A rising star is born in the form of Wyatt Nash! Not only is he humble, handsome and talented but he originally went to medical school?! That’s right, this country cutie was on a completely different path when he one day decided to follow his dreams. After careful preparation he made the huge leap from majoring in biology to acting, and we totally think his lifelong love of movies paid off!
Nash, who’s well-known for starring opposite Rose McIver (iZombie, Once Upon a Time) as Christopher Dollanganger, Jr. in Lifetime’s twisted telepic Petals on the Wind, is ditching the Dollanganger drama for a good old fashioned southern spectacle. Well, not quite but he can be seen on December 6, 2015 as The Bridge’s leading man. Hallmark Channel’s new television movie is an adaptation of Karen Kingsbury’s bestselling novel of the same name, and follows the lives of a young couple, Molly Allen (Katie Findlay) and Ryan Kelly (played by Nash), as they struggle to overcome the many obstacles in their lives. Nash plays an aspiring musician, and this born-and-bred southern character might not be too far from Nash in real life, who said he’s got a knack for this singer/songwriter thing.
We ended up chatting about his time on the Flowers in the Attic sequel, learning to play guitar for his role in The Bridge, as well as his stint on Mistresses, and Pretty Little Liars. The Nashville born star was gracious during our conversation and candid about his journey to the small screen, attributing his success to following his dreams and meeting a lot of good people along the way. Oh, and did I mention we chatted about fan encounters on Twitter (complete with a screenshot of a recent request from a crazed fan) and his chops as an actor after taking on an incestuous storyline as his most notable role.
Let’s get to it!
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Can you start by telling us a little bit about The Bridge, and Ryan Kelly, the character you play?
WYATT NASH: The Bridge is an adaptation of Karen Kingsbury’s novel of the same name. It takes place in Franklin, Tennessee, and it revolves around a bookstore called the Bridge, and it’s really about community and how people interact with each other, support each other and help each other through life’s difficult situations or decisions. And really lift each other up. Ryan Kelly is from Franklin, Tennessee and is very good friends with both of the people who work at the bookstore played by Faith Ford and Ted McGinley. He has a couple passions in his life, he loves the people in his life specifically his mom and friends and those around him. But he also has a passion for music, and he’s kind of torn between whether he should do music or play the safe option and stick around and try and support those people that he loves. And then enter Molly, played by Katie Findlay and his world kind of gets turned upside down. It follows their journey together as they try and figure out what to do with their lives.
MM: What would say was the biggest thing that drew you to this role, were you able to relate to the character at all?
WN: I was able to relate to the character, it offered me an opportunity because Ryan is a singer/songwriter, he’s trying to be at least, and he loves music and this was going to give me the opportunity to learn an instrument and sing a little bit. Both of those things are a challenge that I’ve been wanting to tackle ever since I started acting so that’s initially what drew me to the role. But, yeah, I have a lot of similarities to Ryan, trying to decide what to do with your life and at one point I was on the path to med school and decided I wanted to try acting. It was tough to come to terms with that reality and I’m glad I did.
MM: That’s crazy, that’s amazing that you were able to find yourself and go after what you wanted. So now, as you said the movie is adapted from Karen Kingsbury’s novel of the same name, before filming (or perhaps after) were you able to read the book?
WN: Yes, yes, as soon as I found out about I read the book… I think before I even read the script. Because they were still writing the script and they told me about it so I picked up the book and I read it in about two days!
MM: Oh wow!
WN: Yeah, I really loved it. It has a lot of stuff going on and man, it affected me, I love the story and I liked the characters in it and I could relate to a lot of the issues that were brought up.
MM: That’s really great. There’s a really rabid fan base when it comes to the book world, did you feel any added pressure to portray a beloved character that fans may have already had a clear picture of while reading this bestselling book?
WN: Well, all you can do is bring your truth to the character, and honestly I felt I was so so closely related to him being from just north of Franklin, Tennessee in Nashville [laughs] and knowing a lot about the area and some of the trials that he faces himself in the book that I face in my own life. I felt like I could bring a lot of authenticity to it and you know after meeting Karen and speaking with her and just receiving her blessing and her telling me that I was perfect for it, I wasn’t to worried about doing it well because I knew I was going to do a good job.
MM: Aww, well, that’s awesome. If someone were to write a book about your life, what genre do you think it would fall under?
WN: Oh wow, well I love science fiction but [laughs] I haven’t really had any alternate dimensions of reality come into my life. I kind of like dark, dark, humor. I like Kurt Vonnegut, and Mark Twain’s sense of humor, just very dry. I’d be more of a British comedy. I’d say maybe like dark, dry humor.
MM: That’s right up my ally! The movie deals with some real issues, do you think that following your dreams while trying to make a relationship work is something real people face? Any advice on how to maybe make both work?
WN: I think a lot of people, especially in my generation can because a lot of people or millennials are told to go to high school, get good grades, go to college, study well so you can get a good job and then they get out of college and there’s people who can’t get jobs anymore. That leaves a lot of people wondering what did I just spend all this time working in high school and college for if I can’t get a job right now. And a lot of people are questioning what they should do and kind of like ‘well, maybe I should pursue what I want and not just blindly do what I was told to.’ Not these people, but your parents, teachers and those that love you, so I think a lot of people can relate to that struggle.
MM: I totally agree. Obviously you mentioned you grew up in Nashville, Tennessee… and you got to learn an instrument and sing for this role, did any of that love for music rub off on you? Is it something you want to continue to pursue?
WN: It’s definitely something that I want to pursue, I mean, I bought a guitar and I just got new strings put on it yesterday and I have a couple of songs I’m wanting to learn. I’m still very much a novice at guitar but yeah I really, really enjoyed it and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m definitely continuing that and the singing as well, one of my good friends is a singing coach and he was the one who kind of helped me prepare for the film and I learned so, so much about things I never even thought of and I’m definitely continuing to do that.
MM: We’re looking forward to that. Now, looking back, what made you take the role of Christopher in Petals on the Wind? Most actors would steer away from a somewhat cringe worthy topic.
WN: [Laughs] Well honestly when I first read the script I was very turned off to it, but as I kind of looked at it again and tried to empathize more with the drama and all the hardships that they went through in their early developmental years, it really kind of made sense to me how something like that could happen. And V.C. Andrews is such a great writer and has such a huge following, and I think it was just a challenge that I was willing to accept and I wanted to again bring something to the character where people can be like oh he’s not some weird, perverted, messed up person… he just had some stuff go down in his life and found himself on a pathway that he can’t really get off.
MM: Do you ever feel that no matter what you do next you’ll only be known for your role in Petals?
WN: I don’t think so. I’m definitely proud to say that I’ve done it and thankful for the fan-base that was so supportive during all of it. But yeah, I look forward to just playing different characters and addressing other hard issues and difficult topics as well as doing comedy stuff as well. I don’t think anybody is ever defined as just one thing.
MM: That’s the way to look at it! And obviously you mentioned medical school, that’s a pretty big leap from majoring in biology to acting– what sparked your interest in the industry? Was there any one person or movie that got you into it?
WN: Well growing up I loved movies and I was that kind, even now, I just saw The Martian, and I found myself sitting in the theater thinking that I can’t believe I’m watching what’s happening right now. I just get sucked into it and I feel everything on an emotional level so strongly. I wanted to do that for a long time but I was always kind of afraid to take that leap because it was so foreign to everything that I’ve known. As I was in college and I was studying and I did a semester abroad and started just reading more and learning more about the world experience and I just got that desire and it grew more and more to the point where I was like if I don’t do this now I might never do it and I might always regret it, so I’m going to go for it.
MM: So great! Would that be a message to your fans that are maybe going through similar things to go for what they’re passionate about and to just take a risk?
WN: Yeah, I think that everything takes careful consideration. It wasn’t just a whim that I was like ‘oh, I’m going to be an actor and move to L.A. tomorrow.’ I really thought about it for a couple years and I made a plan and I followed it. And it makes sense and I had a very calculated approach to it and I think any time you have a passion or there’s something in your life that you just desire but you’re afraid to go for or not, I’m not always saying you should put all your years of education in the can or whatever and move forward blindly but I think it’s important to just take note of where you are and what you want from your life and take a good look at it and ask yourself questions like ‘why haven’t I done this?’ ‘what am I afraid of?’ ‘what are the chances,” and proceed that way.
MM: I think that advice is spot on, a lot of people these days just think hey I’m going to move and do this and it’ll all work out but it’s very wise to have a plan and to be able to approach it that way.
WN: Yes, and I mean I wouldn’t be where I am now without surrounding myself with good people like my manager, my agent, and countless other people I’ve met. You can’t do it alone. It’s always smart to surround yourself with good people.
MM: A nice uplifting message for Friday, we approve. You had some stints on hit shows like Mistresses and Pretty Little Liars, do you find it difficult to come into a show that’s already established for a short period of time?
WN: Yeah, it’s always a little intimidating walking on set and seeing all these people who have really close relationships and inside jokes and being like ‘hey, I’m gonna be here for a day, nice to meet you.’ But at the same time when you’re at that level as soon as you go on a show, you show up and you’re professional and you know what you’re doing and everyone really looks out for you. At least that’s been my experience and people have been very gracious and kind and willing to work with you as well. The actors that I’ve worked with have just been so great, it hasn’t made me feel too much anxiety.
MM: Definitely a good thing! If you could pick any show that you would love to guest star on, what would it be?
WN: Oh man, that’s a tough one. Well immediately I think of Chris Pratt and his character on Parks and Recreation, but that’s his character or that was his character but that’s something I’d want to do just because he had so much fun with it. I wasn’t thinking about this but I’ve always loved NCIS. I loved it so much, I watched that a lot before I moved out here so I think it would be a lot of fun to have a nice little guest spot on that.
MM: Do fans interact with you on Twitter? Is the engagement positive– or some strange comments?
WN: Well such is life, you’re always getting some weird interaction from some people or you’re going to the local coffee bean or the bank or whatever, so yeah, you get some people on there that sometimes say some off collared things or even say some things that are really offensive but I have to take a step back and be like well this person is trying to explain themselves in 140 characters, what are they really trying to say, ultimately you can’t take it too personally because everyone has an opinion. Just have to know your own truth and try not to let any of that shake you, but for the most part, most people are really supportive and really really great and very kind and offering compliments and that.
WN: I think Chris Pratt does a great job with what he does, can you tell I’m a Chris Pratt fan? [Laughs]
MM: I didn’t notice [laughs]
WN: I like the message that he gives to his fans and his followers and I love how he gives back, he’s just very conscious of things. Mark Ruffalo is another one, I really like how Mark Ruffalo kind of handles himself on Twitter.
MM: Those are two really good examples, I think. I guess to kind of conclude, what’s next for you? Anything coming down the pike that we can look out for– or do you have a message for your fans?
WN: As of right now I’ve got nothing really coming up next, I’m just really looking forward to the holidays and spending some time with my family back in Tennessee and seeing my nephew. A message to the fans, tune in December 6 to see The Bridge and I hope you enjoy it!
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Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge airs December 6 at 8|7c on Hallmark Channel