Anyone who's read the novel "13 Reasons Why" will be familiar with Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) and the part he plays in Hannah's (Katherine Langford) story, but those new to Netflix's new drama are still hopefully spoiler-free.
Screener caught up with Prentice to discuss the stunning new series, and how his character mixes in with the other kids in Hannah's life.
"[Bryce] is popular, wealthy, kind of has life already set out," Prentice says. "His trajectory is already made for him. And then with all of that comes the cons, I guess, of the personality. He’s a little entitled. He’s a little arrogant in certain aspects."
We'd have to agree with that fairly generous depiction of Bryce, but we're more partial to the description he's given in the first episode: "Frat Boy Darth Vader."
"That was actually in the original breakdown for the auditions. That was part of the description, 'Frat Boy Darth Vader.' I was like, 'I have to be this character!'" Prentice jokes.
As the series goes on, we see many sides to Bryce, some good, some bad, and some terrible. Like all the people in Hannah's life, Bryce was at best an enabler and instigator of the bullying culture at the school, and at worse an active and vile participant. Still, Prentice made sure to remind us that none of these kids can be seen as one specific thing, which is the beauty of a series like "13 Reasons Why."
"What I think the show did a great job of is, none of the characters are one-sided," Prentice says. "There are many facets to all of them, so Bryce has, you know, even though he’s a bit of the 'douchebag,' some might label him as, he still takes care of his buddies a lot of the time, you know? He still looks out for those close to him and whatnot. That doesn’t necessarily redeem him, I guess, with what happens in the story, but I guess that’s up to everyone else."
The duality of Hannah's story was what drew executive producer Selena Gomez to the project in the first place, back when it was still a novel being shopped around as a feature film.
"She and her mother, Mandy Teefey -- I don't think the project would have been made with out them. They've been one of the main, driving forces from the get-go," Prentice says. "Because originally I think it was supposed to be a feature, and now it's a series on Netflix, which is amazing."
We can't imagine "13 Reasons Why" being half as moving or intense as a film rather than a series. Getting 13 hours to tell this complicated story achieved so much more than a 2-hour movie ever could have, so we're completely on board with the decision to make it a Netflix original.
Unsurprisingly, so is Justin Prentice. "I'm so glad it's a series, because you really get to sink your teeth into the characters and take the journey with them, which I think is really fun," he says. "And obviously because it's a series, we get to go a lot deeper than the book does, so you get to really dive into the issues that are rooted within the characters."
"13 Reasons Why" is available now on Netflix.