“Teen Wolf”’s Crystal Reed: “Nothing Infuriates Me More Than Small-Minded People”

Crystal Reed

What MTV’s Skins couldn’t do, Teen Wolf managed to do. No, not get lots of hot guys shirtless. (Skins managed that just fine.)

What Teen Wolf also accomplished was getting decent ratings, a pretty rabid fanbase and a second season. Indeed, despite initially having much less buzz behind it, the supernatural drama, which is very loosely based on the Michael J. Fox movie, has been a steady performer this year. So much so that last month the network gave the series a greenlight for a second season.

That’s due in no small part to the show’s appealing and attractive cast including Tyler Posey as Scott McCall, Dylan O’Brien as Stiles, Colton Haynes as Jackson, and Tyler Hoechner as Derek Hale.

That the show has a gay following isn’t exactly a surprise. In addition to the show’s generous beefcake (Derek Hale is bound to be shirtless in any given episode), there is also the fact that the show’s head writer is the out Jeff Davis, as well as the existence of Danny, the out best friend of Jackson, who actually had a nice moment in last week’s episode.

And then there is Crystal Reed who plays the increasingly kick-ass Allison Argent. Hey, us gay and bi guys have always had a soft spot for beautiful women who know how to take care of themselves. AfterElton.com recently caught up with Reed to discuss her character’s evolution, the appeal of supernatural dramas and how she reacted when her first boyfriend came out to her.

AfterElton: Let’s talk about how Allison has changed over the first season.
Crystal Reed: She’s completely changed. She’s gone through the
ringer really. She’s been lied to. She finds out that her family is
werewolf hunters. I mean werewolves exist, so she’s got to be, she’s
grown to be a lot stronger because she has to.

AE: Has that been a lot of fun for you to play?
CR: Yeah, yeah. The weirdest thing is I didn’t know my
character’s arc because we were getting scripts by the episode, so I had
no idea where we were going with it. I didn’t know the end at the
beginning, so it was difficult for me to play certain things in Episode
One that I [didn’t know] were going to happen in Episode Twelve.

But it was really fun for me when I found out that I was going to be
able to work with a bow and arrow. And I do my own stunts, and that’s
really fun. I got here and Jeff [Davis] was like “You need to get into
amazing physical shape for Season Two and I won’t tell you why.” And I’m
like “Yes!” because I come from theater and for me being physical is
such an important thing.

AE: Seems like even today in 2011, the roles for women in the
movies aren’t nearly as good as they are on television. How gratifying
is it playing your character Allison Argent who is evolving quite a bit?

CR: Yeah it’s amazing. You’re totally right there
aren’t a lot of strong roles. But I do feel like, when you think about
who are the actresses in the U.S. who can open a box-office with major
success, and you think of people like Angelina Jolie. And I think that
America gravitates more toward strong women, I don’t know what it is.
But we love to see that. We love to see females be really strong, and
for me it’s really great because for me, I can play the girl next door
all day long, but it’s not very fun. I’m really happy that Jeff has
written where I can be a little stronger. I’m really excited for Season

AE: Why? Something in particular you can tell us about?
CR: No, no nothing particular. I’m just excited that I
get to do more physical things and maybe take… They are writing it now
so I’ll be able to really see what happens throughout the season. Like
lay down the groundwork for different episodes in the beginning.

AE: What’s been the most surprising thing about doing the show?
CR: I honestly had no idea it was going to be this [closely] followed. I didn’t know it was going to be … I’m too busy and there is so much marketing behind it … that it would be such a big hit.

AE: Is it hard to wrap your mind around that? Seeing yourself in ads and going to Comic-Con?
CR: Yeah, it’s weird for me. I came from theater in Detroit. I’m like a small town kind of girl, so it is a little strange for me. I don’t really see myself in the public eye and I don’t really want to be. I just want to do good work.

AE: That’s got to be sort of difficult when a show like this hits then.
CR: The only thing that I think I like to embrace is that fact that I’ll be getting better roles and people will take more notice and I can do the things I want to do. That’s pretty much it though.

AE: You seem really thoughtful and quite smart. Did you go to college?
Yeah, I did but I didn’t finish. I went to a theater conservatory and they were really strict about the way they were teaching us to act and I didn’t like it. I would start to question whether… I would start to say “Can I try this way?” or “Can we do different things?” and they were very strict in their method of acting and I just think that art is grey. It’s never black and white, so I left.

AE: There are so many supernatural shows out right now and I’m sort of curious, given how thoughtful you are, why do you think people are so fascinated by the idea of people turning into something else? Or not being who we think they are.

CR: Yeah, sure. I think that it’s a metaphor really. Especially for our show, I think that it’s a metaphor for teenagers trying to hide who they are or trying to figure out what they want people to know about them.

Whether it’s a girl who is insecure about her body or a young boy who is maybe gay and they don’t want to tell people. I talked to the creator at length about this and I think this is why people are so drawn to this because we get to experience it with him. Or for like The Vampire Diaries or Twilight, it’s sort of a secret. But as a viewer we get to watch Scott go through it and feel his pain and feel his struggle.

Especially for Allison, we feel that she’s being lied to. She’s changed a lot to and I think that’s why some people gravitate towards [the show] and supernatural things, because it’s really about transforming. And I think that’s why it’s so interesting. Also, it’s fantasy, so when we were five, we got to play kings and queens, and then we sort of grew up and were told that it’s wrong and it’s pretend, but I think as human beings, it’s still like we want to sit on the couch at the end of the night, eat some popcorn and be transformed into another world. It’s just entertaining.

AE: Since you mentioned a gay teen, are gay issues something you’ve thought about a lot?
CR: Oh, I’m absolutely 100% supportive. The majority of my friends are gay. I couldn’t be more completely supportive. The thing is, I grew up in a really conservative Catholic family in Detroit and I moved out of my community because it was completely small-minded and was not accepting of things I’m accepting of.

And I grew up in a Baptist Church that was really strict and I hated it. I absolutely hated it and I knew that I would never fit in. That’s why my community was like “You’re selfish for being an actor and you should be doing things for God.”

But it’s something I love and I’m an artist, and I just never really fit in with that. So I moved to L.A. and I was just so much more comfortable here. And there are more people here who are universally accepted for who they are and that is really really important to me. Nothing infuriates me more than small-minded people. Nothing. I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I have a lot of tolerance for a lot of things but that’s something I don’t tolerate.

AE: Given your upbringing, was there someone in your family or someone you knew introduced you to this way of thinking?
CR: Yeah, my boyfriend in high school was in a musical with me, we were in Grease together and he was my boyfriend. We went to college together, and I was the first one he came out to. He told me he was gay and I was like “Oh my God, but I still absolutely incredibly love you.”

It was interesting and we were in Detroit together and he actually lives in L.A. now and we’re really really close. That’s probably my first experience with that and knowing that it doesn’t matter, really, what you want or who you are, you know? I love you anyway.