Exclusive interview with Linden Ashby
October 1, 2014 | He's our favorite TV sheriff, because he is an excellent investigator, because his occasional bewilderment is as human and adorable as his compassion, courage and determination are, and because he is an amazing dad, for whom his son's friends aren't monsters. The biggest reason "Teen Wolf's" Sheriff Stilinski is such a heartwarming and funny guy, however, is that he is portrayed by Linden Ashby. Linden Ashby cares deeply for the widowed Sheriff, who makes a perfect team with his son Stiles, and that is something the viewers feel watching his scenes. In our phone call Linden was in a great mood and the way he answered our questions beautifully reflected the "Teen Wolf" family feeling that gives the show that certain something.
© Jenny Duckworth Photography
When you started out as an actor you probably had some ideas about the job. Did it turn out to be what you expected?
That's a good question. I don't know that life ever turns out exactly like you think it's gonna cuz I don't think you can imagine what the world is going to be like. When I started it was - I'm old - it was 1983. The world was a completely different place. I've enjoyed it as much as thought I was going to, probably more and in different ways. I don't think I had thoughts about how it was going to turn out. I think I had no preconceived notion as to how things were actually gonna go and I just take it as it comes.
A show called "Teen Wolf" on MTV had a lot of people skeptical in the beginning, when did it hit you that you were part of something really special?
It really hit me two-fold. When I read the script it was really good because when I first got the appointment I was like you, I was like "Teen Wolf" oh my gosh, I thought about the 1980s movie and I thought this is just gonna be terrible. And I read the script and the script was really good. And then when I really knew that it might be something special was during cast read-through when I first met my fellow cast members and was amazed with how talented these kids were and how truly special they were. And then throughout the first season I got work with them a lot more. I didn't know that it would be a hit the way that it has been but I knew that we were making something really good.
Over the years "Teen Wolf" has grown from a romantic teen mystery into a full-blown action horror drama with its own mythology. What's your take on the development of the show?
I'm constantly amazed. I love Jeff Davis. Besides being a good friend he is... what an imagination! The ability to create this world, to me there is nothing more terrifying than a blank sheet of paper sitting on front of you. And you start writing and you create this world and it's just brilliant. And the fact that he's so invested in mythology and so particular about the details, I think it paid of tremendously. I'm constantly amazed. I'm a huge fan of the genre so I'm a tough audience.
In an early episode of season 4 Sheriff Stilinski was kind of like the voice of the audience when he talked about the shocking number of monsters in the small town of Beacon Hills. What do you think is it getting confusing?
There are a lot of different monsters and I think there can be moments when it is confusing and things are not explained but if you hang in there they become explained. So I think that's part of the fun that you have to go for this ride and you have to trust and then your trust is usually paid off. We don't leave you hanging. But I still go "What is Parrish?" and then Jeff was so close to telling Ryan Kelley. But then "No I'm not gonna tell you because Parrish doesn't know so you shouldn't know." [laughs] Everybody started guesses about what he is but I think it gonna be a very interesting season 5. That's gonna be one of the big mysteries to be solved and I think it's not gonna be a simple thing at all. And then I think we have the Desert Wolf, I have no idea what the Desert Wolf is. Is it Malia's mother? It's gonna be a big adventure this next season! Can't wait to start reading the scripts.
...and we can't wait to watch! One of the many amazing things on the show is the parenting. The parents really are supportive to the core. Do you sometimes exchange thoughts with Sheriff Stilinski? I mean do you give advice on his scenes or do you take advice from the scenes?
I do sometimes. Stilinski is a really good father! I think I did a pretty good job with my kids, you know, Susan and I did alright. But I think I bleed into Stilinski and Stilinski bleeds into me. I think that being a father has helped me with this part tremendously. What I think separates this show from some of the other shows is that the parents are real people. They have opinions and they're important in their kids’ lives. In this genre the parents just become these cutout figures to either move the plot along or to just be set piece almost. And these are fully developed characters that people care about and we care about. They're involved in the story, they're an integral part of this world. And I think that's such a great thing to see.
The Stilinski family scenes are always golden like the hospital scene in this season. Dylan O'Brien told me in Vienna he doesn't usually prepare for emotional scenes. How do you two work together on those scenes? Do you have a similar M.O.?
I try not to ever go into a scene focused on the result. I know what I want in a scene... what's my way to do this. I don't normally talk about the process of myself as an actor. We both know these characters and we invest in the reality of the moment and what happens is what happens and it's honest. We as people, Dylan and I, we love each other, I love him, he loves me, we're really good friends and it's great to have good writing because you say these words, you play the scene and the reality of their imaginary circumstance shines through and you go for the ride. Anything can happen, so I never prepare for a result like to say I want to cry in a scene. I prepare for a scene knowing what the scene is about, what I want in the scene and there are many different ways to get something that you want in life and often life twists and turns and those are the beautiful moments that happen.
After the Sheriff learnt about the supernatural he went out to solve the case around Malia, the girl who soon became his son's first girlfriend. And by now it seems he's so happy to have a girl more or less in the family. Might that make him let a woman back into his life, too?
I think we'll see some of that for sure. We reached a point in this story that I think there is somebody he certainly has his eye on. And I think we won't be disappointed. I'm ready, I mean Stilinski is ready. The funny thing is gonna be how do Scott and Stiles deal with that [laughs]. I mean they're best friends but it's like do you really want your dad and your mom dating each other when you're best friends?
- Linden Ashby on Twitter
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- Interview: Michael Fjordbak (October 2013)
- Interview: Melissa Ponzio (June 2014)
- Interview: Meagan Tandy (September 2014)
- Interview: Cody Saintgnue (September 2014)
- Interview: Ryan Kelley (September 2014)
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