If you're hoping the latest version of "Beauty and the Beast" is going to be a tale as old as time, think again. The CW's version is dark and serious with a modern, military-experiment twist. Jay Ryan's Beast isn't furry or lion-like; rather, he's all our nightmares brought to life in one animalistic superhuman.

HuffPost TV spoke with Ryan over the phone (it isn't normal for me to pass up the opportunity to chat face-to-face with a handsome, talented actor, but not even the New Zealand-born actor could get me into my car for a two-hour -- one way! -- bumper-to-bumper drive into the city), and not only did we agree on where we want the series to go, but Ryan also revealed what it's like filming in Toronto (disguised as New York, of course) and how he's really pushing for more romance on the action-drama.

What's it like filming in Toronto?
This is my home base, at the moment. Obviously we color and paste the city to make it look like New York. It's very similar in Toronto, with the rundown old factories and brick places, so it's not too hard to make it look like New York City. But any references to New York City landmarks, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, we have a special effects team that paints that stuff in.

I was trying to figure out where the warehouse is, where Vincent and J.T. live.
That warehouse ... it's one of our grossest sets to shoot at. That building itself is an old chemical factory, so it's actually a high-risk set.

Oh, good! How lucky for you.
I know! It's not great, but it looks fantastic on camera.

How many episodes have been shot?
We're up to episode six at the moment, so we just hit halfway through the series [season]. And it's really heating up. The show has strong procedural elements, but there's also this mythology genre that we have, of the beast and his background, which is my half of the show, I guess. The mythology really starts to heat up in the second half of the series [season], and mixes in with that procedural element a lot more. You learn a lot more about Vincent's back story, where he comes from, and also this mutation, this beast within him that's the product of a military experiment. You learn this thing could possibly be curable, but is also mutating in him.

He's lulled into this false sense of hope, that he can be a normal person in society with Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) present, and he starts to believe there's this woman that loves him and he can be what he used to be. But at the end of the day, you can't love a beast, especially one that's murderous on the side.

We get why Catherine is the way she is in the pilot. And, to a certain extent, we know how the Beast comes about. But do we learn more about Vincent's past, what he was like before the experiment? Family, friends, lovers?
I've really been pushing the writers to explore that because that, for me, is interesting. And because he has such a large past, I think that is just as mysterious as a soldier of crime in a procedural. Vincent has a lot of turmoil going on inside him, and to deal with that, to work through that, you have to discover who he used to be.

As he starts looking more for answers to this cure/antidote, he starts flashing back and Vincent, on his own procedural, I guess, is trying to find someone who knows the cure. He returns to his old neighborhood in New York City and because he's stamped dead on a piece of paper by the military, he starts running into people that may recognize him, or may know his father and his similarities to his father, so all of his old life starts to surface again. It becomes really interesting. And then we start to see clues to whether there are other beasts out there that were part of his platoon that had this experiment done to them. Is he not the only one who was able to escape? There's some great stuff that is about to be explored, and that hits in about episode five or six, just as the audience thinks Catherine and Vincent can have this connection and move forward, up come these barriers and walls.

I absolutely loved the pilot. On The CW, you're paired with "Vampire Diaries" but your show reminds me of another CW show, "Nikita." Strong, young characters, lots of action, based on a previous concept ... I used to watch the original. Did you?
I did. I watched it as a child. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up and after school they would be watching it and I was really drawn into it. The technicalities of it, the way that Ron Perlman, he was in this prosthetic the whole time, but he could show love through his voice and his eyes. It's a bit of an honor to take on this role even though it's nothing like anything that's been done before. I think people who are expecting a remake of the original series will be disappointed, because it isn't.

I love the modern spin. The military/scientific experiment gives the story so many places to go, and it can be told so many different ways.
For me, it gives it a plausibility. I could believe that this could happen, in this world that we live in. I like that stuff, everything that's being swept under the carpet, the mysterious angle of who Vincent is. He's just a guy trying to regain his humanity and deal with his demons. It brings up the themes of this wild beast within us all and whatever that is, to our viewers, hopefully they can connect to that through Vincent.

What's it like playing such a physical role?
I love it. That's where I got my fundamentals in this industry, through physical theatre and creating European theatre-style mask work, so this kind of character is brilliant for me because I play the exterior of Vincent, but then I have to play this thing, this creature that comes out of him. The DNA of the strongest, fastest animals in the world have been collected and inserted into these soldiers to create these beasts, and it's taking all these elements of animals and trying to put them into the character of the beast, which you will slowly be fed as we go through the series. We give a little more away in each episode. I have a thousand cuts and bruises from playing this wild animal, but at the end of the day, I just try and give as much as I can to the director and the studio.

Do you prefer acting out Vincent's animalistic characteristics, or would you rather rely on makeup and special effects?
Well, the makeup is just a by-product. For me, the beast is an internal turmoil. The makeup is cool because it's an element the viewers want to see, they want to see what the beast looks like. It also helps with Catherine's turmoil. The original theme of "Beauty and the Beast" is don't judge a book by its cover. Love what's inside. So you've got to have that beast exterior; it's an important part of the character. People might find it shocking that the beast doesn't always look like a beast. But Vincent has this big, red scar that runs down his cheek, and that, for me, represents the beast within that's cracking on the surface trying to get out. To keep that reminder there to the audience of what he's trying to shove back down.

Do you prefer playing Vincent as Vincent, or the beast?
I prefer Vincent as the whole character and what's going on inside of him. It's like playing two characters, the two extremes of someone's personality or moral compass. All characters that I play have the good and the bad, and for me, this is just the extreme. You can't have one without the other and we all have this wild part of us which we keep hidden and maybe only show in our darkest moments, or to our most loved ones. For me, it's the complete gamut of the character.

The pilot is dark and I don't expect there to be too many light moments, at least not in the beginning. But I love Vincent's relationship with J.T. (Austin Basis). It shows a tiny bit of his lighter side, which I suppose is mostly Austin's character, but it does give Vincent more shades of normal. It's nice to see. Do you like those scenes?
I agree. I really love those scenes because it shows who Vincent used to be, and what is at the heart of him, the real Vincent, because J.T. is the only one he trusts, who's been in his life for a long time. J.T. has such great lines, he's kind of like the forboding mother character with Vincent. J.T. and Vincent are also like husband and wife, they've been in a marriage for so long, cooped up in this one place, they know each other so well, there's this love bickering that goes on, so I do love those scenes. It is quite tense, but we are searching for more of that lightness and touch.

In the original, it was always Vincent dropping in on Catherine's home, but I'm assuming it will be the other way around here. When does the romantic element pick up? It was touched upon in the pilot, but when will it get good?
There's this whole courting thing that goes on between Vincent and Catherine. First, they need to trust each other. Catherine's a cop, and at the heart, Vincent, to her, could be a serial killer. She puts people like him away, and he's on the run from people like her. There's this real push and pull, there's this undeniable chemistry and connection between them, but it's a long, slow burn.

Just as Vincent gets lulled into this false sense that he is OK to enter this relationship with Catherine, the beast takes over again and puts up barriers. That's my favorite element from the original series -- the romance. So I'm really pushing for the writers to continue that and have it come forth a bit more. And because Vincent's on the run, he can't use technology and Facebook and Twitter, or text her or call her. So we're bringing back that old way of courting with secret notes and secret whispers, pebbles on the window, Juliet/Romeo styles. So I want all that stuff to surface as well. There's so much on this show that sometimes it gets pushed out. But I will keep fighting for the romantic element.

"Beauty and the Beast" premieres Thursday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. ET on Showcase in Canada and The CW in the US.

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  • 'Beauty and the Beast'

    Detective Catherine Chandler is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective. Several years earlier, Catherine witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Catherine would have been killed too, but someone - or something - saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn't an animal that attacked the assassins...it was human. Years have passed, and Catherine is a strong, confident, capable police officer, working alongside her equally talented partner, Tess. While investigating a murder, Catherine discovers a clue that leads her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller, who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Catherine learns that Vincent is actually still alive and that it was he who saved her many years before. For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years to guard his secret - when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Catherine agrees to protect his identity in return for any insight he may have into her mother's murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Catherine and Vincent, who are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them.

  • 'The Carrie Diaries'

    It's 1984, and life isn't easy for 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw. Since their mother passed away, Carrie's younger sister Dorritt is more rebellious than ever, and their father Tom is overwhelmed with the responsibility of suddenly having to care for two teenage girls on his own. Carrie's friends - sweet, geeky Mouse, sarcastic and self-assured Maggie and sensitive Walt - make life bearable, but a suburban life in Connecticut isn't doing much to take her mind off her troubles. And even though the arrival of a sexy new transfer student named Sebastian brings some excitement to Carrie's world, she is struggling to move on from her grief. So when Tom offers Carrie the chance to intern at a law firm in Manhattan, she leaps at the chance. Carrie's eyes are opened wide at the glamour and grit of New York City - and when she meets Larissa, the style editor for Interview magazine, she's inspired by the club culture and unique individuals that make up Larissa's world. Carrie's friends and family may have a big place in her heart, but she's fallen in love for the first time with the most important man in her life - Manhattan.

  • 'The Carrie Diaries'

    It's 1984, and life isn't easy for 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw. Since their mother passed away, Carrie's younger sister Dorritt is more rebellious than ever, and their father Tom is overwhelmed with the responsibility of suddenly having to care for two teenage girls on his own. Carrie's friends - sweet, geeky Mouse, sarcastic and self-assured Maggie and sensitive Walt - make life bearable, but a suburban life in Connecticut isn't doing much to take her mind off her troubles. And even though the arrival of a sexy new transfer student named Sebastian brings some excitement to Carrie's world, she is struggling to move on from her grief. So when Tom offers Carrie the chance to intern at a law firm in Manhattan, she leaps at the chance. Carrie's eyes are opened wide at the glamour and grit of New York City - and when she meets Larissa, the style editor for Interview magazine, she's inspired by the club culture and unique individuals that make up Larissa's world. Carrie's friends and family may have a big place in her heart, but she's fallen in love for the first time with the most important man in her life - Manhattan.

  • 'Emily Owens, M.D.'

    At long last, Emily Owens feels like she is an actual grown-up. She can finally put her high school days as the geeky-girl-with-flop-sweats behind her; she's graduated from medical school and is now a first-year intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she'll have the chance to work with world-famous cardiologist Dr. Gina Beckett - and where, not-so-coincidentally, her med-school crush Will Rider is also an intern. So why does everyone keep warning her that the hospital is just like high school? Emily soon finds out the hard way - her high school nemesis, the gorgeous, popular Cassandra Kopelson, is also just starting out at Denver Memorial, and it seems like they're rivals all over again - not only as surgical interns, but for Will's attention. Fellow intern Tyra Granger warns Emily that the cliques at Denver Memorial are all too familiar: the jocks have become orthopedic surgeons; the mean girls are in plastics; the rebels are in the ER, and Tyra has her own awkward place as the principal's kid - her father is the chief resident. Emily's the new kid all over again, and it's just as awkward as high school. Only this time around, Emily will have to balance the personal and emotional turmoil of social politics with the high-stakes world of life-and-death medical decisions. At least she has fellow intern Tyra and nerdy-but-cute resident Micah, to count on as friends. Emily is growing to realize that although she may be a geek, she may also grow to be a great doctor, flop sweats and all.

  • 'Emily Owens, M.D.'

    At long last, Emily Owens feels like she is an actual grown-up. She can finally put her high school days as the geeky-girl-with-flop-sweats behind her; she's graduated from medical school and is now a first-year intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she'll have the chance to work with world-famous cardiologist Dr. Gina Beckett - and where, not-so-coincidentally, her med-school crush Will Rider is also an intern. So why does everyone keep warning her that the hospital is just like high school? Emily soon finds out the hard way - her high school nemesis, the gorgeous, popular Cassandra Kopelson, is also just starting out at Denver Memorial, and it seems like they're rivals all over again - not only as surgical interns, but for Will's attention. Fellow intern Tyra Granger warns Emily that the cliques at Denver Memorial are all too familiar: the jocks have become orthopedic surgeons; the mean girls are in plastics; the rebels are in the ER, and Tyra has her own awkward place as the principal's kid - her father is the chief resident. Emily's the new kid all over again, and it's just as awkward as high school. Only this time around, Emily will have to balance the personal and emotional turmoil of social politics with the high-stakes world of life-and-death medical decisions. At least she has fellow intern Tyra and nerdy-but-cute resident Micah, to count on as friends. Emily is growing to realize that although she may be a geek, she may also grow to be a great doctor, flop sweats and all.

  • 'Arrow'

    After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he's become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow - a vigilante - to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be - flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle - while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel's father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver's own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on - and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.

  • 'Cult'

    Robert Knepper as Billy Grimm/Roger Reeves and Alona Tal as Kelly/Marti.

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