Jonathan Tucker, co-star of the "Hostage" Movie!
An actor and longtime ballet student whose plain but wholesome good looks find him frequently cast as the "boy next door" type, Jonathan Tucker has been performing gracefully on stage and screen for most of his life. Born in May of 1982 in Boston, MA, Tucker established his love for the stage early on when, in the third grade, he was cast in a Boston Ballet production of The Nutcracker. After receiving his primary education at Park School in nearby Brookline, Tucker relocated to the West Coast to receive further coaching at the Thatcher School in Ojai, CA. Though subsequently accepted for early admission at Columbia University, Tucker deferred in favor of actively pursuing a career as an actor. Following his film debut in the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer comedy Troublemakers (1994), Tucker's career began to flourish with more substantial roles in Two if by Sea and Sleepers (both 1996). On television, the up-and-comer appeared on The Practice before taking a starring role in the 1998 made-for-television feature Mr. Music. A role in The Virgin Suicides (1999) found his small-town looks again utilized to good effect, and after a dweebish turn in the coming-of-age comedy 100 Girls, Tucker essayed his most demanding role to date in The Deep End (2001). Tucker's role as a closeted gay son whose mother Tilda Swinton will go to any lengths to protect him from being pinned for murder won accolades for the dark thriller, and headlining roles in Ball in the House (2001) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) were quick to follow.
More fun stuff about Jonathan Tucker
Nickname: Tuck Moss
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
Jonathan attends the Thacher School in Ojai, California.
Favorite actors are Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro.
Hates Horror movies
His father is his inspiration
Jonathan and Mike Vogel (co-star of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are best friends.
HATES being called Jon
Deferring from Columbia University, where he was accepted for early admission.
His father, Paul Hayes Tucker, is the world's foremost authority on Claude Monet and French Impressionism.
His sex scene with Josh Lucas in The Deep End (2001) was filmed on his eighteenth birthday, to avoid legal implications.
His Personal quotes:
"You can be drinking the wine today, but picking the grapes tomorrow."
"I do not aspire to fame, rather I work towards creating a body of work and a moral character that is deserving of recognition."
Jonathan Tucker: A Teenager Adrift, a Tragedy And the Marines to the Rescue
The early scenes of ''Stateside,'' the muddled drama of a young marine and his obsessive relationship with a schizophrenic pop singer, make you fear that you are about to be plunged into a fill-in-the-blanks Hollywood fantasy of cut-rate redemption.
As the movies and television would have it, nothing beats the military for turning a pampered rich boy into a strapping man's man. And as the bratty Mark Deloach (Jonathan Tucker), a spoiled Connecticut teenager, endures his humiliating initiation in North Carolina and corresponds with his troubled sweetheart up north, you expect the imminent arrival of drum rolls, flag-waving and a cherry-on-the-sundae smooch with a newly healthy American beauty.
But no. ''Stateside,'' which opens today nationwide, turns out not to be ''David and Lisa Go to Boot Camp'' or ''An Officer and a Lunatic.'' It's something worse: an exceedingly earnest mishmash of subplots with only the haziest grasp of narrative coherence. As the movie, written and directed by Reverge Anselmo, jumps from one setting to the next, characters make unprepared entrances and exits, and some disappear without a trace. Dramatic confrontations (like Mark's lashing out at a brutal drill instructor) have no consequences. The dialogue is so quirky (and so in love with its own cuteness) that it's sometimes unintelligible. Worse, its two stars, Mr. Tucker and Rachael Leigh Cook, never transcend their characters' limitations to become compelling.
When the story begins in 1980, Mark is a nerdy Catholic school student who lives with his bullying father (Joe Mantegna) and neurotic younger sister in a chilly Connecticut mansion. His life abruptly unravels after he and some friends permanently disable the school's head priest, Father Concoff (Ed Begley Jr.), in a messy car collision as they flee a prank in which they've spied on Sue Dubois (Agnes Bruckner), a snooty but secretly promiscuous student whom they catch in the act.
Sue is dispatched to a mental hospital by her angry mother (Carrie Fisher), and strings are pulled for Mark to join the Marines to avoid prosecution. The love story lurches to a start when Mark meets Dori (Ms. Cook), Sue's roommate at the hospital, and they fall in love at first sight. Earlier in the movie, Dori is shown having a public meltdown in a California nightclub and spouting gibberish. Then suddenly she's back in Connecticut.
Mark, trapped in North Carolina, and Dori, recovering in a halfway house, carry on a heated long-distance relationship, exchanging sweet eccentric letters they both avidly cling to for comfort. Once in a while Mark dashes back for a brief visit. For Dori, however, love spells trouble. The doctors warn that her dependence on Mark will impede her recovery.
Late in the game, ''Stateside'' takes a fatal dive when Mark is sent to Beirut and a minute later is shown back in the States, recovering from serious injuries at a military hospital. The abrupt shifts, inadequately explained in a title, leaves you scratching your head.
But so does everything else about ''Stateside.'' The movie, said to be based on a true story, begins as a high school soap opera, segues into a boys-to-men military drama and peters out as a feeble answer to ''Girl, Interrupted,'' with a halfhearted ''Splendor in the Grass''-style finale. Maybe at two and a half hours the movie would have made more sense. At 97 minutes, it is an unsalvageable mess.
''Stateside'' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for sexual situations and profanity.
Jonathan Tucker: The Palpable Resolve of a Mother's Love
Darby (Josh Lucas) is brazen, magnetic and ruthless -- in other words, a trick, hot and seductive, the wrong man to fall in love with. In the new film noir ''The Deep End,'' when he comes to an early end, you think the movie will never recover. With his roving eyes and vulture smile, Darby is all sybarite -- a man of immediate pleasure with a blond brush of a mustache that belongs on one of the Village People; it's immaculate and you can sense his pride of ownership. But the filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel have found an equally proud match for him in a mama bear named Margaret (Tilda Swinton), who becomes enmeshed in a murder involving Darby and his latest target: Margaret's 17-year-old child, Beau (Jonathan Tucker). Margaret has to handle things on her own, because her husband, a naval officer, is away.
A tidy story of polish and sophistication, ''The Deep End'' thrives on the resolute Ms. Swinton, whose slender, finely drawn features can hold a position like a statue. But you can see fearful tremors in that resolve -- her jawline may be sturdy and determined, but it isn't always steady, even as she does whatever it takes to keep her boy safe from the clutches of the law and the thugs who were part of Darby's circle.
In their previous feature, ''Suture,'' Mr. McGehee and Mr. Siegel played with misinformation and silences, with people carrying on in what they thought was the most necessary way possible; their certainty only made more of a mess of things. ''Suture,'' made on a limited budget, had an inventiveness sired by a lack of cold, hard cash. It felt like a picture made by kids in love with the Byzantine curlicues of film noir.
In ''The Deep End,'' working from ''The Blank Wall,'' a novel by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding that was a taut, moody piece of trickery about a mother's sacrifice, they deal with emotional territory that is considerably more adult and have found a full-blooded woman to anchor their tale. They explode the claustrophobia of Max Ophuls's 1949 adaptation of the same book, ''The Reckless Moment,'' by setting the film in the homey, autumnal woods just outside Reno. And by virtue of that, they root ''The Deep End'' firmly in a place, which is something lacking in most movies this year.
The eerie calm of ''The Deep End'' becomes as strong a character in the film as its location. (Ms. Swinton seems even more alienated, thanks to her long, thin face and elongated, slender arms and hands -- a stylized urbanite trapped in the sticks.)
One of the film's most trenchant developments, which the directors might have played for bleak laughs in ''Suture,'' is that Margaret must use the organizational skills that have made her such an able housekeeper when she hides Darby's corpse and tries to keep her son out of harm's way. Mother and son are so devoted to each other that they never really speak about the crime, so each thinks the other may have been responsible.
When Alek (Goran Visnjic), a hawk-eyed extortionist, shows up to demand $5,000 just as it looked like the corpse and the danger were out of the way, things only become increasingly unpredictable. When he shows Margaret a videotape of Beau and his lover, Darby, she cracks. And the artistry of Ms. Swinton's performance comes through. This scene limns the casual power of ''The Deep End''; it's the moment that makes clear to her what her son's secret life has been all about. Until then, the closest she had come to falling apart was when she tried to manage her three children's after-school activities while dealing with her sick father-in-law. The strain of forcing herself to take step after step to bring things to an end begins to exact its toll, because the predicament never ends.
Margaret doesn't get to slow down or have a histrionic release. She has to follow through on the repugnant task she has begun, a waking bad dream that is making her life unravel around her. ''The Deep End'' is all about trust and how, once forged, it can be the unspoken power that keeps people together.
There are some surprises in the film. Alek becomes mildly romantic because he wants to help and asks nothing in return. (James Mason played the feeling, suave blackmailer in the Ophuls version.) But the glory of the picture is the restraint of Ms. Swinton, which meshes with the underplayed malice of the directors.
''The Deep End'' is fastidious and smart, and Ms. Swinton's fixated intensity isn't ever remote; we're always aware of how deeply she's feeling. Her work is magnificent, an actress burrowing inside herself to play a woman doing the most horrible thing in the world to restore order to her life. The sadness is sealed by the recognition in her eyes that her life will never be orderly and clean again; her love for her family will have to be enough. It's her best and most memorable performance.
''The Deep End'' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has strong sexual content and violence. Written, produced and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel; based on ''The Blank Wall,'' a novel by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding; director of photography, Giles Nuttgens; edited by Lauren Zuckerman; music by Peter Nashel; production designers, Kelly McGehee and Christopher Tandon; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 99 minutes. This film is rated R.
Jonathan Tucker: growing up, he could tell a Manet from a Monet. Now, he can sure pick his movies
He's been acting in provocative, ponderous films for a decade, but Jonathan Tucker began preparing for a life in the arts since ... well, much earlier. "I was steeped in culture in the womb," jokes the star of this month's Stateside.
As a dancer with the Boston Ballet, Tucker performed in such pieces as The Nutcracker before hanging up his tights to pursue acting at age 11. His culture-drenched pedigree--his father is a world authority on Claude Monet--may explain the absence of formulaic, mindless teen flicks from this 21-year-old's resume. He first gained notice in the star-studded drama Sleepers (1996) and moved on to Sofia Coppola's ur-indie The Virgin Suicides (2000). But it was his portrayal of a gay teenager, agonized and alienated, in the critical favorite The Deep End (2001) that brought him his meatiest role to date.
More recently, Tucker fled from Leatherface in the horror hit The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a mainstream project he balanced with his lead in Stateside, for which he shaved his head to play a Marine recruit who falls for a mentally ill actress. "Yesterday I ran into one of the producers of Texas Chainsaw, and he didn't even recognize me," he laughs. But Tucker wasn't insulted--he was thrilled. "That was great," he says. "Transforming myself is exactly what I want to do in my career."
Despite the dark cast of his work, Tucker, who supports in September's thriller Criminal, isn't snobbish about his choices in roles. "Whether you're doing Shakespeare or Disney," he explains, "good work is good work."
Jonathan Tucker talks about '' Texas Chainsaw Massacre''
I had the pleasure of attending the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" junket in New York City recently. First up to spiked baseball bat was: Erica "Oh shit she's hot" Leerhsen and Jonathan Tucker. I've been a fan of Erica since "Blair Witch 2" which I loved and it was a pleasure to meet her in person. She was genuine, charming, passionate and definitely not corrupted by the system. As for Jonathan (he was in "Sleepers"), he was also a pretty nice guy, but the fact that he's a self proclaimed "non-horror fan" kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Here's what went down between them, me, the Lord above and of course, the other journalists at the table.
How was it working with R. Lee Ermey?
EL: He just kind of came on set and I hated him at first. He was such an obnoxious character, so sadistic. He was improvising all this stuff and it was so offensive and inappropriate (what a great man!). We were sort of laughing, but then we felt so dirty for laughing at him and that’s the part he plays in the movie. Then I got to know him as a person and he was the most wonderful, sweetest guy in the world, but I was glad he did that to me and I learned a lesson as an actor. I mean, we all do that, we lend ourselves to our characters when we first meet each other. It was very easy to act with him.
JT: I think Ermey taught us that you come up to a set for like two weeks and steal the show. The guy did such an amazing job. He just carved out his character so vigorously and I was like “Wow, this guy is great!”
So did he improvise the “cop a feel” line?
JT: Yeah, almost everything he’s done in there is improvised.
EL: I thought that was just his personality until I got to know him. I think that’s what you should do when you come on set, it’s not your job to be friends with everybody, and it’s your job to get your character out there.
How was your relationship with the guy who played Leatherface on set?
JT: The guy was super “method” to the point of “Yo, you can't drop me to the ground with my handcuffs on, my wrists are going to break”. You know, we got 9 more takes of this pal! We’d be at lunch and he’d sit and squeal because he was so much in character. And it looks great, he does a great job, I had no idea how important it was.
EL: Yeah and he’s such a huge guy and he was asked to do all of his own stunts, jumping off things with all that stuff on him. It’s not exactly the safest thing for anyone to be doing. It took a toll and we were dealing with someone who was exhausted, who didn’t have the energy to make it safe for you all the time. I felt like I had to defend my own life when I was in a scene with him. Like if I didn’t get that barrel down in one scene, he was not stopping. (Man, Erica is so sexy when she tells an agitated story)
JT: She‘s not kidding.
EL: And that barrel weighted 80 pounds and it was thrown at him at the last minute. I’m not that strong and I had to constantly pick it up and throw it back. Before every take I’d hear the chainsaw roar and I was like, “Ok I’m going to die.”
So I guess the movie was more taxing for you than Blair Witch 2?
EL: Yes, much more taxing because the character in that movie was completely in denial about what was going on. That’s why we have denial, so we don’t have to feel beat up by life so much in a way. In this movie, I think the hardest thing for all of us is that the first thing that happens in front of our face, that terrible thing, was having to face the worst trauma and that’s just the beginning of what we have to face.
How coarse did you get screaming all the time?
EL: So coarse. There’s one shot where there was such a highly technical move in the van, one of my favorite scenes in the movie, and we had to react to that for like 40 or 50 times and by that point you can’t even scream anymore. It was the third day of shooting and Jessica and I both lost our voices because we had to scream over and over and over and at any moment they can get the camera right and it would be in the movie, that’s your reaction. So it had to be as intense every single time. It was really hard.
Did you find yourself judging your characters’ behavior based on the people that you are?
EL: I kept trying to be stronger and Marcus kept reminding me that my role wouldn’t stand up to Jessica, wouldn’t question her and would be very kind of insecure and very sweet. I wanted her to be a tough ass; she definitely was the opposite of that. (God, I want to ask her out! Would that be out of line?)
JT: I feel the first thing you do when you come to a character is to ask yourself how his life is, how is it not me and how do I shift accordingly?
Was it really that hot and sweaty in Texas?
JT: I was miserable.
EL: It was about 130 degrees inside the van.
JT: The rest of the movie we were kind of matching how sweaty we were in the van because we set this level of sweat that was very high.
So you guys got sprayed a lot I assume?
EL: Yeah, a lot of oil and a lot of spray.
Anybody got sick? I mean, it’s raining, you’re sprayed, and it’s hot…
EL: I got sick by the end. I was so nauseous constantly, I couldn’t eat. I don’t know if I ate something weird, but I was so sick and it took me like a month to recover from it.
JT: We could be doing a lot of other jobs though like laying bricks or scraping concrete, so we’re very fortunate. It was hot in the van, but we were happy to be in this movie. Really, it was such a great experience with a fantastic team behind it. I feel that we really took the horror genre and the confines of it and elevated it a little bit by tackling the story like we would any other drama or any independent film or any other movie.
Erica, how did you get the job in the Woody Allen movie?
EL: He offered it to me based on “Hollywood Ending”. I was in the film for a short time, but I was on set for a long time, for like three months. But my part wound up being very small, most of it was improvised. So I got this call “Do you want to play Connie in “Anything Else” and I was like “Sure!” He really likes to work with the same people, if he likes someone. I was really excited to do it.
Was that a highlight for you?
EL: Yeah, I mean it’s almost too intense. I learned a lesson, I idolized him so much when I was younger and I actually wrote a play in College based on a dream that I had where I met him in a supermarket. So he’s like this intense person, and when you put a person on a pedestal like that, it makes it harder when you have to meet them. He was such a huge idol of mine. My sister had this memory of me as a teenager, never without his biography, I was always carrying it around. It was definitely a surreal experience.
Did both of you see the original film?
EL: I saw it right before my first audition.
JT: I saw it afterwards…I saw it like two months ago.
Did it play into you wanting to do the remake?
EL: Yes, when I thought Texas Chainsaw, I thought more of the sequels, I thought it was going to be more of a slasher, gore movie, but when I watched it, it was such an intelligent psychological thriller (No honey, it's a horror movie...really...) I loved the way it used real dead bodies and that’s so much scarier than showing some fake prosthetic thing. I loved it and saw why it had such a place in film history.
JT: I wasn’t into it. When I got the script, I read the title “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and I said to myself, you’ve got to be kidding me (It's a great title to me Taco, should've given me the part instead) And then they said just look at the sides, I read them and said, “Wow, this is really interesting, this is high stakes, this is real, this is good.” Then they said Michael Bay was doing it and this guy Marcus Nispel is an amazing director and we’re going to put a great cast together as if it wasn’t a horror movie... (Huh? How does that work?) I said, “Well, all right.”
EL: It’s amazing when we all saw Marcus’ reel we were like, “I want to be in that.” We didn’t even see an acting scene, we saw images from videos and commercials. We saw place and we just wanted to go there.
JT: Marcus sees the world differently. It’s fortunate that we have cameras to be able to capture that. Some people express in poems, writing, acting, but he sees the world differently, puts a camera behind his cornea and says this is the world and it’s awesome to be included in that.
Erica, how did you feel about the reaction to “Blair Witch 2”?
EL: At the time, it was such a rollercoaster. I had gone from waiting tables to being a lead in a movie and then I did all the press. It was a great experience for me actually. I keep saying that there’s no question that could ever upset me, because it was the ultimate hazing process (Maybe this is the right time to ask her out...) I didn’t enjoy it at the time, but now I really value it and it made me into a stronger person. The people say something, but it’s not you, it’s a movie you were in, but it’s not personal. It was really a great learning experience.
Would people criticize the movie at the junkets?
EL: Oh yeah, people would say, “I really don’t understand how it relates to the original” (morons) and things like that. And I was like, “I didn’t write it ok! I’m just in it!” I did my character.
JT: She’ll make up for that with the box office returns of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
EL: But it was great, Joe Berlinger is such a fascinating filmmaker and I loved working with him. I also really liked my character; I thought she was really cool. And I impressed myself because I had never been in a movie before, I had only been in student films and it was cool for me to see that I could do a whole full arc of a character. But the negative reactions were tough. It was a rough time.
Have you seen any of the other horror films that came out this year? Do you feel that the genre is back?
JT: I’m not a horror guy, it’s not my thing, but I respect it a lot. I know how hard it is to make, especially to make good. I haven’t seen any of them but I’ve seen that they’ve done very well financially and that’s great. I think from the reactions we got so far, we made a successful one, maybe even more successful than the ones that came out in the past few years (How do you know if you haven't seen any of them?)
What were the hardest scenes for you guys to film?
JT: I think all scenes in a horror movie are hard places to go where you have to bring out real fear. But with the running with the handcuffs, I was like, “How am I going to do that truthfully?” Let’s see how far my character has been beaten up, let’s see, he has this gash in the back. So how is your body going to fall and how much should he be able to do? And then I have Marcus telling me “Push the couch” and I’m like “I can’t, I’ve been lying for like 10 minutes, she’s holding me up, I can’t now get up and push the couch on him”. So how are you going to make that as truthful as you can within that realm? That was hard for me.
EL: You had to make your own safety calls a lot of the time. It’s not every day that you have to deal with a chainsaw that has sparks coming out of it that is getting this close to your face. Of course, it always gets closer than you planned. You have to make that call. That was the hardest thing for me; you have to be emotionally in the scene, the state the character is in, but at the same time, make sure that you wouldn’t get hurt. And that wasn’t what the character was thinking, she’s thinking, “I have to save my life”. So it was like bouncing those two things and keeping it adreanalized. To have all that fear and that adrenaline can be dangerous when you’re dealing with that sort of stuff.
Do you do any quirky on-set rituals to get into a scene or into character?
EL: I remember the day of the suicide, I was just like crying all day, I was listening to Jeff Buckley, getting into my zone, staring at the scenery and getting into the feeling of the whole of where we were. What I loved about the set is that nobody gave me a hard time. The producer walked right by me, I’m sobbing and he didn’t even say, “Are you ok?” because he knew that it was an intense scene. It was as if someone had died that day.
JT: I’m like MR. Crew. I like buying gifts for everybody, and I like buying beer at the end of the day. But in the same hand, you can’t really care what they think about what’s going on. If you gotta run around and spit on yourself (ok...) or jump through hoops, it doesn’t really matter, what matters is what you see onscreen. Even though you become friends with people, you can’t care about what they think. If you gotta do some really awful stuff you just have to do it and get to that place emotionally (Dammit, there's no opening to ask Erica out! ARRRRGH! I missed my shot!)