Tyson Ritter, who plays Avery on AMC’s Lodge 49, discusses his shift from rock and roll to acting, his character being so self-serving it’s actually endearing and the truth behind his feelings for Blaise.
Q: Many people know you from your music career. Has acting always been an interest of yours as well?
A: Growing up in Stillwater, Oklahoma – which is a very small town in the buckle of the Bible Belt – I was drawn to the stage when I was very young. There were a couple of guys in a band who said, “Hey man. Want to learn how to play bass?” I was like, “Sure!” I didn’t really get to go back to any scripted material until I was 27. Acting was my first love that made me find music, so this is something I love doing just as much – if not a little more – than rock and roll.
Q: What did you see in Lodge 49 that piqued your interest?
A: I thought the show was fantastic. I had read about it before I got a casting call for the role of Avery. I was fascinated by the world of Dudley Do Wrong, who wanders around this weird world of mysticism and happenstance. I love synchronicity in life. There’s something about magical moments in life that we all either toss up to déjà vu or whatever. Everybody is subscribed to a little bit of mysticism in life in hopes that it exists and this is a show that exposes that it does.
Q: How would you describe the character of Avery?
A: When we first see Avery, he’s driving a school bus full of kids that he immediately abandons for this proof of a conspiracy. Avery is a character that only lives for the next little Easter egg. I imagine when we find him as a school bus driver, he got there because of some other tip. When we find him in the lodge, he’s found this hot tip that the true lodge is out west, and he’s going to go find it because that’s the only thing he cares about. I love a character that’s so one direction or has one speed that they abandon all other sense of their humanity. He and Blaise get a relationship going and that’s the first compromise of Avery in his adult life because he’s literally been going on his instinct and letting that take him through every con. This English accent that he throws immediately on at the doorstep of the lodge – I imagine that’s not the first time he’s done something this crazy. I just love that he’s a character that’s so self-serving that it’s actually endearing. [Laughs]
Q: What is behind his obsession with the lodge? Did you get any backstory from Jim Gavin?
A: What Jim told me that helped me was that he’s a part of something potentially bigger. His motivations were governed not only by himself. I like knowing there’s more to Avery than just some self-obsessed conspiracy theory he’s out to find. There’s more to Avery than meets the eye. He isn’t just some rogue agent. He’s possibly a part of something bigger. The great thing I love about Lodge 49 is that the entire time I’m watching, I’m waiting for the bigger purpose and they give you these little gems along the way and just enough to find the next Easter egg. I think Avery is in that same boat.
Q: Avery forms a bond very quickly with Blaise. What does he see in him?
A: I’m positive that Avery did fall for real for Blaise. I don’t think he expected it or saw it coming. He’s not manipulating that relationship to better himself. He’s already in because they think he’s the emissary. This relationship with Blaise is probably the only truthful thing he keeps about himself the entire time at the lodge. It was really a pleasant thing for me to know that Avery didn’t have other plans with this relationship with Blaise. He didn’t see it coming. Blaise has such a love and dedication for the ways of the apothecary and Avery believes so much in alchemy, but not necessarily in the way it’s written down. He believes in alchemy in a completely different way. Blaise, to me, is a non-believer in the voodoo of it all. The mojo of this lodge is based upon these great ancient stories. To me, Blaise is someone who doesn’t believe in any of this folklore and Avery is someone who’s trying to push him into believing the truth that he has proof in his mind is real. Avery is trying to prove to Blaise that the true lodge is real and he’s saying there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Q: What does Avery see in Lodge 49 that makes him believe it’s the catalyst to finding the true lodge?
A: There was a discovery of a body in a room that wasn’t existing. That came on the news and Avery saw that they found this mummified corpse and that tells Avery what he hasn’t found at the other lodges. This is proof that leads him to believe this is the true lodge or a key to finding the true lodge. Really, it was the corpse and that room that Dud found that opened this thing up.
Q: What is going through Avery’s mind when he is revealed to be a fraud?
A: I don’t think this is Avery’s first record-scratch moment at a party. He’d been welcomed with open arms by this great group of people and I honestly don’t think Avery has any friends. The moment that Jocelyn shows up, I think it hurts Avery a lot because he was probably trying to keep the charade going until him and Blaise were picking out an apartment. The funny thing is Avery seems heartless most of the time, but deep down he doesn’t have friends and Lodge 49 was the best thing that happened to him. It hurts in retrospect when he sees Jocelyn and the façade is broken immediately. Whenever I impersonate people in the real world, I always get bummed out when I get found out – especially when I have their credit card. [Laughs]
Q: What does it say about him that he does come back to say goodbye to Blaise?
A: In the back of his mind, he thinks this was all meant to be. As a conspiracy-dedicated man, he believes in fate and destiny. I think he thinks that his and Blaise’s story will be written together no matter what.
Q: AMC fans might also recognize you as Humperdoo on Preacher. Is there something that draws you to these types of offbeat characters?
A: Before I really started pursuing acting full time, I was playing a character on stage for 15 years that everybody thought was me. The character I portrayed on stage was this crazy rock and roll man who nothing is enough for. When Humperdoo came into the picture, the audition was very bare bones – literally just be Humperdoo or not be Humperdoo. I think I’m drawn to crazy characters because life is filled with extremities. That’s my favorite part about life – being in an uncomfortable room and feeling my skin crawl because I’m witnessing something so human and awkward. I live for these moments of public humanity. To me, Humperdoo is this character you would never see in the real world and to give him a life was the most fun thing I’ve gotten to do. Life is crazy. Why not represent it?
Q: What was more fun: learning Humperdoo’s soft-shoe routine or playing the numerous clones that got exploded?
A: [Laughs] I think the soft-shoe routine was my favorite thing I got to do on Preacher. I took this intensive class with a choreographer and everybody was just so happy and Betty Buckley came to watch. I felt like Fred Astaire.
Q: What’s been your favorite part of the Lodge 49 experience?
A: Everybody in the crew was such a top-shelf person that cared genuinely about this piece. They were so welcoming to me. Wyatt Russell is a hell of a No. 1, both off and on screen. It was probably the nicest temperament of a job that I’ve been on. It was great to be a part of something during Season 1 for a character and to be able to build from the ground up. It was a true gift as an actor.
Read a Q&A with Kenneth Welsh, who plays Larry.
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