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Parker Young Interview

Talking With the 'Suburgatory' Co-Star

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Parker Young
October 28, 2012

Actor Parker Young has made appearances on shows including Mad Men, Jane by Design and CSI: New York, and on the first season of ABC's Suburgatory, Young made a strong impression in a few appearances as Ryan Shay, the dim-witted but lovable jock brother of high-strung Lisa Shay (Allie Grant). Ryan is a lot more prominent in the show's second season, with revelations about his past and a burgeoning relationship with main character Tessa Altman (Jane Levy). Here Young talks about his take on the character and what to expect from Ryan in the second season of Suburgatory.

How did you get started as an actor?

I guess it started in high school. I played sports. I was captain of my football team, and then I would leave practice and go do theater. I started because I had to do an elective, and I just really enjoyed it and did the more advanced theater classes by choice. And then after high school I had a few too many concussions playing football and decided it probably wasn’t the smartest path for me, and decided to move out to L.A. and give it a shot.

How did this part on Suburgatory come about?

It was like any other audition during that pilot season. I got the script, thought it was great, went in and read for the character. But at the time it was -- Ryan Shay that’s on TV now was way different when I auditioned for it. The scenes ended up getting cut from the script entirely, and then when I went to film, he’d become this really dumb character. And it freaked me out at first. It’s not what I had intended or what I had in mind. But it was really a blessing in disguise. I’m really happy with the direction that it went in.

Ryan was pretty one-dimensional at first. Did you have a sense that there would be more layers to him?

I think that we didn’t really know what the character was at first, which is why -- when I auditioned, as I said, he was just a jock. He wasn’t a dumb character. If anything, he was intelligent and witty and just completely different from the Ryan Shay that we see now. So when those scenes got cut and I got the script for episode two, and he’s saying stuff like his favorite foreign film is Avatar. Just stupid.

I didn’t know what they wanted with him. I don’t know if they necessarily knew at the time. So there was definitely a growing phase for all of us. It was my first time having the privilege of being on a show for a long enough period of time to get to grow with the character and kind of explore what the character is. I think the biggest difference now is -- at that point, I remember being very much concerned with trying to figure out what he was, trying to give the writers what I thought they might want, which is not ideal. Whereas now this season, I feel that I’ve completely taken ownership of who Ryan Shay is and sort of the direction that I want to take him in.

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