He went from Home And Away regularly to the hot Hollywood merchandise.
Since moving to the United States 18 years ago, Ryan Kwanten has found global fame thanks to his seven years of success in the HBO vampire drama. True Blood – a series that surpassed The Sopranos as the network's most successful program and racked up several Emmy and Golden Globe awards in the process.
As comfortable on the big screen as on the small screen, he also landed a number of movie roles starring opposite actors such as Anthony Hopkins. However, despite all the industry awards, hyperbole and prestige, when I talk to the praised star, there is an outstanding image of him that still remains after my hours of research.
An image that simply refuses to come out of my mind: Kwanten in tight red speedos.
"Companion!" He laughs when I confess to him during our conversation.
Normally, I wouldn't be so familiar with a celebrity, but I've interviewed Kwanten several times over the past decade, and despite the fact that his star has risen more than he could ever imagine, he's still an idiot. Australian face of the earth.
While your True Blood the character Jason Stackhouse put him on the global stage, was like the speedo-dressed red lifeguard Vinnie Paterson in At home and away Kwanten proved fame for the first time.
Last year, the iconic soap celebrated its 30th birthday and – like any significant milestone – prompted the Australian media to take stock and revisit the cast over the decades.
And although he has left Summer Bay behind, Kwanten has no qualms about being recognized for the show that started his path to stardom.
"It's the show that started it all and the fans made it," he says. "I couldn't be more grateful for that, believe me."
So at 42, what does the actor think when he looks at the former wrinkle-free lifeguard?
"I'm not nostalgic, more reflective," he says.
"I don't really look at myself much in the mirror, but occasionally when I do, I'm like, hey, there's good gray hair going into my beard now.
“In a way, getting older made me more aware of my own mortality. I do not necessarily think about the past, but think more about the finite nature of our existence. The older you get, the more you lose people … it can shock a little life and if it doesn't, it should. This is that simple for me. "
It's a twist in our conversation, as the spotlight has returned to the series' past after the August death of former cast member Ben Unwin, who played Jesse McGregor. He died at 41 – one day before his 42th birthday.
"It was just a great tragedy," says Kwanten.
“I was very upset when I found out. At the end of the shoot True BloodWe lost Nelsan Ellis, who played Lafayette as well.
“I recently had a big health scare with my dad, and he's fine now, but it was a real shock for him – and for all of us – to realize how easily he could have lost his life. Some people do not have a second chance. I feel like you really need to live for every fucking moment.
Kwanten is certainly taking this seriously. Mixing everything in his eclectic career, his new show saw him swap vampires for corrupt cops, playing Steve Hammond in dramatic series, The oath.
A cop with an agitated thief side in a gang of other cops named The Ravens, the series turns up when they are caught in the act and forced to become FBI informants, and end up in more danger than they thought. .
"It was important to get into the psychology of these kinds of people," says Kwanten. “Particularly my character. I found it very interesting to explore the nature of this type of cop. "
Sean Bean stars alongside Kwanten as his father and with the world still settling after the The Game of Thrones Ultimate frenzy, how is working with Ned Stark so close?
“I don't have a television, so my knowledge of pop culture is very good!” Kwanten laughs. "I'm aware of how strong the show is, but for me, having the opportunity to work with someone like Sean – really shows that there's a difference between a good actor and a great actor. Sean has his way of doing things in set, which is fantastic. ”
Having a successful TV show is the holy grail for most actors, but Kwanten has managed to highlight the lead roles in three. Although this corresponds to a busy filming schedule, it would have no other way.
"You kind of know weirdly that most shows will last a season," he says. "If you are really lucky, you will have two seasons (second series of The oath debuted in February), so I'm very lucky. I kind of got into that with that perspective. Also, the fact that they offered me producer status really gave me a sense of ownership. "
Having spent 25 years in the acting game – a sector that is known to be brutal and cruel – despite the challenges, Ryan can't imagine doing anything else.
"I'm very attached to business now," he says. "I love it. But don't get me wrong, there's more to life than just what I do at work … there's more to my life than just acting."
Case in point: He has a longtime girlfriend, Ashley Sisino, with whom he has been for the last five years and recently introduced a new member to his mini-family, a rescue dog.
"I haven't had a child yet," says Kwanten. "At some point, I'm sure this will happen and I'll be a father, but this is the first addition to the family so far!"
Considering that the 42-year-old man is one of our hottest exports, Kwanten managed to keep his private life from turning into a tabloid and keeping his life off screen "without drama."
"I never wanted to be famous," he says. "I don't want the audience to know much about me; instead I want them to get lost in the characters I play. That's much more important to me. I think the more they know someone, the more you need to do to convince them." that you're the character. Besides, I'm just a private guy! "
Effortlessly following the big and small screens, Kwanten starred in the 2015 movie Kill Freddy Heineken Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington, and provided the voice of Blinky bill that same year. And he is due to return to Down Under next year to film a new horror movie opposite Transformers star – and Australian colleague – Rachael Taylor in Tasmania.
"What I love about going home and making movies is that I've visited some of the most amazing places," he smiles. “For some reason, Australians always think about going abroad before exploring our own country. Fortunately, working in this business and being in the position I am in, I feel I've seen more of Australia than many Australians. "
While Los Angeles is where Ryan needs to work, he keeps Australia as his home forever.
"It's (LA) a bigger kind of pond for me to kind of play with," he says. “Obviously, my immediate future is in the entertainment business, and many of the things I want to do are based in this part of the world. But having said that, I have always made a point of returning to Australia and will continue to do so. "
But now, no matter which side of the world he is on, the realistic Australian is counting his blessings. Endowed with a career that goes from strength to strength, he could not be happier.
"I'm having a great career and I'm still loving it," he says, smiling. "I'm a very happy and lucky guy."
The Oath: Season One is available on DVD on January 1st.
Paul Ewart is a freelance writer | @_paulewart