did you start working for "Adventures in Odyssey?"
I was involved in a local
community theater run by a woman who knew Steve Harris. One day,
after a rehearsal, she called a group of us kids to see her. There
was to be an audition for some kind of radio show that needed kids
voices. About a week later I went to the audition. I had
never been to a professional audition before and I really had no idea
what it was I was supposed to do. I was called into an office with
a girl from my theater and we sat down at this desk that had two
microphones rigged up and they handed us a script. I said my
lines. I said thank you and I left. Two weeks later we got
the call that they wanted to use me for an episode. That was
episode #2. The rest is history I guess.
Who is your favorite
character on AIO?
Well, I assume you have
to mean other than Jimmy. Probably Whit would be my favorite, but
that may have more to do with my memories of working with Hal than the
actual character itself. Whenever I would show up for a session
and read the script for the first time, if I saw that Whit was in the
episode I would be naturally very excited.
What was it like
playing Jimmy Barclay? Do you relate to him in any way?
Playing Jimmy was a
thrill. Most of my scripts had great writing. I always
enjoyed the way that the writers approached the brother/sister
relationship. The rhythms in the dialogue were always handled in a
very natural manner. Jimmy was always put into rather imaginative
situations, which I liked, and he had a habit of being a bit mischievous
so it was a joy to see what each episode would bring. He was a fun
character to play! As far as how I would relate to him, I guess
I'd have to say that he was
me. In episodic writing, the writers tend to write material
specifically geared for each actor. They try to find their
strengths and to stay away from their weaknesses. I would imagine
that much of what Paul and Phil came up with for Jimmy was to some
extent inspired or derived from what they knew of me. I was a
sarcastic kid, so Jimmy was rather sarcastic. Etc.
What have you
learned the most as you played Jimmy Barclay?
That I was a good
actor. I don't mean that to sound arrogant at all. What I
mean is, I was surrounded by the best professional talent in the
industry and, as a kid, I was able to work successfully with them and to
hold my own. It showed me that I had a skill at something and if I
worked hard at it I could hopefully have a career someday. But I
imagine the nature of your question is more in terms of what life
lessons I learned or spiritual lessons I learned. I think the most
valuable lesson I learned in that context is that life is a constant
string of mistakes and slip-ups and that if there is a greater Grace at
work, all our trials and tribulations will help to shape and mold us
into the people we are meant to be. Jimmy was far from perfect,
but in his mistakes he would find the right paths. . . usually with the
help of much wiser people.
If you could change
one thing about your acting on "Adventures in Odyssey," what would it
After my voice changed
I had a very hard time duplicating some of the earlier work. Also
at that time in my life I was going through some very difficult personal
matters. It was harder for me to just let go and act. As a
result there is a period of time where I feel that my performances were
very stiff and unnatural. To this day I can tell the difference
and I can't stand to listen to some of that work. So, I guess I
would change that.
If you were to give
one piece of advice on how to act, what would you tell someone
interested in being an actor?
Well, first and
foremost, if you can picture yourself doing anything else for a career
and being happy, then do that instead. Acting is a very tough life
and I honestly wouldn't recommend it to just anyone; it has to be your
life's calling. But, for those who do choose this life, my advice
would be study, study, study. Acting is a very complex art and
there are many different approaches, styles and techniques. The
more you know. . . the more you know. Also, learn other peripheral
skills associated with that art. Learn to write. Learn to
direct. Learn to edit or do sound design. Learn to produce.
The more you can do, the more value you have in a production setting.
Sometimes acting takes forever to make a living at. But, if you
have other skills in these fields, than you can almost always find work
in this art form. Remember to pay your bills first :)
What do you like and
dislike about playing emotional scenes?
During a good part of
my teen years I was dealing some rather severe emotional issues.
As a result there were certain emotions that I just didn't have access
to. I remember on several occasions Bob Luttrell (our engineer)
would make a joke about how I was the boy that can't laugh or cry.
So, during that time scenes that were emotionally heavy tended to
frighten me because I didn't think I had the range to pull it off.
Today, however, I love emotional scenes as they tend to be a good
therapeutic release for me.
What was your
favorite part of working with the AIO team?
The people who worked
on that show were the kindest most loving people I've ever had the good
fortune to work with. I never saw anyone have an ego trip, I never
heard an argument, no one ever didn't have fun. The feeling for me
was always like a family reunion. In the end, those are the
memories I cherish the most. My experience with AIO had very
little to do with the character or the stories, for me it was all about
getting to see people I cared about and the laughter and great times we
shared in the studio.
What aspect of the
recording sessions did you like and dislike?
The smell of a
recording studio and the muffled sound of the studio doors closing are
sensory experiences that have permanently become a part of my DNA.
I love to record. Let me rephrase that: I LLLLOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE
to record!!! There is nothing about the sessions I dislike.
Those sessions truly were some of the most enjoyable times of my life.
I guess the only thing I don't like is that I don't get to do it with
them anymore :(
What was your
reaction to finding out you would be playing your last scenes as Jimmy
Barclay in "Pokenberry Falls, R.F.D."? How did you react when you were
asked to come back for another appearance in "Living in the Grey"?
When I came into the
studio that day and read the script for the first time I was devastated.
For me, this had always been something that set me apart from everyone
else I knew. The joy I had in doing it was now about to end.
It felt like a part of me had died and I couldn't get it back. I
had no control over it, which was very frustrating. No one asked
me about! But, of course they didn't, because if it were up to me
every episode would be all Jimmy all the time. By that point I had
been recording with AIO for 10 years. I was 20 years old that day.
Half of my life, my identity had been wrapped up in this project.
To see it come to an end broke my heart. I think I cried the whole
way home that day. I wouldn't get to see any of those guys again.
When I got the call about Living in the Gray my heart raced. All
those old feelings rushed back and I couldn't wait to get into the
studio again. I tried as hard as I could that day to deliver my
best performance possible, mostly in the hopes that they would go "Oh
yeah, this guy is pretty good at this, let's use him some more", but
also so that I could walk away from the session with my head held high
and a smile on my face. It was wonderful.