Friday, June 8, 2012

INTERVIEW: Matt Atkinson Previews JANE BY DESIGN's Summer Season

Matthew Atkinson's role as Nick Fadden on JANE BY DESIGN marks his first series regular role, but he is not unfamiliar to television audiences. He has been seen in CSI, DROP DEAD DIVA and ONE TREE HILL. Atkinson also appeared in the Academy Award winning feature film The Blind Side. His stage credits include "You Can’t Take It With You," "And Then They Came For Me," "Who Am I This Time?," "Hard Candy" and "Happily Never After."

We Love Soaps recently spoke with Atkinson about his career and the Summer Season of JANE BY DESIGN airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What do you think are Nick and Jane’s chances of living happily-ever-after some day?
Matt Atkinson: I think that Nick and Jane’s chances are really good. If you just take the basis of who the characters are and you forget about any other kind of motives with the story line or take out other characters from the story line, then, yes, I think that Nick and Jane are really suitable together. They seem to – when you watch them play on screen there’s just this great chemistry and there’s this – I mean just defined by who they are, Jane is sort of the quirky weird but really passionate about what she does and really a strong female.

Then you have Nick Fadden who’s kind of just seems to have been given everything to him but he’s a strong guy and you know, he’s very centered and he’s very grounded whereas Jane is all over the place. I think together in a relationship they just work. For whatever reason, they just work.

So, if everything else didn’t exist then I think that they would be perfect together. But, you never know, you know. You go through life and sometimes you meet people that could be right for you but it’s the wrong time, and then you meet someone else and they’re right for you because it’s the right time. So, you never know what’s going to happen.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What advice would you give a guy like Nick who’s into a successful high achieving young woman like Jane?
Matt Atkinson: Well, don’t kiss Lulu. Besides that I mean just try and keep up. When there’s a strong, crazy life going on and some female has kind of got a crazy life then you kind of have to just accept that and let her spin around and then when she comes back to you, you give her all the support you can. So, just try and be a genuine, honest person.

How happy are you with the way the storyline for your character, Nick, is progressing so for?
Matt Atkinson: Every character that you play is going to have a different sort of path that it takes. I’ve always accepted from the beginning that whatever role that I do it’s not going to always be what I want.

It’s not going to be what I would do because Nick’s not me. But, I’m really happy with the way that it’s progressing. I think that the opportunities that I’m kind of given, it’s so much fun to be able to go back and play some baseball on camera and to be able to work with these great actors, in general, no matter what storyline they give me. They could make me a paraplegic and I would still probably have fun.

So, I’m happy with the character and I’m definitely happy with how the episodes are turning out. I just got a sneak peak of, I think episode thirteen from one of our writers the other day and it just looked so good. There are a couple of just really funny, really fun scenes. So, I’m just ecstatic with the way that it’s turning out.

Are there any surprises that you’re able to share with us that might be in store for your character this summer?
Matt Atkinson: I’m trying not to give too much away, but let’s see. Let’s just say that these next eight episodes, Nick Fadden doesn’t exactly have – he goes through some rough patches. I could tell you that. There’s a few things that might interrupt what he’s always wanted to do is become a pro-baseball player and that’s the life that has been planned for him and there are some things that interrupt that and make him think that possibly he might have to think of something different, you know, and that kind of leaves him in a weird place. So, there’s something.

What is your relationship like with Erica off camera?
Matt Atkinson: Well, me and her, we’re just good friends. She’s such a sweetheart. She’s so talented. I think that the reason in the first season she had this ankle sprain thing. She almost broke her foot. She was kind of hobbling around and so, Nick (Roux) would do this too, but we would just help her. You can’t have the star of the show not being able to make it to you know where they’re shooting the scene.

So, sometimes we would pick her up and carry her and stuff. I mean there’s this thing that you have to do, but off set we kind of been just really good friends. We have a lot of fun. She’s a character on and off screen. She’s all kinds of fun to hang out with.

What has the fan reaction been for you?
Matt Atkinson: For the show in general, we have some amazing, wonderful fans. My fans, specifically, are great. I mean, sure, the fans probably had the same reaction as I had when I first read the script. But, everyone makes mistakes and you know that’s something as an actor you have to kind of accept and you know Meagan playing Lulu, she kind of stepped in to a role where she has to accept that the audience is sometimes going to think that she is Lulu and you know they are kind of going to backlash at her.

For the most part, I’ve gotten support and people saying, “Come on you shouldn’t have done that.” But, you know, we still want you back together, which is great. I don’t have any fans – well, not a ton of fans - that are yelling at me and calling me names but, it is what it is and I love all of our fans. I just think that for the most part you just have to accept that there are things that are going to happen in the script that come your way that maybe you don’t agree with.

But, you are not playing you. You’re playing a character. So, when people understand that they understand what’s going on. It’s really tough to see, you know, some actors get caught in a space where they play a kind of evil or mean person and then they get this huge backlash that everyone hates.

I don’t think that there’s that big of a deal in general when you look at it logically from the actually storyline perspective. What happens with Lulu and Nick is something that’s been destined to happen the entire first season. Not because it’s Lulu and Nick but just because – I mean Jane’s been running off constantly on Nick and kind of leaving him confused.

You just start dating someone and then they constantly keep leaving you in the middle of dates and kind of running off and lying to you and not telling you what’s going on. At some point, you just go, I had enough of this; you need to be honest with me. That was one of those moments that it is just a huge miscommunication, where Nick’s on the phone and he thinks that someone is saying that she’s going to go off and have sex with some other guy.

That leaves you in a moment that goes, you know, you’re hurt, you’re in pain and this sucks and your relationship is pretty much over. If she’s going off and doing that what are you going to do? So, he turns around and Lulu’s there and she’s been hurt and she starts talking about it. It’s just something that is a mistake that was made by two people, and you know everyone makes mistakes. So, it’s sort of one of those things that you just accept and you roll with, you know.

Can you talk about what it’s like to be on such a stylish set?
Matt Atkinson: Well, the stylish set, I’m hardly ever on. The fashion set over on eight; that’s an amazing set. The high school set, I mean it’s still great but it’s definitely not as highfalutin. Of course, they went to great lengths to make that the fashion – the Donovan Decker set look come to life and do this amazing set.

I mean being surrounded by something like that, it definitely gives you security when you walk in to work every day knowing that it’s not just you that’s on you’re a game, it’s all the other actors. You walk in you know the set designers, the costume designers; everyone is putting in one hundred percent into this show.

You know, for a while, that if the show for some reason doesn’t work, you know that you tried. You gave one hundred percent. You walked in, it’s not like, well, you know, well the sets kind of stunk, or the scripts weren’t that good or whatever. It’s like everything is great and everything is setup for success.

I don’t know. I guess it kind of gives you security and makes you happy walking in to work every day knowing that everyone else is trying just as hard as you are.

If Lulu and Jane were real life people, which one would you, Matt, be interested in?
Matt Atkinson: If Lulu and Jane was real life people it would be Jane. I’ve always gone for the alternative or quirky or girls with an edge. So, I would definitely go for – I mean Lulu’s got an edge but she’s also got a straight up popular sort of entitled sort of personality, and that’s not something that I’ve ever really gone for.

About your baseball career, it’s kind of ironic that you have so much in common with the character that you play but we don’t know much about your baseball life.
Matt Atkinson: Well, I played baseball for about – I should sit down and actually write it out but somewhere around ten to twelve years. You know starting back when you’re playing tee ball and stuff. That’s when I started playing baseball and then I played all the way through up to high school.

Then I got in to high school and I didn’t have the passion I had for it anymore. I don’t think that it has to do with baseball, as much as the people that I was surrounded with that were playing baseball. So, I just didn’t enjoy doing it that much anymore. Well, no, I still enjoyed playing but I didn’t enjoy doing it every single day for hours a day.

So, I think it just became something that, you know, I just noticed that there were other things that I got more joy out of in life. So, I chose to go a different path. As far as, you know, you said that everything is kind of – there are some similarities between me and Nick and I don’t think that there are that many. But, definitely when it comes to sports there is.

I played every sport known to man. Like the first three episodes you have Nick playing tennis and he’s playing baseball and then he’s playing – they had a scene where he was playing golf, and they took that out. He’s kind of like an all-around athlete. I would say then Nick Fadden is a lot better than I am at sports. However, we do look a lot alike.

Can you tell us or give us a little clue about what might be happening between your long term crush with Jane?
Matt Atkinson: Yes. Nick and Jane the way that it kind of starts back – it starts back two months after we left off. It starts after Billy gets out of juvie. Two months have gone by after the breakup of Nick and Jane. I could tell you that they haven’t really talked much. You see them kind of come together and they have a few conversations but they kind of become very distant people because of what happened.

Which, I think really sucks for both of them and you know Nick is kind of in this place where he wishes that it wasn’t like that. You get to see them kind of throughout these couple of episodes relationships have to be, you know, built back. There has to be something that happens. Nick and Jane have conversations, we have things that happen through the storyline that are kind of building not a relationship as in a romantic way, even though it could be. It’s just a relationship because it’s just been broken and they have to fix it. They’re kind of going back to the road.

So then do we see you arching in a different direction as far as maybe pursuing other women in the show?
Matt Atkinson: I can’t give you all the details. But, here’s what I can do. I’ll say that no matter what character you have; the show is on a long enough timeline. Relationships are going to flourish and then they’re going to die and then you’re going to have to recreate those relationships or have a relationship with someone else.

So, it’s unsure to me or to anyone else whether Jane and Nick will fully be back together and have this kind of relationship and start where they left off. We don’t know that yet but we do know that just like everyone they’re going to move on and they’re going to try and work through the issues.

I would say that Nick Fadden is going to have more issues in his real – what he’s going to do for the rest of his life and kind of those sort of important things before he comes to actually dealing with his romantic issues.

Will Nick Fadden be shirtless in any upcoming scenes?
Matt Atkinson: I’m serious, for the first ten episodes, I walked up to our Executive Producer Gavin Polone. I walked up to him every day and I gave him the Matthew McConaughey line, and I said, “You know, Gavin this scene today, I think it would be a good opportunity for me to take my shirt off.” Every single day and they still haven’t made me take my shirt off. I worked out so hard before I started this show. I was like, you know what? I look pretty good. Let’s have me take my shirt off, and they haven’t done it yet. But who knows, it might happen.

What’s your most embarrassing memory with the one you liked or had a crush on?
I have so many stupid things that I have done. I’ve always kind of been a hopeless romantic. But, the most recent I would say is getting up and driving three and a half hours away after the relationship was over to try and mend it back together.

Do you consider yourself personally a hot guy or a hunk? How do you feel about people placing titles on celebrities in that manner?
Matt Atkinson: Well, you know growing up; I’ve never considered myself that. I don’t know. I was always the goofy guy. I was always the class clown and the idiot who ran up against walls to make people laugh. I was never, you know, I’m the hunk; especially in high school. It’s really funny now, you know, when I get a tweet or a message that says, “You’re the hottest person in the world. Will you marry me?”

I’m like, where were these girls when I was in high school? When I was in high school, nobody was saying these things. I can’t be mad and say that they’re calling me hot, you know. I don’t really mind that. It’s very sweet and it’s nice. But, I’ve never considered myself that attractive of a person.

I’ve always based anything that I wanted to do off of talent and skill. Definitely not off of looks. If there is anything in life that I wanted – I don’t think that at any point before three years ago I would have gotten anything because of looks, but apparently I would of, I don’t know. But, I never got that reaction from people. I was always working on other things.

Did you go to Disneyworld growing up or if you go to Disneyland now?
Matt Atkinson: I did in Orlando. I never have been to Disneyland out here. I’ve never been, and I really wanted to go. Actually, Meagan from our show has tried to orchestrate that about five or six times. She wants to go with the whole cast. That would be really fun because I’ve never gone.

I have fond memories of going down to Orlando. That was a completely different kind of theme park. But, it’s still fun.

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Kevin Mulcahy Jr. is a Harvard alum who is currently working as a staff contributor at writing theater and web series reviews as well as other in-depth features. Read all his Web Series reviews here. To contact Kevin, email [email protected].

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