Interview: Austin Basis Talks Hulu’s ‘Casual’ And Future Endeavors
“Casual’s” latest addition, Austin Basis discusses the mechanics behind the show.
Hulu’s hit original series “Casual” is on its third season right now. With its subversive, dark comedy intertwined with relatable drama, it’s become a binge-worthy hit that continually has people talking. While Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey have remained the integral driving forces of the show, their journey has led them to introductions of various complex characters. Austin Basis is one of those new characters debuting in season 3 and we had the chance to speak with Austin about his role and the series itself.
“Yeah, we’re in season three right now. I was a fan of the show for the first two seasons and then was lucky enough to get a part, to get a role on season three. I have a few more episodes left but it’s almost halfway through the season. Six episodes have been posted on Hulu.”
Austin’s character Ethan plays an integral part in progressing Val’s story. While the character may not be a love interest, he’s definitely someone she confides in sort of becoming her moral compass at times.
“My character’s named Ethan. He’s a character that is in Val’s [life], Michaela Watkins’ character. She takes a storytelling class and Ethan is one of the other students in that class that she hits it off with. Ethan plays kind of a drinking buddy, confidant to Val and will kind of provide a path for her to make some decisions and give her advice down the line.”
Austin Basis has had a variety of roles with some being more of stretch than others when it comes to adapting his own personality. When it comes to his character on “Casual,” Austin was able adapt more fluidly than his other roles.
“Compared to most of the roles I’ve done, this is what I would say is the closest character to my temperament, the way i am normally. Maybe a little more cynical and maybe [more] darkly comical than I am. I’m a little more light, easy going, and positive and Ethan’s definitely more sarcastic and cynical than I am but [closer] to me than most other character’s I’ve played. And also temperament-wise, a lot of times I play stressed out characters or nervous nellies and Ethan is kind of laid back and content in his cynicism and his darkly comical outlook on life.”
“Casual” has a more passionate, cinematic feel to it compared to the average television show. Austin provided insight as to where that passion comes from and it’s fitting that many directors are sourced from the independent film realm.
“One of the best things about ‘Casual’ is they rallied, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but most of the directors for this season are women and have come directly from the independent film world. So when they are accumulating the directors for each season, they look to Sundance and South By Southwest and they say, ‘Who are the filmmakers that we want to work with? What are the films that we love’? And I think that shows in the final results of what you see. It really captures that heart and reality and awkwardness of a really great independent film.”
Some differences are apparent when it comes to streaming television exclusives. But what goes on behind the scenes may also be a reason behind the superior production value. While they remain budget conscious, “Casual” focuses on the product first before financial gain.
“So time and money are a bigger factor when it comes to network TV because that’s the bottom line. Getting the day done, the episode done on time, on the budget, and every delay is obviously a waste of time but that time translates to money and budget and ultimately [how much] they can make back after advertising and sales afterwards. So there is more of a business that is present on set.”
Austin Basis also has his name on a few other key projects. When comparing his work on “Casual,” he also spoke about the efficiency of other premium shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“The only other show I’ve been on similar to [Casual] is ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ where there is a little more ease and trust in the process and the production and taking time will yield the best results. And I’m sure directors do that on other shows and make a point to do that but they’re working against the current. With a show like this or ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, there is a freedom that almost reminds me of when I did independent films. There’s the looseness and it has the structure of a TV show, but there is a looseness and a freeness that allows for the best performances. Yes, time is a factor and you don’t want to make the days too long, but the ‘hurry up and wait’ aspect of it, I don’t think I waited more than 15 minutes between takes or setups on the set of ‘Casual’. They move very smoothly and quickly and frugal in the sense of time and effort way possible so that the actors and directors and writers are provided with the most opportunity to make the scene as good as it can be before they move on.”
Finally, in regards to Austin Basis’ character appearing in subsequent seasons of “Casual,” Austin thinks that things look promising for Ethan’s future on the show.
“Hey, I think you can see my character in season 4 (laughs). He’s not dead.
Austin Basis has also made appearances on shows like “Beauty and the Beast” and “How to Get Away With Murder” in addition to “Casual.” Currently he’s also working on an adult-themed YouTube series called “Not Your Buddy” that integrates animation into live action. You can view the first episode below.