able to take all that I’ve learned in the span of my life. I started doing martial arts when I was a kid to have that be something I can pull from. And it’s true, I don’t often get that kind of role, although I get to do it periodically, which is a lot of fun for me.
Q: You are from Vancouver but isn’t this being shot in Toronto?
- Kristin: Yes. It’s my first real move to the East Coast.
Q: You’ve gotten to stay near home (“Smallville” was shot in Vancouver) yet always work. Do you feel lucky?
- Kristin: I do. I have had a very charmed life. I mean, I look at what’s happened in my life, and I feel so lucky. I don’t know how it occurred. I didn’t plan it, necessarily, and I got to be with my family when I needed to be with my family. And I got to go and travel the world doing these amazing projects, and I feel like I’m so privileged and grateful.
Q: Linda Hamilton (of the Terminator films) played Catherine in the 1980’s TV show. Didn’t she send you a note?
- Kristin: Yes, yes. She’s been shooting in Toronto doing a guest spot on “Lost Girl,” and she actually got Jay and I both! She signed photos for us, and it was unexpected and surprising and wonderful. And it felt like I got the picture on our first day of work, and it’s in my trailer, and it feels really cool to have her know about what we’re doing and wishing us well. It’s rad!
Q: Jay, can you talk about the cool make-up and prosthetics you have to wear as Beast?
- Jay: Sure. Well, I’ve kind of based this role on his genetic makeup. He has DNA from many different animals. So I’ve sort of researched all the strongest elements that come from them. Like, the vision of a hawk, the strength of a tiger all this sort of stuff. And for me, it feels like Vincent is, you know, the body, but the beast is the disease, and it’s trying to come out, and he’s trying to suppress it.
In terms of the makeup, it’s a four hour long haul in a chair with two makeup artists. We’re still working on the beast look at the moment. In the pilot, the idea was to show less is more so we had room to move in the series and develop his look, and as he becomes beastlier, who knows? What’s under his clothes? Has he got scars from other beasts? Has he got hairy nipples? (laughter).
Q: Kinda hope not. So by the time you’re in the makeup, you’re in a beastly mood?
- Jay: Well, it’s funny. When I have the beast makeup on, I actually become more of a comedian usually.
- Kristin: Yes, he changes his personality drastically.
- Jay: Because otherwise, people don’t talk to me. I look hideous.
- Kristin: He likes to run around and scare people too.
- Jay: Yeah, and then, when I turn it on, I turn it on. But I come from a very physical place. I trained in physical theater as an actor. So I really want to push the boundaries of the beast throughout the series in terms of how far can he jump, how high, work with all those super senses, and hopefully, as it’s being written, the writers have done a really great job of having the audience see and feel and hear as Vincent does. So the soundscape will lend itself to what Vincent is hearing from afar or that sort of thing, which is very clever.
Q: In this series Catherine isn’t always a damsel in distress, right?
- Jay: Catherine gives it as good as she gets. They’re almost as headstrong as each other. So the conflict is balanced, I believe.
Q: Jay, would you talk about the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sides of your character?
- Jay: I think maybe I’ve put that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing into the realm because it’s the way that I approach the character. It’s these two opposing forces, I guess, from Vincent to the Beast. Catherine makes Vincent kind of feel more comfortable with this beastly quality and (helps him) turn it and make it into something for the better, into something for good. He can use it to help rather than destroy. So it’s just a good place for me to start with the character.
Q: Do we all have that good and bad side?
- Jay: Absolutely. It’s the yin and the yang, the Jekyll and the Hyde, Beauty and Beast.
Q: What did each of you think of when you hear “Beauty and the Beast”? The Disney movie, fairy tales, old TV show? What?
- Kristin: My reference was very much the Disney cartoon. That’s, I think, the “Beauty and the Beast” that has always stuck in my mind. So when I hear that title, that’s the first thing that I think of personally.
- Jay: And for me, mine was ’80s series because it was a big show in New Zealand where I grew up, so I used to watch it every afternoon after school. So that was my reference. So I was really interested to read the reimagining that the writers had when I got the pilot. And I was a big fan Ron Perlman’s (he played the Beast) work, so it’s a bit of an honor to recreate that.
Q: So let’s talk romance. Isn’t this also about the Catherine/Vincent attraction? Won’t there be obstacles to their love?
- Jay: Yes. And the way that they have to court, as well, because he’s in hiding, and in this technological world, they can’t use cell phones and all that sort of stuff. So they have to do this sort of Shakespearean sort of courting, you know, throwing pebbles at windows and secret whispers and writing notes, which I think is just lovely to put on TV now where it’s just it’s all sex straightaway and all that stuff. So that is a big point of difference, I think, for the show.
Q: Cool! Jay you said you are a very physical guy. Are you more comfortable being the Beast?
- Jay: Absolutely, yeah. Because the beast is something that I can create myself. Sure there’s boundaries to a beast. But I think with this backstory, I’ve got a lot to play with. And as I said, I trained very physically as an actor so I approach my work in that way. But, in sports, I’m very uncoordinated! Even though I’m kiwi (New Zealander) and rugby is our national sport, you can only play it so long until those big boys sort of start matching you up.
Q: Kristin, are you excited to get back into a TV series since “Smallville”?
- Kristin: Yeah. It’s very different than when started at 18. It was really scary. It’s still uncomfortable, to be honest. But I have a lot more perspective and I feel like I kind of know the realities of what I’m getting into in a way that I didn’t before. So it’s exciting to get back into it, and I’m also a little nervous, both of those things.