Teddy Dunn on Duncan Kane and the Bad Boy Mentality

Duncan-KaneAs a Veronica Mars fanatic, I should probably be following in Rob Thomas’s footsteps by google alerting him and the cast (although I would probably be getting tons of results from Rob Thomas (the whore) singer, and tons of Frozen related KB stuff).  A cast member I didn’t expect to be reading an interview from anytime soon is Teddy Dunn, the actor who played Duncan Kane, Veronica’s original love interest for the first half of the series.

Duncan was written out of the show mid-season two and never returned except for a short appearance in the season two finale.  Since then, Dunn has left acting behind altogether to pursue a law degree.  He now works at a law firm in New York City.  You can read an exclusive interview between Dunn and Yahoo! TV here.

Citing his experience on Veronica Mars as a turning point in his view of acting, he says he no longer has any desire to be a part of the entertainment industry.  Originally pursuing acting as an art form, Dunn says he soon realized that acting is more of a business.  A business that he would rather stay out of.

While people like Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, and Percy Daggs III can cite their good times shooting Veronica Mars, Dunn doesn’t seem to be as thrilled about the experience.  For starters, he originally wanted the role of Logan, which would eventually go to Dohring.  It took several pleas from Thomas to get Dunn to screen test for the role of Duncan.  Beyond that, there was some definite confusion regarding the character and how he should be played.  At first seeming distant from everyone, Dunn was originally told that Duncan had a mental illness.  He was told that Duncan was bi-polar.  Dunn did his best to play the character that way, but after seeing audiences react badly to this, Thomas had him try a different approach.  This was something he struggled with.

Although fans saw Veronica and Duncan as clear love interests early in season one, they soon became aware that Veronica and Logan’s tension and dislike for one another could lead to a great romance story.  Veronica and Logan’s first kiss toward the end of season one in “Weapons of Class Destruction” is still cited as one of the defining moments of the series, and unfortunately, Duncan and Veronica never quite measured up in fans’ eyes.

Duncan has been cited as “boring” compared to his counterpart, and it appears that most fans never really warmed up to him, or if they did, they threw him aside when they became aware of Logan and Veronica’s budding romance.  They are definitely the fan favorite.  And if you try to explain why Logan is a bad suitor for Veronica?  All the horrible things he’s done to her and others in the past?

Well, fans will simply tell you that Duncan had sex with his sister.

A storyline in season one involved Veronica possibly being Jake Kane’s daughter.  This would mean that she was Lilly and Duncan’s sister.  At the end of season one it’s revealed that Duncan is the one who “raped” or rather, just had sex with Veronica at Shelley Pomroy’s end of the year party.  Even though Duncan thought Veronica to be his sister at the time, both were under the influence of GHB.

“When I read it, it actually to me made the Duncan character make all the much more sense as to why he had to stay away from her, as to why he was so despondent to her, as to why he had to just cut it off without any explanation. Just sever the ties and say I can’t be around you because I’m so attracted to you, but you’re my f—king sister,” Dunn told Yahoo! TV.

“I think that [they were both roofied] also changes the perspective of it a little bit. I think people forget that great detail.”

ustv-veronica-mars-teddy-dunn

 And while there are no hard feelings for Logan and Veronica’s romance, he still has a hard time understanding why fans forgive Logan for all the bad things he’s done.  For tormenting Veronica, organizing bum fights, drugging Duncan and Veronica at the party, and just being an all-around jackass.

“How does he get a clean pass? I don’t understand that,” Dunn says. “I think my character was largely a sympathetic one. I don’t think I necessarily got the opportunity to show it all the time. I would have liked to see one of the scenes I had tested with which brought out more of Duncan’s true colors before Lilly’s death. I would have liked to explore that a little bit more than I got the opportunity to.”

As someone who likes Logan and Veronica together, I can definitely agree with that.  From experience with several different fandoms, it’s easy for me to see that many (mostly women) try to justify the bad boy suitor’s actions while simultaneously explaining why the good guy is actually the worse of the two.  This is so blatantly obvious in the case of Veronica Mars with Logan and Duncan.  Even after all the horrible things Logan has done, fans are still ready to tear down Duncan while building up Logan.  Veronica’s other main love interest, Piz, is often given similar or even worse treatment than Duncan.  Actor Chris Lowell often jokes about the horrible time he had playing Piz on the show because of fans’ backlash.  Piz was innocent, sweet, funny, and an all-around good guy.  If anything, he’s probably the most identifiable person for me on the show.  And yet, he still gets trashed by fans.  They’ll do anything to throw him to the ground.  He’s a coward.  He can’t stand up for Veronica.  Blah blah blah.

My point is, even if you prefer Veronica with Logan, there’s no need to trash talk a perfectly good character.  People will do anything to make a normal, likable person seem like the devil.  In Duncan’s case, he obviously wasn’t perfect.  And I think Thomas and crew did their best to make him more complex.  His mental disorder definitely added something to the game.  Fans love to talk about both Veronica and Logan having troubled lives in high school.  Logan’s father abused him and (spoiler) turned out to be a murderer.  On the other end of the spectrum, Duncan’s sister was murdered, he discovered his girlfriend was actually (though turned out to be false) his sister, and he was drugged at a party by his best friend – resulting in a traumatic sex experience with the girl he believed to be his sister.  If anything, the guy has his own issues.  Whether or not Thomas played on them enough is debatable.  Whether or not fans give him too much of  a hard time for being a bland, unrelatable character is not.

Meet John Smith

As an avid Veronica Mars fan, I’m on Dunn’s side.  The guy has expressed a little frustration with his character and the material (or even lack thereof) given to him.  He’s even expressed little interest in returning to the franchise in character.  Up until this point, I had questioned Dunn’s relationship with Thomas.  There’s been very little to no mention of his character or the actor himself by Thomas or the cast.  And with Ryan Devlin (season three’s Mercer Hayes) replacing Dunn as Duncan in VM‘s new web series, it was definitely questionable. As it turns out, Dunn isn’t sure he wants to play Duncan again, even if he is to consider coming back to the acting world.

In a way, I feel bad for him.  He ended up playing a character that wasn’t exactly the one that was pitched to him.  And then he ended up hated by fans.  The complexity of his character often wasn’t allowed to show through, and now there’s very little room for him to return.  Even if fans are clear about who they want Veronica to be with, I still say she had something special with Duncan, as she had something special with all her love interests.  I still would wish to see Dunn back on screen alongside Bell one day – that is if VM ever returns again to some sort of screen.  To me, Duncan will always be somewhat of a missed opportunity, but still definitely an essential part in making Veronica Mars what it is today.

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