’13 Reasons Why’: Ross Butler talks Hannah and Zach — and why he ignored Justin’s calls

Does he like her? The rest of the boys walk outside and I tell them, “I’ll see you guys later.” It’s just the moment where I had to stand up and do something because I believe that Zach is a good and decent person. I was genuinely enraptured. What happens with Zach is in this moment of adversity where he has the weight and the burden of a girl killing herself basically over something that he did. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you read the book before you first actually started working on it? Because he really cared about Hannah, and he really loved her. Show Full Article With Zach having slowly grown over the course of the Netflix series 13 episodes, EW spoke to Butler about what transpired. His heart was pulling him too much in that direction to not do anything. Considering Zach has heard the tapes, why do you think he still ignores Justin’s calls? The way that I went about creating Zach’s character at that point was, I’d always had a thing for her and I felt bad for her, and there was always something about her that I was attracted to, but because of her reputation and because of how all my friends talked about her, I didn’t have the backbone to stand up to what they thought and go with how I felt. ROSS BUTLER:   When I was driving up to San Francisco, which is where we shot it, I listened to the audiobook the whole way. He takes a moment just to step away from his friends’ influence and step away from what they’re saying, and he takes time for himself, to really discover who he is and what he cares about. He even proves a caring friend as seen in his concern for his friend, and fellow “Reason” mentioned on the tapes, Alex. I’d heard what it was about, the subject matter, and I was like, “Okay, this is gonna be typical YA novel.” But I just found myself getting lost in it when I was driving, and by the time I was done, I was so moved by how real it was, I immediately knew that this project was definitely something that we needed to talk about and would also entertain. Justin was his best friend, because they’re on the team together and they have a history, they’ve known each other for a long time, but there’s a line during the scene with almost all the Reasons at Monet’s, and Zach says, “Justin’s my best friend, but do you think he cares about me right now or what I want right now?” And that’s so revealing of what’s going through Zach’s head, because he’s questioning his friendships and who’s going to stand up for him, and when he’s at the table with his sister and with his mom, he knows that those are the people who really care about him. To be honest, it was something I wasn’t expecting. How would you say Hannah’s death affects him? Wracked with guilt about the whole situation, Zach finally does come clean, telling the deposition committee the truth about how he and his friends had said some not so nice things about Hannah. One of the 13 people mentioned on Hannah Baker’s tapes   — the source of the titular   13 Reasons Why   — is basketball star Zach Dempsey (Riverdale‘s   Ross Butler). Unfortunately for the gifted (and occasionally sweet) jock, his reason for being mentioned isn’t as pleasant as one might hope   — especially seeing as his stealing the complimentary notes left to her by her classmates is one of the things that drives her to feel depressed enough to consider ending her own life. When I left L.A. Hopefully, towards the end, you can see that. In that scene, after seeing it myself — because everything else that happened was pretty much rumor, or just things that were written on paper — after I actually saw it I felt so bad for her and I had to go with my gut. Zach becomes a man during this time, because he can either grow into somebody who is always gonna be a pushover, which is how you see him in the beginning. It’s actually really interesting, it timed out perfectly. But then towards the end of the series, you see him grow into this person who takes a stand and does what he wants and it’s his decision, ultimately, to tell the truth in his deposition and to fight for it. Is it because he doesn’t want to face up to what Justin might have done? What’s going through his mind in those moments? Because the way it’s set up, it’s a mystery but it’s not your traditional mystery, like say Riverdale, where somebody gets killed and throughout the series, you find out who killed them by clues. The 10th-anniversary edition of   13   Reasons Why is currently available for purchase —   order it here   — and the television adaptation is now streaming on Netflix. It just felt like, “Whoa. I started it, and when I got to the hotel in San Francisco, right when I parked, the book ended. This is going to be something.”
What did you think of it? All he cares about is being accepted by his friends and doing what they say, which is why he never stood up for himself. The old Zach wouldn’t have done that, but the new Zach, starting to question his friendships and what is right for him and stands up for himself and his sister and his family and what that all means for him. When Zach first approaches Hannah in that diner scene with Marcus, what does he think of her? When he ignores the call, he’s with his family and Zach is starting to realize who he is. As soon as I read it, I had so much more confidence and so much more drive to tell it the way it needed to be told. This is like, you know what happens at the end, and it tells you how.