Actor Jay Ryan makes a welcome return to Aussie screens with a gritty role in Foxtel’s ‘Fighting Season’
Jay Ryan was a bright-eyed, bushy- tailed young actor when he first shot to fame on screens in Australia, playing Jack Scully on Neighbours way back in 2002.
“It feels like a lifetime ago,” the 37-year-old Kiwi star tells WHO. “But I do have very fond memories of that time, because it was the first time I had left New Zealand. I had a job and I was moving out into the world, and moving countries – I’m still very good friends with a bunch of people from that cast and crew, like Carla Bonner [Steph Scully], who is a good friend of mine still, and Shane Connor, who played my father.”
Fast-forward more than a decade and Ryan is now a big deal in Hollywood. He’s had a string of high-profile TV gigs and was recently cast in the lead role of the adult Ben Hanscom in the second installment of the rebooted Stephen King classic It, filming now in Toronto.
He’ll also soon be seen in Foxtel’s new drama Fighting Season, playing a returned army sergeant suffering PTSD.
The role couldn’t be more different to the character he played on the Aussie soap all those years ago.
“But it was such a great opportunity for me, Neighbours,” he concedes.
“I still get people in the States saying, ‘Oh, you were on Neighbours!’ It’s a calling card, and a familiar name they can relate to.”
Over the past decade-and-a-half, Ryan has spent the majority of his time in Los Angeles and Toronto, where several of his TV projects (Beauty and the Beast and Mary Kills People) were filmed.
He tries to make it back to New Zealand as often as he can, but thankfully, when required to travel for a role, his partner, Kiwi writer-director Dianna Fuemana, and daughter, Eve (born in 2013), have been able to accompany him.
“We always travel together – we are a bit of a mini-circus,” he explains. “We are a unit.
“It’s tough. But [it’s something] I related to with Fighting Season; that whole thing of the parents, soldiers, having to be away from their children, for, like, six months plus – and how that affects the kids, and how families have to deal with that.
“You kind of have to deal with that in the entertainment world as well, where we are always up, and out, and moving to a new place, or a new city, for another time.
“It’s tough, but I have the luxury of being able to bring my family with me, so we’re very lucky in that way.”
In Fighting Season, Ryan plays a man who returns home from the Middle East after the death of his close friend and the captain of their platoon, Ted Nordenfelt, played by Ewen Leslie. He struggles to process the guilt and the grief, and is exhibiting signs of PTSD. “It’s a sensitive subject, and I really wanted to talk to the guys and girls on the ground who had experienced [that type of thing] first-hand,” says Ryan, of his preparation for the role.
“I spoke to as many young soldiers, and soldiers that had young families, as I could. I read a little bit, but
I didn’t really want to go down the path of reading facts and figures about PTSD. For me, from speaking to some of these guys, it’s a very individual experience. So I wanted to, I guess, layer as much as I could in my own performance from what I’d discussed with these guys one-on-one.”
Fighting Season is a powerful show that attempts to accurately portray the experiences of those returning from combat, something that drew Ryan to the role. “It was the opportunity
to delve into what it’s like to be a modern ANZAC soldier,” he explains. “We don’t often see our soldiers represented in any real way, as they used to be. When they come back from war, they have to assimilate back into everyday life. And it’s kind of, the notion of how they do that? And how do they cope with that? Also the idea of bringing awareness of what our soldiers are going through.”
It’s a challenging role, but Ryan says he has learnt over the years the importance of leaving his work at work. “My family is supportive of what I do – they will tell me pretty quickly if I am being an arsehole, so it doesn’t really spill over at home.”
Fighting Season was filmed over a year ago, and Ryan admits he’s excited local audiences can finally see what they’ve been working on.
“I was allowed to watch a few episodes the other day, and it was wonderful,” Ryan says.
“I am really excited to know that it’s about to come out, and for people to see it. It’s a really important series.”
The idea for Foxtel’s sizzling new drama series, Fighting Season emerged in a crowded US airport lounge.
Over a loud speaker came a call for military personnel to board their planes first, a simple nod to their service and a subtle thanks from a respectful nation.
As the show’s producer, Kylie du Fresne — along with her Goalpost Pictures producing partner Rosemary Blight — noted it was a shocking reminder that “in Australia, our troops are completely invisible.”
“At the same time we were seeing newspaper and magazine articles about PTSD in Australian
soldiers and we started thinking that this was really interesting subject matter that hadn’t yet been explored on Australian television,” du Fresne said.
Until now, with the six-part series — to premiere on Foxtel’s showcase channel at 8.30pm, October 28 — set to spark a national conversation about the shocking realities of our longest war in Afghanistan and the toll it takes on those serving and their families.
Starring Jay Ryan, Ewen Leslie and an impressive cast of new talent, including George Pullar and Julian Maroun, it tracks the fallout for a returned army unit, after a sortie goes fatally wrong — with the subtitle: “you don’t stop fighting just because you’re home.”
Ryan, who researched the impact of PTSD for his first major US role, in Beauty And The Beast, plays Sergeant ‘Speedo’ Collins who tries to bury his own demons with his unit commander, killed under mysterious circumstances.
His wife and young children are struggling to cope with the angry man who has come home to them, and the damaging, violent impact he is having on their lives.
As lead director Kate Woods points out: “we send these young men to war and teach them to kill and when they do, and it becomes part of their life, how do they assimilate that into themselves as human beings when they come back home? And what responsibility does the Armed Forces have for that?”
The series’ writer, Blake Ayshford was born into an air force family and welcomed the opportunity to explore some of the authentic issues being tackled by the limited series.
“We tried to deal honestly with that situation — not all people who return from war suffer from PTSD, but for those that do, it can still be a source of great shame for the soldiers themselves.”
Legacy Australia chief executive, Scott Warr welcomed the series as a way to continue raising awareness about the issues facing today’s military family and the battles personnel face after their time in service.
“It [PTSD] doesn’t affect every veteran that leaves service, but the key thing is those it does impact it does so significantly … not just on the veteran but those around them. We’re talking being disengaged from the family, to being moody, being different to what he or she was like before they went [to war] … through the whole continuum up and including, unfortunately the veterans not being able to cope with it and sadly taking their own lives.”
Warr said mental health resources and support, whether via Legacy or the Department of Veterans Affairs, had improved greatly, but broader understanding in the community about these issues was essential.
“Anything that can keep raising these questions [because] we haven’t got it all right yet. We’re still getting veterans who kill themselves and at Legacy we see the results of that. Unfortunately, the contemporary families and helping young widows are probably the only growing part of our business.”
* Fighting Season will premiere 8.30pm, October 28 on Foxtel’s showcase.
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I’ve started to merge the missing content and photos of Jay-Ryan.org with Jay-Ryan.net, so expect lots of updates in the coming weeks. Check out the first batch of updates below.
World Screen Pre-MIPTV Edition
Sky Vision E-Catalogue
The Packer: Poster/Art
The Packer: On the Set
The Packer: Stills
Unknown Theatre Production #01
Unknown Theatre Production #02
You Wish!: Screencaps – replacements
The Tribe: 4×38 – Screencaps
The Tribe: 4×39 – Screencaps
2012 San Diego Comic Con – additions
Producing Schnipples & Tuffy: Behind the Scenes / On the Set
The first footage from It: Chapter Two was shown at Comic-Con on Wednesday, a behind-the-scenes glimpse which provided fans with their fist look at the adult versions of the Losers’ Club.
The second part of the blockbuster film adaptation of the Stephen King classic only started shooting a few weeks ago in Toronto so it was too early in the sequel’s production to show too much of what they’re working on.
A behind-the-scenes featurette anchored by director Andy Muschietti revealed James McAvoy as Bill, Jessica Chastain as Beverly, Bill Hader as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, Jay Ryan as Ben, James Ransone as Eddie, and Andy Bean as Stanley.
There were on-set virgnettes of the actors filming various shots, as well as glimpses of Bill Skarsgård back as the monstrous demon clown Pennywise.
While there was nothing truly revealing or scary shown — and almost all of the footage was of the filming of scenes rather than the scenes themselves — the footage did show the adult Losers’ Club reuniting at a restaurant years after the events of Chapter One. Hader’s Richie asks the group, knowingly, what they’d like to talk about …
There was also some footage from the first It featuring the younger members of the Losers Club: Jaeden Lieberher as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie.
The It: Chapter Two presentation was part of New Line Cinema’s “ScareDiego” panel touting their upcoming horror slate, which included The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona.
It: Chapter Two scares its way into theaters September 6, 2019.
Principal photography has begun on It Chapter Two, with New Zealand actor Jay Ryan taking his place among the sequel’s cast.
Ryan will be playing the part of the adult version of Ben.
The first part of the film was one of 2017’s biggest films, grossing over $700 million globally, and also the highest-grossing horror film of all time.
Bill Skarsgard will return as the evil clown Pennywise.
Ryan will join a cast of well-known actors to play the adult version of The Losers’ Club, first seen in the first part of the adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal book.
Ryan will be joining the likes of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Bill Hader, and Andy Bean in the sequel to the massively popular It.
Jay Ryan has been cast as the adult version of Ben Hanscom in New Line Cinema’s It: Chapter 2. The younger version of this character was played by actor Jeremy Ray Taylor in It.
The actor can be seen on the eOne/Hulu rights-to-die drama series Mary Kills People, the second season of which premiered this month. A New Zealand native, Ryan first broke through on stage with his one person show The Packer in which he played eight characters. The piece played to raves at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where reviewers likened his performance to a live stage version of Trainspotting re-situated in New Zealand. Ryan then went on to play Mark Mitcham, the crafty son of a drug lord in the Golden Globe-and-Emmy Award-winning BBC/Sundance Channel miniseries Top of the Lake for directors Jane Campion and Garth Davis. That same year, the actor was cast as the titular lead in the CW’s award-winning sci-fi series Beauty and the Beast
Ryan is repped by United Talent Agency, Management 360 and Ziffren Brittenham. His Australian agent is Independent Artists.
The sequel to 2017’s record breaking horror movie ‘IT’ is set to hit cinemas in 2019 but who will be playing the adult versions of the kids in the Losers’ Club?
1. Who will play adult Bill in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Bill was played by Jaeden Lieberher in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by James McAvoy in the sequel.
2. Who will play adult Beverly in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Beverly was played by Sophia Lillis in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by Jessica Chastain in the sequel.
3. Who will play adult Richie in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Richie was played by Finn Wolfhard in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by Bill Hader in the sequel.
4. Who will play adult Eddie in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Eddie was played by Jack Dylan Grazer in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by James Ransone in the sequel.
5. Who will play adult Mike in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Mike was played by Chosen Jacobs in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by Isaiah Mustafa in the sequel.
6. Who will play adult Stanley in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Stanley was played by Wyatt Oleff in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by Andy Bean in the sequel.
7. Who will play adult Ben in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Ben was played by Jeremy Ray Taylor in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by Jay Ryan in the sequel.
8. Who will play adult Henry in ‘IT: Chapter 2’?
Ben was played by Nicholas Hamilton in 2017’s ‘IT’ and will be portrayed by Teach Grant in the sequel.