Interview: JASON DOHRING from MOONLIGHT on CBS

MOONLIGHT - Jason Dohring as Josef Kostan

Last week, I got to take part in a conference call with JASON DOHRING who plays Josef Kostan on CBS’ MOONLIGHT. Jason Dohring talked about things from the future of his character on Moonlight to his approach to acting.
After listening to all the wonderful things he had to say, I can honestly say that Jason Dohring is very passionate about his acting, which makes it that much more fun to watch him act. It was such a pleasure to be able to hear his thoughts on acting and how he prepares for a role. So without further ado, here is the interview.
(Daemon’s TV questions are in blue)

Daemon’s TV: How is your experience on “Moonlight” different from your experience on “Veronica Mars”?
Jason Dohring: Yeah, there’s a couple things I guess. The characters are obviously a bit different. You know, I think, you have the beach kid or whatever, they both have really interesting stories. I think it’s funny that Josef was kind of the expansion of a character, not for Logan, but it’s like the 400 years aspect, as we’ll find more about as the story unfolds. There’s so much history. As an actor, each new script that comes out, you kind of add to that. You don’t know beforehand, when you first started, what your history is, but you sort of learn as you do it. You’re kind of picking that up and putting that into your character as the episodes come out. So I think it adds a little more to the storyline like that. And I think, just being on CBS is quite a bit different. There’s obviously a bigger cast. You’re at Warner Bros which is quite close to my house so I don’t have to trek down to San Diego, which is kind of nicer. And just those two aspects more than anything else.

Do you know if the show will be delving more into Josef’s past, more of his past loves, and how he managed to become so successful?
JD: Absolutely. I think the successful thing comes more in the first episode, with the hedge fund trader, and he owns real estate and stuff like that and he’s done well through that. In this episode [“Sleeping Beauty”] this Friday, you find out basically why he’s always concerned about Mick dating humans and being with humans, like what is that? There’s basically a personal reason that Josef’s gone through. I don’t know if it’s proper or whatever, but I always kind of take the idea that maybe Josef has gone through what Mick’s going through. Maybe one time he was a good person and that sort of thing, and I think you’ll sort of see glimpses of that, you know, with my former hairstyle, and my really nice suit in New York there’s stuff like that you’ll see in this week’s episode.

How do you prepare for a role like this, where you’re sort of eternally young and going through these things?
JD: I can’t quite help that, because I just am young, you know what I mean? As far as the role, it’s an ongoing thing. If you could study all the things on vampires, you’d be at it for longer than you can live in a life, because there’s so many books on that sort of thing. We kind of have our own code, and I’ve just kind of been picking up things. Before I even started I was reading some Ann Rice books, getting a feel of what vampires are like, why are they different from humans. I think there’s a lot to do with ESP. They can tell when other vampires are nearby, they can tell who’s human, they can perceive what’s really going on, and I think those are really cool character elements for an actor to be able to work on. I’m very happy to be able to have that opportunity. Every actor wants to play a vampire.

What about the character made him interesting to you? What are some of your favorite things about him?
JD: Yeah, actually it came to me as basically two pages was the audition scene. Originally it was an older guy and they hadn’t finished the script yet, so the two pages I got was essentially the first scene that was in the pilot episode, on the phone, and I’m sort of talking to Mick and he comes in. I was immediately fascinated with the character, because he’s very, very, very sharp, you know? I don’t know, very keen, has a very hard edge. And then, I guess as it sort of develops you got more, just like the writers do their thing, and then you see more backstory and kind of get familiar with the character and you see where he’s been, and kind of what the history was that led to him becoming who he is. It just gets more interesting over time, but it started out cool.

Josef is so paranoid about the humans finding out about the vampire community. But he’s got this massive staff at least some of whom aren’t vampires. Are we ever going to get into how he gets a hold of his staff, how he keeps control of them to keep that from getting out?
JD: Yeah, I think that it will probably come out at some point, if it gets too out of hand, people are just like “come on please” and it doesn’t become believable. I think he has a lot of poise. He’s able to keep his guys at bay. I don’t know to what degree he disposes of these guys or not. There was talk in the earlier episodes that he’s kind of this ruthless guy, then you kind of see that maybe there’s other things and he does have humanity. Yeah, I think it would be an interesting point. I think mostly he just bankrolls them. I don’t know I’ll just make it up – he wipes them out afterwards.

D: Is Josef going to get a love interest in the near future?
JD: That’s fantastic man. I hope it’s a woman. You actually find out that… you’ll see some really cool stuff in this next episode. I don’t know if that’s too much of a spoiler or that sort of thing, but you’ll definitely see some love interest and why there’s a… I don’t know you’ll see, I don’t know how to explain it or whatever. I think he would. Like Logan, he’s probably a tough guy to live with. There was an episode with Lola or whatever, he had some history there, kind of an on again off again thing. But I would really like to see somebody that could really match him, and that he fights with and they get back together. It would be quite a passionate relationship.

How many episodes are left with the strike, what are we going to see? Do you have any information on that?
JD: Les Moonves said some kind stuff about our show and The Big Bang Theory perhaps coming back for a second season. I can’t speak for the producers, but I think that was given in a press interview, which is obviously a good sign. There’s a lot of plus points. Our show is one of two shows that have been up-trending in viewership, so obviously that’s a good sign. We’re right around 8 million, which is pretty high. Having CBS as backup, promo-ing the show; while you’re sitting there watching golf and see a promo, that helps out a lot. We just finished (shooting) number 12 about 3 or 4 days ago. It was very good. It’s really cool, there’s a vampire that comes that makes me look like a popper, which is cool. It goes back in history and we have some great makeup and sets, and like this old world from a different time, feel to the show and the storyline comes out. I think it’ll be really cool to see how it all turns out because the sets were unbelievable, you know, makeup and George Washington hair and all that stuff.

Do you have the air date for that?
JD: I think it’s sometime in January. (Episodes) 11 and 12 are both gonna air in January.

Publicist: It’s gonna be January 4th and January 11th.

Going past episode 12, do you know anything about what your character is expected to see?
JD: It’s pretty much in the formulistic stages so far, with regard to that. Obviously, there’s no scripts written or we’d be trying to shoot them. But we have ideas of possible stuff and it’s pretty cool. The one thing I heard is basically a betrayal of Josef against Mick. Something he’s been telling him all along is not true, and it’s very important to Mick. So I think that’ll kind of lead to some really cool stuff. Yeah, there’s some great stuff coming up you guys, I’m so excited for you to see it. Particularly, in episode 11, I think you’re going to fall in love with Sophia (Myles) man, she’s just unreal this girl.

(Following on Josef betraying Mick.) Would you enjoy playing enemies with Mick for a while?
JD: Oh absolutely, I’m always kind of in favor of changing things around. You can always come back. But yeah I think that would be great. (Mick) can stand up to the best of them, so I’d love to see him tear me a new one.

A lot of the scenes that people have really responded to have been ones where there is real male camaraderie going on. Is there going to be more of that male bonding coming up? Or is that going to be fractured to the point that it won’t exist anymore?
JD: No, I hope it never gets to that, because that’s a big part of who these guys are. You know a big part of why I think Josef is in the storyline at all is because he’s somewhat of a mentor, a safe person that Mick can ask things about or get information or ask about certain experiences that he’s going through and how they relate to Josef’s knowledge and experience of the same situation maybe earlier. I hope not, because I love those scenes, I enjoy them the most too. A lot of that banter back and forth. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot more. I’m right with you on that one.

D: There’s a lot of action on “Moonlight” and I was wondering if Josef was going to get in on the action?
JD: Oh yeah, you know all they had was me slipping on the rooftop so far, which is the extent of my action, I don’t know if you saw that one, where I like jump up on the roof or whatever. Yeah there hasn’t been a lot, but I expect that there will be some more. I’d love to see him get in a fight. I’d be curious to see how they write it. I think perhaps, he f***ing, oops, sorry about that, just vamps out. He goes nuts or whatever, you know, he just totally loses his mind. I think that would be so cool you know.

The blood on this show, can you tell us what that actually is?
JD: Absolutely, there’s two generations of blood because we got love handles from the first one. It was pure sugar and you just wake up feeling horrible so we had to change it. The new generation is pomegranate juice and something else. It’s a concoction that the props guys make up. Yeah, it’s good. It’s quite sweet. It’s a little hard to keep a straight face when you’re taking it down, but that’s why they pay us the big bucks.

Obviously, vampires have been the big fear of many for years. What is your own personal biggest fear?
JD: Oh my God, great question! It’s funny. I think I would have to say looking around and seeing the way that the world is now as opposed to where it was 40-50 years ago, it’s pretty crazy. It’s funny for like a kid my age growing up, because it’s way different than my parents. They grew up with morals and manners and stuff like that and then I look around and I see some of my friends and I’m just like “damn, dude, where did that go?” and what happens when they have kids? You know what I mean? Really, I don’t think it’s a light matter. You look at hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years, it’s been that way, and in the last 40 or 50 years it’s gone down man so it’s like, damn you gotta pick it back up. That’s scary to me.

Who are some of your favorite actors/actresses, who would you love to work with?
JD: Dude, I always see movies and I’m like “oh I would add that to my list if somebody ever asked me” and then here I am I can’t think. Brando, Dean, and Clift. Those are all no longer here, but I think Kevin Kline would be awesome to work with. I’d love to work with Ryan Gosling, I think he’s awesome. I think Jeff Bridges is unbelievable. I think he’s very underrated. Alfred Molina I love. I think Meryl Streep is fantastic, I think she does amazing work. Jessica Lange is beautiful.

To go along with that question, if you could do anything in the world, any type of project, what would it be?
JD: Gosh, I would probably do Shakespeare with the above guys. It would just be so amazing. The concepts in that, I don’t know, just with my horrible answer to what are you scared of, they deal with concepts like that in Shakespeare, you know what I mean? He saw these things, you know, he saw that sort of stuff, so when you get actors that can play that sort of thing. Like I just watched, did you guys see “Love Actually”? So good. There’s a scene with Emma Thompson, dude it just breaks your heart, man. She’s just talking to her husband, talking basically about this girl that he might be in love with or whatever, and then she totally lets it go and goes on to the next thing and shuts it out of her life. You just go “oh my god,” it just breaks your heart. I love those moments in acting. That’s kind of what I try to find sometimes is, you see it through what that actually does and then take it on as a universal concept. Like when you see like this kid who gets hit by his dad or something like that, but if you really see that dude, and you see what that does to that kid throughout his life, then when you talk about it, it’s a little bit different, if you can actually see what that does, what the ramifications are. And I think that’s why these great actors are so good, because they make you feel it man, and they see it. And I think if you can see it, then you can put it in your acting.

D: Do you have any upcoming movie projects?
JD: I just messed around with some friends of mine. We did a little short that you’ll probably wind up seeing at some point. It’s only about 7 minutes long. I play a guy that’s not like any of these guys. It’s a really lovely story. I think you’ll see. I play like a really loose nice guy, and it’s a little bit cool for a change of pace. And then there are a couple movies I might be working on soon. It more or less depends on the strike though. I can’t be in the middle of a movie, and they call you back to work on this project and have to abandon the movie.

D: What’s the title of the short you mentioned?
JD: Yeah, it’s called “Struck.”

What are some shows that you watch on TV?
JD: Oh boy, I really enjoy Deadwood. I enjoy The Office, Family Guy. Let’s see what else, Moonlight, Veronica Mars, I don’t know, that’s about it (laughs).

D: How do you prepare emotionally for your parts? Do you have a technique, or do you use Method? What’s your approach?
JD: I suppose I just read it over and over and over and get my own idea of things I think. What I said earlier is kind of like more how I approach it. If you look at life, man if you can really see life, I think you can bring all that sort of knowledge to your acting. Gosh, it’s amazing man. I think the people that can’t, that don’t do that, don’t see that, are missing a lot that they could bring to their work. So I guess I just read something over and over and then kind of more, dramatize it I guess. You take a little line or a little piece of something and you look at it a bunch of different ways and see how it applies. You can add a story to it yourself if it’s not in the script and make it bigger for yourself. And then when you say it…you know what I mean? If you’re talking about, say your father, who is never mentioned before and that sort of thing, and it’s like, what that relationship was like, you know, so when you talk about it, you know. People feel that. When people are just talking to you in your everyday life and they’re talking to you about experiences that they’ve had, you get what they’re talking about, what they’re looking at when they’re talking to you, and I think if you create that as an actor you can create it however you want and I think that’s a really cool way to do it because it’s very creative, it doesn’t kind of lead you in the past, which I think Method is, I don’t know. It’s just the people I’ve seen do it… I don’t know, I don’t want to say anything I guess because there’s people that do it with great success, it’s just I think maybe there’s another way to do it where it’s not so hard on yourself, you know what I mean? Just with the creativity and present time, you can take it and make it whatever you want, based on your ideas of life, or your ideas about that certain situation. You can create it whatever way you want, based on the story, and how you want it to be looked at, what you want people to feel kind of from it. It’s beautiful actually.

D: You don’t take anything from your life, you’d rather imagine it?
JD: Yeah, totally, but not to the point where it’s like, oh I don’t know about that, when I do? It’s like if I’ve seen something in my life, I know what that’s like. I’m not going to not use my knowledge that I know of life, you know what I mean? I don’t consciously go back to that moment and feel that pain and pretend that that’s the first time, that sort of thing. It’s just like, yeah I know what that’s like to be broken up with, I know what that feels like, it’s like f***ing time just caves in on you, it’s f***ing unbelievable, it’s the worst feeling in the f***ing world, you know what I mean. Or when you break up with somebody else, you know, you see that all the time in drama and stuff like that, and if you really look at it, it’s probably one of the top five worst things that’s ever happened to you. And if you look at it like that, you really look at it, you come up with some really special stuff for those moments.

I read somewhere that you have two sets of identical twin siblings. Is that true?
JD: That’s right, yeah it’s absolutely true. They’re both identical, which doesn’t run in the family, like we don’t have twins anywhere in the family, because it’s not hereditary, but fraternal twins are. So it’s funny we don’t have twins anywhere in the family and then we had two sets so it’s like one in a million chance.

JD: Thank you guys so much, I really appreciate it, thanks for letting me talk about the acting for a little bit!