There is perhaps no greater best friend in the world that J.T. Forbes. (Austin Basis). He not only sheltered his best friend Vincent (Jay Ryan) for 10 years from a vicious black-ops organization, he also worked non-stop to find a cure so Vincent could one day live his life again as a normal man. But then it all came crashing down when Muirfield snatched Vincent away, leaving J.T. and Detective Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) at a loss on how to find their lost friend. In a recent press interview from the set, co-star Austin Basis gave the scoop on what is going on in J.T.’s world and whether there is hope on the horizon for finding Vincent.
Did the writers officially go with the name James Tiberius for J.T. or did they decide to go with something else?
AUSTIN: No, but I think it’s awesome ’cause he’s always at the con, especially in Season 2 now that Vincent’s been gone for three months. Their new home from last season at the Gentleman’s Club has been changed around to be a headquarters, like a techie lab/cyber headquarters. So he’s got computer screens, microscopes, everything all around and living in true geek-bachelor fashion.
Were you afraid they would kick you out of the Gentlemen’s Club and give J.T. a new home this season?
AUSTIN: (Laughs) They were thinking about it.
What is it like to film scenes with J.T. and Vincent now that Vincent doesn’t know who J.T. is?
AUSTIN: It’s awkward because with all of our scenes last year there was a shorthand. We didn’t need to say a lot to connect and communicate a lot. Whereas now, I feel everything J.T. says or try to communicate to him, I’m not sure Vincent’s going to get it. We’re starting the relationship over, but it’s like J.T.’s still trying to hold onto the past and trying to say, “This is what we were. We can get back there.”
How will J.T. and Catherine react when one of Vincent’s old military buddies shows up?
AUSTIN: I think when J.T. and Catherine see that Vincent is vulnerable, they step up — especially Catherine. J.T. has this instinct built up for 10 years and even longer, a lifetime of friendship, with Vincent that if there is any intrusion of anyone else, even if it’s an old friend, they are immediate instinct is to protect and to look out for Vincent’s better interests, even though he may or may not be able to do that himself. Then there’s the human element of jealousy, of like how Vincent and this other guy had this whole experience in war and that’s a whole different level of bonding and friendship and brotherhood. That also factors into that. So that’s going to raise J.T.’s protective instincts ’cause if he’s right and if this person is out for bad intentions, then J.T. is still Vincent’s best friend and will defend him.
How does the fact that Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is back effect the friendship and relationship between J.T. and Vincent?
AUSTIN: There’s a lot that Gabe needs to do to defend the fact that he was willing to kill J.T.’s best friend in order to save his own life. So no matter what Gabe does or what he says, they may work together, which they do (J.T., Gabe, Tess and Cat) all working together to help Vincent, no matter what Gabe does, J.T. will always remember what he did in trying to kill Vincent.
What about the Vincent and Catherine relationship? Is that over for now?
AUSTIN: It’s such a statement of their bond and their love that it can seep through, even with Vincent having no recollection. There’s a connection in the moment. He knows and can see that Catherine is telling the truth. He sees that love kind of piercing through and that’s what they hold onto and what is going to build.
Do you think there’s ever a chance for Tess (Nina Lisandrello) and J.T.?
AUSTIN: It’s funny ’cause they serve very similar purposes to each of the “beauty” and “the beast” in that they are their best friends. So I think that just by opposite polar spectrum they are kind of similar, but in the same room they are opposites. So that’s a fun thing for the writers to try to challenge and get towards. It’s only been five episodes so far in the season and you see that similar thing in episodes in Season 1, I called it a “wise-ass off.” It’s like who can top the other, and it’s all kind of with love but there’s an animosity between them that still remains, in the beginning. But then they are forced to work together a lot, and I think it’s in Episode 202 or 203 where there’s a really good scene between just the two of them that I feel is like the first possible thing where you can think, “Well, maybe these two could be together.” It’s hard to play that because an actor you don’t know how long it’s going to take to build the relationship, so you don’t want to be, “Oh my god, I love you!” That’s not in the dialogue and you don’t when they’d go on a date or kiss, so it’s a serial thing where you’re waiting in every episode for what the next step in that is. So you kind of have to play the reality of each of those beats and, obviously, with each new episode it may build on the last one. So it’s a really nice recognition of both of them saying, “Maybe if we take a step back and be a little objective, we could be on the same team.” And who knows what “team” means. We’re helping Vincent and Catherine together, so if we could sort of get out of each other’s way and stop bitching at each other, then maybe there’s more there.
Were you surprised when you started seeing the scenes between J.T. and Tess, the kind of crackling chemistry they have? It was like it just popped and took your attention to what they were doing.
AUSTIN: We did these behind-the-scenes videos last year and that was fun and the rapport between me and Nine is different than J.T. and Tess, and we have our normal New York attitude type of relationship underneath, even if it’s not in the dialogue. We get the comic one-liners and all that stuff. So when that bubbles to the surface or when that lays underneath, it’s like a pot waiting to boil. So who knows when it’s going to go. That’s all in the writing and we just fill out our ends of it. It becomes another thing. Two actors are filling out this writing. It’s synergistic.
We were just surprised. It was like, “Oh, these people are fascinating on screen together” and it was nothing we had seen coming on the show.
AUSTIN: I’ll condition this, but they are dealing with something that’s not between them. They are dealing with something else, and they just happen to do it together. So as people, it’s like a reality show and they are brought together, and then when everything is taken away and it’s just the relationship, how does that proceed and how does that work? As writers and actors, it’s kind of fun to think about or try to make it work when everything else is swept away. That’s why that one scene between J.T. and Tess, it starts out as a bitchfest, but then there’s a moment where it’s like, “Huh? We can make each other laugh — at each other’s expense.” So we can laugh together, type of thing. That should be fun to kind of see in a romantic light, if it comes to that.
Are you having fun with that a little bit?
AUSTIN: Totally! Like we know, and everyone else on set too, it’s always weird to be friends with somebody and then it’s “okay, in the next episode you’re going to be in bed together.” But that hasn’t happened. It’s just a weird thing of acting. I think everyone else is enjoying the fact that might happen — especially Kristin. (Laughs) It’s almost like when you start a relationship and that nervous tension of, “Okay, we’re getting a little bit more intimate and romantic.” It’s that awkward phase. It’s great ’cause how much more awkward can you get than J.T. and Tess? Ultimately I feel like in a grander sense, in the endgame they will fit like a glove. And that’s up to the writers — what gets approved and what doesn’t.
Since Gabe is cured, so to speak, does that mean that J.T. sticks him in a lab and turns Gabe into a lab-rat to figure out what was the interesting dynamic that changed for him? And if he hasn’t, why doesn’t he stick Gabe in a cage and figure it out?
AUSTIN: I think J.T. wants to deal with him as little as possible, because if you think about how Vincent was cured in the finale when he was taking the pills, J.T. figures it’s a similar process. So the fact that Gabe is cured is not blowing him away. Vincent was cured and J.T. saw it. He analyzed him and saw it as it happened and how it happened, biologically and chemically. So as little as J.T. could have to do with Gabe for now — ’cause the wound is still fresh and they have to work together. You’ll see, J.T. doesn’t pull any punches when he has to deal with Gabe. It’s actually funny. A lot of funny lines. (Laughs) I think part of J.T.’s dislike of Gabe is also a skepticism and a defense that he doesn’t trust Gabe. He still doesn’t trust him and he may never trust him. Like if you violate a relationship. J.T. is thinking, “We gave you his blood. We listened to your plea, and gave you Vincent’s blood against my caution. Then you violated that trust and tried to kill my friend.” He really has to dig himself out to prove himself and I still don’t know that J.T. would be totally trusting of him because Gabe was a beast at some point.
Does J.T. believe Gabe is cured, or does he just think it has gone dormant?
AUSTIN: Because he is a scientist, nothing is outside the realm of possibility. So everything is always possible. Just in what he has seen with Vincent, the mutations and this is a whole new thing. It’s like uncharted territory. Hence, early on, he’s trying to compile all this stuff into a book of the new frontier of genetics.
Is J.T. working towards his Pulitzer then?
AUSTIN: (Laughs) Yeah, maybe. It won’t be at Vincent’s expense though. The first priority is that Vincent’s safe and alive and out of harm’s way. He wouldn’t do anything to change that. So as long as that were secure, then maybe he would. But then who knows what that would bring to him with the threats from Muirfield and whoever else is pulling the strings out there. It’s risky.
What is going on with J.T. and Cat right now? Is J.T. more like a protective older brother and encouraging her to go looking for Vincent, or is he trying to tell her that it’s best that she moves on?
AUSTIN: It’s like being a sports fan and you watch your team and you love your team, and there’s no way you’re going to root for another team, but they break your heart every time because they fail. So J.T. feels that over the past three months that they have had all these failed attempts, and over the ten years there was was all the failed attempts to cure Vincent and once they did, he’s now back to being a beast. So it’s this whole frustration and helplessness of his failed attempts and Cat is bringing it in his face every time, and as they continue to search it’s like, “You failed. It’s your fault.” And there’s a huge guilt that has been with J.T. and his loyalty to Vincent forever. So J.T. is always trying to chase that down and the fact that Cat keeps throwing his failure in his face is hard for him. So it’s a denial thing where if Cat wasn’t there, he’d work himself out of that hole and try to move on. J.T.’s living an independent life for the first time in 10 years. He’s on his own. It’s a little lonely, but you start figuring out who you are. And that’s what the season is about: “Who am I?” That’s true for J.T. too. It’s about: Who am I, in the relationship between Vincent and Catherine? Who am I, in the relationship between J.T. and Vincent? And then who am I, on my own? Who am I, as an individual?
While J.T. and Cat may not have had their minds wiped like Vincent, clearly they too have to start figuring out what their futures hold and where they want their lives to go. Are they destined to be Vincent’s protectors even if he cannot remember them? To see what choices they make and how they will ultimately win over Vincent, be sure to tune in for the Season 2 premiere on Monday, October 7th at 9:00 p.m. on the CW. Some friendships endure the test of time and beyond.
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