HOLLYWOOD, Calif . — Austin Basis was born in Brooklyn, New York on Sept. 14, 1976. He graduated with a major in theatre at Binghamton University. Then, Basis joined the Actors Studio MFA program. Look for his character, J.T. Forbes, on the CW’s “Beauty & The Beast” Thursday nights at 9 p.m. PT/ET.
“Growing up, I felt comfortable entertaining people and making them laugh,” Basis said in an exclusive phone interview. “I would buy costumes all year long and collect them. When people would come over the house, I would wear a cape, whig or mask. It kind of started there and took off to plays and musicals. Luckily, I’ve had the privilege to get paid for what I love to do.”
Q: Please tell me more about your latest project, “Beauty & The Beast” on The CW.
A: “Beauty & The Beast” is in its fourth and final season. It’s sort of a spin on the “Beauty & The Beast” fairytale, but more closely associated with the 1980’s TV show. It’s kind of a modern day twist on that with elements of sci-fi, romance, action, very dramatic, but also comedic elements that my character J.T. Forbes provides. For the last four years, I’ve been lucky enough to get most of the punchlines. It’s exciting as we’re coming to a conclusion. The fans are looking forward to seeing how this season ends.
Q: I’d like to know more about the history of your character, J.T. Forbes.
A: J.T. Forbes is a former biochemistry professor/actor/genius/nerd. He is the best friend to our Beast, who is Vincent. For years, J.T. helped keep Vincent off the grid. He’s not afraid of rattling some cages and speaking some harsh truth. The only way his message is digested is when he adds some sarcasm to it. My character, J.T. over the course of the series has gone from a neurotic, introvert into opening himself up more. In this final season, he’s trying to figure out where he belongs in this world.
Q: How would you say this TV series is similar or different from your past works?
A: I would say that it’s similar because my previous show, “Life Unexpected,” had a very small, cult-like following. Although it was about family and love and people coming together to make up for wrongs of the past. I think “Beauty & The Beast” is the first show in a greater sense that I’ve constantly had to deal with mythological and sci-fi themes. As an actor, it’s a constant struggle or effort to create real life substitutions for what is at risk in each scene.
Q: Please tell me about your average work week. What days do you receive scripts and start filming?
A: In the first season, it was more like 14 or 15 hour workdays. A lot of the show takes place at night. By the time you get to Friday, you’re shooting until Saturday morning when the sun comes up light. If we finish one episode on a Wednesday, then you start the next episode on a Thursday. That’s kind of a difficult transition. When you happen to finish on a Friday, then it’s always nice because you have weekends to look at the script. A lot of times, you are finishing one episode and looking at the script for the next one. You’re almost looking at two episodes at once. Sometimes you’ll get a third episode that overlaps.
The most difficult thing about network TV is the drafts that come out. You get the first draft and then changes are made by the network. Based on what the production has, there’s another draft called the production draft. From there, there’s an order of colors that the draft comes out in. You just have to memorize it as it comes. Then, you have to memorize those changes. There’s always homework.
Working in Toronto on “Beauty & The Beast,” the first three seasons we worked mostly in winter. It was exceptionally cold. That polar vortex that hit the northeast was totally in Toronto at the time we shot the film. We weren’t outside everyday. The writers and producers and directors would sometimes make the choice to go indoors if it was too cold. There was one funeral that we were supposed to have outside at a graveyard. They switched it to inside because it was supposed to be 30 below or something. I did do scenes outside when the windshield factor was 30 or 40 below.
Look for Austin Basis’ character, J.T. Forbes, on the CW’s “Beauty & The Beast” airing Thursday nights at 9 p.m. PT/ET.