JR Bourne is a badass as Chris Argent on MTV's hit series Teen Wolf. He's the werewolf hunter you'd trust to protect you from everything that goes bump in the night. And he's been a badass for a long time, with his memorable roles on shows like Stargate SG-1, The Secret Circle, and Revenge. We sat down with JR last week to talk about the saga of Chris Argent - and the journey of a talented actor who, in real life, is the kind of guy you'd want to live next door to.
When last we saw Chris at the end of season three, he'd been put through the wringer with everyone else in Beacon Hills. His daughter Allison was killed fighting the Oni - a plot twist that allowed actress Crystal Reed to leave Teen Wolf and pursue other projects. But that also meant Chris, already a widower, would lose his daughter as well. How did this major development affect JR?
"I think there's a very sort of initial 'Oh, wow'...and then you sort of realize what that's going to do for the business side of things," he told us. "I knew that the fans would be devastated, but I knew that [Crystal] would continue on and do amazing things with her career. And I knew also that it would do something sort of challenging for my character, having so much loss and then actually having this."
What one hint did he give us about season four? "You can definitely say that it's going to be another crazy journey for the gang," he teased, "that's for sure."
It's okay, though, because he's used to a little turbulence. Having been with the show from the very beginning, JR has been present for all the jaw-dropping twists and every bit of the angst. We asked him what he would consider his highlights from four seasons of playing our favorite hunter.
"In the earlier years, I had some fun stuff with Tyler Posey's character Scott, in the beginning I'd say first season or two. There were some fun moments. I always thought it was good, in the context of the darkness of the show, to have the levity, to have those moments of humor," he said. "I always loved the stuff with Gerard; Michael Hogan from Battlestar Galactica, he played my father in the show. And then I have to say, the sort of action stuff!" Because really, who hasn't wanted to run around with a weapon and kill a monster once or twice?
But JR has made a career out of being the badass that's always around, usually when there's something out of this world going on. Stargate franchise fans will remember him as Martouf from seven episodes of Stargate SG-1; three years later he played a fleet admiral on Andromeda. Then came two different parts in two different episodes of Fringe, a guest appearance on Smallville, and the recurring role of witch hunter Isaac on The Secret Circle. That's before we get into his villainy as Kenny Ryan in the second season of Revenge. Whenever he turns up, you don't know which side he'll be on, but you do know things are going to get good.
Another thing these shows all have in common is their passionate audiences, so we asked JR how the vocal fans of Teen Wolf compare to the audiences of the other programs he's been a part of. "I was surprised at the crossover between Revenge and Teen Wolf. There ended up being a pretty big crossover for me. Those two are quite similar," he told us.
"[With] Stargate, of course back then we didn't have this access like social media. We didn't have this instant connection with the fans. I wouldn't meet them or really even hear from them until we'd go to the conventions. Stargate fans, they are some of the most loyal people, unbelievably supportive.
"There's a sort of common underlying thing among all fans," he added, "and that's they're fans because they love the thing that you're doing, and then they sort of love individually the character that you're portraying and what you're saying. They become allies and they become friends."
Looking at JR's resume, you'd think that there's something that draws him to genre shows, but in reality that's just been the luck of the draw (for him and for us, because we get to enjoy him putting the fantastic in its place). "I didn't specifically sit down with everybody and say let's go after these [types of parts]. These are the ones that have come my way and I've loved doing them. I have no regrets," he said. "There was a chunk of my career where I played bad guy after bad guy, and it didn't upset me because I'd always find something challenging in that role. I'm drawn to a role regardless of genre."
What have been some of his favorite projects? "I have to say there are definitely a few films that I've been very, very proud of," he reflected. "There's a film called On The Corner. Making that film was one of the most sort of incredible experiences - losing like 20, 30 pounds to play this addict. Just being immersed into that world which is clearly very opposite to mine was utterly incredible. And this film is beautiful.
"Six Figures was a film I did in Toronto. Another incredible experience, great actors, great director," he continued. "I really have been blessed to play some amazing characters in my career, and work with incredible actors and incredible directors."
A particular highlight came when he met musician, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen. "I got to play basically him in the adaptation of one of the novels that he wrote, The Favourite Game, and he came down to set and we spent a little time together," JR told us. "My mother was a massive fan of Leonard Cohen, and I grew up listening to his music, so that was an unbelievable honor and a really great experience."
Then there's also his friendship with legendary camera operator Michael Ferris, with whom he worked on Alleged and who happened to have shot one of JR's all-time favorite films, John Cassavetes' 1974 award-winner A Woman Under The Influence. "Meeting artists like that," he told us, "I feel very blessed, and very, very lucky."
We'd argue that we're pretty lucky, too. Whether he's hunting werewolves as Chris Argent on Teen Wolf or plotting an evil scheme on Revenge, JR has always crafted characters that we either love or love to hate (or sometimes both). You can't watch him work without having some kind of response, and that's what makes him fantastic - he knows how to drag us into the action. You might want to cheer him on, you might want to punch him in the face, but as a viewer, you're always glad to see him. And that's a hard enough feat for a series regular to pull off, let alone when you're a recurring player who moves in and out of the story. No wonder why shows keep snapping him up at every opportunity.
Perhaps one of the reasons he can create such intriguing alter egos is that he's an actor who really cares about his job, with the same devotion and excitement as the fans he's playing to every Monday night. This is the guy that you could sit and seriously talk about an episode with - and you'd want to, because he's so genuine, too. Whether we're talking about on-camera battling the next thing from beyond or off-camera as one of the good guys in the business, JR Bourne is pretty badass. Let's hope Chris Argent keeps fighting the good fight for years to come.
The season premiere of Teen Wolf is tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on MTV. For more on JR, be sure you're following him on Twitter (@iamjrbourne).