Interview: Justin Prentice

You’ve recently become topical among a wide range of people for your character Bryce on 13 Reasons Why, tell us a little more about your character, who you think he truly is?

Part of what makes Bryce so terrifying is that he is just a kid. A kid we may know. He’s not some Machiavellian character who is intent on bringing society to its knees. Because of his environment and his upbringing, Bryce has grown to devalue, not just women, but often times anyone who goes against him. He also lacks education on what consent looks like. Bryce doesn’t see himself as a rapist. He assumes he can take whatever he wants, because he is Bryce Walker, star athlete, leader, kingpin. This is terrifying because Bryce could be anyone. We all know Bryces. This isn’t a select few people, this is becoming more and more of an epidemic, because these boys in school lack the education on sexual consent. We need to start taking about this stuff.

Did you know the extent of what your character was capable of when you signed on for the series?

I did. For one of the callbacks, they added a mock scene (which ended up being similar to the actual scene in episode12) where Clay confronts Bryce about raping Hannah.

How’d you get into character for such an intense role?

I did a lot of research to bring Bryce to life. I watched movies and TV shows, I studied court cases of similar people, and I consulted with psychiatrists and sexual assault experts. It was very important for me to portray Bryce as accurately as possible. I wanted people to be able to draw parallels between the show and their own lives.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the graphic nature of the show. It’s the first time we’ve seen a lot of these social issues addressed head on in a show like this. Do you think it’s important for shows like this to exist?

Absolutely. These issues are hard to deal with. This show conveys real life, and real life is hard to deal with sometimes. The creators wanted to show audiences the full extent of what our actions are capable of doing to someone. Throughout this season, you get kind of an insider look at how Hannah’s spirit gets crushed more and more over time. Sometimes we don’t get to see the consequences of our actions until it’s too late. Or maybe some people never understand just how wrong something they did was. But for example, in the hot tub scene with Hannah, we, as an audience, are there to witness her soul shatter. It’s tough to watch. It should be. It’s rape. They showed exactly what they needed to. They didn’t focus too much on the rape itself, but just enough. They focused more on the devastation it was having on Hannah in that moment. Smart move. In the bathtub when Hannah takes her own life, we see just how hard it is to go through something like this. Suicide isn’t easy. It’s not painless. The creators didn’t want to paint it as such.

A huge turn of events really leaves it open for debate whether or not there’s going to be a season 2, what would you want for Bryce’s storyline?

We just officially got picked up for a second season! YES!!! I want justice. Bryce needs to be taken down.

There’s been a lot of drama surrounding Bryce, his privileges and his power. There’s also been a lot of talk about just how deep the show connects the struggles of parents/ teens. Should fans be looking for these deeper connections?

I think those connections are there in the show. A lot of the parents in the show have a hard time connecting with their kids. And vice versa. We hope that this show brings parents to a closer understanding of what their own children might be going through, and in turn, brings parents and kids closer together.

Is there anything you learned through making the show you’d like to share?

I learned so much. Through research on the character, I realized just how much there is to research. Which is a problem. These cases are happening all the time, and are so often swept under the rug. I also think that, as a society, we tend to generalize rape. It’s either brutal and blatant, or it’s not rape. “Was the female drunk? Her fault.” “Was she wearing something skimpy? Her fault.” “He’s a star athlete.” “Boys will be boys.” Bullshit. Rape comes in may forms. The key is, if consent is not given, it’s rape. Here’s another thing, if consent is given but then retracted, and you continue anyway, Rape. This process has given me more empathy for women and what they have to endure in our society. I want kids of my own one day. My boys and girls need to know what to look out for and how to help or step in when needed. And you can be damn sure they’re gonna know what consent is 🙂

What was it like working with the cast?

AMAZING. I love this group of people so much. They’re all so talented, and committed to the craft and story, and passionate. Love em.

How about Selena? I bet she’s super cool in person.

So cool. She’s such a sweetheart. Smart, insightful, creative, and still humble? She’s great. And really stylish might I add. A lot of the cast is. Not that that has anything to do with anything, but I seem to be one of the few with low fashion sense haha.

From shows like Glee and movies like Terri, you’ve seen your share of being in school situations. Becoming a reoccurring character on Preacher, what can fans expect from you in your new role?

I can’t say much. I can say that, if you watch, you’re in for a wild ride. As anyone who has read the graphic novels will know, it’s a crazy show. I love it.

Is there anyone you really want to work with?

Oh goodness. I could go on for hours. There are so many talented people in this industry. And now with tv/cable/new media being on par with feature films, the list just keeps expanding at rapid rate.

How about any dream roles you have?

I love sci-fi. I love epic fantasies. Something along those lines would be fun.

Any final thoughts for our readers?

Be kind. Lead with love. Think twice about what you post on social media. If you are feeling similar things to Hannah, you are not alone. Help does help. There are resources out there. For starters, It sounds cliche, but a lot of us, from the cast to the crew, have also experienced similar things as Hannah. There is hope.

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