'Bates Motel's' Ryan Hurst on Finding Inspiration From a Former 'Sons of Anarchy' Star

Ryan Hurst talks with THR about the role he based on former co-star Mark Boone Junior.
Courtesy of A&E Television Networks

On Monday's installment of A&E's Bates Motel, Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Caleb (Kenny Johnson) find that running a legal marijuana farm isn't as easy as they previously thought thanks to the addition of a new potential rival.

In "The Arachnum Club," former Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst makes his first appearance as Chick, an artistic illegal firearms entrepreneur who hunts and fixes up motorcycles in his forested shed. Sound familiar?

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Hurst to discuss reuniting with fellow Sons alum Johnson and basing his Chick on another former SOA star.

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The original character description was different than what appeared onscreen. What attracted you to Chick?

I spoke with [Bates co-showrunner] Kerry Ehrin before I accepted the role because I had some concerns when I read the initial breakdown; it seemed a little close to the characters I've played in the past. She was very open and encouraged me to make this role my own. A lot of the decisions that I make in terms of my career are very intuitive, and I had this flash of an image in my head of who this guy was.

Do you do anything special to develop or get into his personality?

The one thing that I kept harkening back to — and Kenny spotted it before I said anything — was Mark Boone Junior. He's like family to me and was a big inspiration. I don't know how much of him came through, but when I was running the dialogue of Chick in character during scenes, I just felt Mark coming through. That's what influenced Chick since the beginning. Mark will show up to set wearing nothing but a sarong and sport jacket with velvet patches on the elbows. I approached Chick from that. In the original parts of the script, they said that he was an artist making strange things in his workshop as well as putting motorcycles together.

What was it like reuniting with Kenny onscreen?

I love working with him. We hit it off years ago when we met on Sons of Anarchy. There are people you work with every once in a while who make you better. He's such a giving actor, he funnels all of his energy into a scene. He's very egoless in terms of what he wants the scenes to be. It's always a communal sort of effort of like, let's make this work.

Bates relies on a lot of facial expressions and body language to add suspense to the scenes. Was there anything different in that process for you?

One of the great parts about the show is that they really do tap into the awkward tension of scenes. If you watch any part of Hitchcock, there's a humor to what's going on. The beginning is always light, funny music. I've always been a fan of Hitchcock, so it was easy for me to try to find that weird, awkward stillness and kind of move into those arenas of tension, from dead of silence to the interplay between the characters. But it wasn't necessarily that it was physical.

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What are your thoughts on the original Hitchcock film?

They're all so different. I mean I think Psycho is wonderful. I always loved that Hitchcock said Psycho was his practical joke, because if you watch it, it really is a narrative practical joke. You start off with one character, and then you kill them midway through. I love all of his work.

Speaking of killing, guest stars on shows like Bates don't always last long. Was longevity a concern for you?

For this one it was. Unless something is outstandingly different, I think the benefit of doing television is that you get to really build something over multiple seasons. So that is a bit of a concern for me in that it is never really of interest for me to do three episodes of something and then have somebody killed off. There are actors who can do that wonderfully, but I kind of like to really get in there and feel who the person is and run them through a bunch of different scenarios over the course of a bunch of different episodes.

Bates Motel airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on A&E.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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