Interview: Austin Butler of the CW's "Life Unexpected"

12/08/2010 Posted by Admin


Austin Butler of the CW's "Life Unexpected"

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

Nineteen-year-old actor Austin Butler said in a recent phone interview that he had heard rumors of ‘some pretty cool story lines’ for his recurring character Jones on the CW’s “Life Unexpected.” Unfortunately, the network decided not to pick up the series’ back nine episodes.

Although the news is a wet blanket for the show’s die-hards, as well as for Austin, fans of Butler shouldn’t fret. The young star has more on the horizon.

Much more.

Butler recently had a guest-spot on “CSI: Miami’s” 200th episode, taking a turn as a suspected killer, while also starring in the upcoming Disney Channel original movie “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure,” which is his second time starring opposite Ashely Tisdale.

Austin took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to about his upcoming projects, his interest in someday portraying an edgy international agent a la Jason Bourne, and his love for the challenge that is acting.

Joel Crabtree: How is your recurring role on the CW’s "Life Unexpected" different from other cable work you’ve done in the past?

Austin Butler: The first thing is that the group of people I’m working with up there are so wonderful. It starts with Liz [Tigelaar], who created the show, and then it just trickles down through everybody. The people that she hired, all the actors and stuff, are just like a huge family. Right when I came into the show, it didn’t feel like a new show where people are still feeling out their positions--everybody just really works together so well. It’s just such a good set to work on.

JC: You also have a guest-starring role that you have coming up on “CSI: Miami.” What can you tell me about that?

AB: It was really cool. I’ve always wanted to play something where somebody thought I was a murderer. In this one, they think that I tried to kill my stepmother, so it was a pretty fun part to play.

JC: That’s a major change from what you usually do. How did that change of pace work out for you?

AB: It was really fun. They died my hair darker, and [it was great] working on a show that’s been on for nine seasons -- they’re such a well-oiled machine. Working with David Caruso is awesome. He’s been doing it so long, he’ll rewrite the scene right beforehand. It was a definite change of pace for me, but it was so cool.

JC: On top of those TV series, you also have a Disney Channel original picture coming up with Ashley Tisdale called “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.” How was it filming that?

AB: It was a lot of fun. I had worked with Ashley once, and then I heard about the movie, because she called me and said, ‘Austin, I want you to come and read for the director for this--I think you’d be perfect.’ So, I went and met with the director, and it went really well.  I ended up doing the movie with her. It was just so much fun.  The two of us were out there in Toronto having a blast all day. It didn’t even feel like work. And from what I’ve heard, the movie turned out really well.

JC: You had a successful film role in “Aliens in the Attic,” and I was wondering if you’re looking to return to the big screen at some point?

AB: Yeah, that’s where I really see myself in the near future. That’s where I’d like to be. I love TV, but there’s nothing quite like that feeling of doing a movie, where you know the beginning, middle and end of the story. You can just go in there and know the director the entire time. It’s such a trust process. I really want to go back into it.

JC: For you, what are the big differences between film and television?

AB: With television--on shows that have a new director every week--a lot of the times, I’ve never met the director until I get on set for that episode. It’s hard to all of a sudden trust a person if I don’t know their work. Building that immediate trust is a weird thing, because you don’t even know if they’re leading you in the right direction.

When you’re doing a feature, then you know the director beforehand, you’ve rehearsed with him or her, and you have more time. TV’s more mysterious, which is cool, but you’re more secure with film.

JC: So, you’re 19, and I feel that you’ve accomplished more than a lot of actors who are twice your age. Where do you see your career going from here?

AB: The guy who I’ve always admired so much since I was little kid was Leonardo DiCaprio, and his transition from child actor to leading man was flawless. If I could model my career after him at all, that would be perfect for me. That’s kind of my direction. I want to start getting into edgier roles and things that are more challenging.

JC: You’ve been acting since you were 13?

AB: Yeah, something like that. Twelve or 13.

JC: How has your process and thoughts about the craft changed since you first started?

AB: When I first started, I just stumbled into background work. So, I was an extra on sets. It was kind of a fun thing for a 12-year-old to do. I was like, ‘I’m making money--this is cool.’

I started making friends with [some actors], then I started going to acting classes, and then it turned into this thing where I started watching movies differently. And then I started falling in love with the process of how actors do this, and I started really respecting them so much more. And that’s when I started thinking, ‘Wow, it is challenging.’

JC: You mentioned you wanted to get into some more edgier and tougher roles.  I was wondering if there’s a specific character or character type that you want to play?

AB: I don’t know about you, but ‘The Bourne Identity’ is one of the coolest movies of all time. That character would be ideal to play. Some version of Jason Bourne. I’m not saying revamping the same exact character, but something like that would be perfect.

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