The CW's version of Beauty and the Beast isn't all about romance.
A modern-day retelling of the classic fairy tale story, the latest iteration starring Smallville grad Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan, centers on a detective, Catherine, (Kreuk) who begins a romance with a doctor named Vincent (Ryan), who went missing in Afghanistan and was at one point thought to be dead. The concept may seem generic at first, but as the stars reassure, there is more to the story than meets the eye.
"The dark element that they're going to take the Beast excites me," Ryan told The Hollywood Reporter, "because that's where I wanted to go with it. I want to see how much of a killing machine the Beast can be. Originally the network toyed with the idea of the Beast being a serial killer, so there's an element of that that may bubble up again in the series."
Catherine's tragic family story -- her mother was shot and killed in front of her -- will be a major factor as the series unfolds. "Catherine has a certain amount of tolerance for certain things that other people don't," Kreuk said. "There isn't a lot to be afraid of anymore."
Kreuk and Ryan spoke to THR about the show's The X-Files-esque quality, the danger that faces Catherine and Vincent and delving deep into the darker aspects of the story.
THR: What three shows would you liken Beauty and the Beast to?
Ryan: The Vampire Diaries for the look, the original Beauty and the Beast for the romance and The X-Files. In some ways, X-Files was a really unique procedural about aliens and sci-fi elements, but it was kind of the case of the week. I think we have that with Catherine's cop background. Mulder and Scully had that connection, I feel that we will be playing off that as well. If you stuck all three and drew out a graphic novel, then you'd have our show. [Laughs]
Kreuk: Nikita on an action level, the old Beauty and the Beast and CSI.
THR: You made your first visit to Comic-Con this past summer. How do you think the pilot was received there?
Ryan: There was a lot of explaining to do, especially them seeing me and Kristin and the whole Beast element. People sort of looked at me and went, “Wait, how does that work?” That was interesting to see their point of view and see how passionate they were about the Beast. Our version of the Beast is an internal demon. And sure, he does beast out physically and look [that way], but not all the time. He does get grotesque. As the series goes on, you’ll see that element a lot more, especially because we want the Beast to mutate and almost overpower Vincent’s humanity to create great conflict – and a threat to Catherine as well.
Kreuk: They were laughing at the jokes. They seemed invested. They stayed for the questions. No one mass exited the room, there were no boos and they seemed genuinely excited about it.
THR: Can you speak to the dynamic that’s established early on between Catherine and Vincent? How does that evolve, knowing that there is this element of danger?
Kreuk: Catherine needs to believe that there are good and bad guys in the world, that if she stops the bad guys, nobody will go through what she went through -- and it's a flawed belief. Meeting Vincent, she starts to realize that isn't true and she starts to do things she would've considered bad before. In that, her world starts to fall apart a little bit.
Ryan: They have this relationship and we really want to see it tested at any moment. It gets scary to think that he could kill her. We really want to push the danger, which is lovely against the romantic side of it. It’s the yin and the yang. We all love the bad boy or the hard-to-get woman and to watch that play out, it prolongs [it]. It’s great TV because it’s a long journey.
THR: Internal struggles seem to be an ongoing theme. What do you hope to delve deeper on?
Kreuk: Every crime is a metaphor for whatever is going on for her or for Vincent or both of them. With her and Vincent, how they begin to come together because they're five gajillion things keeping them apart -- emotional instability, the fact that they don't trust each other or anybody, that he needs to stay away from the public. What you have is two people who have to find creative ways to relate with each other, where Catherine actually has to sit and write a letter by hand to give to him. You don't have three episodes and then they're having sex.
THR: In Vincent’s case, we know there are other factors at play. Can you explain his Muirfield connection?
Ryan: There’s a higher power, Muirfield, which is trying to track him down which he’s on the run from. He wants to be human and he wants to not have to live his life in hiding. When he meets Catherine, he realizes they both want the same things – to gain justice and maybe be together. Because they’re alpha about it, they keep knocking heads. It’s about gaining trust from each and learning not how to be ticked off. She will eventually make him realize that this beast mutation can be for the better instead of something he needs to hide from. There’s more hope for him as the series goes on.
THR: The mutations, as was mentioned earlier, play a big role in your character's story. How much will we be seeing that evolve?
Ryan: The mutations will create these impulses in him that he can't control, which are very deadly and dangerous. He's going to be completely unaware of what's happening.
Kreuk: When Catherine's committed to something, she's committed. With him, she doesn't know what that is yet.
THR: I assume most of the episodes will be told through Catherine's perspective, but will we ever see events unfold from the Beast's POV?
Ryan: I think so. I think we'll start to see Vincent's story take over some episodes. There is a lot of flashbacks happening and J.T. (Austin Basis) acts like Vincent's confidante and he keeps him in hiding, so we want to play with the backstory of the two because that's his only outlet. It's almost like he's in a stunted marriage with J.T.
THR: Who would be the dream guest star to appear on the show?
Ryan: Linda Hamilton [from the 1987 TV series], though I don't know if she'd do the show. I would like her to come on and play someone completely different than Catherine [in the original series], maybe someone from Muirfield.
THR: What was the funniest moment filming the pilot?
Ryan: Whenever the Beast mask is put on me, I get into this crazy alter ego joker. Kristin cannot stop laughing, which is detrimental to me for my performance. I also got nicknamed "Diva" because I have an addiction to coffee, but back in New Zealand, coffee is a real luxury -- like wine -- so I really hated the coffee in Canada; it was weak and not good, so I always want proper coffee. The intern who always has to get my coffee nicknamed me "Diva" in a loving way. He'd bring the coffee in and it'd have "Diva" written on the cup.
THR: What are you hoping viewers will get from watching the show?
Ryan: I want them to be intrigued and I want them to feel the mystery of these two characters. It's hard because it's a pilot, so you can only say so much and do much. I hope people give it a good chance to get hooked in.
Kreuk: I want people to come out really understanding that the human being is so beyond everything we make prejudices about, judgments about, what we look at, what we think is a good or a bad trait. There's a soul that's beyond all that, and we're all connected in that way.
THR: If you weren't starring on this show, what other role would you have liked to have done?
Ryan: Six Feet Under -- even just for the final episode. You know how they fastforwarded through the characters lives? That was incredible.
Beauty and the Beast premieres 9 p.m. Thursday on The CW.
Editor's note: The two interviews were conducted separately.