Exclusive interview with Jesse Luken

April 24, 2014 | In the current US midseason Jesse Luken doesn't only play Eric on the new The CW SciFi show "Star-Crossed", he also completed his third and sadly last year as Jimmy on the FX Kentucky crime drama "Justified". In our interview the blond actor with the steel-blue gaze talks about what the strengths of both show are and we also learn a little bit about his other projects and interests.

Foto: Jesse Luken - Copyright: Jeff Lorch
Jesse Luken
© Jeff Lorch

Note: © myFanbase 2014 - The interview is exclusive to myFanbase and may not be published on other websites or the like. You may share the first two questions (up to 180 words) if you link back to this site. Translations other than English and German may be posted with full credit including the writer's name and link to this site.

1. Jimmy is a great example of how good "Justified" is with using the complete ensemble and developing background characters. He started out as one of Boyd's henchman and in the end it seemed like a father-son-relationship. How did you experience this development over the three years?

Thank you for saying so, and I think you hit the nail on the head. One of Justified's greatest strengths in my opinion is it's trust of the ensemble, and everyone on set does a great job in waiting their turn and stepping up when their number is called. In regard to Jimmy, he trusted Boyd completely, all the way to his death, and I think really started looking to Boyd as a father figure, or at the very least an infallible mentor. Jimmy did well to keep his head down for so long and not get the hubris some of Boyd's other henchmen over the years have developed. He almost made it out of Harlan alive. Almost.

2. Jimmy's death was brutal, emotionally and physically. Does playing a scene like that have an impact on you?

I never want to pretend that we as actors have an especially difficult job (the way I hear others sometimes exaggerate it.) I've hung drywall for a summer, that's a hard job. Having said that, scenes like this, when done right, are emotionally exhausting (which becomes physically exhausting) for the actor. If you've ever cried really hard and then noticed afterword you're really tired, the feeling is similar. Except imagine doing it for six hours tied to a chair. I slept good that night.

3. When we talked to Walton Goggins about "Justified" a while back he said "It's a world that really interests me, a tonality that I like to play in and a complexity that is a rarity in television." Did you feel similarly about working on this show?

Yep. The world Justified creates is truly one of a kind, and no character ever seems out of place (unless that's the point.) The dialogue is second to none, and the collaboration the writers have with the actors and vice versa really causes the show to excel. You see a great deal of complexity within the show, themes and characters that would normally seem in opposition to one another flow seamlessly on Justified. Look no further than Boyd Crowder as an example; the man is a brilliant Hillbilly.

4. Your "Glee" character Bobby Surette was a bully. Do you enjoy playing a complete jerk, you even had one of the signature slushying scenes, or were you hoping for some more development within the character?

I enjoy playing the bad guy. I've always had a lot more interest in the anti-hero than the straight-laced poster boy, just because I find them to be more complex. Glee was definitely a fun experience. At the end of the day it came down to a conflict between them and Justified, and my loyalty was to the latter, but I was very grateful for them to allow me to come on and be an asshole for a few episodes. We had to practice throwing slushies on mannequins for 8 hours before shooting! They don't mess around!

Foto: Jesse Luken - Copyright: Dave Racki
Jesse Luken
© Dave Racki

5. Your "Star-Crossed" character Eric started out as a jerk, too, but there's a lot of potential for him being a more good than bad kind of character. What drew you to play this character?

That potential! I thought in reading the pilot that there was a tremendous amount of potential to see Eric go on a journey, and without even knowing what that journey would wind up being I was drawn to it's possibilities. He begins in a place of such unwavering prejudice, but you quickly understand two things about him; that he has a reason for his phobias, and that he has never really been exposed in a personal way to these beings which he despises. So the thought of what might happen when he actually is forced to interact with those which he detests, and how actual contact with them might change him, was incredibly interesting to me.

6. You're aware that fans are shipping Julia and Eric? You probably can't say much but given Eric's hostility towards the Atrians do you think knowing what cured Julia would make him reconsider his views or drive him to exploit the knowledge?

I didn't even know what shipping meant before all of this! I think Julia is making him reconsider a lot of what he used to value in his life, and what he might value going forward. It's all very new to him; the lessoning of his prejudices, seeing the true colors of the Red Hawks, and especially falling in love. Sometimes he still needs to get out of his own way, but it's been really exciting to be given the opportunity to play out these changes.

7. "Star-Crossed" has the magical teen romance but it addresses social issues, too. It challenges its viewers to try to call the racial tension into question. What's your take on that aspect?

I agree completely, and that aforementioned position which Eric holds is what I loved most about the project. The bigotry highlighted through the first few episodes could have easily be taken directly out of the integration movement of the 1950s and 60s. The fears and animosities toward the other, especially taken completely from a lack of knowledge, are prevalent throughout the course of human history. Whether the 'other' is African-Americans, homosexuals or in this case extra-terrestrials, the majority of human reactions have, sadly, remained the same.

8. How do you experience communication between actors and fans through social media? What does it add to the experience being on a show with a passionate fandom?

It is awesome. I had no idea how powerful it could be, and in fairness I also had no idea how much fun it could be. I'm basically Amish, so my castmates had to teach me about all the sites (twitter, instagram, etc.) I'm nowhere near where they are but I love hearing our fans feedback and being able to interact with them. They're incredibly passionate and its very flattering and humbling.

9. "Spymates" caught my eye browsing through your filmography because you wrote and produced it as well as starred in it. Can you talk a little bit about that project and if you plan on doing more like that?

Haha, I'm glad you noticed! Spymates is a web series about two roommates who recently graduated spy school, and their first assignment is to kill each other. They're also idiots. We had a blast shooting it. It was literally some of my close friends with a camera, sitting around, thinking 'ok what might be funny?' It's got a ton of problems but we learned so much about all aspects of filmmaking that I wouldn't change one thing about it. And some of it actually turned out pretty funny!

10. What do you like to do in your sparetime? Sports, music, languages (your Spanish on "Justified" did sound great)...?

Gracias! I love studying foreign languages actually, I'd put that at the top of my sparetime list. I continue to play baseball every week, hang out with my dogs a lot, and hit my friends with water balloons when they aren't expecting it. (They love it, no matter what they tell you.)

11. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about tv shows, what are your favorite shows?

"Justified" and "Star-Crossed"! Ha, ok, other than that; I love "The Newsroom", "True Detective", "New Girl", The Daily Show and WWE Monday Night Raw (that last one isn't a joke. I love it.)

Thank you for taking the time, Jesse, we wish you all the best with "Star-Crossed", fingers crossed for a second season!

Nicole Oebel - myFanbase