Welcome to Sanditon star Kyle Walters speaks exclusively to Hypable about how transmedia elements have influenced his portrayal of Edward Denham, and much more.
Transmedia is a huge part of this Lizzie Bennet Diaries spinoff, so much so that some of the actors base their interpretation off the transmedia elements created for the show. This is the case for newbie Kyle Walters, who plays Edward Denham on Welcome to Sanditon, the geek who is torn between his job and his new found feelings for a certain ice-cream seller.
You can also check out the other interviews in our Welcome to Sanditon series, with actors Joel Bryant (Mayor Tom Parker) and Lenne Klingaman (Clara Breton), and transmedia producer Alexandra Edwards.
Exclusive interview: Kyle Walters
Tell us about your audition process
It began like any other audition… me entering a tiny waiting room with a ton of white 20-somethings holding headshots and scripts. My adam’s apple gulped, and I said, “FINE let’s do this.” I straightened my tie, fixed my vest and sat down.
Then one of my good buddies walked in the room. Yup, he was auditioning for the part, too. So we talked about video games until I was called in to the audition room. That nerd-out helped me get in character.
Then it’s always fun to get a callback, especially for a character that I felt I could relate to so much. The problem was that his geekdom was different from mine. I’m much more of a Star Wars and 80s popscifi…where as he tends towards older and more british sci-fi.
So I used the audition process to watch hours upon hours of old sci-fi. Luckily, after I watched the BBC’s Rise of the Triffids (1981), I could see exactly where Edward was coming from.
The team made such a fun audition room, that I was happy to play with the sides and I was free to explore with them. It also makes it easy when you’re reading the sides with the amazing talent of Allison Paige and Lenne Klingaman.
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 absolutely. I had a conference call with Jenni Powell and Margaret Dunlap prior to being cast where we talked about my openness to fans, having my face be on the twitter profile pic of my character, etc.
What has your experience of the fandom been?
Honestly, it’s been so fun – and one of the most fulfilling parts of this (superduperlyamazing) project. Being a fanboy myself (more for comic books, James Bond and monkeys), I know how passionate we can be.
What has been great is the overall supportive and protective nature of the LBDWTS fans. Many of them reached out to me after the first episode warning me of the rabid gloriousness of their fandom. They were right! I’ve been glittered, animated, had my head put on a dancing badger.
The beauty of the interaction between fans and an online series is that the show never ends. Working on a typical project you get to enjoy being cast, filming, and then seeing the premiere or the episode on TV. Then it feels like it’s over.
But with Welcome to Sanditon‘s fandom, I get to refresh twitter and tumblr a bajillion times a day all week. (I kind of feel like I am part of a fandom for the fandom). Recently, I have been really into reading the fanfic.
Do you follow your character’s transmedia interactions on Twitter, Facebook, etc.?
I try to hit it up once a week. It’s fun to get to read more about a character and see what he’s up to all of the time, even though the guy’s got more twitter followers than me.
I particularly enjoy whenever @TheEdwardDenham interacts with @TomPofSanditon. The heavy sarcasm I read in their twitter interactions influenced some of my acting choices when we filmed more episodes.
My favorite was following Ed’s AMA on reddit. I learned so much about my own character as well as the beginnings of the Sanditon RP world. It was where I first learned about the death of Jawsica (someone accused Edward of murdering him!). I also found out that Edward would have been in Slytherin – I’ve since been incorporating Hogwarts house-placement into the crafting of my characters.
Were you familiar with ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ before beginning this project?
I had actually auditioned for Bernie Su and Jenni Powell about a year earlier (for a different project), so I watched a handful of episodes back then. It was super cute and fun to watch, but I hadn’t fully comprehended the awesomeness of it’s fandom and transmediosity until very recently. Before filming, I joyously watched all of the Gigi episodes – along with a few others.
What was your previous experience with Jane Austen and ‘Sanditon’?
Other than having watched a ton of the movies and tv shows (my favorite being Colin Firth’s Pride and Prejudice) I’d actually read Persuasion years ago for a film project that fell-through.
I hadn’t read Sanditon until after I was cast in this series. While I read Sanditon, I pictured Maggie Smith acting out every character in the book (since i’m a huge Downton Abbey fanboy… I even call my apartment “Downton Abbey” – half is for entertaining guests and the rest is for me to prepare meals and to slave away in my office).
Sanditon was such an interesting read, knowing that Austen was on her death bed writing of an ocean-side town that may or may not provide healing powers. Since she (unfortunately) didn’t get to finish the novel – only creating the world and it’s players – its a great starting point for all of our imaginations and stories to come out of.
Where else can fans find you? Any upcoming projects?
I’m pretty much on twitter every day now… typically tweeting about how I’m a nerd. I definitely post any news on my personal website and on my Facebook page – and after the cool experience with Welcome to Sanditon, I plan on creating some digital series of my own.
Image: Courtesy of Kyle Walters