Austin Basis was born and raised in Brooklyn. His first acting role was in a kindergarten school play and since then he’s appeared in a variety of film and television projects. Some of his notable works include Dorian Blues, Hazard, Dead Tone, American Zombie, Boxboarders!, The Other End of the Line, My Sassy Girl, The Things We Carry, Re-Cut, Supernatural, Ghostfacers, Life Unexpected, Necessary Roughness, J. Edgar, and Grey’s Anatomy. He’s currently portraying J.T. Forbes on The CW’s Beauty and the Beast. As the series wraps up (it’s on its 4th and final season), we got to talk to Austin Basis about what’s to come for our beloved characters.
J.T. has always been my favorite character on Beauty and the Beast. I relate so much to the sarcastic voice of reason.
“Yes, thank you. Me too! (laughs).”
What’s your favorite part about J.T.?
“I’ve said loyalty before, but the more I think about it, and since I’ve had some distance from him, you don’t always get to play a 3-dimensional character like J.T. Someone who not only has the ability to make a joke, which I enjoy doing, but also has that sincerity and vulnerability that I think everyone has. It’s nice to play a character that can make jokes, but isn’t solely there to be the jokester.”
Can we look forward to more Tess and J.T. in Season 4?
“We find J.T. trying to find his place now that his role as confidant, supporter, and wing man to Vincent is done. And we see Tess try to be patient with J.T. while he’s learning this new role.”
Was it fun for you to play J.T. with some beast powers?
“I see it more as enhanced DNA, as opposed to beast powers. At first for J.T., it was more fear. Fear that having this enhancement would bring bad things to follow. I had conversations with the writers early on to have them include some good into the experience for J.T. He was scared, yes, but this guy who’s grown up on video games and comic books was also curious and a bit excited. I believe J.T. would have thought about how he could be the Robin to Vincent’s Batman.”
Did you have any interest in science and DNA before playing J.T.?
“Opposite from most actors, my best subjects in school were the maths and sciences. (laughs). Since I have Type I diabetes, I was already familiar with all the general health stuff like drawing blood and checking heart rates. Some things that came up in the script I would have to look up and research so I kind of knew what I was talking about.”
Was it hard to memorize some of that medical jargon?
“A lot of times lose longer lines were kind of explaining to the other characters what was going on either medically or with the computer hacking bits. The thing is you can’t spend too much time with those lines or else you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. And if you talk too slow it sounds a little boring. There were a couple of times that we would get last-minute scripts and I would have like three scenes with monologs. That was tough. The computer hacking stuff was a lot harder for me. All of that stuff I would have to look up because I don’t know how to do any of it. (laughs).”
If it were up to you, how would you have J.T.’s story end?
“I would have J.T. marry Tess, and have their own little beauty and the beast moment. There was a story line at some point where Tess became the police chief for all of NYC and she had J.T. as like an undercover hacking specialist and they were this husband and wife crime fighting duo. I like that ending.”
On another note, could you talk a bit about being a celebrity ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation?
“Growing up there weren’t a lot of role models I could relate to who had type 1 diabetes like me. Once I became more successful and was in the public eye, I wanted to use that to reach out to the JDRF to connect with kids. I wanted to provide them with a success story. To let them know that they can do whatever they dream of doing as long as their responsible with their health.”
If there was one message about diabetes that you would want everyone to know, what would that be?
“There are things in life that people just seem to not talk about. But once people start opening up about it, you start to realize almost everyone has a connection to it in some way. Part of the conversation I would like to have is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is not diagnosed because we don’t take care of ourselves, it’s something that is genetically predisposed and there is no cure for it. No matter how healthy or athletic we are, there is no cure for it. Type 2 is controllable and can be reversed.
The message I would like to spread is that type 1 diabetes is incurable and that is why we’re fighting so hard to raise money and develop technology to help deal with it. Also when people talk about diabetes, they don’t talk about the constant worry it causes. Every aspect of life is affected when you have diabetes. And it affects everyone around you.”
Catch the last few episodes of Beauty and the Beast Thursdays at 9/8 CT.