A few months ago we had the opportunity to talk with actor Jonathan Keltz about his role on The CW’s period drama Reign where he stars as Leith Baynard.
How is Season 3 going so far?
It’s going really well. We’re almost half way done with shooting, we start episode 9 tomorrow we are just doing 18 episodes this season so we’re in the thick of it. And it’s going really well, I’m really happy with the scripts this season and I think it’s a nice blending of the tone of season one and the tone of season two combined.
What have you liked the most so far?
Probably the tiger that we have in this week’s episode but that’s just a fun little thing. I can’t say too much but I just think that we brought a lot of the fun back this season, the light-hearted fun of it all and there’s some moments that are a little exciting and fun. I think it balances the weight of it all very nicely and I like seeing that sort of back and forth.
Do you think the viewers can expect to see a change in how Leith is so driven by his determined nature now that he realizes that Greer will never stop putting promises for financial security?
Yeah, I think that Greer and Leith have realized that they have some irreconcilable differences between them and between the lives that they want to live and I don’t know if their stubbornness or their desires will move outside of that. Like you said, Leith is a very determined guy but I think that after the second time Greer turned down his proposal, that’s probably where things will lie and where they will stay between them. Hopefully, they can find a way to move past it and find some common ground and maybe stay as friends but it’s very raw and sore. All of my life was structured around trying to figure out a way to be with her and obviously she’s been through her own turmoil and ordeal and struggles. Through that she’s found an independence in herself that she’s clinging to, that she now can’t live without so I think that we’ve come up against our own differences and insecurities and I don’t think that they are necessarily enough to make a relationship work.
What do you make of Leith’s upbringing and the way it affects how he approaches situations?
I think as somebody who’s always had frustrations with the class structure of court and of the time, he grew up on a farm with his family and then to be able to work and to get to a place where he was able to finally get a job as a servant and a cook in the kitchen so that was sort of where he thought that he had elevated himself too. And then with everything that’s happened in the last couple of years on the show, it’s highlighted and it’s become inescapable this whole problem with this structure. No matter how high he seems to be able to rise, it never seems to be enough. So now being locked in, the bodyguards with the princess is probably the job and that career that he’ll have for a while until something was to change its course. And so with that stagnation, how can he reinvent his personal life?
Do you think that his morals are going to clash with Claude’s persona? Do you see their sides clashing more?
We’ve definitely seen them bicker back and forth. I mean they couldn’t have come from more different upbringings and they’re also definitely in places where they don’t mind calling each other out. It’s a lot of fun to seem them bicker and banter, that tug of war of it all. I think that for the most part all Leith’s focused on right now is not getting into trouble.
I’m very lucky with the amount of talented people that I get to work with, obviously the cast but then also, the entire crew and the art department that designs the castle sets that we have is stunning, so getting to show up to work and to be able to walk those halls has definitely really helped transport me into the world of it all.
What’s your favorite thing about filming Reign?
One of the things that I love most is getting to work with the horses. I love riding horses so whenever I get to hop on a horse and swing a sword I’m a happy camper.
When Reign first started people seemed to be kind of surprised that it ended up doing so well, I don’t think people were expecting a period piece on the CW to actually latch on to viewers the way that it has. Were you surprised by this as well or were you kind of expecting it?
We definitely have a new take on a period drama, this is yes a period drama but it’s also a modernized reimagining of the relationships and the humanization of who these people were. Yes, of course, we have the core characters and the structures of the time but I definitely think that there’s a lending of a modernized mindset to the show and that’s what made it unique and accessible for the CW audience. I was excited to see that we got such a broad audience and it’s been really great getting to see that people all over the world are watching the show.
Reign does a really good job of showing people that there are some things that we still have to work on and that we will probably always have to continue to work on. Do you like the way that Reign is kind of subtle with pointing that out or do you wish that it would be a little more aggressive with it?
I think we flirt with the line, there are some ways that we’re subtle about it and some ways that we are pretty outspoken about it. The show did a good job of moving quickly. We don’t waste time talking about stuff, we do stuff. The show moves at an alarming pace and it’s allowed us to evolve what the tone of the show is. The show began with just this story about girlfriends trying to figure out this strange world that they’re rushed into and then to try to figure out a way to grow up together. With everything that’s happened the politics, the religious battles, death, loss of family and friends. It’s been able to show in very specific circumstances the universal truth that we all do have.
It is definitely subtle, I think a lot of times especially with the relationships it’s blatant that these are things that we’re all juggling and we’re all dealing with.
The heart of the breakdown of the relationship between Greer and Leith was about two people with their own vision and dreams for what their life would be and them not being able to reconcile those differences. To have Greer be this independent, modern woman refusing to make any concessions and Leith is refusing to accept any of those new aspects of her and to be determined to form this conventional idea of a family that he’s always had, I think we do a nice job of balancing those things. It’s fun to get to incorporate it all and blend it all together.
If there is anyone from the cast that you haven’t been able to work with as much but you would like for that to change or you are seeing it changing this season, who would it be and why?
I had these little scenes with Craig Parker who plays Narcisse last season but I would love to have some more stuff with him, he’s such a fantastic talented actor and a dear friend it would be a lot of fun to have Leith and Narcisse square off at some point.