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True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten on Drunk Triathlons, Zero Gravity, and Jason Stackhouse’s Brain

Ryan Kwanten. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Last we spoke with Ryan Kwanten, we learned that the True Blood actor was, in fact, a freak of nature. He doesn’t work out for his role (staying active is just “who I am,” he said), performs superhuman feats (surviving a shark attack, rescuing a man passed out in the street), and is inexplicably the most modest Aussie Adonis you’ll ever meet. To our delight, he hasn’t changed since then. His far less motivated True Blood character, however, has undergone a makeover of sorts. In season five, Jason Stackhouse has become a fairly competent man of the law — one who still takes his shirt off at the drop of a hat, but now manages to do it with some soul. Is True Blood’s OG manbot finally evolving, in light of his investigation into his parents’ deaths? Vulture rang up Kwanten for answers.

I noticed that this season you have more scenes with Anna Paquin than in previous ones.
Anna and I have been petitioning for it for a little while. It really helps to keep the show grounded with that honest reality of seeing a brother-sister relationship. We were also cautious to make sure Anna [who is pregnant with her first child] was looked after all the time. We’ve been shooting this show for over five years, so we’re a very tight-knit crew who really adores Anna. And she was such a trooper.

Sookie and Jason’s big mission this season is to find out which vampire killed their parents. How will Bill and Eric figure into that story line?
Jason is going to try to track down who it was. The hardest thing is now is realizing, Does he blame all vampires, or does he just look for the one? I don’t think he suspects it’s someone they know. I’m sorry, I have to be rather vague with my answers — they get shorter and shorter every year.

How will Jason’s revelation that he’s too motivated by sex play out this season?
That’s a huge thing for Jason, to realize that’s not his be all, end all — that he has more to offer the world than just that. It’s sad to hear him say that, but at the same time at least he’s trying to get better. In terms of his learning curve, it’s been greater and will continue to be greater, ’cause he started lower than anyone else on the show. There’s so much more for him to know.

What are the challenges of playing someone that dumb?
That’s the thing: I see him more as simple than dumb. There’s an innocence to Jason. He can get away with some of the things he does because of that innocence. Whereas being dumb, you don’t really get sympathy for that. He was originally based on a couple of people I knew, but it’s turned into his own beast now.

Jason is in a bunch of story lines this season. Will he also play a sizable part in the Hoyt-Jessica-shifter story?
Jessica will definitely come up again, and it’ll have its obvious ramifications. I love that they have Jason drifting in and out of all these story lines. Bon Temps is never short of police activity, so there’s always something for him to do. And he’s taking his job very seriously — that is another way in which he’s evolved. He’s finally found something he may even be remotely good at.

The online synopsis for episode ten mentions that Jason finds a scroll. What can you tell me about it?
It’s the beginning of answers, and perhaps even more questions, for Jason. The scroll is sort of this ancient … from a long time ago. I’ve got to be careful. It’s from a long time ago, and they have to figure out its meaning, but also figure out if it has anything to do with … if he can connect it with his parents dying. I feel like an idiot saying it like that.

You once told Men’s Health that you’ve competed in a triathlon while drunk. That can’t be true.
That is true! I work very, very hard, so when I do get the chance to go out socially, it’s a relatively big night. I also have hobbies on the side, and quite often one runs into the other. It’s surprising when you are drunk — believe me, I’m not endorsing getting drunk and doing a triathlon — but there is a numbness that comes over you when you are drunk. The element of pain doesn’t seem so pervasive. That afternoon, once the hangover kicked in, that was not very good.

You recently tweeted a picture of yourself in a zero-gravity chamber. What’s that about?
That was an opportunity that came about. Such a bizarre life that I live … They take you out on a plane to 25,000 feet. I don’t want to get too scientific on you — not that I could anyway — but over the course of the flight, you’ll experience about seven and a half minutes of weightlessness. We were catching things in our mouth. And we did the rat run, where you run all over the plane. I guess it would take a greater man than me to say no to something like that. I was on a high for the next couple of weeks, much like I was when I first jumped out of a plane.

You say that as if you’ve jumped out of a plane a lot.
It’s been double digits now, so …

Ryan Kwanten Defends Jason Stackhouse, Sort Of