Among the many reasons Jay Ryan is thankful that The CW’s Beauty and the Beast earned a Season 2 pickup, a major one is that fans would be besides themselves come 9:55 pm Thursday — “hanged by the nails” is the way he puts it — given how the finale ends. Here, the actor reflects on the evolution of the Beast, talks us through the shooting of that scene, and teases the finale’s beast-on-beast action and “heartbreaking” aftermath.
TVLINE | Beauty and the Beast admittedly stumbled a bit in the beginning. But as it found its legs, the show developed a great social media presence, an incredibly passionate fan base and now you have a Season 2 order. What was it like for you and Kristin Kreuk, weathering that rough patch at the beginning?
It was really hard, because Kristin and I had a really strong vision of what we expected the show to be when we signed on, and maybe it wasn’t quite in line with what a lot of the other creatives on the show were thinking as well. It took some time for everyone’s vision to merge into making it the strongest it could be. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing at the start, to get everyone comfortable with what they were putting into the show in terms of character, story and everything else. But that was kind of an exciting time, because we did have the pressure of the feedback from audience and critics. With that, we sort of put our backpacks on and went to work.
TVLINE | One early fix was to dial down the procedural aspects and delve more into the overall mythology. But did they also fast-track the romance, to get the audience buzzing more?
Kristin and I always saw the procedural element as a “merge” that connected Vincent and Catherine by finding something that they’re good at, where they can solve problems together. But the problems or the crime always needed to be connected to them or someone in their relationships to make more weighted and raise the stakes. So it was good that that sort of ironed out. [As for the romance] we and our writers were in agreement that we didn’t want this “Are they/Aren’t they?” right through the first [season]. Everyone loves the heart of the story of Beauty and the Beast, no matter what setting or timeframe, and we always know those characters are going to be together. And because we did have such a huge social media voice out there from the fans and they were really egging for it, it was like, “Well, we want to give it to them in due time.” The characters are much stronger in a relationship together than tiptoeing around each other. As a team, it’s more dynamic. And we can make it more steamy on screen, too.
TVLINE | We had Connie Britton in our office a couple weeks ago, and she talked about how incredibly choreographed a recent and important Nashville love scene was, how several people had a say in it about what to do, “more of this,” “less of that”…. You and Kristin sold the hell out of Vincent and Catherine’s first “I love you” and what came after. Was that sequence similarly well-discussed?
First, thank you for saying that. Kristin and I seem to click really well in those emotional relationship scenes, and I guess our instincts are right in line with what the showrunners are after. But a lot of our stuff, because we’re on night shoots — that particular scene came at the end of a 16-hour day, at about 9 am — so we’ve got to shoot fast, and there’s not a lot of time for producers to come in and say, “Let’s go more with this.” They really rely on the director and us as the actors to get it right on the first go. We were given the range and the freedom to make those moments work, and the moments preceding it the producers loved, so they let us go for it.
TVLINE | Speaking of choreography, tell me about this monster fight coming up on the finale. Sendhil Ramamurthy said it’s off the charts.
It is. We really sort of threw the budget and everything at it. Rick Bota, who is our producer/director, did the finale and he’s really a “monster man,” so he’s been pushing to highlight the differences between these two beasts. So, there’s a 10-minute finale [sequence] that is huge. It’s sort of “beast on beast” and he really highlights all those physical traits and the different strengths between Sendhil’s character and my character through this choreography of this fight.
TVLINE | Is it a case of Gabe getting the drop on you?
Vincent’s been taking Gabe’s medication, to subside this beast within him, so at the time that this fight starts, Vincent’s beast qualities are really, really mild.
TVLINE | Yikes. Bad timing, man.
Definitely. [Laughs] It’s really bad timing, and it really makes Vincent realize how much of this beast character is a part of him now and how much he needs it with the world that he lives in.
TVLINE | How would you describe the closing moments of the finale? What kind of emotions will people be going through?
It’s pretty heartbreaking, and I could see how if we didn’t get another season that the audience would be sort of hanged by the nails and with one or two tears dropping. It’s lucky that we got another season so we can carry on where we leave off, but it’s still pretty heartbreaking. Also, in the final 30 seconds, we discover a new character who is very close to one of our lead characters — and that is a big OMG moment as well.