He built up a huge fan base as J.T. Forbes on TV drama Beauty and the Beast.
And now Austin Basis is making audiences laugh as Ethan on the third season of Hulu's hit show Casual.
LAGoss.com chatted to the talented actor about his latest role, adjusting to life after Beauty and the Beast and the inspiration behind his hilarious new web series.
We've just been introduced to Austin's character on Casual, but he promises there's a lot more to come from Ethan, who is set to have a pivotal role in upcoming episodes.
"First meetings aren’t always the start of friendships, relationships, and partnerships, and so with regards to Ethan, I think he’ll be a confidante," he told us. "I always play that kind of character -advice givers, voice of reason, and drinking buddies!
"So he’s all that combined and provides those conversations and those services for Val [Michaela Watkins] at certain points where she’s a little confused with what she wants to do in life and relationships. And so Ethan definitely has a surprisingly influential affect on her decisions."
Talented: Beauty and the Beast star Austin Basis chatted to LAGoss.com | Bobby Quillard
Austin and his wife have been "huge fans" of Casual since it began, and he loves that "it’s the type of show that skirts that line between comedy and drama and back and forth really well because of the talented cast, writers and producers".
But that meant the pressure was on when the actor came to be a part of the series - particularly as he was entering the season a few episodes in.
"There’s obviously an intimidation factor, because as an audience member you’re watching the characters and you’re watching the story, so you know everything in relation to that," he said. "And watching the show as an actor you’re able to appreciate not only the actual story and the characters and the production quality, you’re also able to appreciate that level of acting.
"I really primarily work with Michaela and so that was definitely intimidating with her comedic background. And I think the biggest shift was the fact I had done mainly network TV for the best part of six or seven years, whether as series regulars or guest stars on shows. It was a different environment production wise, the way they shot it, the pace and the ease."
He added: "The fact that creator Zander Lehmann and executive producer Helen Estabrook were on set at all times was definitely a new thing to me, because I had never seen that before, and that’s a testament to the clarity of the story they’re telling. It was fun, even though I’m just a recurring character, that I felt a sense of collaboration because I was privy to that process."
While Austin is enjoying the new experiences that have come following the end of Beauty and the Beast - including finally being able to move into his apartment! - he admits that "it's always an adjustment" after working on a show like that.
#LastDaySelfie with the beautiful, talented, smart & #laughoutloud funny @michaelawat, as I finished working on #CASUAL today- a show my wife & I are HUGE fans of! What a pleasure to play in a world where comedy, drama & awkward realism find such a perfect balance. @tommydeweysays #NyashaHatendi #TaraLynneBarr @itsjulieberman @kylebornheimer2075 @kerrikenney @chacecrawford & the rest of the cast are all great in it! You really should give this show a try! THANK YOU once again to #ZanderLehmann, @helencve, and especially @liztigelaar for this amazing opportunity! Can't wait to watch the Season 3 premiere May 23rd on @hulu ...and see if my head looks THIS big on a streaming service!!! #Casual #Hulu #comedy #drama #dramedy #comedrama #selfie
"It always seems like it's back to the drawing board but there’s so many things over the years in Toronto and then in Vancouver before for Life Unexpected, that have built up, that you accumulate over time," he told us.
"It doesn’t seem like you’re ever going to go back to square one but it just feels that way because it’s such a drop-off of every day working on set, looking at new scripts and memorising the old ones - that machine of how a TV show works - and you get in such a rhythm and then that rhythm stops and then you’re like, ‘OK, so now I have to learn how to do an audition or work on a single episode of a show.’"
Austin is keen to ensure he is doing something different after Beauty and the Beast to avoid being typecast, and joked, "I don’t accept any other roles that are named JT!"
"As an actor, only what I audition for am I going to be considered for," he added. "But it’s a process with me my manager and my agents to really make clear directionally where I want to be next and what I want to do next.
"One of the things was to try to avoid doing any type of tech scientist geek on a procedural network show, while I have the financial freedom to do that, which is not forever. I can make some career choices that allow me to do some streaming shows, audition for some grittier stuff on the dramatic side, and then on the comedic side some stuff that’s more specifically comedy than Beauty and the Beast."
Part of that has been developing his new web series Not Your Buddy, which he has been working on with friends he has known for years after meeting as part of an improv group following his graduation from The Actors Studio Drama School.
Fan favourite: The actor shot to fame as J.T. Forbes on the hit show Beauty and the Beast | The CW
"I graduated in May 2001 and 9/11 was that September, and there was a sense that the industry shut down and just had a little shockwave of, 'Now where do we go? Is what we do as important as people saving lives?'" he recalled.
"It was like this really weird existential thing, like this Waiting for Godot moment just sitting here commenting on how good we pretend. And I sought outlets creatively that would get all that creative angst and artistic angst out and that was through improv."
Austin started doing sketches as part of his comedy troupe, and recently turned some of those ideas into pitches for shows, while debuting his hilarious web series Not Your Buddy online last month.
"It was before YouTube when we were doing this stuff, so we never thought to put it online because that didn’t exist. So we developed a couple of show ideas," he explained. "It’s really all of us feeling around for the first time and creating this story about me living with a cartoon roommate, both trying to make it as actors in Hollywood. I also wanted be as raunchy as possible because I had done so much PG work in the past several years. I don’t think I’ve cursed on a show ever until Casual!"
Fortunately, Austin knows that no matter what he is doing, he will have the support of his fans - particularly the loyal Beauty and the Beast followers who are affectionately known as Beasties.
"They were such a big, concentrated, energetic and enthusiastic group of fans that really supported the show. They raised money for my charity, they came together," he said. "And I always thought that the impressive part about them other than their passion for the show was their initiation of contact of other Beasties from around the world.
Star on the rise: Austin is now starring on the third season of Casual and just launched a new web series | Bobby Quillard
"To really reach out and say, ‘Let’s not just hide behind our Twitter avatars that aren’t even a picture of ourselves. Let’s not be anonymous.’ I can see a lot of those people being lifelong friends and continuing to meet up throughout the rest of their lives without the show as a reason. And they’re still fans of me. That support doesn’t diminish because Beauty and the Beast only exists in history and DVD format. It provided the beginning to their support of me and I’m obviously always appreciative of that."
When he's not in front of the camera or developing a new story, Austin focuses on his charity work as a celebrity ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, joking, "I use the term celebrity loosely!"
The star will be taking part in the JDRF Children's Congress next month as part of a panel of several prominent diabetics who are showing kids that diabetes won't stop them from being whatever they want to be when they grow up.
"I have Type 1 diabetes, and I was diagnosed right before my ninth birthday so I’ve had it for going on 32 years this year," Austin told us. "When I was a kid the only person I knew that was in the public eye, whether an actor or an athlete, was Mary Tyler Moore and she was much older.
"All the health risks are diminished as long as you take care of yourself, stay active, eat right, test your blood sugar and take your insulin. I wanted to get involved. Being in the public eye and being on a show, I wanted to provide that person or that role model that kids can look up to and know that having diabetes and dealing with it is not going to prevent you from doing anything you want to do."
Not Your Buddy can be found on YouTube, and the third season of Casual is currently streaming on Hulu with new episodes available on Tuesdays.
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