Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
After Veronica Mars fans opened their wallets to resurrect the beloved, canceled series for a one-off movie, it seemed likely that Kristen Bell & Co. would finally lay their characters to rest. Not so! The CW, the network that canned the show after its third season, ponied up for more adventures of the old gang from Neptune, California, in the form of Play It Again, Dick, a warped meta-comedy just released this week on the network’s original-web-series portal CW Seed. It stars Ryan Hansen, who played dimwitted surfer-douche Dick Casablancas on Veronica Mars, as himself, or a version of Ryan Hansen who tries to capitalize on the “heat” surrounding the Kickstarter-funded reunion film by producing a low-budget Magnum P.I.–style action spinoff called Private Dick, in which his character takes the mystery-solving reins from Veronica, who’s now married and working in real estate after “popping out kids.”
The web series reunites Hansen with almost all of the Veronica Mars cast mates, including Bell, Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), and Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe), who all appear as warped versions of themselves as well as their old characters. (VM creator Rob Thomas also appears as himself.) There’s plenty of “wannabe action,” profanity, and double-entrendre jokes about Dick (e.g., “Rob always had a soft spot for Dick”; “Give the people what they want — Dick!”). We spoke to Hansen about the show, revisiting one of TV’s bro-iest bros, Party Down, and being more than a “haircut” as an actor.
After you wrapped filming on the Veronica Mars movie, did you think you’d ever play Dick again?
The answer for that is no. There was always a glimmer of hope all of us had, like, “Maybe we can do another movie” or something, and the fact that I got to do a little Dick spinoff has been wonderful. Any time I get to play Dick Casablancas is always a pleasure.
Did this come about as an excuse to get the band back together again?
It originally started as a little promotional web thingy we were going to throw up before the movie. It was supposed to be even smaller than it is now, but the CW really thought it would be a good idea to make it into an actual thing. It’s definitely an excuse to get everyone back together and tease fans with some fan porn.
How involved in the writing are you?
Zero. I leave that all to Rob Thomas and Bob Dearden. They came up with this. They’re the writing geniuses behind this weird little Dick story.
When you phrase it that way, it reminds me of how many times in the first episode that you guys use the name to make dick jokes.
That’s the best part! And that’s why being on CW Seed is so fitting. [Pauses.] You know … seed. [Laughs.]
Do you have a favorite Dick joke from Veronica Mars, your spinoff, or the movie?
Like about my name, or a joke that Dick says?
Well, for me, the actual joke Dick says in the first season [when] one of the teachers says, “Veronica, what’s your position on this?” and Dick says, “All fours” — that’s one of my favorites. Actual dick jokes? I don’t know. All of them? I don’t know. Pass.
Wasn’t the “all fours” joke your second line on the show?
Yeah. That’s why I like it so much. They were like, “Oh, he can deliver a funny line” and they gave me another shot. “How about another funny line, dick boy?”
The story about how Rob Thomas cast you because of your looks, specifically your hair, always reminds me of the scene in Party Down where Martin Starr says, “You’re a haircut,” and nothing more.
I know! It hits a little close to home because I really just am a haircut. [Laughs.] At least on Veronica Mars I was, for sure.
Offscreen, how often do you guys get together and hang out?
As far as everyone getting back together, that’s few and far between because everyone’s got their own thing going, but a lot of us hook up individually. Jason and I will hang with our families every once in a while. KB is obviously in our lives a lot. That’s what was so special about the Veronica Mars movie and doing press for that. We were all back together and got to hang and reconnect that way. It’s good.
Out of the cast, who would you say is most like their character? I assume you’re not like Dick at all.
I really am not like Dick but, gosh, I just love being Dick. It’s just such a nice excuse on set — “Oh, I’m in character.” I don’t think anyone’s really like their character. Jason, obviously, is a heartthrob in real life and he does a lot of smoldering when he doesn’t even know it, but he’s obviously not like Logan Echolls.
What do you love about playing Dick?
He’s just this rich, entitled d-bag who gets away with a lot of stuff by using a little bit of charm. He’s a moron. I love that. He’s unapologetic. He says what he thinks, whatever comes to his mind.
Right. There was one scene in the original show where Jason says, “You’re not very complicated, are you, Dick?”
Exactly. He’s not very complicated. And I love that.
Veronica Mars fans were called Marshmallows, and now you’ve named your fans the Dickheads?
Yeah! Someone on Twitter came up with that and Rob was like, “Yes, we should be called Dickheads.” Once Rob gave the okay, I’m like, “Yep. Dickheads. Love it.” It’s awesome. It’s really fun that people are going with it and letting the world of Veronica Mars expand into this little weird comedy. That’s so badass, because it’s definitely not Veronica Mars. It’s so cool of the fans to let that happen.
And you get to make fun of the old show and its fans while you do it, like in the pitch meeting where you say Private Dick is a show that’s “not afraid of sex” and “not for nerds.”
Yeah. A whole new fan base of non-nerds. That’s so good. When you see each character from Veronica Mars, it’s really what my perspective of what these characters would be. It’s just ridiculous. Everyone’s way over-the-top and not really their Veronica Mars character. We make fun of each other. Everyone had a blast.