On the ABC drama series Castle, currently going strong in its seventh season, actor Seamus Dever plays Detective Kevin Ryan, an invaluable part of Detective Kate Beckett’s (Stana Katic) investigative team, which also includes Detective Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) and best-selling crime writer Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion). In the episode entitled “At Close Range,” Det. Ryan is on the security detail of a congressman attending a charity event when shots ring out, and he must revisit the events leading up to the shooting, if he is to apprehend the killer.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Seamus Dever talked about the incredible job security of having been on a popular TV series for so many seasons, that the show has made him a much more confident actor, how this episode is an action/suspense one with Det. Ryan as the lone guy for much of it, getting to explore his character’s family, why tackling the type of stuff in this episode is so fun for an actor, what was most challenging in this episode, what he’d still like to see on the show, and how his relationship with Jon Huertas is as strong off screen, as the one between Ryan and Esposito is on screen.
Collider: What does it mean to you to still be a part of Castle, so many seasons after its debut? Your first day on the pilot, could you ever have imagined you’d be here now and still be going so strong?
SEAMUS DEVER: No, it’s nuts! What’s funny is that the thing you always hope for, as an actor, is to be on a long-running series. And so, when it’s actually happening, you question it, the entire time. You go, “This is really weird. I’ve never been employed this long. Are we a hit? They say we’re a hit, but I don’t feel like a hit. We’re still trying to prove ourselves, all the time.” It’s a very funny situation to be in. In your mind’s eye, you think, “I’m going to sit back on my throne and drink my wine and say, ‘This is living!’” It’s never quite like that. The future is always in doubt and uncertain. That’s the reality. You live on that balance of saying, “This is nice for now, but I don’t know what the future holds.” But yes, it has been amazing. I think the best thing is that I get to work with a great group of people. I’ve never worked with anybody this long, actors or anybody, and Nathan [Fillion] hasn’t, Stana [Katic] hasn’t and Jon [Huertas] hasn’t. We know each other pretty well now, and we still like each other, which is awesome.
How would you say being a part of this show for seven seasons now has changed you, as an actor? Do you feel like a very different actor than you were, when you started on the show?
DEVER: Certainly, yeah. I feel like a more confident actor. There’s something about being in front of the camera, every day, that lends itself to confidence through experience. Also, on certain levels, I have a little bit less preciousness with the work, knowing that there’s always going to be more work. That’s allowed me to be a little bit more free, as an actor. I have become a better film actor, just by becoming curious about the technical aspects of lenses and lights and F-stops, and all of the things that the crew does around you, that a lot of actors take for granted. You start to feel like, “I want to know more about this. I want to know more about the filmmaking process.” So, I think I’ve become more knowledgeable. Castle has been great, but it’s a procedural. Maybe once a season, I get to stretch my legs, as an actor, so it’s got me clamoring for other things that I want to do. I want to explore those things that I don’t get to do, but that I used to get to do, as a guest star. I want to go rob a bank. I want to go beat up some guy. I want to be tough. I want to be all those things, and I don’t get to do that very much on Castle. There’s certainly the aspects of the things that I don’t get to do, that I’m itching to go do.
This next episode, “At Close Range,” is a big one for Detective Ryan. What can you say about what viewers can expect from it, and what should fans brace themselves for?
DEVER: It’s an action/suspense episode, and there’s not much Castle, Beckett and Esposito. It’s crazy! They disappear for awhile, and it’s Ryan, on point. Ryan is the lone guy. There’s even a scene where he says, “Esposito, I’ve gotta handle this one on my own.” It’s a departure, in that way. We also get to see Ryan’s family, which is crazy. We’ve never met any one of his two sisters, which he claims to have, so we’re gonna get to see some of that. It’s pretty cool. It’s different, that way. It’s an advancement of Kevin Ryan’s character. It’s more Jack Ryan than Kevin Ryan. It’s very much that suspense/political thriller.
What’s it like to know that there’s still so much that you can learn about your character, so many seasons in, that you hadn’t been able to explore that?
DEVER: On a daily basis, Ryan is in support of Castle and Beckett and their love story, and the crime, as well, so we don’t get to deal with personal stuff. So, there’s a ton of potential for Ryan and Esposito that we don’t get to see, on a daily basis, when they’re just being good cops. There’s a lot more ahead of us to find out about these two, for sure.
With Castle always claiming conspiracies, does that make it even harder to get people to believe that what happens to your character is not his fault?
DEVER: Well, there’s a moment where he actually uses Castle to team up, to help him with the crazy theories. There’s actually a funny scene where, in the middle of the night, Ryan can’t sleep and he’s like, “Okay, I have to call Castle because I need help with this crazy theory. I need some out-of-the-box thinking.” So, he brings him back into the case and they end up going all Beautiful Mind on this crime scene to figure out what could have really happened. It was pretty cool to loop him back in and use that crazy conspiracy theory aspect to his advantage, to actually solve a crime, rather than to come up with a good story.
Your character has always been this really good, solid guy. As the actor playing the character and living in his shoes, is it hard to see him go through something like this, or do you relish those opportunities?
DEVER: I like the idea of flaws. It’s interesting. Although, I’m not sure if this is definitely a flaw. It’s definitely righting a wrong. It’s fun to explore something that happens that you feel responsible for, and then making it right. It’s great. Being stable is boring, as an actor. In life, it’s great. Believe me, my life is very stable and I’m happy about that. But as an actor, it’s boring. There’s no drama there. There’s no conflict. There’s no uncertainty. You can’t get very far doing that. That’s the fun stuff. That’s the meat and potatoes of acting. It’s all those uncertain moments.
Was there anything particularly challenging that you had to do for this episode?
DEVER: There was a lot of running in this episode. I’m a runner, in the respect that I can run pretty fast for a couple of miles. But I’m not necessarily a sprinter, nor am I a sprinter in dress shoes and suits. For this episode, every day, I was running, and it feels uncomfortable to be running and sweating in a suit and dress shoes, over and over again. I fell many times. One night, my hamstring locked up because I was running wind sprints until 1:30 in the morning. On the 30th time that I had to run across this thing, my hamstring was like, “No, you’re no longer 20 years old. You have a tight hamstring. Get over it!” So, all the running I had to do was particularly challenging. I know a lot of projects have that, so I was like, “Okay, suck it up. Be a being boy, put on your big boy pants, and get a couple more sprints in. Come on, go!” There was falling, there was blood, and there were all those sorts of things that happen on set, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the process.
If you could come up with an idea to center an episode around, no matter how crazy or wild, what would you want to see happen, that hasn’t happened yet?
DEVER: I would like to see us all going undercover. I have an idea, and it’s sort of centered around the beginning of Return of the Jedi. I’ve always thought it would be so cool to play an episode where they’re in the midst of an undercover episode, and you see one member of the team, at a time, and they’re all playing different characters to find out the bad guy. I think that would be a lot of fun, to all play something totally different than our normal roles, to sort out a criminal and to find out the truth behind a case. So, I want to see that, where you get to see a little bit of the tougher side of us.
One of the best parts of the show is the relationship that Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito have, and there’s a great banter and friendship between them. What have you enjoyed about that dynamic, both as actors and characters?
DEVER: It’s crazy! Jon is one of my closest friends now. We hang out together a lot. We see each other a lot. Our wives like each other very much, so we have dinner together a lot and drink a lot of wine together. Jon and I are in the midst of doing something so super cool, but I cannot even talk about it right now because it’s so secret. There’s something that’s definitely coming up later, in a couple of episodes, that hopefully people are going to be really amazed by. You couldn’t have gotten two actors, at our ages, with me approaching 40 and Jon just a little bit north of 40, to do on a one-hour show on all of television, I guarantee it. The fact that Jon and I pulled it off is a real testament to our talent. We had this in our skill set. When you see it, you’re going to go, “Oh, my god, they can still do that?!” You’re hopefully going to be amazed by it. The other thing we’re doing is something that’s so cool. It’s for one of the DVD special features, and I can’t say a thing about it because it’s so on lock down, but it’s great. Every time someone hears about what we’re doing, they get a big smile on their face and they go, “Really?!” It’s so good, but I can’t say anything about it, which bums me out because I want to tell everyone.
Castle airs on Monday nights on ABC, and you can learn more about the show at www.abc.com/shows/castle