A couple days ago, Ryan did an exclusive interview with Pop Culturalist about his life and upcoming show, Titans. You can read the full interview below.
Landing the role of Garfield Logan a.k.a. Beast Boy in DC Titans is more than a dream come true for Ryan Potter. The talented actor shares a meaningful relationship with the character, dating back to when he first emigrated here from Japan as a little boy, and it shows in his performance! Pop-Culturalist spoke with Ryan about the series, what storyline he’d like to see introduced, and his experience as an Asian actor in Hollywood.
P-C: Tell us about your deep connection to DC Titans and your character.
Ryan: When I moved from Japan to America, Teen Titans was the first animated series that I fell in love with. The style was closer to something that I would see back home, so it helped bridge a few gaps for me. Beast Boy is a character who, while he may be an outsider, used pop culture and his attitude to assimilate into society, human culture, and to make friends. I used that as a model. I used pop culture as a way to make friends because I didn’t speak English at that time. Like you said, my connection with this character goes deeper than just reading the comic books; I grew up with this character.
P-C: Was there any extra pressure given how much this character means to you and that he is a fan favorite?
Ryan: There was some pressure with Beast Boy being an iconic character and a fan favorite, but in terms of how much I loved the character, no, because I knew this character inside and out. I’m not showing up on the first day of work not knowing the source material. I know it. It actually made the job a lot easier and a lot more fun knowing the liberties that I could take because of the source material. After having conversations with Geoff Johns and some of the directors and producers, there was a certain amount of freedom that I don’t think everyone else had. [laughs]
P-C: When you’re working on a project that’s being adapted from a comic book series, how challenging is it to make it your own while remaining faithful to the source material?
Ryan: For me, the hardest thing to keep in mind was the pre and post-transformation of the character. Think about the physicality of Garfield Logan as a human being and what that does to him when he turns into an animal. As you’ll see this season, it’s not as smooth of a transition as the animated version depicts. In this live-action iteration, there’s more of a realistic toil that’s taken on Garfield from his animal transformation. We’re not pulling from the source material; we’re pulling away from it. Here’s to hoping that the fans can see and appreciate everything that I pulled from it as well as the liberties I took.
P-C: Two episodes have already aired and we’ve seen a glimpse of his integration. When can we expect to see more of him?
Ryan: The show gets darker as the season progresses and Beast Boy/Garfield is this light. He brings a warmth to the show that wouldn’t otherwise exist, maybe outside of Starfire’s moments. There are some touching moments between Dick and Rachel and then also between Dove and Hawk, but they’re different. They’re heartwarming in the sense that they’re coming together in the face of adversity. That’s a nice kind of warmth. We need that, especially in today’s day and age, but we also need humor and lighthearted moments, which Garfield brings. I’m so grateful to play a character that brings color to the dark storylines of Titans.
P-C: The series has already been renewed for season two. If you could pitch a storyline, what would it be and why?
Ryan: Oh wow, that’s an interesting question! I think the storyline that I’d like to see, which won’t necessarily happen for a while with the pacing of the show, is the one where Beast Boy is framed for murder by a shapeshifter. The Titans would turn their backs on him and he essentially becomes a wanted killer who goes on the run. When that happens, he has to try and clear his name. That’s a phenomenal arc that I would love to potentially see and play. In that arc, we get so much more of who Beast Boy/Garfield is as a person and how human he is regardless of his superhuman abilities. That’s what makes him so interesting: he’s able to face adversity with a smile.
P-C: You were just at New York Comic-Con, where you were part of the Super Asian American panel. What has your experience been like as an Asian actor in this industry? When did you realize you wanted to use your platform for advocacy?
Ryan: I think it would be pretty easy to go straight towards it’s been complete b.s. But, it hasn’t. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of the roles that I’ve been getting. Hiro Hamada is the first Asian American superhero. He’s also the first Asian American animated character., I don’t think having had the opportunity to play him was based on my abilities: it was more just fate. It happened, though, and that’s where we are at in terms of media and society, where characters like that can be accepted and also make production companies money.
I’ve had numerous experiences in audition rooms, casting calls, and even sometimes on projects, where producers want a certain level of “Asian”, which is so broad. If they’re asking me to incorporate more of my Japanese roots, then they need to incorporate it more in their writing.
We’re in this transition phase because of projects like Big Hero 6 and Crazy Rich Asians. There’s more of an interest in Asian culture than ever before. People want to see these characters on screen, but there doesn’t seem to be the same amount of interest in depicting them properly. That said, because of projects like Crazy Rich Asians, the doors are opening for more Asian American writers to properly represent Asian American actors, which will then allow for more Asian American directors like Cary Fukunaga and James Hong that will continue to put out projects that will be undeniably good—undeniable in the sense that they can’t leave us out from the creative table. Hollywood has been doing so for quite a while now and that time has come to an end. I’m grateful that I get to be an ally for that cause.
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Favorite TV show?
Ryan: Currently, I’ve been re-watching Maniac.
P-C: Favorite movie?
Ryan: One of my favorite comedies is Tropic Thunder. One of my favorite classic Robert Redford/Paul Newman films is The Sting. One of my favorite psychedelic films is Into the Void. One of my favorite action films is Hitman. It’s hard to choose an individual film because there are so many good ones in so many different genres. You know what, my favorite is Music and Lyrics. I love that movie to death.
P-C: Favorite book?
Ryan: Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s about a boy and his dog, and the hard work he puts in to chase his dreams. House of Leaves is another profound and mind-altering book.
P-C: Favorite play or musical?
Ryan: I love The Lion King and The Book of Mormon, but my favorite play/musical is Peter and the Starcatcher.
P-C: A band or artist that fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
Ryan: [laughs] I think I’ve put out there that I have a wide range and taste in music, so it goes anywhere from David Bowie to Lil Wayne to The Doors to T-Pain.