|Interview conducted by Stefan Blitz|
Alan Ritchson might be Hollywood’s next big multi-hyphenite.
Over the past several years, Ritchson has done everything from stripteasing for Paula Abdul during his American Idol audition, took on the mantle of Aquaman on both the television series Smallville and in the DC Animated feature, Justice League: The New Frontier. He’s also recorded an album, fought in The Hunger Games, and performed on set motion capture as Raphael in the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series.
And he’s Thad. Co-writing and starring in the Kickstarter fueled spin-off of the tv series Blue Mountain State, The Rise of Thadland. In the film, Ritchson reprises his role as football star Thad Castle, now a multi-million dollar NFL player, who returns to BMS to save the infamous Goat House from the university’s new school dean. And, and despite his new fortune and fame, there is one small favor that Thad needs done before he saves the day: the biggest booze-and-sloot fest in BMS history!
Ritchson took some time to discuss The Rise of Thadland, a potential return as Aquaman and his experience co-writing the film.
Alan Ritchson: I auditioned for it. I really loved the character and wanted to be the one to bring Thad to life. But I can still remember, the day of my first audition for BMS was a hectic one. I went in pretty frazzled and was terrible. I remember calling my wife after, really disappointed that it wasn’t going further because I knew I was just terrible.
A week later I got a call that the producers wanted to see me and I was floored. I thanked the casting director for whatever it was he saw in me that day. I was way more on top of my game at that audition and the subsequent screen test.
In fact, when I tested for the network, I was just trying not to lose the part. They weren’t even testing any other actors. Even Romanski who created the show had to compete against other actors for the part of Sammy. It was a really crazy turn considering I was all over the place that first day.
What do you enjoy most about playing Thad?
I think the fact that for him, it’s about letting down all of the filters that I keep up in my personal life. With him, I give myself permission to do or say absolutely anything that pops in my head. That’s a fun world to play in.
You joined Chris and Eric in writing the film. Was writing always an area of interest? What was that experience like?
Writing is something that has been important to me long before working on this movie. I’d written five other features and countless sketches. Some garnered interest around down, but nothing had sold. Still, I have a deep desire to tell stories that I find interesting, compelling or funny.
When I came to the guys about joining them in the writing of the film, they couldn’t have been nicer. They are so talented and so experienced as writers, they certainly didn’t need my input. So I consider it a gift that they would allow me the chance to put my fingerprint on the film. I definitely learned a lot from working within their process, which was much different than what I’d gotten used to doing on my own. But they really took the lead on the script, I was happy to contribute on an as needed basis.
In the film, your character, Thad, has graduated. Has he changed as a person at all since moving on BMS and what was it like getting back in the character after such a long break?
Admittedly it was a little daunting stepping back into the role of Thad. Mainly because I feel like in the show’s absence he has grown to be this larger than life idea in most people’s minds. I was nervous no matter what we came up with, it would never match this notion of who people made him out to be in their imagination. Fortunately, people seem to be really enjoying his story in the film as well as the performance, so that’s been a huge relief.
What are your fan experiences like? Have you had any unusual interactions?
Most of them are with just really enthusiastic fans. That’s always flattering. However, some of my bromigos are a little heavy on the testosterone. I was once at a club making an appearance, I had four security guards around me as I pushed my way through the club to take pictures with the fans. A guy leapt over my security and tackled me so he could kiss my cheek. He was screaming his love for Thad as they pulled him off. That was definitely one of the weirder moments.
I guess Thad has that effect on some dudes.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of that world, but I would definitely consider the opportunity if one were had.
To me, it’s all about giving the people what they want.
If that were really something I felt was being asked of me by the members of that community, who am I to deny someone the chance to escape into Aquaman’s world once again?
The future of Blue Mountain State depends on the success of this release. If you had a choice would you rather continue BMS as a series of movies, or go back and do more seasons?
That’s a really tough question. Luckily, I don’t think it’s an either or. I think it’s very plausible that we can do both. Because this began as a series, I think it’s fitting that we make another season of the show. But each could lead into a feature film that would allow us to dive into much deeper situations. Both could be a lot of fun.
Is there anything that you were able to do in the film that you were never able to do on television?
A lot actually. Seeing Thad party the way Thad would actually party would’ve been hard to do on the show. Such as snorting cocaine of a topless girl. That, or using the F-word when referring to Walt Disney.
What do you have coming up?
The next film due out for me is TMNT 2, June 2nd. I’m really excited about this one. I’ve seen much of the film and visually it’s really incredible as much as it is a ton of fun to watch. We really worked to up the screen time for the Turtles in this one, as well as that classic fun/action/adventure factor the way only the Turtles can. I really think everyone is going to love the movie.
What are you currently geeking out over?
At this moment, honestly I’m geeking out over the fact that our movie is sitting at #1 on iTunes around the world. Right ahead of a Spielberg/Hanks film. It’s pretty insane. This little film that could has just exploded and after all we went through to make it, I’m definitely geeking out more than a little.