Exclusive Interview with Veronica Mars’ Jason Dohring and Percy Daggs III at ATX TV Festival

When the new episodes of Veronica Mars drop on Hulu on July 26th, Marshmallows will see many familiar faces. Jason Dohring will be reprising his role as Logan Echols, the bad boy 09er turned military man and Veronica’s love interest. Percy Daggs III will also be returning as Wallace Fennel, Veronica’s best friend since their Neptune High days.

I got the chance to sit down with Jason and Percy this past weekend at ATX TV Festival. We talked about what their reaction was when they were initially approached about the revival, if they thought Logan and Wallace would be where they are today, what they’re currently nerding out about and so much more! Keep on reading to see what they had to say!

So it’s been five years since the movie came out. What was your initial reaction when Rob [Thomas, creator] approached you guys about doing the revival? 

Percy: It was kind of [this] unbelievable amazement, I guess I would say. And then hope, you know hope that it would happen again as far as another series if that was possible. I got the email and I tried to put it in the back of my mind because it was so much time in between the confirmation of it happening or not. I was just like, “Okay, if it does [happen], it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. That’s cool that they still have love for us.”

Jason: I mean Rob was always cool to keep us in the loop and sort of tell us what would be coming down. So you know even six months or a year before that, I think it was coming together and it kind of fell apart at one time but I think that there was always a push for it. Rob tells the story of sort of doing the numbers for the Kickstarter on the back of a napkin at a bar and I think that he had a good gauge of what the fan response would be. It was just so unique. I have two identical sets of twins in my family, twin brothers and twin sisters. It’s so weird but also it’s just normal for me, so I see this as such a strange unicorn sort of situation as far as special things that are not even real. So yeah, it’s wonderful. And I really think Rob’s able to keep the quality up and that’s cool. With a renewal, you’re hoping that it creates the same punch and interest for the audience and I think he’s been able to maintain that. 

Yeah. You were talking about the fact that it is such a unicorn show and that it is so special. What do you guys think it is about the show that keeps fans coming back and always asking for more? 

Jason: I think it’s funny. I think it’s truly funny, the witty banter back and forth and the characters and it’s own world. But I think [it’s also] really real. We were all just coming out of high school and we all lived two miles from each other near the studio; we were just trying to make the best show we could and we were all putting all of our effort in to making it good. I think Rob picked such a great cast; it was just awesome. We were just pushing it. Like when I was the antagonist, I was trying to be, “I’m better at putting you down than you’re putting me down.” I think that between me and Veronica when were not friends, a long time ago….. 

Percy: I think it’s relatable too. We took society’s temperature. It was really intelligently written and we talked about classism and things that mattered in the world that back then and now is [still] relevant and cultural. 

What does this show mean to you guys personally, because it’s been such a part of your lives for so long now?

Percy: If I never did it again, it would hold a special place. It was my first series regular [job]. The film was the first time the whole family, all 50/60 of us, could show up at a movie theater and see my work. And now as a father and a husband, I get to do it again. So it holds a special place in my heart. 

Jason: Yeah, I mean it’s so unique. And I think it meant a lot to so many people. People come up and say, “You know this got me through high school.” And I’m like, “What? For real?” And it’s cool because [Veronica is] an underdog, but not just the underdog who’s beaten down. She’s an underdog that fights for what’s truly right and I think that is something everybody can relate to. Despite all the trouble, she’s still perseveres and that’s awesome. She’s a fighter. 

Percy: As an actor, to piggy back off what he said, it’s the most fulfilling thing to have that, to not have somebody say, “Oh that’s a good show. That was entertaining. That was funny.” To say that it meant a lot to them, it’s a personal experience that holds true value. 

Photo By Dominick Dusseault

Was it easy for you guys to step back into these characters because you played them on and off for so many years now? Or was it something that took a little bit to figure out again?

Percy: I don’t know about JD because his character has experienced some positive changes and some different dynamics, but for me, it was easy because I watched and experienced this kid grow up. So once I knew what to expect on the page, it was a piece of cake. And now, he’s even more relatable than he was in high school because of the current state of his life as an adult. So it was easy.

Jason: Yeah. There was a moment when I understood Logan back like 15 years ago when I just got him and he clicked for me. And so just to go back into that, Philip Seymour Hoffman says, “When you take a character, the light behind your eyes changes and you can just click into that guy” and I think you just do that again and then you have to add whatever history came between the end of that show and wherever you are now. So [the] military, all that stuff is added plus more of a calmer relationship perhaps with Veronica than there has been. 

And you kind of alluded to it too, Percy, but how has your age and your own experience in real life impacted and informed how you approached these familiar roles?  

Percy: Sometimes I feel like Rob catches up with me about how things are going and then tries to write pieces of my life into the script. Cause yeah, being a father and being a husband are the most important things in my life and being able to play that with Wallace now, it’s my comfort zone; it’s what I know. So yeah, it’s a lot more relatable. I had a different high school experience than Wallace. So this experience that Wallace Fennel is having right now, I know it pretty well.

Jason: Well Logan’s getting old, I’m getting old so it really impacts me [laughs]. I have four children in my real life and being in the military, I was sort of imagining that he’s around other people that have families and stuff like that and is kind of maybe wondering, “Is this a step I would want or whatever” and would you not want somebody to grow up with a mother such as Veronica. You know what I mean? That would be so awesome and [with] all her great qualities. So just thinking about it personally and how that might translate. 

Is where we find your characters when this revival starts where you guys thought they would be? Or was did you imagine something different and [when you read the script, you were like], “Oh I wasn’t expecting Wallace to be here” or “Oh, I wasn’t expecting Logan to be here”?

Percy: Based on when the story took place in the first three seasons, I think I could have expected Wallace to be that. Him being a teacher at Neptune makes sense because Wallace put education before basketball a lot of times; it was his true passion. So that combined with the fact that Wallace is an optimist with a generous heart who wants to help people, him being a teacher made a lot of sense. It makes me smile to think that one by one Wallace is making a difference in the high school experience at Neptune. And then him being a family man, I mean it just seems like who he was. As Percy, there were times when I was like, “You know I love basketball too. I love education too.” But I wanted to just see him succeed. But to see him succeed in this way felt right.

Jason: Yeah, I’m kind of in the same place I was in the movie. I’m still in the service and I’ve been gone for a while, so it’s cool to come back because you know there’s like a little reunion that happens that is fun to play with Kristen [Bell, who plays Veronica]. I think there are other guys on the show, like Ryan Hansen[‘s character Dick Casablancas] is exactly where you think he would be. Have you seen it? 

No, but just the way Rob [Thomas] was describing it on the panel today, The King of Neptune’s Spring Break…

Jason: Oh yeah. I mean it’s perfect. You’re going to see stuff with his character that’s outrageous but yet completely acceptable. 

Percy: You know how they write in your yearbook never change? 

I feel like it’s gonna be one of those things where instead of writing in your yearbook, “have a great summer,” they would have written [in his], “Have a great spring break forever and ever…”

Percy: [laughs] That’s right.

For you, Jason, Rob wrote these books that kind of take place right after the movie and Logan’s military background is a big part of those books. Have you ever read them or has he informed you of what happened with Logan in those books? 

Jason: Yeah. I’m somewhat familiar with that story. I did a lot of research into the military myself as well with helicopter pilots at bases around Los Angeles. For the iZombie role, which I [later] found out was sort of a comedy show, I went to train with a sniper in Virginia for three days. He was one of the founders of Blackwater, which is a private military training company. So I went and did that and we’re shooting flamethrowers. Then I found out it was a comedy and I was like, “Well this is a little overkill.” [laughs]

How would you guys describe this new season in three words? 

Jason: Same. You know it’s the same as the old Veronica. Dark and unexpected. The subject content is dark and then there’s some awesome twists. Really, really good. 

Percy: Dope, fire, lit. [laughs]

Jason: I was going to say that.

We’re really going with this fire theme, guys. It’s really working. 

Percy: [laughs] Three words besides those… I don’t know. I think he nailed it. 

photo by Dominick Dusseault

So we’re here at ATX Television Festival, celebrating the world of television. What are some of your all time favorite television shows and what are you guys currently watching? 

Percy: I say this a lot but it’s just truth and facts. I don’t get a chance to watch a whole lot of TV because I homeschool. If I get a chance, I might watch a game show or two in the morning. Then, from there, if get [to watch] something in the afternoon, I might watch PTI or some sports-related show. Then at night, I’m watching American Ninja Warrior and World of Dance with the family and stuff like that. The shows that I’m interested in I don’t get to binge. I’m probably the worst TV watching actor in the world. Shows in the past… Martin and In Living Color are two of my favorite shows [when I was] coming up. I love comedy shows. I love to laugh. 

What about you, Jason?

Jason: In prep for this, Rob said that this show will kind of straddle between the first two seasons of Fargo and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I watched Fargo and I was like, “Damn, this is dark.” I watched those first two seasons and I thought it was fantastic. Great quality, fantastic story. And I think you’re gonna see a cool story in this [revival], too.

I just now thought of this but have you guys gone back and watch any old Veronica Mars episodes recently? 

Percy: I haven’t had a full on binge, but the fans have requested re-watches so I’ve re-watched episodes that they were interested in here and there. Sometimes we catch the movie and my son is like “Daddy” and so we may end up watching the movie. But as far as going through all the episodes, it’s been a little while. I think when we were getting ready to shoot, I did some re-watches, just to get in touch with my character and everyone again.

Jason: Yeah, I did that too. Like for the movie, I think I watched all 60 episodes again just to get an idea.

Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner-nerd. So what is something you guys are currently nerding out about? 

Jason: Apple trees. I’m a freakin’ gardener man, how nerdy does that get? 

Percy: He’s got a green thumb. [To Jason] I need to come up and get bags of good stuff. 

Jason: Dude, I’m the nerdiest guy around. Come see it. I’m like all about my soil. I’m like, “Wow, look at this” and I’m showing it to my son. I’m serious, man. It makes a huge difference.

Percy: It makes a huge difference.

Jason: Dude, it’s incredible. You’re going to try some of this, you’ll die. It’s great. 

Percy: Well, it tastes different. So I guess I’m nerding out about organic eating. That’s what I’m nerding out about right now.

Jason: Dude, I have five beehives. 

Percy: What? I’ve got to bring my son up because he’s super interested in that. 

Jason: I have five beehives. I did four bee rescues. I rescued a bee hive from Lea Thompson from Back to the Future

Percy: Are you serious? 

Jason: Yeah, they’re Back to the Future bees. How nerdy does that get? 

Percy: I can’t top that. 

8 new episodes of Veronica Mars drop July 26th. Make sure you follow Percy on Twitter & Instagram and Jason on Twitter & Instagram.

Featured Photo: Jack Plunkett

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity
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