Ryan Wheeler is feeling pretty alone these days on Kingdom. The boxing drama, which returned to the Audience Network for the second half of Season 2 last week, sees “The Destroyer” (Matt Lauria) in a very lonely spot and lacking people to lean on at the moment. He’s still reeling from helping to mercy kill his father and currently is preparing to fight against his friend Jay (Jonathan Tucker). To top things off, he drank too much and injured himself in last week’s episode while also fighting with gym-mate Alicia (Natalie Martinez).
Can Ryan move on from all of this and what’s next for him? Kingdom star Matt Lauria recently spoke with The TV Junkies about where Ryan is mentally and what his injury could mean for the fight with Jay. Lauria, who also played Luke Cafferty on Friday Night Lights, spoke to us about the show’s upcoming reunion tailgate this Friday, June 10 as part of the ATX Festival based in Austin, Texas. The reunion will feature the largest amount of cast members yet at the festival and take place on a Texas football field that will feature a pep rally, live music and tailgating.
The TV Junkies: Jay and Ryan are preparing to fight one another. How will that affect Ryan’s relationship with Alvey (Frank Grillo), someone that’s always been somewhat of a father figure to him?
Matt Lauria: There’s more pressure than ever on that relationship. Ryan is coming out of Season 2A having aided his father’s moving on, so he comes into this new season in a really precarious place. He doesn’t have his father, mother or Lisa in the picture and he doesn’t have Jay as a friend, because they have to isolate themselves a certain amount. Now more than ever he needs Alvey because he has no one else, but the definition of their relationship is a little unsure. So we see Ryan squirm a little more as the season goes on out of discomfort and feeling the weight of that lack of definition.
TTVJ: Ryan just suffered an injury. Will that prevent him from fighting or is it more of a temporary setback?
ML: We’ll have to see how that plays out. It’s obviously really bad and you see the look on Jay’s face when it happens because there’s so much at stake and this is a major mess up. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for a fight and a lot of that is critical. This disrupts all of that and that’s why I think Jay and Ryan knew how terrible this was. Then there’s the question of whether it affects his performance in the fight. It’s a pretty foreboding question mark.
TTVJ: Ryan made some pretty horrible remarks to Alicia in the last episode. What’s their relationship look like this season?
ML: Let’s not forget the horrible remarks that Alicia made to Ryan to! [laughs] I don’t think anyone ever says Ryan and Alicia have a healthy relationship, in fact the word relationship is pretty uncharacteristic term. Ryan did make some unsavory remarks out of humiliation, anger and hurt. He’s still reeling from what he had to do to his dad and whether or not that was the right decision. He’s still fumbling around looking for something to anchor onto, but he’s not finding it. He doesn’t have that type of support system in his relationship with Alicia.
There’s also an aspect of Ryan thinking ‘everything else in my life is going to shit. How do I have confidence in my value as a person?’ When everything else goes away at least he can count on himself to be a superstar athlete. But when that starts to get a little shaky, as does his position in the gym, and Alicia gets a little priority in certain areas, that makes him uncomfortable. Ryan wants to know that Alvey is 100% in and he’s the star of the gym and he doesn’t have to worry, or else he’s just got to go somewhere else.
If Ryan is going to get back to the top he can’t waste time somewhere that he’s not wanted. He needs to move on if Alvey’s not willing to let him be the Alpha dog and the priority of the gym. Alicia is starting to get a little too confident and there will be some friction between the two of them later in the season. It’s more him treating her as competition than as a partner in that respect. They always have had a competition but it’s about to get uglier.
TTVJ: We know that Lisa (Kiele Sanchez) will return this season, and when she does how will that affect Ryan?
ML: Everything she does affects Ryan very deeply. He really struggled with her leaving because Lisa is the person who knows Ryan more than anybody else on the planet. Lisa is the one who he has the most intimate history with and losing her was a terrible loss at the end of last season. She’s left a deep hole inside of him and obviously when she comes back Ryan is going to be very happy about that.
TTVJ: What was it like getting the role of Luke Cafferty on Friday Night Lights, knowing you guys had to come on and fill the shoes of characters like Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford)?
ML: Well I don’t think you can fill those shoes. Those guys stand as such iconic TV characters, but the goal was certainly to live up to the pedigree that had been set forth by those originating characters. It was such a high standard. I was really thrilled to get the job because I loved the show and then just didn’t want to screw it up so I worked really, really hard.
TTVJ: Do you stay close with any of your FNL castmates and is there anyone you’re really looking forward to seeing at the reunion?
ML: I’m looking forward to seeing all of them. We all have busy lives and careers and run into each other occasionally and it’s always a really sweet meeting. The ATX Festival though is a really special event where so many of us are going to all be together. It’s just a great time and it’s pretty sweet.
TTVJ: What panels are you looking forward to seeing at ATX?
ML: I’ve been all over the place with travel and the launch of Kingdom so I still need to check. I really want to take advantage of the other panels though because that’s the great thing about the festival, it’s just as much for people in the industry as it is for people who are fans of the industry. They always have really informative and well-run panels.
Are you enjoying Kingdom? Looking forward to the FNL reunion at ATX? Sound off in the comments below!
Kingdom airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the Audience Network.
The Friday Night Lights reunion tailgate will take place at the ATX Festival in Austin, TX on Friday, June 10.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.