This past week I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing the one and only, Ryan Kotack. You’ll be able to see him make his first TV appearance on Monday’s newest Reign episode, “Intruders”! Ryan’s hilarious and pretty insightful. You guys will fall in love with him after reading this post! Now, let’s get to the interview!
Surya Cherian: So, you’ve mentioned on Twitter that your character is SMAROS?
Ryan Kotack: Yeah, I was cast as the Scottish Military Advisor and since they didn’t necessarily give me a character name I said “I am technically the Scottish Military Advisor to the Regent of Scotland”. So, that abbreviated is SMAROS and I made a hashtag: #SMAROStheSCOT.
What can you tell us about your character?
My character is not necessarily someone who is in battle, [but] I’ve definitely waged a couple of wars for the Scottish army. When I was approaching the character I looked at it as an advisor [who] even in modern times has military experience. They’ve seen everything and this isn’t their first rodeo. But, now he’s in court so he has to look good. That really enforced the character and it was really fun talking to the costume designer about this as well. We established a lot more history and you see [that] this man has had a life way before the scene you see him in. As for the relationship to the Regent, I think he looks to me as someone not just to advise him, but to keep him on point. Especially, in our scene which is such a pivotal scene in the episode. He needs the people in Scotland to be close to him and I think that’s a big theme in these coming episodes, “who is loyal to you”. I am loyal to my King, to my Regent.
I’m guessing he definitely trusts you.
It’s unspoken, but you swear an oath. Especially back in medieval times, your word is almost equivalent to a blood oath. If he doesn’t trust me, my life doesn’t serve a purpose as SMAROS the Scot.
Definitely, I’ve seen Game of Thrones and I don’t know if you watch that but they’d get their heads chopped off so, I’m assuming trust and loyalty are super important.
Oh yeah, I’m a huge fan of that show. It’d definitely be a dream to work on from an actor’s stand point. I think Reign is also along those lines. I love historical pieces. I’ve gotten Reign so, now I just need to work on Game of Thrones. Collect them all.
It’s like Pokémon, “gotta catch ’em all”.
Yeah, exactly! Gotta catch ’em all.
What do you like best about your character? Are you guys similar in any way?
I always bring in a part of myself whenever I’m approaching any character. I’m loyal and there’s people in my life that I definitely [would] put [myself] on the line for. I’m not in medieval times with swords and stuff, but I’m really grateful to have a bunch of people that I can take that [feeling] and fuse it into the scene. For example, [in Reign] James is that for me. I’m serving him but he’s also serving us as a people. That kind of love and devotion I hope to always have in my life, good peeps — squad goals.
Who was the first cast member you met?
First cast member I guess would’ve been Dan [Jeannotte] (cast as the Regent, James). We had a rehearsal beforehand on set. While we were walking I introduced myself to Dan and funnily enough, I knew his wife. We worked on a music video a year or two [ago] shot here in Toronto. It’s a very small world and it was nice getting to know Dan. They just had a baby and we were chatting about that. My sister had a son so, I’m a recent uncle and I’m a big fan of him.
What was it like on set? Were you frozen in time?
Oh yeah, frozen in time [and] unbelievably nervous. It was very surreal because you’re kind of taking it all in and [also] seeing the sound stage. Everyone’s working and doing their thing. You’re also there to do a job. There’s only so much where you can be frozen in time, but everyone was so nice and supportive. I feel like that’s the reason why Reign is such a successful show. The cast and crew all have such a great attitude and [they’re] working hard as well. Everyone has an important role. It doesn’t matter if you’re a supervisor, a production assistant, or Adelaide. That respect and [sense] of community was nice.
Did you perform your own stunts? Did you have stunts?
I didn’t, [but] I do perform my own stunts. I’ve done fight choreography in theatre school and I know how to do basic combat. Everyone when I came on set said, “Ryan looks really tough, we don’t want to mess with him” and they all proceeded to back away. Most of the leads and the cast were crying and I think it’s because I flexed my muscle.
Yeah, you gotta be careful.
It gets me into trouble, you’re right. Thank you for keeping me honest though. Sharing this story with you makes me feel like I need to check myself before I wreck myself.
That’s actually a great saying. It’s my favorite.
I’m a big fan of Zach [Galifianakis]. He’s my boy.
Are there any awkwardly funny stories from behind the scenes?
Yeah, when I first saw Adelaide she came up to me and said “Wow, Ryan, you are the most attractive man I have ever seen in my life” and then proceeded to make out with me.
The truth has to come out.
The truth will set you free and what other good place than Pure Fandom to release that truth. PF is a part of the healing process of Adelaide and my secret romance even though we haven’t really officially met. The love is still there; it’s very powerful.
Joking aside, when I got the sword it was so incredibly heavy that I needed to like over compensate. [I had to] do a bunch of stretches and yoga to compensate for my sword being so heavy. I was like ‘I hope I get to use this’, but I never got to. I didn’t want to scare any of the cast and crew.
This is your first TV gig, how do you feel?
I’d say the first feelings were like so incredibly excited. Like, happy and amazing. Just pure happiness, you know?
Did you do a happy dance?
Yeah, I was in downtown Toronto and while my agent called I was on the subway. You don’t get good cell reception there and he was like “I called you a bunch of times, I’ve got really good news for you” and I knew immediately. I was on my way to see a lot of my good friends as well. It was such a great [moment]. I got to tell them and there was a lot of dancing.
That’s great timing!
Yeah, it was kind of a weird thing. I couldn’t put my finger on how I felt. I’ve been working towards this, I’ve been in Toronto for 3-4 years now, and this is pretty important to me. Like, just a whole rainbow of emotions overwhelmed me which I’m grateful for.
I can’t imagine how happy you were to get that call and know you’re making it slowly but surely.
Slowly but surely. I think it gives you perspective. For me, I’m working away and it’s super difficult. Being an actor is one of the most challenging professions. When you have these positive moments in your life [you learn] to appreciate [them] because you deserve it. You are enough and you’re worth it. Those moments anyone [can] kind of come across career or personal or professionally. Landing this TV role on Reign was just a great lesson in loving myself which was nice.
I’m assuming your friends are going to have a watch party to see you on TV?
Oh yeah, we’re going to do a screening party. You’re already invited. I sent like an email to friends and family who’ve been really supportive. I just really appreciate and love them to death. They sent me stuff like, “When’re we watching it? What’s happening?” So, it’ll consist of us watching the episode and then me running away when my scene is on. Watching yourself as an actor is the worst. You just nitpick everything and you’re like “Ah, I could’ve done this better”. Once I know my scene is over, I will return to [see] the rest of the episode.
Make sure you walk in with a super big strut, you know. Let them know you’re awesome.
Yeah, I want to let people know that I’m really important. Look at the stance. Look at how far my left leg is from my right leg.
Almost doing a split.
It’s basically a split. It’s a split to a split and that’s how I walk generally in Toronto. People stare, it’s pretty common.
So, my last question is, what’s your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a dolphin for a bunch of reasons. Primarily, because they are one of the only other mammals in the world that can appreciate sex.
The more important reason is that they can tell how you are feeling by just listening. That’s a big thing for me because a lot of acting and loving is listening. When important people in my life need someone and they go to me, listening is the biggest thing I can do. You don’t really feel like you do much, but you are actually giving a lot to them. I’ve watched this really cool documentary called The Cove and [they said] dolphins know if you’re pregnant [or] anxious because of your heartbeat. So, my spirit animal is a dolphin because of their ability to listen and love.
Need more Ryan?
You guys can follow Mr. Kotack on Twitter (@RyanKotack) and Instagram (@Brotackular)! I highly suggest you do because his posts are on point. Check out his website with all his acting accomplishments, here.
— Ryan Kotack (@ryankotack) June 9, 2016
(image: Ben Mark Holzberg | The CW)