No procedural is complete without an unlikely consultant. Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* (more on that asterisk later) has Ryan Hansen. On the new YouTube Red comedy from Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers), the Veronica Mars alum plays a version of himself enlisted by the LAPD to use his “actor skills” to help solve homicides. “This is the Sasha Fierce to my Beyoncé,” Hansen jokes to EW.
Hansen’s onscreen alter-ego finds a necessary foil in Detective Jessica Mathers (Samira Wiley), the no-nonsense cop tasked with corralling him. Of his costar, Hansen raves, “She is a dream come true.” He celebrates their lucky chemistry, which the show invested in before the pair had even met. “We met in the makeup trailer, I think 15 minutes before shooting our first scene together,” Hansen recalls, admitting he was “nervous” about whether he’d mesh with the Emmy-nominated Orange is the New Black star. “She could’ve not liked me. But we ended up being like brother and sister. We love each other so much. We just sing and dance and rap and play games all day.”
Although the actors keep it loose between takes, most scenes are tightly scripted; Hansen praises the show’s writing staff, though, for making it seem like they’re working off the cuff. “We do improvise,” he explains, “but it’s not like Curb Your Enthusiasm.” As the asterisk in the show’s title indicates, the writers haven’t shied away from joking about the series’ platform — Ryan Hansen is the first YouTube show to feature only Hollywood talent, as opposed to being driven by YouTube creators, and the meta-comedic scripts frequently play up characters’ confusion as to what exactly YouTube Red is broadcasting. “They have a great sense of humor about themselves,” Hansen says of YouTube. “They were game for it.”
Hansen and Wiley aren’t the only big names in Ryan Hansen‘s pseudo-Hollywood: Aly Michalka recurs as Hansen’s alter-ego’s wife; Jon Cryer plays himself. The set has also attracted guest stars including Kristen Bell and Joel McHale, but Hansen isn’t stopping there: “I’d love to see Dax [Shepard] get in there. That would be fun.” He pauses, then goes for it. “And Brad Pitt.”
Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* premieres Oct. 25 on YouTube Red.