ED- The Eerie Digest is very excited to introduce another great East Coast actor, Jonathon Ruckman. Jonathon we understand that you were actually seeking a career in Criminal Justice before you decided on acting. What inspired you most to follow this present course?
JR-I guess I’m dating myself however, as a child watching Saturday night programming, I loved watching Eight is Enough, The Love Boat, and Fantasy Island. I was inspired by Adam Rich, and when Salem’s’ Lot came out and I saw children acting, I knew I wanted to become an actor. I was even so bold to run around and tell everyone I went to school with in Edgewood that’s what I wanted to do. Unfortunately this predated the internet and I had no way to follow through. My second love was the military and it was there that my interest for Criminal Justice came out. However, I was still very actively involved in doing anything theatrical. I even planned and designed the biggest Haunted House my base in Zaragoza Spain had ever seen. I raised about 5k for the benefit of the youth programs on base. When I finally got out of the Air Force the internet was a new thing and I heard a few of my classmates were in Hollywood being actors. Namely, Johnathon Schaech , I mean I sat next to the guy in home room for about eight years. I figured if he could do it then so could I.
JR- I was hungry for anything I could do. I have really strong ties in the theater groups though out the Baltimore Area and have broken many teeth getting better. I also have taken so many workshops and master classes in NYC that were enough to choke a horse. I love it that much. Best book I ever read was True False by David Mamet. It simply said get out of class and perform to get better. I took what he said to heart.
ED- We learned that you first applied your talent to the theater circuit. Please tell us about this aspect of your life.
JR- I have always loved theater and it was there that I learned the art of improv and moving quickly on my feet . It’s a funny thing about the live experience and the possibility of someone dropping their lines and your mind has to move at lighting speed to get it back on track. It’s like watching NASCAR you know sooner or later someone is going to crash, well theater is like driving at two hundred miles an hour. Your almost out of control and on the edge. Someone crashes and you avoid the pile up, and keep your cool, and keep rocking and rolling, and the audience isn’t the wiser. Unfortunately this has ruined theater and movies for me as I can always spot the ‘oooopps’.
ED- How did this venue of acting give you confidence and resolve in the later part of your career?
JR- I have been able to do anything and everything I have ever set my mind to, and wanted to do, and if someone told me I couldn’t do it I set my ass on fire to prove them wrong. Being an Actor was no different. As with any job you first start , if your a mechanic or a doctor your nervous but you keep doing what you love to do, and after a while there are no nerves. It’s just you and your doing your thing, and it gets easier to the point where it hardly feels like your working. More like playing. I’d like to say that acting is like a drug of sorts, once it’s in your blood if you stop, it is like losing a limb.
ED- Your first big showing was an appearance with the NFL and also the show ‘Tales of the Highway Patrol’ . How did it differ for you as opposed to stage acting?
JR- LOL… I heard the word Less…. on more then one occasion. In Theater you’re acting for the masses and TV/film your acting just for the one, and that one is the camera, and she is an unforgiving pain in the ass. She will call you out every time so you just tune it down listen to the director and try not to step in it too bad. Believe it or not my first phone call landed the NFL thing. I know, I know, never call agents. I was so new I just didn’t know….kind of lucky for me.
ED- Your career took off from the beginning and you were soon on a roll and had roles in thirteen episodes with the television show ‘Hack’. Many actors can only dream of such a quick rise in their acting careers. How did this impact you?
JR-The criminal justice thing and being a cop helped with HACK. I always get pegged as a cop, that or the creepy bad guy. LMAO. I thought the booking was just normal so I never took it too serious or (with that eat my shit attitude ) look at me. In fact everything has been easy because that’s how I thought about it. If I let myself believe it were hard, like so many do, then I guess it would have been hard . I just never let that thought come to mind. Easy is what I thought, and easy is how it has been. Now I have also been very goal oriented, Long term goals and short terms goals. MY long term was to get paid. That happened with my first booking. Short term was to get involved. Needless to say I need to rewrite my goals after the NFL booking
ED- You soon had appearances in the Short, ‘Photos For Sale’, ‘National Treasure’, ‘and ‘The Cole Conspiracy’ followed by an episode of ‘Creepy Canada’. Please tell us about these productions and the roles you played in each.
JR- Through auditions and networking I managed to book these. Photo’s came as a 48hour film fest and I worked with the people on my first feature called Bread, Milk, and Toilet Paper.( I hope that one never gets seen. I was so bad, I could only get better ) National Treasure, long story, I put 12 hours into HACK slept in my car 2 hours and did another 12 on NT. I was tired and when Nick Cage ran by me on the sidewalk and almost knocked me down in Philly I really wanted to run after him and pound the shit out of him. I guess Jon Turtletub liked the fact that I had turned around and pretty much reacted like any normal human being would act if almost knocked down by an unapologetic jerk so he decided to leave it in … I was a featured background person . What the hell did I know. Cole ,I played a Secret Service guy, and Creepy I played the part of Jim Glass. I was referred by Mark Redfield who like what he saw in me after I had taken a scene study class at his studio. Mark brought me in for Creepy Canada (networking goes further then anything) I love that guy.
ED- Never one to sit still, you played roles in six productions in 2006. These included ‘Terror in the Tropics’, ‘The Intern’, ‘Missing Persons Unit’, ‘The Death of Poe’, ‘The Wire’, and ‘The Last Mango’. Please tell us all about these and how you were able to separate the personalities of all the characters for the roles that you played in them?
JR- I took something Ethel Merman said in an interview once…Luck is being in everything at once. As far as separating characters I have had a full life of memories and the fact is that as a kid I use to pretend that cameras’ were following me around, I’d play four characters at once. It isn’t hard to separate anything. I used the tools I already had….life experiences. Since 2001 I have done well over 500 projects ( commercials, TV, films, industrials and theater).
ED- In ‘The Last Mango’ you also stepped behind the camera to act as the Assistant Unit Production Manager, while during the same period you had a part in ‘The Good Sheppard’. Please tell us about these and how your behind-the-scenes work in ‘Last Mango’ payed off for you.
JR- You know, you move a couple of cables and tables and your a unit productions manager . I was being helpful because the crew was light and I took it upon myself to step in and help. You can never get too big not to lend a hand. Oh…yea The Good Sheppard…. I guess I looked like Alec Baldwin…. I actually had to step in front of DeNiro to get that one. However brief… he had to approve me, and wala, I was the photo double for Alec Baldwin. So every time you think you see Alec from a distance it is me. In everything you do, you network with everyone and your nice…. Mango happened a long time ago, however I met the great Connie Lamothe who directed Rosie’s Miracle. It actually won several awards. I was up for best supporting actor in that role. Everything is a circle, and you meet great people along the way. You have fun and you play nice, which will always lead to other things. Connie and I have worked a ton together and I am doing something soon for one of her contacts . It’s funny, as my memory fades I run into people who tell me they have worked with me in the past. There have been too many faces, too many friends, and too many takes to remember. But I want to thank everyone for being a part of my journey, and my reality.
ED- In 2007 you continued to move forward in such productions as ‘The Breach’ and ‘Terror in the Pharaoh’s Tomb’. The following year saw you score high in ‘Corporate Affairs’, ‘The Chinese Room’, and ‘Safe House’ and the biggest Western to hit the state of Maryland, ‘One-Eyed Horse’. You seemed unstoppable . Please tell us how you had so much energy to perform so many roles in these wildly varying films?
JR- Oh don’t forget to mention also during that time I was working five days a week at Medieval Times playing the Lord Chancellor. I find myself to be a very lucky individual and it just so happens that I was in the right place at the right time. These roles were one right after another and didn’t over lap. Each one had a separate energy, and is kind of hard to explain where the energy comes from. God gave me a gift and I was given an opportunity . I never turned away from working, playing and learning. Until the day I stop breathing I wont allow myself to stop.
ED- In the last two years you were in ‘Rosie’s Miracle’ (Short), ‘Make It Happen’ (Short), ‘Diary of an Ex-Child Star’, ‘Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry’, and ‘Tracks’(a Video) before stepping behind the other side of the camera once again. This year you have produced three movies in one of our favorite Horror-genre characters, Zombies. All three films are currently in production stages. Can you give us a sneak preview at your creation’s ‘Zombie Doomsday’, ‘Another Zombie Flick: The making of a Low Budget Zombie Movie’, and the film ‘Another Zombie Flick’ ?
JR- I have had a great opportunity to work with some of the finest people on the east coast and all over the world. I was approached by my good friends Tom Townsend and Nick Bailey to produce and star in all three of the Zombie pieces . Tom is the genius and the driving force behind all of us, and he came up with the idea because someone told him it couldn’t be done. Zombie Doomsday is a live non scripted occurrence as to what would really happen in the event of a real zombie outbreak. I collected the best actors and gave them ideas and Tom threw a lot of shit at them. What you see is the real deal, and it was filmed in 12 hours. The premise is a reality TV star comes home for a home coming, and what follows are the events of the outbreak. Real reactions, real emotions, whether they be tears or jokes. What turned out was really good. The ‘Making’ was the doc that was being filmed at the same time. The reality TV crew was using three cameras and all of them captured everything. What we got was brilliant, and a stroke of genius ( thank you TOM).
ED- Jonathon, as we said earlier you seem quite unstoppable. We want to thank you for your time with us in this interview with The Eerie Digest, and hope that you can update us regularly for all your latest career moves. We also wish you much luck in all your future endeavors.
JR- Always happy to help