The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 29, 2021 1:00 am

'Outer Banks' actor likes chance at improv

George Dickie | Zap2it

For a young actor, the Charleston, South Carolina, set of “Outer Banks” can be an idyllic place to work.

The weather is warm, the nearby beaches are beautiful and the city itself has a lot to offer in terms of culture and nightlife. Cast and crew work together like a well-oiled machine and there is a lot of youthful energy on set.

And there is room for improv. Rudy Pankow, who plays JJ, lauds the writers of the Netflix coming-of-age drama for trusting the actors enough to let them go off script if they have a good idea.

“The writers talk to us and are very vocal, like, 'Hey, if you want to try that try it,' ” the actor says. “... Then they sometimes let the reins go, and we can just run, and that's so fun to be a part of a show like that. ... It's like, 'Well, you know the character almost better than us at this point, so I would say take a route that's going to set up for other things. Take that route that you really think that that character would take.' ”

As the second season opens Friday, John B and Sarah (Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline) are on the run to the Bahamas after being blamed for the shooting death of Sheriff Peterkin in Season 1. Back home in North Carolina, the search for the treasure continues, bringing new friends and foes into the equation while the stakes rapidly escalate for Kiara, Pope and JJ (Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, Pankow).

As for what that means for his character, Pankow was tight-lipped, lest he give away spoilers. But he does allow that the conflicts of Season 1 will bleed into Season 2 for JJ and cause him to question how far he is willing to go and risk his friends' safety.

But in the end, JJ will always be JJ: a carefree guy with no edit button. Which is what Pankow enjoys most about the character.

“I always tell a story of where I always kind of questioned which character do I really connect with,” Pankow says. “And I said JJ because I really understood him to a personal level in terms of he wants to do good but at the end of the day he doesn't seem to always get it right. ... It's kind of hard for him to do that.”

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