Canadian actor Tom Stevens began his career by performing in high school plays. He attended the Theatre program at Douglas College in 2007 and graduated in 2009. After appearing on countless TV series, he landed the role of Jason Higgins on the popular FOX show Wayward Pines. Stevens sat down with TNWU to discuss the season finale of Wayward Pines and his love for acting. Read our interview below.
Before we get to your amazing performance as Jason on Wayward Pines, how did you get into acting, to begin with?
I was in high school and I wasn’t much of an outgoing kid. I really pushed myself to break out of that mold and decided to audition for a play. I ended up getting a supporting part in the play and it ended up being one of those experiences that was a lot of fun. I was in that play for a couple of weeks.
Afterwards, I went to my counselor to discuss what I wanted to do with my career and she looked at me and said, ‘are you Tom Stevens?’ I went to a school where both my parents worked so I thought she was going to say are you the Stevens kid? Instead, she recognized me from the play and said I was really good. It was the first time I was recognized as my own original person.
She asked me what I was interested in and on the fly, I said acting. She asked what school I wanted to get in and it was the first time acting became a possibility… I was finally challenged by life to do more. When I looked inside myself it was clear that acting was something I wanted to do.
I know you have done a ton of acting work, but do you remember your first ever audition?
Yeah, (laughs) oh man, you are talking about the audition? Or acting role? Those are completely different things! I think my first audition was in a pop-up office. I remember going into the studio… I walked into this room and it was this hot box of nine people sitting and I had no idea what I was doing. I was so nervous. I went into the room and lost it.
They gave me a “good job” to make sure I left, I think. (laughs). I was terrified. Auditioning is a completely terrifying beast. It’s not your work that matters, it’s if you can sell yourself in that room. It’s a weird process but it’s the only one we have.
Jon Hamm has a great quote about how an audition room can be completely welcoming or hostile and you have no way of knowing which it’ll be until you walk into the room. You just go in and try to do the best audition that you possibly can.
You’ve appeared on shows like Supernatural, Motive, and Fringe. What is like stepping into an already established show and only acting in one episode?
(laughs) Have you ever gone on a date with someone to a family event for the first time? It’s like that. The work is the work. Once the cameras are rolling you know what you are doing. It’s like being in a play. You know you character, you know what you are saying, etc. The job is the job.
The thing that actors do is enter different worlds constantly. You are walking into a family. They know who you are, they are prepared for you and know what you are going to be doing but you need to walk in and deliver on that plan. That is what it’s like.
Jason’s relationship with Kerry Campbell is an interesting one. It’s something that makes Jason a little more human and relatable in the series. There is so much riding on his shoulders and so many people are looking up to him to help them survive.
Kerry is the person he loves and he wants to be loved by. He knows if he gets explosive and violent and allows for these rash things to happen, he will lose her love. It’s only in the last few episodes that we really see him losing control.
Jason lets Ben die, which I don’t think Kerry would approve of. So why make that decision and risk her reaction?
(laughs) You don’t watch television shows to see people having an easy day. You watch to see them make some of the hardest decisions they have to make. It’s enjoyable to see them dealing with those important parts of their lives. That’s what we do. We make people feel more cathartic about things going on in their real lives and relationships. You can then relate to these characters. In the context of the story it shows Jason testing his own values because he didn’t want to lose control, but then he puts the doctor out there and Kerry gets injured and that reminds him just how high the stakes are in this world. With this harsh reminder right away and seeing how important that person is to him he listens to her a lot more.
What do you like about Jason?
I love the way the writers made him speak. He speaks kind of Shakespearean. It’s one image said with three lines. He just wants to be loved and wants it so badly. I loved the episode when they brought Melissa Leo back and all he wanted was her approval and love. He is just looking for love while trying to maintain this chaotic world and remaining in charge. I really got into playing Jason once I had the outfit on, the signature ring he wears, and once I got used to how he speaks. There is something just great and flawed about him that I think make people fear him but also like him.
What can you tell us about what is to come?
Last week’s episode is probably my biggest episode. It explains so much more about Jason that you didn’t know. I think it was a great episode. But the finale, man there is so much more to happen I can’t wait to see what fans have to say.
What else do you have planned project-wise?
I am auditioning right now. But I have some completed projects that are coming up. I have The Game of Love which is available now on iTunes. It stars Heather Locklear, Warren Abbott, and Garry Chalk. I am also working on a short film that is currently raising money on Kickstarter called Mommy May. It’s in post-production right now. We are trying to raise money so we can make sure people get to see it. I produced it and acted in it. It’s the story of my buddy Liam (Montgomery) and how he lost his mother to cancer. It’s a touching short and has a really great message. It’s all about becoming the caregiver and I am sure a lot of people can relate. If people are interested they can head over to the website to find out more: http://kck.st/29wI91G. People can also follow me on Twitter @_TomStevens and on Instagram as TomStevensActor.
Wayward Pines airs on Wednesday’s at 9pm on FOX.