Interview: Hayden Byerly on Jonnor, The Fosters 3B, & Jesus 2.0 – Exclusive!
A lot has happened since Hayden Byerly made his debut on The Fosters as Callie’s younger brother Jude back in 2013. Jude was adopted by Stef and Lena and started dating his best friend, to name just two significant developments! Meanwhile, Hayden Byerly and co-star Gavin MacIntosh hit the headlines when their characters shared the youngest same-sex kiss in television history. As fans count down the days to The Fosters season 3B premiere, we chatted with Hayden Byerly about what to expect from the upcoming episodes, the future course of the Jonnor ship, and his experience working with the newest member of the cast, Noah Centineo.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Hayden Byerly.
So first off, in the last episode of The Fosters season 3A, Connor decided to move to L.A. to live with his mom. Can you talk a little bit about what that means for Jude and Connor’s relationship?
Hayden Byerly: I think the primary thing between the two of them now would be that they’re trying to have this long-distance relationship. They’re both finding out what this is really like, and I think they’re gonna try to do their best to remain together.
Jude has always been very considerate of other people’s feelings, and at the end of season 3A, he told Connor that he supported the move to L.A. because he loved him and wanted him to be happy and safe. That was really sweet and very mature, but he must also be really upset about the situation as well – he’s losing his boyfriend, basically. Do we get to see how he feels and how he deals with everything when he isn’t trying to put on a brave face for Connor?
Yeah, we definitely see a lot of these different moments and emotions kind of wear down on Jude this season. There are some very emotional scenes – even more so than usual for Jude, which is kind of a crazy thing. I always love when I have those moments because I feel like they’re always very well done and the writing is always great. We get to see the real struggle and the hardship behind it all – we see him have to go through it and deal with that, and you kind of get a sense as to what that’s like.
Is it emotionally draining for you if you’re shooting a scene and you have to cry or act really upset?
Yeah, there are some days when you’ll have two or three crying scenes or you have a very loud and angry type of scene, and it can be very emotionally draining because it’s not easy to just cry and then kind of get over it and be done. It’s a very intense moment.
If Jude is going through a hard time, how do you step back from that and remind yourself that it’s a scene or a storyline on the show?
I think that’s all just mental strength and having the mental capability to put yourself in that scenario and then pull back out. As an actor, as you move forward in your career and as you learn more, you’ll take in those skills and they’ll become more attuned and sharper, and you’ll be able to kind of jump in and out more easily and better. Every actor has their different means of crying and their different ideas or thoughts that get them to those places, [but] you have to be able to snap out of it. You have to tell yourself that you’re just in a scene on a show and it’s a character. Your character is going through this – it’s not necessarily you.
The Jonnor storyline sounds like it’s going to be a big one for you this season, but aside from that, what else can we look forward to from the premiere next week and from the season in general?
There’s a lot of interesting stuff that happens for Jude. Maybe that’s ’cause he’s not had too much going on and now there’s a lot out of nowhere this season. We get to see him making new friends, and we get to see some old ones come back and say hello again. There are some very, very interesting storylines with Jude that kind of come out of nowhere and surprise everyone – even when I read [the scripts], I was like, “Holy cow, I can’t believe that!” I think people will like it because the writers do a great job, and [viewers] usually enjoy what they do – I mean, come on, it’s The Fosters, who wouldn’t?!
I write weekly recaps of the show, and every week, I’m amazed at how much happens in 40 minutes.
It’s a short time, yeah! There are so many people, too. I feel like sometimes I’m watching the episode and 10 minutes will go by and you just learned like eight different storylines and saw all this different stuff happen. It’s so crazy how fast it goes.
I try to keep my recaps less than 1,000 words, but most weeks I’m like, “No, there’s too much happening!”
Yeah, that’s impossible!
Are you still filming season 3B or are you done?
We actually finished last Saturday, so we’ve been done for a few days!
Without giving too much away, is there a specific scene, storyline, guest star or even an entire episode that you’re particularly excited for the viewers to see, or that you especially enjoyed?
Like I said, a lot happens this season – especially for Jude – so there are a ton of different scenes and moments and episodes and characters that I’m excited for people to meet and jump into. I’m super excited for people to see Noah [Centineo] take over the role of Jesus and I’m very happy that he’s with us. I think people will really enjoy what he can do and what he brings to the show because he’s a great actor. There’s so much that happens and so much that goes on, and I’m excited for people to see this whole season! That would be my answer – I think everything is great!
You mentioned Noah, who’s kind of the newbie of the cast even though his character isn’t new, because Jesus was previously played by Jake T. Austin. How did everyone embrace him and help him acclimate to the role?
Noah’s a very friendly and laid-back guy, so the moment we met him, we were all very excited to see what he could do and act in scenes with him. This whole half-season has been incredible. We’ve just welcomed him into the family as if we’ve known him all this time, and he makes that easy. He’s very friendly and very kind with everyone, and it he makes it feel like we’ve known him for the entire three seasons. It doesn’t feel like anything’s very different. There are certain things that he’s asked us about with Jesus, so we try to help him as much as we can, but at the same time, that’s his role, so he has to kind of figure it out. But he’s great at what he does – he doesn’t really need [help].
Speaking of three years of The Fosters, I was looking back at some of the original cast photos from when the series premiered, and you looked super young. In a sense, you’ve grown up on the show along with Jude over the past few years, because you were 12 when you started. What has it been like to go through the tween and teen stages along with your character?
It’s been very cool and exciting. Everyone feels like a family. I think we’re all very connected and close, and a lot of the people on set are like my older brothers and sisters, so it’s kind of funny to grow up with them and have them guide me and teach me in certain ways – not just in acting but in my personal life, with life lessons and things that you should and should not do. It’s very cool to have more people in your life helping you along the way and teaching you things. It’s been great to spend these past three years on the show, and I’m looking forward to spending this next year on the show too!
Congratulations on the season 4 renewal!
And lastly, do you have a message or anything you want to say to the Jonnor fans who are no doubt freaking out about the uncertain future of their favorite couple right now?
That the whole season is great! That no matter what happens, they will still love what’s to come because the writers do such a good job with the storyline. Even when I’m reading scripts sometimes, I’m shocked or surprised! They do a great job, and I think that no matter what, you’ll like what you see.
Watch Hayden Byerly on The Fosters 3×11 when season 3B debuts next Monday at 8/7c on Freeform, and refresh your memory of where season 3A left off. You can also check out our interview with Sherri Saum, who plays Lena on the show.