Kung Fu’s Jon Prasida spoke to Subjectify Media to preview Wednesday’s season 2 finale. We also talked about Ryan’s arc this season and what Jon might like to see for Ryan in season 3.
Kung Fu is the first major US tv role for Australian actor Jon Prasida, who portrays Ryan, medical student and the baby of the Shen family who stole hearts in season 1 with a sensitive coming-out arc. This season, Ryan officially became a doctor and was offered his local residency of choice, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy his sense of adventure. Over the course of Kung Fu season 2, Ryan has become the Shooby Gang’s de facto expert on all things magical, found a Hot Chef™️ boyfriend who happens to be BFF’s with his mom, almost died from a gunshot wound, and uncovered Russell Tan’s dastardly plan just in time to warn Nicky. It’s been a busy season for Mei-Li’s baby boy and we were eager to get Jon’s take on the season 2 finale, as well as where Ryan has been this year, and where he may be going. Read our interview with Jon Prasida below.
The season 2 finale is coming up, and it seems like the earthquake is coming for real. What can we expect to see in the finale for Ryan and for maybe a few other characters?
We can expect to see a resolution, a bit of scariness, because it is a scary scenario, and also a cliffhanger. Every good story, every good season ending, has a cliffhanger, if that makes sense.
So as the season escalated, did you guys think the earthquake was actually going to go ahead? What was the point where you guys knew “Oh, we’re not thwarting this?”
We always did sort of have this feeling like, “OK, well, we’re talking about stuff so much, I feel like it is going to happen.” And then when it did happen, we were shocked to see the state of what our sets had been turned into. And it’s a little bit emotional. Look, it’s like the last two years you’ve been working on these things, and then you still see the aftermath of it. It’s a bit intense to see, but yeah, I guess we always had a feeling.
Natalie also had that feeling, but I did not at all! Ryan has had a lot of growth this season and he started out a bit uncertain about his future and maybe a little searching for some excitement in his life. What did you make of his thrill-seeking early in the season? He really seemed to be looking for danger.
Yeah, for sure, I mean, I personally loved filming any of those adventure scenes. For Ryan, it was very exciting for him, he’s a bit of a comic book nerd, someone that looks up to superheroes and heroes alike. It’s very exciting to be in those scenarios. I guess it would be thrill-seeking in a way. For Ryan it’s exciting to have a sister that’s a hero, and when she asked for you to come on hero adventures, why wouldn’t you say yes?
We love that Nicky is so open with everyone in her life about her secret superhero ways, but this season involving the Shens really meant some close calls for some of the civilians, and for Ryan in particular. Ryan started getting into the field in episode 3 and it was very life or death even then. Then of course, by episode 9, his life is literally on the line. We know that Ryan is OK with it, but how do you see that working for Nicky and the rest of the Shens moving forward — that risk and those potentially big consequences?
Oh bro, I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I definitely know how Mom feels! It’s a lot to witness for Mei-Li and, I would guess, it’s emotionally taxing for Kheng who is so great at what she does. But for her to go through that and see her kids get into those scenarios — and for episode 9, my goodness, what a traumatic experience. And Episode 10, the emo episode, it was intense to be a part of that. Not for me really, because I just had to, you know, open my eyes, but for the family? Yeah it was. For everyone in those scenes, like whew, it was an emotional, a completely emotional time.
And seeing Althea’s reaction in episode 10, like, “We can’t. Nicky, stop playing, even though there is Russell Tan and everything, it’s family first, like come on, give them a break.” So, it will be interesting to see how the family navigates the adventures in the future, when it comes to that, because that was no trivial event. And as for Ryan, I don’t think he’d want to put Mei-Li in that scenario again, but he loves heroes, and his sister is one, and he loves being part of that, so, kids are going to be kids, you know what I mean?
Ryan and Sebastian first seeing each other at Harmony Dumplings is one of my favorite couple introductions of all time. I love that scene so much. All throughout the will they/won’t they phase of the relationship Natalie and I were coming up with insane theories about Sebastian’s past –- like we thought he was maybe a Wan Zai?
Right? Yes, yes.
Like was he a plant watching the family? What was your reaction and JB’s reaction when you found out the truth about Sebastian’s manslaughter history in episode 8?
Oh, dude, we were shocked. But at the same time, I’m like “What else could it be where he wouldn’t be able to tell us exactly what it is?” Anything on the supernatural side, it just didn’t really resonate with how I thought it might go down. And I didn’t have many theories, but as soon as they were like, “Oh yeah, he did time because he committed manslaughter,” I was like, “Whoa, of course, why would you want to talk about that stuff to anyone, especially your partner? And how do you approach that topic?”
It wouldn’t come up, like the scenario wouldn’t really come up in many situations, nor in anyone’s situation, so it’s not something that Sebastian could just Google: “How do I tell my potential partner that I committed manslaughter in the past?” You know what I mean? It’s a hard topic to bring up. But I’m glad that the truth came out and they sorted through it like adults and then it went really, really well for both of them. As tragic news as that is to hear, and as heartbreaking and traumatic as it is for Sebastian, I love that Ryan was like, “Right. OK. Thank you for telling me. Let’s do this.”
I really love the way that Sebastian is tied into the family, not just through Ryan but also through Mei-Li. We haven’t gotten to see much outside of the hospital scenes about the dynamic between all three of them. Do you have thoughts about how Ryan feels about his mom and his boyfriend spending so much time together and having a relationship dynamic of their own that doesn’t include Ryan?
I think he thinks it’s great. Like, first and foremost, [Sebastian and Mei-Li,] they’re colleagues, they’re work buddies in a sense, and they’re obviously going to have a work relationship with each other. To have it that they get along like a house on fire is a bonus and really helps out. Then, I guess when you really think about it, then it might get a bit strange. Because Ryan is like “OK, why are you spending so much time with my mom?”
And the more time they spend together, the more — you know Sebastian knows Ryan in certain vulnerable ways and Mei-Li definitely knows Ryan in vulnerable ways — and so the more time they spend together, the more secrets of Ryan’s come out and so that’d be stressful for him if he thinks about it too much. Like, “What are they talking about? What do they talk about when I’m not around?” I think that at the peak of his stress, it’s like, “OK, you guys need to spend less time together.” Yeah. But it is a beautiful relationship that they do have.
They really have such a good dynamic. I really love that. So do you have any intel on what might be ahead for Ryan and Sebastian in season 3? And if you don’t, what would you like to see in terms of growth or challenges for that relationship?
Oh man, I don’t have any intel unfortunately, but what I would love to see is perhaps a triangle situation. Throw in some drama in there. Let’s see someone come into the mix to ruffle some feathers. I would love to see that happen.
Whose feathers do you want to get ruffled? Where’s the triangle coming in –- on Ryan’s side or Sebastian’s side?
Ohhh. Oh. Great question. Sorry, I think the center of the universe is me, so I obviously thought Ryan, but it would make sense that Sebastian would get some as well because obviously, he’s Hot Chef. The dude is a commodity. That would also be cool to see as well. I didn’t think of that, thank you for thinking about that. Very nice. But as far as what I would like – to have someone else come in for Ryan would be cool.
We didn’t get to see Ryan tell Sebastian all about the family secret, we only hear that he already learned the truth. If I could request a DVD extra, it would be to hear that conversation. What do you think that conversation looked like?
Yeah, that would be cool to witness this sort of extra little scene that they have, but I think it’s kind of nice just seeing Sebastian’s reactions, like “He filled me in.” The way that it was delivered and said using such a way of like – I’m understanding and I get it and I accept this — as opposed to, yeah he loves me and I don’t know how to feel about it and it’s a bit intense. So it was really nice to see that it was taken with such an open mind.
As the magic ramped up this season, Ryan has taken on the role of magical researcher and even dabbled a bit in potions, if you count the jyu sa tea. It’s almost like he approaches it the same way he approaches his medical studies, like he just wants to know how it all fits together and how to best use that knowledge. Do you think that this is kind of a natural extension of his personality? Do you see any dangers or potential pitfalls for Ryan around that? And would you like to see season 3 get deeper into that?
Oh my goodness yes, yes and yes. Yeah, Ryan has his curiosity. Evan mentioned that once, where Ryan got injured and instead of crying about it, he decides to be curious as to “How is my body reacting in this scenario?” So he definitely had a curiosity and when you mix in that there is the magical aspect, that there’s a sense of things happening that medicine and science cannot explain? In some scenarios people might be like, “Ah, yeah, OK, there’s surely a logical explanation, but you just can’t figure it out.” But with Ryan it’s like, “Right, we haven’t found a logical explanation, let’s turn to magic and let’s see what’s going on in the magical realm.”
So yeah, it’s kind of cool to see him embrace that, and say even though I’m from a medicine background and this stuff doesn’t make sense, let’s make it work. The making of the tea and everything, it’s cool to see him becoming very well versed, or better versed in that realm, and accepting that realm, because that just means that well, I guess we’ll see more of that happen where Ryan is the reason, the logic of the show. Getting him involved into the magical stuff will be exciting.
My co-writer Natalie is also from Sydney and she really wanted to be able to do this interview, but, you know, time zones — they’re bad — so I do have a question specifically from her which is, as an Asian Australian, what have you found are the big differences in multiculturalism, particularly with Asian culture and media representation in America, versus Australia? What’s been the most different for you making this show and what is the most similar?
Oh boy, that’s a big one. I’m not sure if I could give you a well-versed answer. What I have found as far as the industry goes, America in comparison to Australia, it’s the same but just raised energy in the sense that it’s just bigger. The way that we would film something in Australia is being done exactly the same way, except it just happens Americans have the bigger budget and everything is on a larger scale over here. So with that said, then in America, last year going through dealing with representation right now in the industry, in the sense of people, everyone, wanting to be represented — America just provides more opportunities for that to happen. So in Australia, possibly the difference would be there’s just a bit less there for opportunities for myself. But on top of that, opportunities for everyone, as well, because it’s a smaller industry.
But being on this set, it’s a unique scenario because whilst I am from Australia, we all have similar slash shared Westernized Asian experiences, and we just connect on a sort of deeper level that I just did not understand – someone put it that “I have my kinfolk,” if that makes sense. I’ve been on sets where I’ve gotten along with people and it’s great and I have connections for the longest time, but for everyone in the Kung Fu cast, it was an immediate connection, an unspoken one, where we were just like — oh I understand you, like I get it, been through that scenario, I’ve had that happen to me before or like, oh my parents are exactly like this. Just a lot of unspoken things where we just would get along so well and that might have contributed to why we have such chemistry and connection with each other.
Yeah, that’s great. When you’re thinking about season 3, who would you most like Ryan to have a side quest with?
Oh, a side quest with. Dude. Hmm. A side quest. I guess with… yeah… Dennis.
That’s number one, selfishly, because me and Tony just relate to each other quite well. We spend the most time with each other. Or even Evan as well. I feel like we would all have a great time together and something really fun could be written as a bit of a side quest whether it be magic related or down to earth.
Yeah, those are perfect answers. You missed out on the infamous toaster group scene, but in the long run, if Zhilan, or even Kerwin, survive into season 3, do you think the Shens would eventually welcome them into the fold?
I feel like the Shens would welcome almost anyone that they believe has a good heart. If they were to be a bit sinister, then that gets a bit difficult. But knowing that we see the arc of Zhilan and what she goes through, there is definitely a heart with Zhilan, and the Shens would definitely – If Nicky can, then definitely everyone else can. The Shens are so loving, hopefully not to their detriment, but they’re so loving and accepting of people that it’s a natural thing to happen: Yeah, cool, come sit down. Like, have some food. Let’s have some dinner, you know. Come to the restaurant, we’ll cook you some food you know, that’s where the love is.
What was your favorite moment of season 2 that you were involved in?
I love playing around and acting up and, you know, acting is a lot of that, but when we have certain things, we can’t keep it together — I don’t know why, it’s like talking in a library, but like laughing aloud, like you shouldn’t, because people need to get work and stuff done. Like laughing in school, like, “Oh my goodness, the teacher’s going to get mad.” There’s something real about it. So, whenever I have a scene with Olivia, about half the time Olivia and I, we would get our lines out, let’s get it done. If it’s a busy day, like “we have to get it done.” But if it’s a day where something will happen that sets us off, and all of a sudden we’re just on the floor, and those are the bits that I’ve cherished the most, because I know I’ll look back on that, and in life, when I look back at those moments like, “Oh yeah, that was the funnest time trying to say this very simple line.” Oh, I can give you one. The one in episode 11 where Ryan discovers, with Henry and Evan, I think it’s probably the first time we’ve seen that combo? And Ryan’s on the couch.
Yes, that was a great scene.
And he discovers that Russell Tan is looking for immortality. Saying that line, in real life, it’s so absurd that every time we said it, we had to look at each other, and it took so long to try and say “He wants to be immortal!” and to not laugh. Just to not laugh and hold that stare. And it became a game, to be like, who could hold the stare the longest. I think Gavin might have won that scenario, but not by a lot. Every time, we would just crack up because, well, in the story it makes total perfect sense, but in the moment, it sounds so strange. But we love doing it.
What about your favorite moment of season 2 that you were not a part of?
The toaster one is pretty good, but probably… Oh dude, probably the whole Clementine episode. Number one, the Clementine episode — probably my favorite episode, and number two, the entire scenario that they get into, the car chase for one — but also just before the car chase, from the party and stuff. Richard Speight, Jr, who played Leif, directed the episode at the same time, so to be able to be a part of that? Little bit jelly. Oh man, I would love to be part of this. Yeah, that’s definitely a moment where I would have loved to be in it.
That was a great episode, a really fun episode. Is there a moment in the finale that you’re most excited for us to see and what could you say about it?
I am most excited to see… Oh, the reactions of people to the very last thing! The very last. Like, the last five seconds, or is it ten seconds? Either way, that bit there. When I saw it, I was like “Oh yeah.” Like, I’ve read the script. I knew it was coming but it still shocked me. I was still very excited to see that happen. I’m like, “Oh my goodness.” Yeah, so that’s the bit I would most be excited to get people to see.
People are going to have to keep their eyes peeled for that. Don’t blink. Thank you so much for your time. I cannot wait for everyone to see the finale.
Thank you so much as well, and, yeah, very excited to see what everyone’s reactions are!