You may know Austin Basis as the loyal friend, J.T. Forbes to Vincent on Beauty and the Beast. But there is so much more to the sweet guy (on and off camera!). He's a true actor in the greatest sense of the word, is a total TV fan just like you and me, and most importantly has a great heart and outlook on life.
It was a pleasure getting to know the Brooklyn, New York native in the Exclusive Interview for ShareTV. He's polite, passionate and you're definitely going to want to hear the juicy details he drops about the second season finale before it airs TONIGHT!
ShareTV: Will the season finale of Beauty and the Beast be a cliffhanger or will there be closure?
Austin Basis: Well, you know life goes on even if what it was possibly going to be… when the writers wrote it and when we filmed it, we didn’t know the fate of the show. There were a lot of things that get resolved and explained in the finale that I think the fans will want to know about and we’ll bring certain things into alignment with what the season was working towards. But with that being said, even if it was the last episode [being the series finale] there would be life after this, in the story of Vincent and Catherine, J.T. and Catherine, and Gabe and all the characters in the show. It just gets cut off in the series, with a semi-resolution. So, there is a cliffhanger in a sense that an offer is presented to them [Vincent and Catherine] and they are still on the fence of whether they are going to accept that offer.
ShareTV: How has it been to a gain such an amazing, supportive and growing fan base (for you as an actor, the show and your character)?
AB: Oh it’s amazing. I’ve always been a fan of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ and the evolution of my career, the evolution of the shows popularity, and it’s spread throughout the world is in the natural pace of that is in line with how I like to proceed. I would much rather that: to feel like there is an effort put in and a reward received, as opposed to me kind of doing a one hit wonder kind of thing and all of the sudden I have millions of fans around the world, where there is a disconnect from how one day I went from being a totally anonymous pedestrian to all of the sudden being in the public eye with millions of people. I’m totally appreciative.
AB: I also feel that Twitter for TV watching is the only real way to get an audience response. It’s something I’ve missed from live theater: where you do a play and there’s an immediate response. If there’s a moment that’s really serious, emotional or dramatic, you can kind of hear a pin drop sometimes or even hear people gasp or sob, and when it’s a comedy and there’s a joke, people laugh or don’t laugh right away and you know right away if it succeeded or failed and you can take that into the next moment. So there is a relationship there and Twitter fills the void and allows actors like myself to receive a response from their work that previously we wouldn’t normally have gotten. It’s a nice give and take and a way to get in touch with your fans. There’s a mutual respect because without fans we’re just acting in the mirror really.
ShareTV: That’s awesome, you’ve definitely had a lot of success so far! You’ve snagged some pretty stellar roles on popular shows. Do you have any advice for new actors trying to nail an audition?
AB: The few things I’d say is independent of how much time you have, use your time wisely. Be as prepared as you can, feel confident and relaxed. In my process the more prepared I am, the more relaxed I am when I go into the room, independent of how big the audition is. You do all this work beforehand if you’re an actor like me. You think about what the character is thinking, what he wants to accomplish, where he’s looking to go, what he wants from the other characters in the scene and then the technical directorial aspect of your intellect that says: yes this moment is funny, so I’m going to make it as funny as possible, or this moment is dramatic so I want to hit that line specially or that word because I feel that word is important. And then once you go into the audition, have fun and really enjoy the process.
AB: I definitely prepare differently for a comedy and a drama. If it’s more of a dramatic role there are high stakes and emotions involved. I come from training at the Actor’s Studio, so I choose things and use things from my life and use my senses to recall those things and bring me as a person, as an actor, to a place where I don’t have to act as much. If I didn’t do any of that stuff I’d be totally acting and have to depend purely on my talent, my technique and physicalization, as opposed to letting a little spontaneity in and letting vulnerability in from your own mind and experiences, that are going to say this is how I’m going to do this role different from anyone else. Sometimes your height factors in, what color hair you have, what ethnicity, all these things are out of your control, so all you can do is put your stamp on it and leave the room knowing that you did your best.
ShareTV: What are some of your favorite TV shows (besides BATB of course!)?
AB: My favorite show of all time is Breaking Bad, but unfortunately it’s not on anymore. My wife sometimes watches the action, comic book type stuff like A.G.E.N.T.S. of Shield. I kind of go in for the real life, emotional and comedy stuff. The other dramas I watch are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, she likes Downtown Abbey but I’m not into it. I’m also not into Mad Men, I feel like something’s wrong with me! Everyone loves it, it has won Emmys after Emmys, and the only time I’ve watched it is when my friends are on it.
AB: Game of Thrones is not usually the kind of show I like to watch, you know, fantasy, dragons, period medieval, kings and queens, etc. but my wife made me watch the first one and I was in! I get confused with all the kingdoms and who everyone is related to. It’s shot like a movie, appears like a film, and I enjoy a lot of the acting. Especially Peter Dinklage and a couple others serve their purpose so well that it makes it fun to watch and see what comes of their choices. We also watch Modern Family, Brooklyn 99 and we like The Killing too, and House of Cards.
ShareTV: Are you going to watch Better Call Saul?
AB: Definitely, I just read that it’s going to intermingle with the plot of Breaking Bad and it’s going to be before, during and after and it might jump around which is amazing.
ShareTV: Apart from acting, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?
AB: I enjoy sports, team sports rather than individual. The only sport that I would say I enjoy because of the one on one thing is tennis, but being in Toronto in the cold winter, I don’t get to play tennis as much. While I’m in Toronto there’s a great kickboxing class I take. I love baseball too, I root for all my New York teams, rooted for the Rangers too in the Stanley Cup, but that didn’t work out. I’m a Mets fan, Giants fan, Knicks fan, I may have to start rootin’ for the Brooklyn Nets if the Knicks don’t pull their act together. I love hiking, especially in LA. There’s a park in Toronto called High Park, and it’s got a great nature preserve, and it’s the closest thing to LA, where we have a lot of great hiking paths: Fryman Canyon, Runyon Canyon, etc.It’s always nice to get out of the buzz of civilization and enjoy the day.
ShareTV: We know you’re an advocate of JDRF, if there is anything anyone can do or help to spread awareness, what would it be?
AB: It’s education and being active in the community. Every community has access to events, whether it’s a walk for the cure or biking events, there are a lot of different ways to contribute whether it’s monetarily at JDRF.org or if it’s with your time. There’s enough people in the world that have money and will donate for positive reasons and also for tax reasons that if you don’t have the money, your time, effort and energy is just as valuable. My brother for example is a teacher, he doesn’t make that much money, but he’s raised thousands of dollars for the JDRF. He’s a gym teacher, he jump roped every day for a month and got pledges with his students. It was a way to get kids more active and raise money. He also helped organize a date auction in LA and right now he’s training for the New York City marathon to run as a member of team JDRF.
AB: Diabetes is such a general term, when you talk about the different types, I have type 1 Diabetes and my dad has type 2 and there’s a huge difference in that. My efforts are kids with type 1 diabetes and young people that are looking at how to balance having type 1 diabetes and also pursue everything they want to in life and not let the disease get in their way. I’ve tried my best to do that, and so far so good. I want to show kids (and their parents) that it doesn’t have to get in their way, and for them to know that especially early in the diagnosis, their kids can live normal lives. It’s very overwhelming the first few years. I was diagnosed a couple weeks before my 9th birthday and my parents did their best to provide an atmosphere and environment where I could live a normal life. And I’ve never really looked at myself as any different, I just had a little more to deal with and balance.
ShareTV: Are you similar to J.T. Forbes? Or is it a complete 180 when you’re in character?
AB: More and more I’m similar. I try to bridge the gap where I’m not similar. He gets a little stressed out. It’s weird to talk about him in the third person because I am J.T. but I would say I’m not always the character, but the character I present is always me, so some aspect of me is filling out who J.T. Forbes is. I’m at the point where I’m two years in and I start thinking like J.T. so when I read a script and I feel like there’s something he’s doing or something he says that is not in line with who I think he is, I will have a conversation with the writers and they’re usually open to it and sometimes they have a point of view, but it’s nice to have that collaboration where I could think like the character and for the character in a consistent way that a writer who writes for him every 10 episodes doesn’t necessarily have, even though they’ve created the story arcs.
AB: I’ve lived in his shoes, so I have this connection with him. He’s way more intelligent when it comes to science and computers and anything technical like that. I have a little more common sense, I would think. I’m not as naive. I feel like I have a loyalty to my friends and my family. It’s nice to try to bring aspects of yourself to a character, but it’s never you, so you can’t always bring yourself to the character because we have different upbringings. I didn’t go to medical school and I’m not a biochemistry professor so there’s a few things I have to study up on and be prepared that are different for me. And the given circumstances- I don’t live in a world where I can get killed and I have to hide away my best friend for 10 years and there’s people that are literally out to kill me. And you’ll see some of that in the finale. Gabe’s on the loose now and we have to all watch our backs.
ShareTV: Is there anything you can reveal about the upcoming 3rd season of BATB?
AB: The only thing I know or have a sense of is that it’s Vincent and Catherine against the world. They’ll be working together to battle unknown and unseen forces. And dealing with the permanency of their relationship and the ins and outs of the everyday world. It’s not that the honeymoon is over (I would think there will be more romance because they’ll be together), but that first phase of the relationship is over. I don’t know if they’re going to move in together or what, but I get a sense that they are going to be together. If they live together that will be a fun challenge for the an audience to watch and for the writers to write because we’ve only seen them in high stakes circumstances fighting against other people. I think it’s going to be them fighting the world, but also managing and maneuvering through their daily life in this relationship.
Austin is super active on Twitter, so get in touch with him @AustinBasis, follow him on Facebook and of course check out his ShareTV celeb page! And watch the Beauty and the Beast season finale below!