Austin Basis plays Baze’s responsible best friend on ‘Life Unexpected.’ The nerdy teacher spent his adolescence pining for Cate (Shiri Appleby) and now unexpectedly finds himself with a chance to get to know his dream woman. Basis revealed the secret to his character’s unusual first name, why the prop department forced him to eat something disgusting, and why he finds poetry to be the window into Math’s soul.
Why is Math named Math?
As you’ll see in this episode, he’s referred to in his full name. His full name is Matthew Rogers. It’s just short for Matthew. It’s just a different take. Most people named Matthew are called Matt. It’s because [Executive Producer Liz Tigelaar] worked on Brothers & Sisters. Matthew Rhys [Kevin] who is on that show has been referred to as Math on some occasions. She thought that would be a cool, interesting name for a character. It also is a double entendre in that he’s a nerd, because why else would he be called Math if he wasn’t really good at math. His last name being Rogers, he’s a teacher and they call him Mr. Rogers and make fun of that.
Poor Math hasn’t had much luck with the ladies so far. Is he going to meet a nice woman soon?
He definitely meets a nice girl. There’s an episode coming up, the one after this one. He takes a chance and tries to ask Cate out. Whether he actually asks her out, you’ll just have to watch.
Math has developed an interesting relationship with Lux. What does he get out of spending time with his friend’s child?
In a couple episodes you’ll see that in his off time he tutors her because obviously Baze isn’t going to do it. She’s a student in his class who he expects more of, but is on the inside rooting for her like a cool uncle would look out for his brother’s kid. He sees Baze as a brother . He’s making up for Baze’s lack of tact and ability to be the best father he can all the time. It’s a My Two Dads type thing where Math is picking up the slack. He sees it as his duty to both Baze and Cate. Lux is a cool kid. He’s a very feeling and emotional person so he thinks she deserves the best that her new found life has to offer.
Has anything funny ever gone wrong while you were shooting a scene?
One episode Liz was like, “It would be cool if all our parents could be extras in this scene.” I managed to get my girlfriend, my brother, my Dad, and my mother up to Vancouver for a couple days to shoot this scene. You always get more nervous in front of a big group of extras that don’t know you. It’s pressure. You’re one of the leads on the show. You don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of them. I think I was a little more nervous because my parents were there. They were basically looking at me as the character, so I had a lot of things to deal with. I just kept screwing up the lines and embarrassing myself and sweating. The other one was when we had the eating contest at the carnival. I revealed to the prop department that I had diabetes and I couldn’t eat sugared churros. They had to scramble and powder and make it look like it had sugar on it. They literally just covered it in cinnamon to make it look like there was some sort of granulated sugar on it and that tasted worst than probably anything I’ve ever tasted.
Your website features a lot of your poetry. How does it relate to your acting?
A lot of times actors try to find their way into the character. Kris [Polaha] who plays Baze wrote a song as Baze for Lux. It’s really awesome and hopefully eventually it might make the show. I draw, but I have to be inspired. Poetry is much more easy to focus my emotions and to understand a thought process. So what I did was I wrote three poems for Cate. The poems are at different points in our friendship or relationship. The first poem is written as a seventh grader to Cate after meeting her for the first time in my class and its called Ode to Cate. I tried to write it as if a seventh grader was writing it. The next one was in high school and its called This Girl. It’s when I’d gotten to know her better. We’d been in more classes together. Now the crush is kind of a full on high school crush and my writing is a little better and more inspired by deep poetry as opposed to always doing my rhyming couplets. The third one is there was an episode with rocks on the bench where there was the drink a date where I was getting psyched up that I could actually get a date with Cate. As an actor I was like that was a new chapter in our relationship and I should focus those feelings of having someone from my past that I used to have this crazy crush on come back into my life and still have these feelings for them. I wrote the poem Look At ME Now for inspiration while sitting in the trailer waiting to go on. I ask her if she wants a drink and she kind of ignores me. I use poetry as a way to get into character but also as an emotional outlet to write about what I’m feeling.