HBO's "True Blood" went from cult favorite to bona fide hit in its second season and one of the reasons had nothing to do with vampires.
Australian actor Ryan Kwanten has become a breakout star of the series, playing heroine Sookie Stackhouse's brother Jason, a muscled-up Southern boy known a great deal more for his bedroom acrobatics than his cerebral ones.
In the last few episodes leading up to Sunday's season finale, Jason's gone from cult follower and vampire hater, to breaking out his brawn for good.
He helped save a host of bloodsuckers and his thought-reading sister down in Dallas, Texas. And recently, after tapping into what he's got upstairs, Jason paired up with Bon Temps' disgraced detective Andy Bellefleur and helped save (for now) shape-shifting bar owner Sam Merlotte from the clutches of the otherworldly Maryann – a powerful Maenad – and her flock of black-eyed hedonistic zombies.
"[There's] some method to his madness I guess," Ryan tells AccessHollywood.com down a cross-town phone line of Jason's transition from hunk to hero. "There's still stupidity there but he's trying to channel it. He will continue to think that he's saving the little town… And then he gets himself caught up in it."
With lips as tight as his washboard abs, Ryan offered just a tiny hint at what's in store for Jason on Sunday's big Season 2 closing episode.
"I can't tell you that much, but he gets himself caught up in something that's really bigger than him," Ryan hinted.
And it appears Jason's sister, played by Anna Paquin, runs into some major trouble too.
"Well, I think it's to be expected that those two worlds — that Sookie world and the Maryann world — have to collide. And uh, obviously things aren't going to end well for one of them," he said.
While Ryan will say no more about what's set to happen in Bon Temps in this weekend's episode, the actor is glad to be a part of the "True Blood" team. Although he's a brand name back in his native Australia, where he starred on "Home & Away," the surfy soap that also gave the world Isla Fisher, "True Blood" has made him recognizable across America.
"I take it all with a grain of salt," Ryan said of all the attention. "I still feel like I have a long way to go with my acting and my career so it's definitely a huge step that I don't take lightly."
Another thing the star takes seriously is sports. As "True Blood" fans known, the 32-year-old is in incredible physical shape and his athlete-like physique comes from staying very active.
"I really do sort of just love, love to sweat," Ryan said of his admirable body.
Ryan said he developed his sweating passion from indulging in sports as a young man.
"Everything from triathlons to boxing… rugby league (Australian football)," he revealed of his athletic indulgence history. "And it's just kind of that discipline that stayed with me even though I'm in what's considered to be more of an art form now in the film business. I still take that competitive nature wherever I go, I just… I'm a bit of a masochist at heart. I have to sweat. I have to break the pain barrier and see what's on the other side."
The actor doesn't judge his workouts by the clock. Instead he focuses on getting his heart pumping.
"It's definitely not obsessive but when I work out it's all or nothing. I want to make sure it's absolute quality time," he said.
While stars like his fellow Aussie, Hugh Jackman, have resorted to high-protein diets to get "Wolverine"-ripped, Ryan revealed he's lucky enough to usually be able to enjoy himself.
"I never want to be one of those people that sort of [looks at] other people's meals at the dinner table wishing they could eat," he said. "I eat what I want. If it happens to be slightly more than I originally set out to do then I'll just work out harder the next day."
If the next day, however, includes a film script that orders him to strip down to very little, or nothing at all, as has been the case for Jason Stackhouse across the two seasons of "True Blood," Ryan does tailor things a little bit.
"Yeah, there's definitely… [a] regime that I have which would basically mean sort of [cutting out] alcohol and then just probably not as much pasta and desserts… Chocolate is hardest thing for me to cut out," Ryan revealed, proving he's human after all. "I don't cut it out completely, [I] just don't have as much."
On Sunday, however, Ryan will probably be enjoying all of his weakness as he visits his pal and agent's house to watch "True Blood's" Season 2 finale.
"I'm actually going to be in town for the first time in a long time. I've missed a few of the episodes. I actually don't have a television so I watch it over at a friend's place," Ryan said. "He has an HBO 'True Blood' party every Sunday. I try to make it when I can. But yeah, this Sunday that's where I'll be."
HBO's "True Blood" Season finale airs on Sunday at 9 PM.
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