From battling addiction to vampire blood to getting mixed up with a fanatical religious group and then sleeping with the preacher’s wife, Ryan Kwanten‘s True Blood character, Jason Stackhouse, is always getting into trouble on HBO’s hit show. Luckily for the 32-year-old Australian actor, who has lived in Los Angeles for seven years, he’s nothing like his rural Louisianan alter ego. “We look the same to a certain degree,” he jokes. “But my jeans aren’t as tight.” Before True Blood‘s finale on Sept. 13, which Kwanten calls “the amalgamation of pretty much the entire season,” the actor spoke with PEOPLE about his character, Louisiana cooking and how he stays so darn ripped! –Aaron Parsley
Congrats on the success of True Blood. How does it feel?It’s is not something that you set out expecting because of the amount of factors that have to fall into place for a show to even be picked up … True Blood was already a pretty tasty cake before and then now it’s just a nice little cherry on top.
Do you notice a difference between when the first season aired and now?I’ve really noticed a difference in how are aware of the show and of me. It’s certainly a new thing to me.
Were you familiar with the Sookie Stackhouse books before you started playing her brother Jason?It was only after I got the role that I started reading the books to catch up with it, but even then creator Alan Ball made us aware that it wouldn’t be following word-for-word, story-for story with the books.
How far into the books have you read?Two-and-half books. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’m particularly the demographic. It’s just not my thing.
What do you like about Jason Stackhouse?He’s taught me not to think so much and not over analyze because he’s the type of guy who just sort of jumps into things without really thinking about them and obviously that gets him into trouble.
How did you get the accent down?I wish I could say it was a long process of learning and arduous kind of hours. I obviously do my research of where it’s shooting and the various types of accents within Louisiana and in discussions with the director and with Alan you hang on something. They seemed to like what I had in the beginning so I stuck with that and refined it if need be.
Most of the show is shot around Los Angeles but you do get down to Louisiana, right? We go there to slide in a couple scenes or even shots here and there to make it look like it was all there, to add to the Louisiana. Hopefully, we can get the audience sweating while they watch it.
Do you like going there?I actually have a soft spot for from the South or even just from Louisiana just because they tend to tell it like it is and I think quite often in L.A., are a little scared to do that … Also, I found it quite extraordinarily beautiful. People complain about the heat but I don’t mind the heat at all.
What about the food?You just have to be prepared for a lot of fried food and the seafood’s really good. The crawfish are amazing.
We see a lot of Jason Stackhouse in this show. What do you do to stay in such great shape?I don’t have trainers or anything like that. Whether it’s running on the beach or swimming in the ocean, yoga, tennis — I could go through a whole list of things — I just pretty much keep myself on my toes and try not to get bored. I probably do an hour every day.
Do you watch what you eat?I’m never going to be one of those at a restaurant looking at someone else’s meal and wishing they were eating it. I love my food too much to be doing that.
What do you hope for Jason next season? Would you like to see him in a relationship?I don’t care what they do. I really just love receiving the script and seeing what happens. I don’t care if he’s in a relationship or not because either way he’s just fun to play and dive into his skin.
Speaking of relationships, are you in one?I’m single. I’m not really looking right now. Unfortunately, I just can’t devote enormous amount of time to women right now. I’m concentrated right now on working but I like a woman who’s not afraid to be herself.
Are Australian audiences and American audiences different in how they receive a show like True Blood with all its sex and gore?Australians are a little more open-minded when it comes to things like sex and body. But Americans, I feel, are probably more used to the violence and even the supernatural elements, so the great thing about this show is it doesn’t limit itself to one particular genre. It can go from comedy to supernatural to thriller to drama all in the space of an episode. Catering to not just different demographics but different cultures too.