"Jesus Jon and the Acting Breakdown" by Kathryn Leroux
Kathryn Leroux is an actress/comedian, friend and former guest of The Power Meeting Podcast
“So there I was, sitting there with the complacent, incredible Jonathan Rollins. Ready to get shown up by an amateur”. Good people of the court, this is my version of the Angry Bird promo shoot.
Hey! My name is Kathryn, I’m from Colorado in the United States and I am a professionally trained actress. I got my “acting degree” at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in LA. I’m putting that in quotes because even though I have a piece of paper that says “you graduated from acting school”, it’s basically like owning a blockbuster card… it means nothing now. I moved to Stockholm about six years ago, following my very own blonde, blue eyed swedie. Jon and I got pretty lucky, we both married hot blonde Swedes! BOOM! Nailed it. Only difference now is that Jon speaks fluent Swedish. And that my friends, is where this story begins.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from my friend Chris at Resolution Games. He asked if I was interested in filming a promo for an upcoming game, and that I needed a partner to play my boyfriend. I could have asked my real husband, but hey, he’s a 10 and I’m a 7… I needed someone more on my level, you know? Haha just kiiiiiiidding. Well, for these kinds of projects I go through a short checklist in my head:
- Who is professional enough for this shoot?
- Who is super funny and can improvise?
- And maybe most importantly: Who would be the most fun to hang out with?
Jon Rollins baby! He completely fit the bill for me. It was a great way for us to network as English speaking actors, Jons a stellar stand up comic and he has theatrical experience. I know that Jon didn’t have film acting experience, but I wasn’t worried about him. See, the thing is… in acting school, I learned how to act in theatre. Everything with theatre has to be BIG. I learned half a dozen acting techniques to learn how to completely, truthfully become the character I was interpreting. It was deep, it was inspirational. It was a crock of shit. Acting school did NOT prepare me for how it was going to be in the real world, and how to act on film. Now a days, when we have 5k filming capabilities, where the picture is so sharp you can see every crack and crevice, you don’t need to act really. The image captures everything. Subtlety is the name of the game. And, in my experience of working in the industry for almost 7 years, I can tell you that a lot of the people who come on screen who have never acted before are amazing. Because they’re not trying, because they’re just doing what feels natural. So, I knew that Jon had experience acting and that he would probably blow everybody away on film.
This is the other thing, that if you don’t know Jon, he’s amazing. Seriously. I call him Jesus Jon. He has a beautiful family, he’s served in the military, he’s an incredible stand up comic, he hosts 2-3 shows a week, he speaks fluent swedish, he owns his own club, he has his own podcast AND he works a full time job on top of that. AND, Jon doesn’t get hung over. That’s actually where the nickname came from… We were out on tour and we all got wasted one night and Jon woke up the next morning and got in the kitchen to make us all pancakes. At that point you’re just mad that someone is functioning at such a higher level than you. Because Jon is never just cooking breakfast, he’s probably writing a blog, editing a podcast and changing a diaper WHILE making pancakes. Jesus Jon, we praise him. We broke pancake that morning and I said a short prayer, “Thank you Jon Jesus, for this bountiful meal you have bestowed upon us” and he said “Varsågod! Smaklig måltid!” -_-
So, the morning of the shoot came. I was pretty pumped, mostly because this is the first time I was going to make money in 6 weeks. I got there early to get in makeup, meet the crew and check out the set. Jon arrived shortly after me, and saw me in the makeup chair and goes “they got black people makeup!?”. I was actually a little scared in that moment because I was like… omg what if they don’t have black people makeup!? But, thankfully this awesome makeup artist indeed had dozens of shades of makeup.
The producers of this shoot, told me that they wanted the female to be playing the game. They wanted to make sure role reversal was in check. And that it would be the boyfriend getting annoyed and sad while his stunning girlfriend played Angry Birds on her phone. So, it was my job to be outgoing on this shoot, and it was Jons job to look sad and disinterested. And he was NAILING IT. My takes were first, and they were fun of course because I was trying to make it look like that’s what I was doing. Then Jon’s time came, close ups and all. And Jesus Jon did not disappoint. He looked annoyed, sad, frustrated, confused. There was so much character wrapped up in Jon Rollins face, I was thinking in my head… “God damn it, he’s gonna show me up.” And what’s even worse than that, is that while we were sitting there shooting, in-between takes, Jon looked bored. Oh GAWD. HE’S ALREADY A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR! FUCK! If you’ve been trying to make it in the industry for a few years I think it’s pretty easy to look like “omg! What do we do now!?” But no, not Jon, he looked like he barely cared… a sign of a great film actor.
So there I was, sitting there with the complacent, incredible Jonathan Rollins. Ready to get shown up by an amateur. It was frustrating in that moment actually, realizing that once again I would get shown up by someone who had never done this before. And that he looked so relaxed like “I don’t need this shit”. Little did I know that Jon was thinking and feeling very different than I thought he was at that shoot. I never, ever once thought that Jon wasn’t having a great time, and I’ve never seen Jon not confident.
It’s crazy for me to look back on it now and think that I thought Jon was bored, or complacent… not, questioning himself. When I said things on set like “you’re doing great!” I meant it! It was amazing for me to see him like that. He was everything I thought he would be on that shoot and everybody loved him. His role was to play someone down and thats exactly what he did! Whatever… nevermind, you’ll see it in the footage. And you’ll all go “OMG Jesus Jon! Give that man an Emmy!” Lol not an Oscar but an Emmy. Calm down people.
The second scene was not as fun, Jon was right about that. But hey! If you need to be asleep you need to be asleep! And, I just also want to say that they didn’t cover that for me at acting school either. “Ok everyone, today in body language acting class we’re covering the difference between looking dead and looking asleep. It’s a tricky grey line that needs to be carefully directed.” NO! So when the director was like “Jon you look dead” Jon changed his position to look less dead! NAILED IT. He didn’t scratch his face, even though he really wanted to… I know it sounds stupid, because it is… it’s film, they could just edit out his scratch. Or maybe they wanted to use it. We’ll never know, because Jesus Jon kept his composure like a man holding a fart in church.
All and all, to me it was an awesome experience and I was so proud of Jon. Film sets aren’t what people think they are. You spend hours sitting around waiting for shots to be set up, all to come down to the two minutes you’re on camera to be completely on point, not to waste any more time. It’s difficult to understand the terminology and who is in charge of what in the room. Everything is centered around you and they need you to be amazing to make all of it work. It’s intimidating, and just down right fucking frightening. And Jon, did a great, fucking job. I’m proud that he’s my friend and that we had this experience together. So this good people of the world, is my version of what happened that day. I thank you all for reading <3 Go with peace and love. In Jesus Jon we pray. Amen.