It'll be hard to recognise Go Girls star Jay Ryan in his new character.

Ryan's new role in a pilot episode of Beauty and the Beast will be under prosthetics, wigs and other beastly necessities. Ryan left Auckland on Thursday and began shooting the pilot almost as soon as he landed in Toronto.

The 30-year-old won his new role despite having to fly across the Pacific, which left him jet-lagged, forcing him to prove his mettle in auditions just after landing.

"I was quite surprised that I got the part. There were times I was talking gibberish because I was so exhausted."


Auckland-born Ryan said he had big shoes to fill playing a character based loosely on Sons of Anarchy star Ron Perlman's beast from the 1980s TV show.

Ryan said the pilot was a re-imagining of that CBS series starring Linda Hamilton as the beauty. This time, Smallville's Kristin Kreuk would play the beauty.

"It's a nice break for me because I've been chipping away at the American market for six or seven years now."

Ryan would juggle his new role with one he'd been working on in Queenstown for Jane Campion's drama Top of the Lake, where he played the character of Mark Mitcham. Bikers, Harley Davidsons and dead pigs laid out for a barbecue scene surrounded Ryan as cameras rolled in Otago last week. "It's a different world. It's quite dark and mysterious."