The Fosters Hayden Byerly On Jude’s Growth and How He Defines Family
If you’re a fan of ABC Family’s hit new drama The Fosters, you are familiar with Hayden Byerly. The gracious young actor plays Jude, one half of the Jacob’s duo.
After years of being in the foster system and his sister rescuing him from an abusive foster parent, Jude now resides in a temporary placement situation with the Fosters. The series’ summer finale, however, saw both Jacob’s siblings offered the opportunity to live in the house permanently. Things were finally looking up until Jude caught his sister kissing Brandon, the biological son of Steph, one of his foster mothers.
While it may not have seemed like it at the time, that little kiss put everyone in an uncomfortable and legally dangerous situation. Any relationship between foster siblings is grounds for removal from the home. Jude, who we’ve seen grow not just as a character but as a part of the Fosters’ family, feared having to be uprooted once again. His anxiety led to a confrontation between him and his sister, during which he shared exactly how he felt.
Callie, hurt and stunned by her brother’s confession, ran away in hopes of giving Jude an opportunity to be happy. Both she and Jude didn’t anticipate the fall out that would follow and how he, as a member of the Fosters’ family, would have his conceptions of family, and what we do for them, tested. ScreenSpy recently had the opportunity to sit down with the well-versed and sweet Byerly to discuss Jude’s growth, his sibling relationships, and tease a bit of what’s to come for his character in the series.
When The Fosters premiered last summer, Jude was quite different than he is now. Not only was he more reliant on Callie as a source of security, but less emotionally open to his new foster family. “He was a very shy kid, he didn’t talk,” Byerly says of his character. “He wasn’t very warmed up to the family. He wasn’t very open to them.”
With time, as well as the prospect of having a place to call home, things have changed for Jude. It’s not just about the Fosters making him feel like family though. Jude is taking steps right along with them. “They want to adopt him and they are starting to become more of a family. He is starting to feel like he has a firm ground beneath him, to feel more comfortable and he’s starting to become more of a brother to Jesus and Mariana. He starts to really open up to them.”
You could say Jude is a new addition to the Fosters household, but he also remains a member of the Jacob’s family – a distinction his sister Callie continues to make. After Jude’s emotional confrontation with his sister, many viewers were left wondering how Jude actually felt. Byerly tells us that what we heard isn’t entirely what he meant. “I don’t think he really feels like she ruined everything for him. It’s the anger and frustration of her ruining their chance of being adopted. After so long and so many families, he finally has one that wants him to be a part of their family and she’s blowing it for both of them.”
Jude’s words still had an impact on his sister, despite him not meaning exactly how it came out. The question of whether Jude will have an opportunity to clarify is up in the air as the show’s focus is on moving forward, not back. “He does feel bad about what he said, he does feel guilty. [But] we don’t necessarily see him go back to that.”
Callie’s actions have been a true test for everyone in the household, so much so that during Callie’s hearing, Steph and Lena – when given the opportunity – decided against bringing her back into the house right away. Callie’s relationship with Brandon and then her subsequent running away was especially emotionally trying for Jude. With everything thing that the Jacob’s siblings have gone through, in addition to Callie’s current absence, one might be wondering if their sibling bond will remain strong.
Luckily, there is nothing to question, Byerly confirms. Callie remains an important part of Jude’s life. “He misses her and he loves her. They’ve grown up together and that’s all that he has. They’ve only had each other.” This kind of close bond is exactly why Jude, even with reason, hasn’t thrown in the towel yet when it comes to his sister. “He will always love her and always be very close to her,” Byerly assures. “He’s just a little upset about what she did, about how she feels, what she does whenever she feels uncomfortable or scared. He’s upset about her leaving, but deep down inside he loves her.”
Despite Jude’s unwavering care for his sister, she remains removed from the house, currently residing in a group home for female juvenile offenders. Because they’ve been so dependent on each other for so long, life without Callie might seem like it would come to an emotional hault for Jude. The time away from Callie has proven positive for Jude in some respects, especially when it comes to building better relationships with his foster siblings and friends.
“Jude starts to open up to Mariana and Jesus especially, and he starts to warm back up to Connor. He kind of reaches out to them. He wants to be a part of their family and wants them to accept him as a brother. He definitely opens up to them.”
The first two episodes of the winter season have given us some touching moments between Jude and his foster siblings. Last week’s episode featured a scene between him and Mariana that was particularly poignant. Byerly teases that this is something we’ll only see more of as the season progresses. “We are gonna see some very close moments with Mariana. Connor has some close moments with Jude. And then we’ll have some interesting moments with Jesus,” Byerly laughs. “Those will be very fun. Brother like.”
How you define family has been the center theme of this series since its beginning. After everything Jude’s been through with Callie, along with his experiences growing with the Fosters, it’s reasonable to assume that Jude’s definition could get a little complicated. Hayden Byerly, however, sees it as simple and clear-cut.
“Jude’s idea of a family isn’t necessarily a mom or a dad. That doesn’t matter to him. A family is a group of people who love each other very much. I think that Jude just wants to be loved. He wants people to look out for him, to take care of him, to put a roof over his head — a place where he feels comfortable.”
Be sure to catch the The Fosters, airing Mondays at 8:00 pm ET/PT on ABC Family.