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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – Ryan Kwanten interview

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Interview by Rob Carnevale

RYAN Kwanten talks about lending his voice to the role of bad owl Kludd in Zack Snyder’s Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and why the darker themes in the movie appealed to him.

He also talks about his role in True Blood and being asked to do such outrageous things as Jason Stackhouse.

Q. What was the appeal of playing Kludd in Legend of the Guardians? He’s a bad boy…
Ryan Kwanten: Yeah, that was really the appeal, the fact that this was a so called ‘children’s animated film’ that was willing to take a character from the good side of the tracks to the not so good. I thought that was a really fascinating way to do it. You never see those. Usually, in children’s animated films they sugar coat it and sort of paint such a rosy picture of life. But here’s something that was much more real and was giving children the credit for being smart people, rather than talking down to them.

Q. Well, children actually quite like to be scared a bit; it’s more their parents who don’t like them to be…
Ryan Kwanten: Absolutely, absolutely, which is why I think this has a little bit of something for everyone.

Q. I gather you’ve also had a lifetime’s worth of elderly brother syndrome to draw on?
Ryan Kwanten: I did [smiles], yeah… a whole lifetime! The tortured soul that I am!

Q. But surely you must be the coolest older brother now? How is the brotherly dynamic between you and your two siblings?
Ryan Kwanten: We’re all so different that thank God the sibling rivalry never went as far as the Kludd-Soren thing [in the film]. But there were definitely moments, as I’m sure you experienced if you have siblings that you can’t help but feel jealous or envious. I think you naturally go through times when you feel that one of your brothers is flavour of the month and then that will all change.

Q. What was it like working with a visual stylist like Zack Snyder?
Ryan Kwanten: Quite extraordinary! He’s a nice director to have on your resume, that’s for sure.

Q. So, how much do you learn from working with someone like him? And how much of a challenge is it when he’s not always in the room?
Ryan Kwanten: That’s a really good point, but when he’s not there it really feels like he is. His notes are so… it’s funny, they’re specific but they also give you an enormous amount of freedom at the same time, which sounds like a bizarre juxtaposition, but it works. He’s great as well because even though I’m playing an owl, which seems ridiculous on the surface, that I’m leaving myself in his capable hands and he was showing me various sort of animation prints along the way to help me and guide me along that path.

Q. Does being attached to a programme as popular as True Blood mean that you have to choose your extra-curricular projects with a lot more care because of the time that you have to do them in?
Ryan Kwanten: Very much so, yeah, and I do take time to pick each project.

Ryan Kwanten

Q. Have you ever been asked to do anything in True Blood that you thought was perhaps too risque or pushing the boundary a little too far?
Ryan Kwanten: There’s pretty much not an episode that goes by that I think to myself: “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this before on television!” Or: “How am I going to do this?” And true enough I get on set on the day and something overtakes me and there it is out there forever and ever.

Q. Do you ever watch some of those moments back and think, ‘oh my God’?!
Ryan Kwanten: Absolutely, but that’s the nature of being an actor, I guess… it’s a bizarre way to make a living, but I like it [laughs].

Q. So, what do you love about playing Jason Stackhouse?
Ryan Kwanten: The fact that I get to switch off a part of me that wants to think too much… that gets far too analytical about life and just be totally spontaneous and have no sort of will power I guess. Jason’s not exactly a cerebral genius, so it’s nice to just be liberated.

Q. Are you surprised by just how popular it’s become? Or did you always have a pretty good feeling about it because of the talent involved?
Ryan Kwanten: You know I always go in with no expectations for projects even though this had so many things to it, like Alan Ball and Anna Paquin. But the level of success it’s attained has certainly surprised even an optimist like me.

Q. How are you handling the sex symbol status and the flocks of adoring women?
Ryan Kwanten: [Smiles] Oh, I think I’m handling it well. You’d have to ask my mum about that…

Q. What does she think of True Blood?
Ryan Kwanten: We tend to not talk about that! But she’ll be the first person to knock me down to size, as would my friends.

Read our review of the film