Kyle Gallner is best known for his role as Cassidy Casablancas, aka Beaver, on Veronica Mars. Neglected by his parents, subjected to constant harassment from his brother, and basically living without friends, Cassidy reached his breaking point in Season Two. On the flip side, his character Jason on Big Love is always trying to walk the straight and narrow, and encouraging his best friend to do the same.
Now, giving time for fans to digest the Veronica Mars finale, Kyle speaks with us about Cassidy, his skateboarding skills and his greatest fears.
How far in advance were you told that Cassidy was the evil mastermind of Season Two?
About a month in advance. There were rumors going around the set for a few months about who the killer was – some got pretty close. A few weeks prior to shooting the finale, Rob calls me one day and explains to me that I would be the killer and that I was behind the whole bus crash. It was pretty intense.
Wow, I can imagine. What was your reaction?
(laughs) I don’t even know what to say. It was like… “Are you kidding?” (laughs)
If you found out later, is there anything (any scene or line) you would’ve done differently?
Probably not. [The character] was written that way for a reason because it made the reveal of Cassidy all the more shocking. They pretty much wrote him with the perfect balance of good and evil.
In your opinion, did Beaver feel any remorse at all about the bus crash? Or was he really just that broken?
Cassidy was just really broken. His dad – he looked right through and ignored him, his mom was never there, his brother – all he wants to do is publicly humiliate him. Until he met Mac, he was pretty much by himself. I think that’s why things went the way they did with Woody Goodman. He was such a lost kid and wanted nothing more than to be accepted. He wanted to be accepted and loved and Woody took advantage of that.
But I don’t think he felt any remorse about the bus crash until the end, right before he jumped. He realized that what he did was wrong and he had nothing more to live for, and he had messed things up so badly that there was no way he could fix it and him ending it all was pretty much the only thing he could do.
Your delivery of your last line, “My Name is Cassidy,” in “Not Pictured,” was amazing. I gasped when I watched it, and got a little weepy. I’ve noticed similar reactions of fans online. Did it take you long to prepare for that?
As soon as I found out I was going to be the killer, I was like, “Okay, I need that script now.” I studied the script from the day I got it up until the day I filmed it, pretty much working it out.
Did you find that it changed the way you filmed the episodes that came before the finale?
It was definitely a sense of “this is it, this is the end.” I want to do something good – if I’m going to go out, I’m going out with a bang. I definitely – I don’t want to say that I didn’t work hard on the other episodes, but I knew that was my last chance, that was it.
When you read the script, what was your thought process preparing for that scene?
I [needed] to be basically as evil as I can up until the point where I realize I’m in trouble, and realize that I’m really this abused and troubled kid who wanted nothing more than [to have] a parent who loved him, a brother who loved him, real friends. I had screwed it up so badly. [As an actor,] I had to go from one extreme to another in, like, a second. It was trying to imagine how that would really feel.
Did Beaver love Mac?
Yeah, yes. I think that Beaver definitely did love Mac. In the show, she’s like the only person to actually challenge him, she could actually make him laugh, she was the only person he could be himself with, the only person who liked him for who he was. To Cassidy, she was his biggest escape – she was the only one that Cassidy would never hurt.
In the scene where Cassidy ended up taking her clothes, and she was crying in the corner, I’m sure that people would see it as mean and awful. But when I read the script, the way that I saw it is that Cassidy took her clothes to keep her out of harm’s way. The last thing Cassidy would want was for her to be up on that roof, for her to potentially get hurt or to get in trouble. In Cassidy’s mind, it was his own twisted way of protecting her and making sure that everything was okay.
That’s really interesting. And a much nicer interpretation of the line “He took everything.”
Oh sure, her scene was… heartbreaking. I was watching it thinking, “Oh my god, I’m so mean.” But I read it as… Cassidy wanted to keep her safe.
Did the cast watch the last episode together?
Rob Thomas threw a party at his house to watch the season finale and a bunch of people showed up.
What was the general reaction to the finale?
Everybody liked it – for me, it was really bizarre because I had finished filming the season and I knew it was over, and I knew I was dead, I knew I was gone but there were episodes that still needed to be aired. So there was a little part that needed to be finished and as soon as the episode aired, it’s was kind of like, “wow, it’s over. It’s really over.”
What will you miss most about being on Veronica Mars?
I’m going to miss the people the most. Everyone was really close, like a family – I’d never worked on a set where everybody got along so well.
It’s also nice to have constant work. With acting, it’s a lot of ups and downs – I was on the show for a year, and I can go weeks or months without work. I’m really grateful to Rob Thomas and everybody for giving me the opportunity to work on that show for so long.
So, Ryan Hansen. . . how much like Dick Casablancas is he, really?
They’re total opposites (laughs). Ryan is the nicest person you will ever meet. He’s like a big kid – we got along like we were real brothers. When we were filming, I stayed at his place in San Diego. We’re really close – it was cool.
No public humiliation?
We might have publicly humiliated ourselves, but that was on purpose.
When you stepped off the roof for Cassidy’s big finish, what was actually there? Air mattress? Floor? Blue screen?
We did it twice – the actual filming on the roof, there was a helicopter pad on the roof. They made a replica of the railing – what I did was step up on that and jump off the railing into an air mattress.
So, you didn’t actually have to jump off a roof.
No, but it was creepy, though. Even though you know you’re completely safe, the edge of the building is like only 8 feet away. It’s pretty unnerving. It took me about ten minutes to build up the nerve to jump off the roof the first time.
Do you have a general fear of heights, or was it just so much at that moment?
See, that’s the thing. I do not have a fear of heights at all. I was the kid who would see how high I could get in the trees. I was always climbing something. But I wasn’t allowed to look down, I had to step off completely blind and backwards.
Yeah, it was pretty scary. We did it a second time in the studio in front of a green screen where they built a little platform for me to jump off into an air mattress.
Not nearly as frightening?
Everyone is dying to know – Who is the Sally that Dick referred to? If you don’t know exactly, do you have any theories of your own?
Sally is an empty threat – there’s nothing to Sally. The writers threw it in as a way to get Dick off me.
So you have no theories.
I have no theories, I know nothing (laughs). She might show up in Season Three, you never know.
Sally may show up after all, avenge Cassidy’s death.
You never know, she could!
Big Love seems to be a clearinghouse for Veronica Mars characters. Was there a casting agent scouting the grounds while you all were shooting, or does it seem to be a happy coincidence?
I’ve been asked that a couple of times… everyone’s like “What?” No, it’s just a big coincidence. We all auditioned, we all got picked. It was just the luck of the draw.
On “Big Love,” your character Jason has been instrumental in pushing Ben towards events that encourage a sense of religious purity. Why do you think Jason is so vested in keeping Ben and himself in the pure and righteous path?
I think I try to keep Ben – although I’ve had this huge struggle with his religion, he’s had a lot of questions and he’s trying to find his place in the world. Although on the show, there’s always some kind of hidden agenda.
Will we learn more about Jason’s homelife?
That’s up to the writers, so far… no clue.
Name your number one irrational fear.
Well, this contradicts the not being afraid of heights thing, I am terrified of flying. I am a wreck right before I get on an airplane.
That, and the ocean. I can only get in there for 10 minutes, I have this strong urge to run out and I won’t go back in for the rest of the day. I’ve always been like that.
What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could sing really well.
Would you like to have your own band?
Oh man, that’d be awesome. I would love to have my own band.
What kind of music would you play?
That’s a good question – I’m all over the board with music, from one extreme to the other. But, some kind of rock band just for fun. I think being able to perform would be my favorite thing.
Do you play any instruments right now?
No, I cannot play an instrument to save my life. I’m no good, I get bored easily.
What have you been listening to lately?
I just throw it on shuffle and go. If I’m by myself and walking around, I need music. I don’t know why.
Do you have any comfort bands?
I wouldn’t say comfort bands, I have a few songs that’ll just calm me down. A big one is REM’s “Nightswimming.” It’s very nice – you sit back and it’s like, ‘okay, this is good.’
It is very nice, as long as it’s not nightswimming in the ocean.
There’s a video online with you skateboarding – how did you get into it? Are you still doing it?
God, yeah. (laughs) I skateboard every once in a while, I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. Me and some friends back in Philadelphia we would just, in high school, do it for fun and film ourselves. The video online is from a video called “Sleffer” that my buddy Brendan put together. He took all his tapes and found the old footage of me and my buddies skating and put it together. And my buddy Sean took my part out of the video and put it online as a joke.
It’s nice to have something like that – the video, it reminds me of home. They’re making a sequel, actually, called “Big Times.”
Are you going to go back to be in it?
I’m not going to be in that. I’d have to go back for a couple of weeks, get [all my skills] back, I’ve pretty much lost everything.
Between your tree climbing and your skateboarding, did you ever fall and break anything?
No, no, knock on wood. It’s been a good run.
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