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Exclusive Interview with Teen Wolf’s Ryan Kelley

Photo credit: Greg Gorman
Photo credit: Greg Gorman

Ryan Kelley’s acting resume is quite impressive. Kelley is most known for his performance in Mean Creek, where he received an Independent Spirit Award, and Prayers for Bobby where he starred alongside Sigourney Weaver. Most recently fans can find Kelley as Jordan Parrish on MTV’s Teen Wolf.

Read our interview with Ryan below!

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When did you first find out that Parrish was going to be supernatural?

“I think, definitely season four and it was a couple of episodes into it. That was like the dead pool thing. It might have been at the beginning of season four. Pretty sure season four is when I first knew. The end of season three, I was told whispers that I might be a hunter, and then that changed come season four. Or it never changed and I was just told … someone gave me the wrong information. [Laughs]. Definitely beginning of season four is when I found out Parrish was really supernatural.”

Did you, in your mind, have an idea for what he could be?

“That’s the tricky thing with this character is, I haven’t been given all the information like you formally get on other projects. When you do a film or a different project, you’re typically given the beginning, the middle and the end of the story. Parrish was an evolving thing! I haven’t even been given my back story because they potentially might get into that later.

In terms of coming up with things, or thinking of things, I try not to. For example, I don’t want to think that Parrish is some supernatural, crazy monster, and then find out that he’s like a small little supernatural creature. It just wouldn’t make sense. If I take a wild guess at something and I’m completely wrong…it’s bad. I’ve kind of just let things happen as they go.

For the most part I’ve kind of gone along with the ride with the fans. There’s been times where I’ve known just as much as they have. It’s been interesting being able to banter back and forth to figure out ideas.  I enjoy bouncing things off with them! Right now, I currently know a bit more because we filmed the first ten episodes and only four or five have aired.

Due to the secretness that is Teen Wolf, is it harder getting into Parrish’s head versus other characters?

“Yeah. It’s completely different. Like I said, there’s no back story. For the most part, I just have to go with the flow, and piece things together. Say there’s a scene where I’m a little restless. If Parrish had a history of violence, or if he wasn’t violent at all, you would take that information and you would play that scene completely different.

I have to guess and make my own intuitions on things. Then there are definitely times where I do something and Jeff Davis will come to me and be like, “Hey. Play it more like this.” I take that and I’m like, “Oh. Okay.”

I’ll try to pick his brain for a bit. He’ll give me whatever information he wants to give me and not give me information he doesn’t want me to get. [Laughs].

It’s way more challenging than taking the story and having all that information, and then being able to piece by piece breakdown every scene. I have to go with just the little information that I’ve known. With season five coming, it’s been nice because a lot more is coming out. I’ve been able to piece together Parrish and make my own interpretation on what Parrish is. I definitely have way more information now.”

Do you get a script a week? How much in advance do you get to know where the storyline is going?

“It depends. Typically at the beginning of the season, we get a script or two in advance while we’re filming. As things get crazier, the writers are put under a lot of stress and then things start changing. Sometimes some crazy change has to happen, or some crazy thing comes up randomly. It puts the writers behind. As it starts coming toward the end of the season, you’re getting the script literally the day before you start filming it.

Then sometimes they keep the finale hush-hush. They’ll give us just the scenes that we’re filming for that day. We won’t even get a script. They don’t want anything at that moment leaked.”

There’s been many gory moments on Teen Wolf. In the script, has there ever been a moment where you read it and said, “Oh my God! This is really really gross!”, or “Oh my God! I can’t believe we’re doing this!”?

“Yes. There’s one coming up. I wish I could answer this question a couple of episodes from now! In a couple of episodes, there’s going to be a scene that involves me. I read it and was like, “No.” It was a lot of fun but also not a lot of fun to film and shoot it. As soon as you see the scene, you’ll be like, “Oh. Okay. I know what he’s talking about.”

In terms of other characters, there’s definitely been some gory things. The Dread Doctors. Those scenes where they’re sticking stuff into the peoples brain or the eyeball. That’s hard for me to watch just on the television, and I was there and I knew what was happening. [Laughs]. This season has definitely been a bit gorier. Which is cool because the audience is growing up and they’re maturing, and they can handle it.

It’s one of those things where I hate it but I love it at the same time. It’s like “OH”, you just cringe, but it’s just part of the excitement.

You can’t look away. It’s like a train wreck! 

“You’re like, “Ahh!”.”

How much time does it take to do Parrish’s supernatural make-up?

“In season four when they did that wrecking of the police station, that one took about two hours.When you see Parrish in burned clothing, and I’m all ashy. We paid more attention to detail and it was the first time.

Whereas, this season, it wasn’t as much stuff applied to me. It only took an hour. The tricky part is getting it off. [Laughs]

You spend all day in that. You’re in it for 10-12 hours or whatever, depending on how long you’re filming, and you just want to get done with your day. You’re tired. The sun’s coming up, and you’ve been sweating in this crazy makeup all day.

You feel like you’re going to break-out because you’re covered in crap. [Laughs]. Then you still have another hour and a half of taking the makeup off.”

This season, Parrish and Lydia have gotten closer. Are you team Lydia and Parrish?

“I’m team whatever Parrish is involved in. I just like Parrish being involved, and that’s what happened this season. In my personal opinion, I’m bias because I did like working with Holland. She’s super talented. She’s super cool. I actually worked with her before Teen Wolf.

One of my favorite scenes is the car scene. Where she’s holding my hand just because it’s an intimate scene. It’s one-on-one, and you don’t get a lot of those on Teen Wolf. It’s such an ensemble and there’s so much craziness and hectic things going on all the time. When you get those scenes that are one-on-one and they’re truly special.

Some of my favorite scenes on the show are between Tyler Posey and Melissa. Just because it shows endearing moments and it’s what builds character. Anytime you get to do that, especially on Teen Wolf, it’s super special.

I’m team Holland. I love getting to work with her. I like Lydia and Parrish, but if it just turns into a friendship, that’s awesome. It’s equally cool because that’s what it’s been up to this point. It seems like there is something special there.

Whether it’s a friendship or something more, I’m on board.”

Is Parrish going to get to go back on duty? Are we going to see him being a deputy again? Or is he going to stay desk-ridden?

“You’ll definitely see him back on duty. He becomes a deputy. It’s his job. The interesting thing with this season, is you get to see a bit of the turmoil with Stilinski in his own mind. He’s figuring out what to do with Parrish, because this whole supernatural world is new to him. It’s crazy and he’s a sheriff, and he has those morals of what’s right and wrong. There’s a line you don’t cross it.

You see these episodes where they are trying to hide bodies and he’s having his own inner turmoil of how he’s going to justify this. It’s the same thing with Parrish. Does he want to put Parrish out on the streets when he’s supernatural and can hurt people? You don’t know if he’s dangerous. You don’t know if he’s good.

Parrish doesn’t know. No one seems to know. It’s this inner turmoil of what to do with Parrish. I think it’s very cool. Towards the later of this season, that comes in to play a lot more.”

Have you had a favorite villain throughout the seasons?

“My favorite was Bad Stiles. I think a lot of people would say that just because Dylan O’Brien is fantastic. He’s an incredible actor. Every time I get the honors of doing a scene with him, I catch myself watching him at times being like, “Jesus. This kid is talented.”

He’s good at drama. He’s good at comedy. Whatever you throw at him, he handles it and crushes it.

He’s definitely my favorite villain because he was opposite of what his character is on the show. In the beginning, he was Stiles. He was this funny sidekick. He’s always a goofball, and this and that. All of a sudden he’s playing this diabolical, evil, twisted villain. He played it so well that it was special. That is my favorite villain so far.”

Is there somebody on the cast that you would like to have more scenes with that haven’t up until this point?

“Oh man. Every one of them. I love everyone. Shelly is hilarious. She’s so fun, I wish I had more scenes with her. Dylan and Posey, they just make you laugh the whole time. I get a lot of scenes with the sheriff but he’s my favorite just because he’s been with me since day one. J.R., I love his character. I’d love to do more with him.

I guess if I had to pick one it’d be, right now, Posey. It would be for selfish reasons. It’d mean I’m more involved and he’s the head of pack. [Laughs].”

Did you personally have to carry all the bodies to the nemeton? How did that work out?

“I’m so glad you asked that question. [Laughs]. I go to the gym. I work out, but I’m not massive by any means. They kept getting bodies. Some of the bodies I had to carry, that you’ll see coming up too, weigh more than me. Since I’m naked I had to try to hide my no-no areas. It was definitely a challenge. It was kind of a running joke of who is casting these people? Why can’t they hire light people? [Laughs]. We’re getting bodies that were just heavy. I was walking barefoot through the woods. It was not easy.”

Teen Wolf is a member of the MTV family, what show would you like Parrish to crossover onto?

“Right now the thing that would make most sense is Scream because Parrish is in law enforcement. Scream has tons of murders. I think Parrish could and hopefully would help that situation. He’d help it get under control. I’ve seen the first couple of episodes of Scream, and I think it’s fantastic. I think Parrish and Scream would be a good fit.”

Can you tell us a bit about Black Jaguar White Tiger?

“Oh, that’s my friend Carly’s organization that she’s heavily involved in. They help rescue animals all over the world. I did Prayers for Bobby with her. Wow, it’s crazy. I forget about that! I’ve known her so long. She’s super passionate about that project. She wanted me to come take a photo with her. Any time I can help out, with any sort of charity, I will. I’ve been getting involved with Alfalit right now. Which is helping kids learn to read and write all over the world, including the United States.

That’s sort of my pet project that I’m getting involved with more. I’ve got some exciting things coming up with that.

In terms of Carly’s animals, she’s huge into animals. I love animals too! When she asked me to that, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s a great cause.”

Besides charity work, what other projects are you currently working on?

“Right now I’m on my second part-time job which is called “Getting Back in Teen Wolf Shape” so I can start filming season five-B coming up in August. I’m just trying to get back in shape and put on some weight. Every time we go on hiatus, I start to lose some of my weight. I have to keep my muscle on for Teen Wolf.

When I have a break, I kind of pump the brakes a bit to give my body a break. Right now, I’m back full-on working in the gym, getting ready for season five-B. Our next hiatus should be a bit longer and hopefully I’ll have some films that I’m interested in doing. That’ll be in January-ish.

Then the next time we talk I’ll be able to discuss those, but right now they’re just in their early stages. My focus is on Teen Wolf right now.”

Do you enjoy the Teen Wolf filming schedule? Or do you wish they filmed the entire season at once?

“Teen Wolf is my first series. It’s the first time I’m a regular on a series, it sort of all new to me. Before, I used to do a lot of guest spots or TV films and independent films.

It seems to at times be awesome. We had a huge break in between season four and five. I wasn’t a big fan of that. I like to stay busy.

I get into trouble when I have too much free time. It’s a lot harder to stay in shape when you have so much time in between.

I guess I prefer it to be closer, but at the same time, this schedule allows you to do projects! During this past long hiatus, I was able to do a project called War Pigs that I wouldn’t have been able to on another series.

It has its pros and its cons. For the most part, they know what they are doing, and it seems to work out.”

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