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Exclusive Q&A: Ryan 'Jason Stackhouse' Kwanten

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The things we knew about Ryan Kwanten last week: he's gorgeous, he plays the irrepressibly charming southerner Jason Stackhouse on "True Blood," and he's starring in indie outlaw-thriller "Red Hill," opening November 5.

The things we didn't know about Ryan Kwanten: he's no stranger to the big screen, he's as down-to-Earth as they come...  and he's very, very Australian.

Kwanten tells NextMovie, "The very first job I got out here in the States, I got as an American.  The day I was doing my first scene, I thought it was safe to use my natural voice when I wasn't shooting, but I was really scared they would hear my Australian accent and you know... 'you're fired.'"

Read on for more of Kwanten's false-voiced conflicts, news of his upcoming Charles Manson role --  and his (disappointing) views on shedding his clothes for photo shoots.

Despite taking place in a small Australian town, with a completely Australian cast, "Red Hill" was undoubtedly a good old-fashioned Western. Really black and white versions of good and evil, guns aplenty. Are you a Western fan yourself?
Huge Western fan, and that's the movie, in a lot of ways you just touched on. Good versus evil  is, first and foremost, the biggest theme in any Western. You've obviously got the theme of revenge too.

I wanted a chance to play the hero of a Western that wasn't the iconic, typical hero, the Clint Eastwood or John Wayne, where you feel like no matter what size posse is put up against them, they'll be ok. They'll be able to draw their guns faster, they'll defeat impenetrable odds.

Your character was the antithesis of a gunslinger.
Oh, absolutely. There was a scene in which he had actually forgotten his gun. This is not the typical Western hero, and that was the most appealing quality. I love playing characters with these tortured back stories and tortured souls. It is  far more intriguing to me if they keep standing up after they have been knocked down.

You've been most visible on TV - specifically "True Blood." Where do you see your film career going?
I'm moving into making choices that challenge me. Nothing can be more uninspiring than choosing films that are very similar to "True Blood" or characters exactly like Jason. I’m trying to do films that are a total departure.

I’m Charles Manson in a film next year, producing that too, with the same guy who wrote "The Machinist" writing and directing it. I’m producing another film as well.

Is there any appeal for you in a huge franchise? There was an audience pulling for you to get a part in "Breaking Dawn," for instance.
Not really.  I see why people love it and I see why it has a huge audience. I just don’t like that material, it's just not my cup of tea.

Is it because there are no panthers? My current theory is that you'll only do projects involving panthers.
Very good, very good.

I think you got the "Red Hill" script and thought, "This is beautiful, but it's missing something." Can you negotiate a panther in a movie deal?
We shot this before there was a panther in "True Blood," though, and I hadn't read that far. I think it inhibits the way I play Jason if I know too much. I like to know as much as him. If I forecast the future too much, it hinders my performance.

Coincidental panthers, then.
If there is a filmmaker out there that wants to put a panther in their film, they obviously have to come to me. I’m the go-to guy for panthers.

Is it easier for you to immerse yourself in roles when you're not using your natural accent?
100%... I already spent eight years of my career back in Australia doing Australian characters, and nothing could be more uninspiring than playing more Australian characters. I take great pride in immersing myself in whatever accent I was doing out here. I've done everything from Boston accents, to Mississippi, to Louisiana to West Texas, all sorts.

When you're adopting an accent for a part and you break, do you immediately go back to your natural accent?
I always go back to my voice between takes. I think [in the "True Blood" cast] Anna probably stays in it the most. But yeah, I know I do.

It would be strange and inorganic to talk to people using the wrong voice.
That’s why, it's part of my genetic makeup as an Australian. It is the inorganic quality, it is just not part of my DNA. I couldn’t talk to you in an American accent and take myself seriously, so I wouldn’t want you to take me seriously.

One final question: some of your co-stars posed nude on the cover of Rolling Stone. Is that something you'd ever do?
Ah no, there's no reason to. I do it somewhat willingly for "True Blood" -- it always comes from a story point that is never truly arbitrary. I can’t for the life of me see why I would [pose nude], unless it was an unbelievable pitch.

I don't see why there would be a need for me to be nude on the cover of a magazine.

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