We interviewed Jonathan Keltz (of “Entourage,” “Republic of Doyle,” and “Reign”) to learn a bit about the October 9th season three premiere of “Reign.” Jonathan also shares which actors inspired him most growing up, one of his favorite things about playing Leith, and what we can expect with his future projects. Click play to listen to the interview, or read the transcript below.
CTV: First of all, where do you call home? Because I know you’ve spent lots of time in parts of New York, LA, and Toronto—so do you consider any certain city home?
Jonathan: It’s interesting. I have indeed, and they’re all home in different ways. New York’s where my siblings are and Toronto is where my parents are and where we shoot the show. And LA is where I’ve been mainly based, where my girlfriend is, so it’s hard. I would say that wherever I am, I’m generally missing some of the other places. At this point, I don’t know if I could be anywhere 12 months a year. Like right now I’m definitely missing LA and my lady who’s out there, so I’d say that wherever she is, that’s home.
CTV: Oh good. That’s sweet. So you’ve been in many, many projects and you were involved in your schools’ drama programs in New York and Toronto. At what age did you know that you wanted to pursue acting professionally? And further, what sparked that passion for performing in you?
Jonathan: It’s interesting. I don’t know what it was that made me feel like I wanted to perform, but I just saw it and I was like, “I want to do that.” It was like from ten years old on that I was like “I want to do this,” and very determinedly so. I was one of those little serious already thinks he’s an adult kids. And I was supported by my parents and I was just able to commit. Like you said, I was in upstate New York and I was at this school called Poughkeepsie Day School that had an unbelievable drama program and teacher named Victoria Silvestri, who was really encouraging and supported me. She actually put Hamlet in my hand when I was like, 10 or 11 years old. I was just “Holy jeez, I want to do that.” I was always watching movies and TV shows with my parents, and whatever it was or something big was out, we’d watch it and I just always loved the movies. When I was finishing middle school, I was taking classes outside of my school. I did a community college course and the teacher of that referred me to a class with Alan Arkin that I got to take. So, right from 13, 14 on, I was really determined to be studying outside of school, and then it was the move to Toronto that ended up being just the catalyst for everything. I started taking on camera classes as soon as I got to Toronto, and I was PA’ing for free on productions and sets and non-union stuff, and union stuff wherever I could. And then once we become permanent residents in Canada and I could work professionally, I used referrals I had to sign up an agent and got off to the races.
CTV: That’s awesome. I’ve read you’ve been involved in so many things, and not just acting itself, but programs and all sorts of training opportunities that you could find. It sounds like you’ve had some great mentors growing up, but when you said you were watching all of those movies, and you were always into performing, which actors did you look up to while growing up?
Jonathan: I’ve always been a huge Paul Newman fan. Newman and Redford are the tops for me. Matt Damon’s been somebody I’ve always really looked up to, especially now when you look at the last 20-25 years of his career and everything that he was able to do, and the life he’s been able to lead as a fantastic actor and star and all of that. There’s been a lot of actors that I’ve really looked up to, but I like the classic leading men and the guys who don’t make a whole lot of fuss doing it.
CTV: Of course. So “Reign” premieres on Friday on CW.
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CTV: Super exciting. I’m sure you’re limited to what you can share, but can you give us any hint at all about what we can expect for Leith in season three?
Jonathan: There’s a tiger in Friday night’s episode. That’s awesome!
CTV: A tiger?
Jonathan: Actual, living, breathing tiger, yes.
CTV: Oh my gosh.
Jonathan: It’s in the trailer, so I feel completely comfortable being able to talk about it, but there is a real tiger, and that was a real 17-year-old tiger named Robby that was on set.
CTV: Oh my gosh. Did you get—like how close up did you get with Robby?
Jonathan: I didn’t. I’m actually not in this first episode that we have on Friday. There is quite a lot of drama going on in England, so I think I’m off dealing with a couple of other things during this first one. But it’s a great episode. Basically, the beginning of the battle of the queens.
CTV: What is your favorite thing or most fun thing about playing Leith?
image credit: overrunbyscots.tumblr.com
Jonathan: Oh. I would say, when I get to ride horses for the show. I love riding horses, and I love getting to work with them, so that’s probably one of my favorite things about playing the character.
CTV: And if you had to describe him in three words, which three words would you use to describe him?
Jonathan: Loyal, honorable, stubborn.
CTV: Yes, I would say those are accurate. What’s it like acting on a period piece? You went from “Entourage” to this show, what’s that like?
Jonathan: It’s a lot of fun. You know, what’s so good about being an actor is all these different lives that you get to lead and getting to play around in this world has been so much fun, and this is really the first time I’ve had a chance to live a character over so much time. I did “Entourage” for a couple of years, but it was sort of like quick pops running around and that sort of thing. I really lived a chunk of [Leith’s] life, and have gone through this journey with him. And so, it’s been a really great experience sort of getting to shift and grow and to feel the history of it. Just Celina and I were talking the other day about the first couple of episodes that we did. It’s crazy. It’s two and a half years ago. Just to sort of get to go through it all and to have these relationships. To feel this court come alive, it’s been a lot of fun.
image credit: overrunbyscots.tumblr.com
CTV: Nice. So we are an entertainment blog so I have to ask you, what’s your favorite show to binge watch? When you’re not working all the time, what do you just sit down and you can watch a million episodes of?
Jonathan: Oh, man. There’s way too many to count. I’m a big “Suits” fan, big “Game of Thrones” fan, obviously. House of Cards, Breaking Bad…
CTV: The classics.
Jonathan: I just started “Narcos.” I don’t know if I’m going to binge it, but it’s good.
CTV: Those are great.
Jonathan: I’m going to stick with those, for the moment. [laughs]
CTV: And do you have any upcoming projects in the works? I think I saw one or two things…
Jonathan: Yeah, I’ve got a few things going on. Actually, I just shot an episode of “Man Seeking Woman,” the FXX show.
CTV: Oh, nice.
Jonathan: It was a lot of fun, Jay [Baruchel] is absolutely hysterical, and he had me laughing in the middle of takes. And I was not supposed to be laughing, but it’s all good. And Simon Rich who’s the show runner, the creator of the show, is just a genius. Getting to do it and sort of play in that ridiculous world was an absolute blast. I also have a production company with Giacomo Gianniotti who was on the first season of “Reign;” he played Lord Julien for us and he’s now on “Grey’s Anatomy.” We have a film that we’re working on, shooting next year.
CTV: Next year we can expect that?…
Jonathan: Yeah, once everyone’s done with their TV shows.
CTV: Right. I know you’re all pretty busy right now. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jonathan. Again, I know you probably have a million interviews this week. We appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.
Jonathan: My absolute pleasure.
CTV: And have a wonderful premiere week and we can’t wait to catch Leith on the show.
Jonathan: Thank you.