As I still thoroughly enjoy my “twitter treasure hunts,” where I discover actors, filmmakers, and the like, once in awhile, I uncover someone who doesn’t fit into the neat little box that the world of entertainment attempts to construct for him. In the case of Stephen Jared, that is entirely true. While he is an actor, he is not your typical actor. And while he is a writer, I doubt one would label him as “mainstream” or “run-of-the-mill.” Thus, if you follow my blog, you are well-acquaitned with the fact that these are the very kinds of people I take immense delight in featuring. Recently, Stephen agreed to answer a few questions about his career and the myriad of experiences he has had in both acting and writing.
RH: What inspired you to pursue a career in acting? What kind of training have you received?
SJ: I think the years between 1975 and 1985 were maybe the best ever for Hollywood films. It was also unique in that for the first time they were targeting films, after Star Wars in 1977, toward twelve-, thirteen-, and fourteen-year-olds. I don’t know how anyone who was growing up then didn’t dream of a career in Hollywood. I wasn’t sophisticated enough then to watch a movie and think about becoming an art director or a prop guy. Watching Indiana Jones had me wishing to become Harrison Ford. As I grew further into my teens, I developed an interest in all of it, but still held onto the idea of being an actor. As far as training goes, I moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles at twenty-one years old and got into an acting class and stayed for five years.
What has been a favorite role in your career so far? Why was it a favorite?
Though I had a small role, He’s Just Not That Into You was great because of the stars involved. I worked eight days on it–which is a lot for me–and I think the movie is great. It’s old-fashioned. It’s gorgeous, rich people and their relationship problems. It’s the kind of thing Hollywood has done well since the 1930’s.
The role many people may know you for is He’s Just Not That Into You. How did you get cast in that film? What was that experience like? Any standout moments?
I was invited to audition and got lucky. As to the experience, it was great. They were a great bunch of people. There’s a scene where Ben Affleck’s character sees Jennifer Aniston’s character for the first time since they broke up, and he’s just brought food and cleaned the kitchen for her, and she walks in, surprised by this. It’s a “Prince Charming” moment, and a lot of actors would have played it that way, but he was talking it through with the director and saying how the guy would be really vulnerable, despite surprising her with all these favors. The vulnerability that all the actors display in that film is part of why it’s a success. They were all impressive, all extremely talented and smart. These are not huge stars by accident.
You have also become an author. How did that come about? Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
I had been writing for years without anyone ever reading my stories except with an eye toward their market potential. These were screenplays. I wanted to see what reaction I might get from someone reading something of mine strictly for enjoyment. So I took a script that I liked, called Jack and the Jungle Lion, and adapted it to a short novel, and self-published it. After that, a publishing company called Solstice took an interest, and I’ve been working with them since. I write stories set in the ’20’s, ’30’s, ’40’s. I like period pieces. They tend to be inspired mostly by old Hollywood films.
Any upcoming works you can mention?
I have a new book coming soon called Need More Road. This one’s set in the ’50’s. It’s a thriller. And there’s a dirt-racing movie that stars Kevin Dillon. That’s coming next year. It’s called Dirt. I play a small part.
I see you listed as a producer on an upcoming work. Can you tell us about that? Plans to do more producing? Maybe even writing/directing for films/TV?
I’m an associate producer of a documentary on an illustrator from the ’70’s/’80’s named Richard Amsel. That era saw a return of the illustrated movie poster in a big way, and he was one of the top talents leading that movement along. He created some of the great iconic images of that time. He was gay. He died from AIDS in 1985 at the young age of thirty-seven. I’m happy to be working in a behind-the-scenes capacity on something. I’d love to do more of this type of thing. It would be a remarkable leap though to go from where I’ve been to producing or directing anything where there’s big money involved.
If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, whom would you choose and why?
The explorer Richard Burton. All the great fictional adventurers of the 20th century probably owe at least a little something to Richard Burton. To spend a day listening to him tell stories would be amazing.
What is your advice for those who wish to pursue a career in acting and/or writing?
I’m not a big advice-giver. First off, I’m not very successful. The last thing I’d ever tell someone is to follow in my footsteps. That said, life can be difficult and I’m relatively happy. Maybe some of that is because I’m involved in things I like.
I find Stephen’s response to my final question one of the most intriguing I have ever encountered. Now, I’m not saying that one should never give advice. I am steadfast in my belief that all of us have something in our life experience to contribute to others. And although Stephen has chosen not to give some of the hackneyed advice I often hear from actors, writers, and the like, in declining to give words of advice, Stephen has illustrated a vital key in this world from which some could glean tremendous understanding. While I am convinced that giving advice is a glorious honor, I think all too often we are willing to impart the wisdom from our experience without realizing that everyone’s situation is different. Successful actors can sound quite smug when giving pointed advice that minimizes the struggles that one is destined to experience in an art form that is subjective and easy to criticize. Moreover, words without action are rather meaningless. By commercial standards, Stephen is not very successful, but there is no doubt that he takes great pride in what he does for a living. As a fledgling writer myself, I would relish being as “unsuccessful” as Stephen, and I utter these words in earnest and with great respect. In my humble opinion, Stephen is successful because in spite of any pitfalls or difficulties, Stephen has been granted the awesome opportunity to follow his passion for a living and get paid for it. Furthermore, he is doing it for the right reasons and maintaining his humble spirit no matter what achievements or failures may come his way. Please consider following Stephen at the links listed below and possibly looking up his books and other works as well. One who is committed to his craft and works within the realms of his dreams and desires is to be highly commended.