PopGurls Interview: Instant Star’s Kristopher Turner

May 11, 2006 No Comments »

Kristopher Turner plays the boy next door on The N’s hit show Instant Star, and the fact that he knows a thing or two about crushing on a best friend probably helps him strike just the right tone for his character, Jamie. This is the guy you want to get the girl, the guy who rarely says the right thing, but only because he’s too nervous to really go for it.

As Season Two winds down, Jamie is getting over his best-friend-turned-ex-girlfriend Jude, heating things up with new girl Patsy, and trying to start a career in the music biz. On the morning before the season finale, Kristopher answered the phone in his pajamas to chat with PopGurls.

I know this is kind of silly, but scrolling around the Internet, the biggest piece of information about you is that there isn’t really that much information about you. So I thought we’d cover the basics before we get into the harder stuff.

(laughs) Got it.

How old are you?

All right! That is basic! I’m 25.

For your geographically challenged neighbors to the south, where is Winnipeg, where you grew up?

Winnipeg is on the prairies of Canada. It’s just north of North Dakota.

Did you attend performing arts school before college?

No, actually. Just regular public high school in Winnipeg.

Were you active in theater in high school?

Yeah, a little bit. In grade 10, I took drama class, but I was very shy in high school. It wasn’t until grade 11 before I worked up the confidence to audition for the school play or stuff like that. In grades 11 and 12, I did plays, and stuff with an improv team.

What kinds of things do you do in your spare time?

I like music a lot. I’ve been trying to teach myself to play guitar, so I’ve been doing that. I enjoy buying new CDs.

What was the last CD you bought?

I purchased two recently. I purchased the new Pearl Jam album – actually, I went to the concert last night in Toronto. And I bought a Wilco CD…a relatively older album, A Ghost is Born. A lot of people said it was really good, so I wanted to check it out.

How was the Pearl Jam concert?

It was awesome! They did a Canadian tour in the fall of 2005, so that was the first time I saw them and it was amazing. This time, they’re kicking off their North American tour in Toronto and it’s geared toward the new album, [Pearl Jam,] but it’s still awesome. They’re probably one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen.

What’s the CD you put on when you’ve had a terrible day and need to unwind?

I’m a big fan of Matthew Good. I don’t know how popular he is in the U.S. but he’s really popular here. One of his first albums, Last of the Ghetto Astronauts is great. He’s alternative rock, a singer-songwriter with a band. He’s a little more political, more so now, but even in his early days. It’s not nice-guy rock. Some of his earlier albums lack polish. But what he lacks in polish he makes up for in heart and passion. You can really feel that.

Any pets?

Not in Toronto. I have two cats in Winnipeg that live with my mom.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

I think it’s probably peanut butter toast with banana.

That’s very Elvis of you, with the peanut butter and random fruit.

It’s not quite as crazy as the pickles, though. (laughs) I’m a little more tame than that. At least at this point.

What would you want to be doing if you weren’t acting?

Whoa! I don’t know! I mean, I’ve always liked music, and I think everyone has a little rock and roll fantasy. I’d probably like to go out and do something with that, but I also wouldn’t mind teaching.

Maybe you could teach music?

No, I’m not that good. (laughs) I’d have to start with acting.

When you meet someone for the first time, what’s the thing you most wish they could learn about you right away?

Sometimes I meet people, and because I have a baby face, they assume I’m more innocent than I am.

You just finished filming a TV movie called Me and Luke where you play…a father? What else can you tell us about that role?

Yeah, a father. (laughs) It was incredible. My girlfriend early in the movie gets pregnant and has a baby. She wants to put it up for adoption because she believes we’re too young to raise the child. I decide that I want to have a family and want to raise the child, but my options to keep the baby keep going out the window. Eventually I just take the baby, kidnap my own child.

This is another teen role for you, then.

Yes. Another teen role. (laughs)

Talk a little about your part in the play In Gabriel’s Kitchen. Did you feel pressure to portray the role of a gay teen in just the right way?

I guess I felt a little bit of pressure, but you still identify with the role, you know? It’s still about teenage love. The character I was playing wasn’t specifically gay, he was just very free about his sexuality. It just so happened that he fell in love with a boy. It could just as easily have been a story where he fell in love with a girl. So it was important for me to not make that was it was about, to make it about the love story.

That play had some tragedy in it as well. Was it rough on you to have to deal with that?

It was rough on the other actors more than me – I can give it away now, because the play’s over – but the play takes place after Gabriel, the boy [my character] was in love with, has hung himself. So a lot of the play is the family dealing with that three years later, and it’s still under the surface and not being dealt with. My part of the play was in flashback, where the audience was able to get deep into what that love was like for Gabriel. Ninety percent of the play I was in the happy teenage love stage, while everyone else was crying and bawling their eyes out about Gabriel having killed himself. Just being in that environment every day was draining. It hurt, every day.

You’ve done some other television and a couple of movies. Is there something you’re particularly proud of that you hope fans check out?

Me and Luke isn’t out yet, not until the Fall on Lifetime, but that was my first huge role in a movie, which was a great challenge. I also worked with great actors on that, like Louise Fletcher who is an Academy Award winner, and worked with two three-and-a-half month old babies – who are pretty stellar actors at their age, if I may say so. I’m pretty proud of that.

There’s actually a lot of stage performances that I’m proud of, but unfortunately it’s too late to see those.

Do you have stage roles coming up anytime soon?

Instant Star Season Three starts shooting in July, so I don’t really have enough time to take on a stage role. It’s certainly a great love of mine, though, and I like to do it whenever I have time.

Your stage career seems to have been full of fairly serious roles. What’s the biggest difference in where you’ve come from and Instant Star?

They’re very different styles, obviously. What I like about Instant Star, or specifically about playing Jamie, is that it’s such a nice blend of comedy and drama. Jamie gets to play the clown part a lot of the time, which is a lot of fun, but he also gets to have serious moments in dealing with Jude, and stuff like that. For me, it’s nice to stretch two different muscles in one part.

What’s been your favorite episode of the show so far?

Oh, gosh! There have been a lot of good episodes so far!

I’ll let you pick two, but you have to choose favorites.

I have to choose? Oh, boy. Okay. [In the Season Two episode "Problem Child"] I got to smash an electric guitar. That was pretty fun.

Did you only get one take for that, or were there lots of extra guitars sitting around?

Oh, yeah, (laughs) I just got one take. I think there was an extra guitar sitting around just in case, but it took a lot of smashing to get that thing to go. I remember I had to keep hitting it, but when it went, it just exploded everywhere. I loved it.

My favorite episode to watch would probably be the first episode of Season Two, ["No Sleep Till Brooklyn."] It had a great part for everybody. It had a great song. We were all at that party, everybody dressed in red. I just really dug that episode.

Rock star best friend aside, how is Instant Star like your own teen years?

I did have a female best friend in my teen years, so I related to that part of Jamie.

Did you have a big old crush on her?

Yeah, I mean, it’s really hard not to. (laughs)

I think I sort of relate to Jamie being an outsider a little bit. He’s not caught up in all the high school stuff, and I never was either. I was the kid who played Dungeons and Dragons with his friends and played video games and listened to the not-cool music.

Jamie’s changed a lot, physically, from last season. Are you personally more a Season One or Season Two kind of guy in terms of person style?

I’m a bit of a mix, I think. Obviously, I don’t really wear glasses, so in that sense I’m more like Season Two. Although, Jamie got more into the business world in Season Two, wearing more blazers and dress shirts, which I don’t really wear on an every day basis.

What did you think when you realized that the show was setting up a Jamie versus Tommy fight for Jude’s affection?

I thought it was great! It’s a very classic love triangle – the popular cool kid against the boy next door. It’s always interesting for some reason.

Did you feel a little bit sorry for your character, knowing how it was all going to go down?

(laughs) Yeah, a little bit. More because I’ve been there, you know? I know what that is – a lot of people know what that is. You have to really sympathize with him when he goes for it and says ‘let’s take this friendship to the next level’ and he gets crushed. But he makes some mistakes, too. Jamie’s the kind of kid who has a dream world of how things should be and it’s not always based in reality.

How’d the atmosphere on the show change with the addition of Jude’s backup band Spiederman Mind Explosion, played by Tyler Kyte, Ian Blackwood and Christopher Gaudet?

I thought it was great. A band was an element that was missing in the first season. I mean, it was nice to start the first season with just Jude and her closest friends, Jamie and Kat. But then you’ve got to mix in the band element. It’s such an important part of the music industry.

But those guys are wacky. Those guys on screen are like those guys off screen. They bring a lot of themselves to those characters. And it definitely gave the show a little more youthful energy, not that the rest of us are old geezers or anything. But Tim [Rozon, who plays Tom Quincy] and I would play chess, and then these guys come in and bring their guitars to jam or just joke around.

Season One seemed to be all about doing things for the first time, and Season Two was more about being careful what you wished for. What’s the next logical step, in your opinion?

That’s a great question. Your guess is as good as mine! I would sort of hope it would be about everyone becoming a little more independent. The third season should be kind of like, ‘you’re not a kid anymore.’ You’ve got to be able to take steps on your own, and everybody should be more pro-active rather than letting stuff happen to them. You have to go out there and make something happen, not wait for people to teach you things.

Specifically, where would you like to see Jamie go next?

I would love to see Jamie be more involved with G Major. He finally got to be an A&R scout, which is what he wants to do. Sure it’s a lot of paperwork and being jammed in the back office, but I would think it’s great if he got more involved in managing artists.

Is he really over Jude and 100 percent committed to Patsy?

I definitely think Jamie is probably in love with Patsy, but I don’t think he’ll ever really be over Jude.

The character of Patsy is one that fans either love or hate, and consequently the fans are split on the Jamie/Patsy relationship. Is Zoie Palmer, who plays Patsy, really that zany and stereotypically Goth in real life? What’s it like to work with her?

I think it’s great that everyone is polarized on it, because they should be. In terms of working with Zoie, she is incredibly zany. I have an absolute ball working with her. The stuff that she makes up on set, half of it didn’t even get put into the season. She really keeps you on your toes, and she brought things out in me that I didn’t even know were there.

She’s not the Goth girl, no. That’s what makes it even more fun. She plays it fantastically, but that’s not her at all.

Like, um, me…your friends are probably a bit outside the range of Instant Star‘s primary demographic. Do they watch out of solidarity?

That’s what they’d say as an excuse, but secretly I think they all really like it. (laughs)

You know, though, I don’t even know what the primary demographic of Instant Star, is anymore. Because I hear from people who are pre-teen girls to guys in their 30s. Obviously it’s supposed to be geared toward the teenaged audience, but I’ve gotta tell you, we get responses from a lot more people than that.

Tim told me that the best part of being on the Instant Star set is that everyone is very musical. You’re training yourself to play guitar…

I have to try and keep up! Everyone else is a trained musician, and I just sit and watch.

Maybe play a little tambourine?

Yeah, if I’m lucky.

Is that one of your favorite things about being on the set, too, or is there something else you really love?

The music part is great, because it grew out of everybody being really comfortable and close. Being on the set of a TV show can be stressful and constricting, but everybody gets along. There’s not a lot of ego. We just have fun.

Speaking of Tim, you’ve both sort of declared your best friend status in interviews. What’s something you can tell us about him that we’d never be able to learn otherwise?

He was at the Pearl Jam concert with me yesterday! I think that he’s a lot more of a softy that people make him out to be. He definitely has a tough-guy attitude, because he can play it so well, but he’s got one of the biggest hearts of any guy you’ll ever meet.

Tomorrow night is the Season Two finale. Give me a little hint of what to expect.

In terms of the overall arc of the show, there’s a lot more of a cliffhanger this year than last year. I haven’t seen any scripts from Season Three yet, and I want to know what happens! They leave a lot of stuff hanging there.

So, coming up for you is the next season of Instant Star.

You betcha. I’m looking forward to it, too.

Anything lined up after that?

That’ll keep me busy for most of the summer. You know, as an actor you’re always trying to read auditions and get new parts, but you never know. When I was cast for Me and Luke, I was cast three days before we started shooting. I could tell you one thing today, and then tomorrow you never know.

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