Wednesday, February 20, 2008

10 Questions for...Jerry Murdock

When most people think about B-movies or low-budget movies in general, the last thing they typically think about is stellar acting. But one glimpse of my next guest will have you thinking differently if you catch one of his groundbreaking performances. Equally adept at playing a bit part or an incredible dual role, Jerry Murdock is nothing if not consistently great! His latest role, as Sheriff Brogan in The Blood Shed is just another fantastic portrayal for the epitome of versatility that is Jerry Murdock! Now, without further ado, here are 10 Questions for…Jerry Murdock.

1.) Dave: How long have you been acting and how did you break into it?

Jerry: I “broke into it” when I was 26, by accident. I was bartending at a restaurant in upstate New York as a summer job where the owners put on dinner theater productions. The woman who ran the production company asked me if I was interested in trying out for an upcoming play, SHIP’S AHOY. The character was an all-American college football player, and I seemed to physically fit the bill. Actually, I found out later I was a desperation choice. She couldn’t find anyone else to do it! She didn’t even know if I could act my way out of a wet paper bag. Fortunately, I guess I had a knack for performing and after that show I continued on, doing comedy, drama, improv, in the regional theater circuit, really testing my chops. After a few years, I thought I would head down to New York to see if I could do film, television, or anything else. You can only kick around the upstate theater circuit for so long before you become a bitter community theater has-been with a drinking problem, complaining about your missed opportunities.

2.) Dave: How do you prepare for a role?

Jerry:
I read the script a few times, picking up on little clues, and then sit down with the director and toss ideas at them. My goal is to make it interesting, whether it is speech, mannerisms, physical appearance or whatnot, when I end up on set, I try to be under the character’s skin. I’m not an obsessive planner, but I do give it ample thought. The one thing I try to be very cognizant of is to never repeat myself. I try to throw some dynamic into the performance that is different each time. I really don’t want to end up being a one-trick pony, doing the same bit over and over again.

3.) Dave: Your dual portrayal of twin brothers Jake and Mitch Geraldi in I'll Bury You Tomorrow was incredible. I actually had to wait until the end credits to make sure that both characters were played by you. How did you manage that memorable performance?

Jerry:
I’m flattered that people enjoyed that performance, because Alan Rowe Kelly will tell you that I never thought we could pull it off. You know, the wig, make-up, contact lenses and all that can only take you so far. The performances could have very easily fell into some bad characterization, and the whole thing would have made the film and myself look foolish, which is what I was convinced was happening while we were shooting it. Alan deserves a lot of the credit because he not only guided me on what was working and not working with the two characters; he was constantly re-assuring me that the whole concept would be effective. I didn’t believe it until it was finally screened and I realized we did fool people. I think all that doubt I had when shooting helped tremendously.

4.) Dave: What inspires you creatively?

Jerry:
People, all kinds of different people. I could sit in a park all day and just check out the way people act, talk, and carry themselves. You sit back and try to figure out their story. The couple arguing, the guy talking to himself, the girl crying, the old man laughing, they all have a story. I find it interesting to wonder why, which leads to all kinds of creative impulses when it comes time to “create”. Also, great films, great music, great art, it can all be inspiring.

5.) Dave: You've acted in soap operas, independent horror movies, commercials and a wide range of other projects. What is your favorite genre of work and why?

Jerry:
Horror movies, by far. You really get a chance to let loose, and the more outrageous the character, the better. I have to say, though, that I really haven’t had too many opportunities to do a drama, or other serious pieces. I would like to tackle something like that, eventually. I do love comedy. I did a short film last year called DING DONG DATE, and it reminded me how much I loved comedy when I was doing the theater work. I would love to do more. The soap opera and commercial work were less gratifying because it was usually just minor scenes; say your few bit lines, hit your marks and take your check. No input, no creative freedom. The benefit, however, was the money!

6.) Dave: Are you more comfortable in front of the screen, or do you have a desire to work behind the camera at some point?

Jerry:
I’m comfortable in front of the camera, but I’m one of those guys that would like to direct one day. Right now, I’m not sure I’m ready to take that leap. What I do when I’m on set is to watch and listen to the creative processes of the filmmakers that I work with. That’s the best film school there is, in my opinion. Whether it is Alan Rowe Kelly, Bart Mastronardi, Stolis Hadjicharalambous, or Anthony Sumner, I have learned something from each of them. So one day, I’ll try to tackle a project of my own, and try not to beat the actors with sharp sticks, like those clowns do.

7.) Dave: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the acting process?

Jerry:
Shooting with other amazing actors. When working opposite a strong actor, it really ups the ante and pushes me to be better. When they are right there with you, it makes me, the scene and the film better. Fearless actors; that’s the best part, and I’ve been quite fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with my share. The least favorite part of the acting process is actually finishing a project. If it’s a part I really enjoyed, I go through withdrawal when it’s all over.

8.) Dave: What will we be seeing you in next?

Jerry:
Well, this is going to be an interesting year. It’s as if the floodgates have opened. I have two films I’ve appeared in and I’m quite proud of; Bart Mastronardi’s VINDICATION and Stolis Hadjicharalambous’s CROSSED which are going to be phenomenal. Be sure to keep your eye open for those.
I also finished Anthony Sumner’s BY HER HAND, which is going to be teamed with Alan Rowe Kelly’s long-simmering A FAR CRY FROM HOME for a yet-untitled anthology piece. Alan will be shooting the third chapter of the anthology, DOWN THE DRAIN, this spring, where I’ll appear as a nebbish down-on his luck teacher. Also, we have the web series THE HOLLOWS set to roll sometime this year, where I’ll play an alcoholic minister. There are a few other potential projects that aren’t confirmed yet, but it would be great if they panned out. As you can see, it will be a busy year, and will certainly keep me off the streets.

9.) Dave: If your life had taken another road, what do you think you would be doing if you were not an actor?

Jerry:
Well, my life has taken another road. I’m a teacher, and consider myself an actor part-time. I essentially perform five times a day. Just imagine trying to make history entertaining for kids! I’ve got my bag of tricks, and the kids seem to enjoy my class, so it’s gratifying. Right now I’m finishing up my master’s degree and am considering going on to get my doctorate. Perhaps I’ll teach at the university level one day. So, first and foremost, I’m a teacher, but the acting aspect will always be with me. I look forward to doing it as I age rather gracefully, I hope.

10.) Dave: If someone was interested in entering the acting profession, what would be the best advice you could give that person?

Jerry:
Get involved and just do it. That’s the only way to get ahead. I’m not a big supporter of acting schools and teachers to help you “act”. Granted, there are a few who are worth their salt, but most of them are scams, with bitter failed actors who are forced to teach to pay the bills. The problem is, there are so many of them, you’re more than likely to fall into a meaningless class with a failed “professional” actor as a teacher. They won’t give you an honest assessment of your talent or potential, because you pay their bills for all the priceless wisdom they bestow upon you.
The harsh reality of this business is: you’ve either ‘got it’ or you don’t. The only way to find out if you’ve got the chops to make a go at this profession is to get out there and audition for any kind of role you can get your hands on (except porn, the career killer!). You’ll find out rather quickly where you stand in the acting food chain. Be patient, thick-skinned and persistent. If you’ve got the talent, let the chips fall where they may.


I want to thank Jerry Murdock for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. If you haven't had the pleasure to witness one of Jerry Murdock's performances, then you are missing out on the work one of the better actors in the industry. Memorable roles, remarkable performances and quite frankly, a hell of a guy, discover more about Jerry Murdock by visiting his Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/jermrdk.

1 comment:

BLDawley said...

Top notch! Thanks for this. I really feel I understand the artist that is Jerry Murdock. Or maybe I'm just drunk and I THINK I understand. either way, it was a good interview and Mr. Murdock came off as a solid contributor to the craft of performance art. I'll Bury You Tomorrow is next in my Netflix queue and I'm looking forward to it.