Welcome to Sanditon‘s Joel Bryant speaks to Hypable about auditioning with Allison Paige, his frustrations with his character, and what it is like playing the “bad Mayor.”

Joel Bryant portrays bad guy Mayor Tom Parker on Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ spinoff Welcome to Sanditon. While Sanditon is picking up in plot, Bryant took the time to speak exclusively with Hypable about his experiences on Welcome to Sanditon, how he dealt with fan expectations coming off The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and much more.

Hypable exclusive interview: Joel Bryant

What was your audition process like?

I saw the posting and immediately submitted for it. I didn’t recognize the title of the project, but I saw Bernie Su and Jenni Powell attached to it, and that it was a spin-off of Lizzie Bennet. I’d work with those two on anything, and the LBD connection only sweetened the deal.

My manager actually called and said, “Um, I’ve just got a call for this audition. For something called Sanditon.”

And I said, “Yeah. I’m going in on that one.”

He said, “You sure? It’s just a web series-”

“Absolutely! Not only do I know Bernie and Jenni, I know they make good stuff. That people actually watch. And it’s a spinoff of a hugely successful web series. Yes, I’m reading for it!”

The audition was pretty to-the-point. I read for Margaret, Jay and Stuart. At the callback, Jenni and Bernie joined in. Plus, I got to read opposite Allison Paige. It was so fun and so comfortable. There’s nothing better than going into a room where you know people and can play and have fun and get a chance to really nail the part.

Did anyone sit you down and explain the level of fan response that ‘Welcome to Sanditon’ would probably receive, based on ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’?

Oh yes! That was the whole first half of our rehearsal. When I got there, I met Kyle and Lenne, and then Jay, Bernie and Margaret started giving us the run-down on the amazing fanbase. Truthfully, you learn to take things with a grain of salt in this industry, but their summation – and warnings – were on-the-nose.

What has your experience of the fandom been?

Nothing short of awesome! Which is refreshing in this age of internet anonymity and accessibility. As soon as the first episode aired, it’s been nothing but positive interactions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, you name it. Of course, anything with the hype of an LBD spinoff would have it’s work cut out for it to meet expectations, but even if they critique, the fans are sincere and invested. And so dang nice. Thank you!

I’ve heard nothing but positive towards us “newbies,” and one of my greatest joys has been following the RP building of Sanditon by the fans from afar. It’s mesmerizing!

I’ve been GIFed, glittered, followed, liked, and welcomed. Even as the “bad Mayor.” This kind of fandom is something one could get used to…

Do you follow your character’s transmedia interactions on Twitter, Facebook, etc.?

I try to follow @TomPofSanditon, but it’s hard. For two reasons. First, there’s just so much to follow with Sanditon and its “residents.” Honestly, I don’t have enough time to invest all 24 hours into it. I do my best to see what Tom’s up to, but there is so much interesting stuff going on in make-believe Sanditon.

Secondly, wow, is he frustrating on Twitter! Which is a testament to the writers. He’s kind of been exposed as being not as “tech savvy” as he thinks he is…which frustrates those of us who have a working knowledge of this social media thing. But he makes me laugh. Which is about the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever said…

Were you familiar with ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ before beginning this project?

Absolutely! Anyone who works in the New Media space was immediately aware of it. There is so much content out there that as soon as something breaks from the pack and becomes a bonafide “hit,” then it turns some heads. I didn’t watch it from the beginning but had to tune in to see what the fuss was about. And it’s place on the pedestal is well-deserved. It’s such a brilliant concept and execution! The good stuff should be unavoidable, right?

What was your previous experience with Jane Austen and ‘Sanditon,’ prior to beginning?

I had absolutely no knowledge of Sanditon. So its concept was lost on me while I was auditioning. And thankfully I’m not the only one, even among Austen-ites, so that statement isn’t totally sacrilegious. As far as Jane Austen goes, I had read Pride & Prejudice and certainly seen its TV and film incarnations, as well as Emma and Sense & Sensibility.

Truth is, I didn’t read as much Austen when I was growing up. I wasn’t necessarily the demographic. I was more into comic books, Ralph S. Mouse, and Choose-Your-Own Adventures. But I’m always re-watching Pride & Prejudice because it has a permanent place on my DVR – with a shout-out to my wife for that one!

Finally, where else can fans find you? Any upcoming projects?

I’m always very active online on Facebook and Twitter. I’m also on Tumblr, LinkedIn, you name it…though I use those less (unless I’m seeing what WTS fans are mocking up on Tumblr). My YouTube channel is just a collection of YouTube vids I’ve done and/or been in. And finally, you can always check out my website. It has more videos, more info, and a direct link to my wife’s work…which is amazing!

Also, if you’re in LA, I’m in a well-reviewed play at the Zephyr Theatre. Hit up The Boomerang Effect for more info on that. I’m in the run until July 13 and it’s Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm.

Photo: Courtesy of Joel Bryant

Edited by Karen Rought