Warning, Marshmallows: Spoilers ahead for Veronica Mars Season 4.
You know how the first role you see an actor in tends to stick with you? And you can never quite see them as anything other than that OG character stuck in your head? Like Bill Nighy is forever a has-been rocker to me, thanks to Love Actually. I still can’t get past Benedict Cumberbatch in Atonement. And I thought Jason Dohring really was a was jerk because of Veronica Mars. But boy was I wrong.
After 15 years of playing bad boy Logan Echolls in the cult TV series Veronica Mars, Dohring is done (and if you’ve seen Season 4 you know why). Ahead of his appearance at Oz Comic-Con in Brisbane (September 21- 22) and Sydney (September 28-29), Dohring sat down to talk about growing up as a TV jerk, the true power of the Marshmallows, and THAT ending to Veronica Mars.
For starters, Dohring has nothing but glowing reviews of working with Kristen Bell (he’s only human after all), the entire cast, and the show’s creator Rob Thomas. But how the hell did Veronica and Logan get together?
“This character started out as one-dimensional, he was certainly not a love interest to Veronica when it started out,” Dohring says. “I think the writers seen something in the writers’ room that they liked, and I remember them coming up to Kristen and I and sort of pulling us aside and saying you guys are going to be together.
“We were both like, ‘what the f***?’, like that’s impossible. And they said, ‘yeah, you better start warming up to each other’. We were just floored, really. So I got to do this 180 turn into this romance that nobody ever expected and I think it plays very organically on the show.”
Logan goes on a wild ride across the fours seasons of the TV show and the fan-funded movie in-between, from troubled-but-privileged teen, to war hero desperately trying to control his temper.
“I always liked it when he was the jerk, to be honest with you,” Dohring says. “We had a character named Duncan who was sort of the love interest of Veronica, and I was always sort of the guy on the side doing the bad things, and making the jokes and things like that, and I knew Logan as that. And when he became something else it was a bit tricky to navigate that for me. How do you do just a leading man? I can’t just be a good guy.”
But did Logan really deserve Veronica in the end? The spoiled bad boy and the hardworking smart young woman?
“I like to think that they really understand each other very well and I would hope are meant for each other, and can help each other reach for what they really want in life, and to push each other and to not take bullshit, really help each other,” Dohring says. “That’s always been my sort of hope or idea, that they can be together and they were right for each other.
“To some degree maybe that’s why we ended it in that way, because if they are right for each other it’s kind of hard to not just keep breaking them up and putting them back together to create drama. But if that aspect of the relationship isn’t in the picture anymore, then you’re able to move on and explore other things.”
Now, while you wipe away those tears for that ending to Season 4, take comfort in the fact Dohring always knew he was going to break our hearts. He says creator Rob Thomas was very upfront, right from the start, about Logan’s fate. And THAT VOICEMAIL.
“It was pretty perfect,” Dohring says. “You couldn’t have ended it in a more heartbreaking way, I felt when I first read that.”
While Neptune High was an absolute cesspool of teenage torture, the actors who fought each other on-screen were actually good mates off-screen – and still are. Dohring puts the show’s success down to a “professional group of kids”, fresh out of high school who just worked hard. They look it seriously. Headed up by Kristen Bell – “she led the way with those long hours, really just being good” – they wanted to out-do each other, in the best possible way. They formed their own family of sorts, and over 15 years have stuck together, even hanging out together with their own kids now.
“I’ve had four kids; I think all of the cast have had kids now,” Dohring says. “I hope my kids have a nicer school environment than Neptune.”
For all the fandom – after all, the Marshmallows, as Mars diehard fans are known, funded the Veronica Mars movie themselves after the TV series was axed at the end of Season 3 – Dohring says he hasn’t encountered any OTT fan encounters so far, despite all the conventions he’s attended. It’s just a lot of people who want to tell him how much they love the show.
The risk with playing such as iconic character as Logan Echolls is that it leaves Dohring forever typecast as the jerk.
“I think that would be awesome,” he says. “He’s not a character you can really pin down. You can’t really say we’re going to typecast you as the asshole/boyfriend/whatever. I think he had the whole gamut. So if I could be remembered as an actor who had a sort of character with a range, that’s beautiful.”