As one of the young stars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Ryan Blaney is known for putting himself out there, and doing different things to help promote the sport. His latest adventure is appearing on an episode of NBC’s hit show “Taken,” which will air on May 26.
The episode titled “Imperium” sees Blaney play an FBI agent that has teamed up with show lead Bryan (Clive Staden) to stop a dangerous weapons dealer. You can see a preview of his appearance on YouTube by clicking here. Ahead of the episode, the Team Penske driver spoke with POPULAR SPEED about filming his part, his podcast and more.
POPULAR SPEED: What was the experience like filming your part on Taken?
RYAN BLANEY: The Taken deal was a lot of fun. You know, we shot that in Toronto in the winter time. We were up there for two days, shooting from 6 pm to 6 am. That was pretty cool to see what they do. I like to getting to know that stuff; the film industry is pretty cool. I kind of compare it to racing because not a lot of people realize or appreciate how much it takes to put one episode, let alone one scene, together – all the people that involved. You just see the finished product which is the show. Racing, a lot of people just see the racecar on the race track and don’t realize how many people it takes to put that together.
I thought that was pretty cool. I had a lot fun. They were great to me and a lot of fun to work with. I’m excited for it to air. I’ve seen a little bit of it and it was a lot of fun. It is very action-packed with the scene of chasing the semi with the mustang and a lot of shoot-out scenes. Hopefully people enjoy it.
PS: Did acting come to you naturally?
RYAN: Not at all, nope. They were very patient with me, helping me out, telling me what to do. It’s not something that I’m natural at by any means. I enjoyed it. It’s just a cool opportunity that we get to go do with partners from NASCAR in NBC. But no, definitely not natural, not so ever.
PS: Cars or Taken – what was more fun?
RYAN: I thought the voiceover was easier. It’s just how you’re talking. You can make your voice sound a certain way. It’s a little easier because in the Taken stuff, it was full acting and I’m not good at that. Those couple lines that I had in Cars were pretty easy. The difficult thing about the Cars thing is it’s not animated yet. You don’t know what your character is doing when you’re saying it so it’s hard to visualize. But the director is in there with you trying to tell you your vision of what it should sound like, or what you’re doing at that time. But I think the Cars was a little easier.
PS: Based on your performances to date, think you have a future in acting beyond racing?
RYAN: I don’t know. I hope I can do this racing deal for a while and it works out pretty well. I wouldn’t mind doing more of it. I enjoy doing it. The people are amazing. I enjoy getting to know them and the folks in the acting world. It’s a different world for sure. I wouldn’t mind doing more of it, but I don’t know. We’ll see when I get to the end of the line how far I can go in the racing deal and where it takes me.
PS: You’ve always been one for putting yourself out there, though. How did you come up with the idea for the Glass Case of Emotion podcast?
RYAN: The podcast, we started talking about that during the off-season between the 2016 and 2017 season last year. It’s cool that we have a second season that we’re doing this year. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. was actually the one that got me the idea. He has his – the Dale Jr Download – and it does really well. He said, “NASCAR needs a podcast and I think you can do it.” It just all worked out that NASCAR wanted to do it and we found a couple of other hosts that make it a good time. That was Dale’s idea and luckily NASCAR wanted to do something.
I’m really surprised how well it’s done. There’s people that come up to me on race weekends or tell me via social media that they enjoy it, which that’s good. It’s fun doing it. We have a lot of fun guests on there – movie stars, TV stars, fellow racers, and athletes from other sports.
PS: On that note, what’s been your favorite podcast tapped to date?
RYAN: Oh, I don’t know. Some of the drivers we’ve had on there – we had Dale on there, Jeff Gordon was on last year, Chase Elliott has been on the show – those guys have been really cool to have on the show and open up. That’s really what the podcast is for having guys come in and not necessarily talk about their jobs – we talk that a little bit, but really sitting down and hanging out and relaxed and not pressured into talking about their job because we do that a lot. We talk about racing on a daily basis multiple times on the weekend. This is just something for everyone to come in and feel like you’re hanging out with your friends, and talking about what you see during the week and have some fun with some laughs.
I would say the Jeff Gordon one, Dale Jr. was fun. We had Michael Rooker on, who was in the Walking Dead and also played in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. So he was a lot of fun. Kaitlin Olson was on – Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She was a really fun time that we had on there last year. I’d say those handful are some of my favorite.
PS: If you could pick any guest to be on the show, who would you choose to have on?
RYAN: That’s hard. In the athlete world, I would love to get – I was born in Ohio so I’d love to get Lebron James on. That’s shooting for the stars. I’m a big Ryan Reynolds fan, and he has the new Deadpool movie coming out and I’m a big fan of that. He would be pretty amazing to get on. I’d say those two, but I don’t know, that’s high up right there. We got some ground to cover if we’re going to get there.
PS: Keeping on the entertainment theme, what has it been like filming the Penske Games?
RYAN: The Penske Games are pretty neat. That’s something that we’ve done for the past couple of years. It seems to get really good reviews and people seem to really enjoy it. It’s fun but it’s hard to do. We kind of upped it this year to where there’s a lot more drivers involved – sportscar guys, IndyCar guys, and all of the NASCAR guys. That was really neat to do and fun to get everybody in a room, but really challenging at the same time to get everybody together and willing to film for two days.
The Penske Games are really fun. The people at the Penske race shop do a good job at making up fun games for us to do and like I said, it seems to do really well. Hopefully we can get keep doing it because I enjoy it.
PS: It’s certainly something that I look forward to each week myself. So with that said, what’s been your favorite game so far?
RYAN: That’s tough. We’ve had a lot of games that we like. One of my favorites was we did a basketball game that was pretty fun – only because I was good at it. I thought the Heads-Up Game was pretty good, where you hold the Ipad to your head and you have the team describe to you what it is on your head. That was pretty fun and probably been the one that I laughed at the most.
PS: We started the year with veterans poking at the youth movement. Since then, the veterans have appeared to win the majority of the races this year. Your take on the dynamics of the veterans vs. the new stars right now.
RYAN: At the beginning of the year, everybody made a big deal about that and tried to make it a pitted rivalry between us. Really, there’s nothing there. We’re all competitors no matter what age you are or experience you have. Obviously, there’s the ones that have been around for a long time that are doing great this year – (Kevin) Harvick and Kyle Busch have a bunch of wins. I never really got that rivalry – the veterans vs. the rookies. I think we’re all competitors and it’s fun to listen to and see every now and then, but I think it’s blown out of proportion.
PS: What are your thoughts going into the Coca-Cola 600?
RYAN: Well, it’s been great. It’s one of the biggest, historic races that NASCAR has had throughout it’s history and it’s great to be apart of. I remember going and watching my dad run it for a long time. Now that I can be apart of it year after year, it’s very cool to actually do what my dad did and it’s a big home race for us. I think my car is pretty good. It’s just a matter of closing up the gap where we can break out and start winning these races. It should be good. It’s a long race for sure, but hopefully we’re up for the challenge.
PS: How would you characterize your season so far?
RYAN: It’s been up and down. Like I said, I think we’ve had fast cars; it’s just a matter of closing out races. We’ve had a shot to win a couple; it’s just some things haven’t fallen our way. Hopefully we can break out of that and break through to get our first win. Our team dynamic is really good right now. Everybody is getting along good on the team. Like I said, it’s just a matter of getting the cars better and getting myself a little better to where we can go out and run up front every week. I think if you can run up front every week, then you find a way to find victory lane.
PS: Last weekend NASCAR tried a different package for the all-star race. What are your thoughts on the package, and would you like to see it used more?
RYAN: It was different. That big downforce, small power package was interesting. It reminded me of truck racing and I’m sure it’ll be used a couple more times this year. We’ll see where they go in the future, but I thought it was neat. You know, people will sometimes give NASCAR heck for changing the rules so much, but at the end of the day, they’re just trying to make the racing better as that’s what the fans want. So it’s definitely different and I personally prefer the higher horsepower, but it’s neat to try something different and I think we’ll see a little more throughout the year and we’ll see how it goes.
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