Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mickey Jones from The Dukes Of Hazzard talks with TV STORE ONLINE

Musician / Actor Mickey Jones talks with TV STORE ONLINE about working on such television series as The Incredible Hulk, The Dukes Of Hazzard, and V: The Mini Series as well as on films like NADINE, WILD IN THE STREETS, THE SUNCHASER, HUNTER'S BLOOD and STARMAN.

TV STORE ONLINE: Hi Mickey!  Thanks for your time today.

JONES:  My pleasure...

TV STORE ONLINE:   I guess my first question for you....When did the acting bug first bite you? Obviously growing up you had an interest in music, but where do you think your interest in wanting to be an actor comes from?

JONES:  I can tell you almost the very day that happened.  I was about seven or eight years old.  I was living with my grandmother at the time in Texas.  My father was in the military and he was in Buford, South Carolina.  My mother had decided to go back and be with him.  There were a bunch of kids in the neighborhood that I lived in.  They were older than I was but they were putting on this play in one of their garages.  They were charging the neighborhood kids a penny to see the play.  So my grandmother gave me a penny to go and see the play.  When I went and saw them, they looked just like they were having so much fun.  That's when I became smitten with the idea of acting.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is it true that you have a small part as an extra in WILD IN THE STREETS (1968)?

JONES:  That is true.   I was an extra and I played a teenager even though I wasn't actually a teenager.  I was one of those kids that takes over Congress.    Richard Pryor worked on that too.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then you also worked with Steve McQueen in TOM HORN (1980)?

JONES:   That's right.  I had gotten to know Steve McQueen when I was playing drums for Johnny Rivers.  We used to play the Whiskey A-Go-Go and he'd come in every couple nights to see us.  We'd be playing our set and in front of us dancing would be Steve McQueen or Jayne Mansfield.   When I was hired for TOM HORN...I was supposed to play one role in the film, but when I got there to work, the director who had hired me was gone, and he was replaced.   The new director had given my part to his driver.   So I was relegated to playing a background role in a bar.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I read somewhere someplace that over the course of your film career that you've been killed on film 92 times.  Is that true?

JONES:  That's true.  I have that statistic because I was approached by a movie magazine in Germany a few years ago to do an interview and one of their questions was, "How many times have you been killed on camera?"   I didn't know the answer at the time, so I told them that I'd get back to him.  So I started to dig out all of my old tapes that I had used to put together my demo reel and started to go through them, making notes while I was going.  I had something like 28 hours of footage of just the scenes in films and television that I had been in.  After I added it all up...I've been killed 92 times on camera and I've killed 136 guys on camera.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a really big fan of your work on V: The Mini Series [1983] and the television series V [1984] itself...

JONES:  When I got that job....I had no clue what it was all about.  I didn't even know anything about character of "Chris Farber" for V.  I was really excited.  I went down to Warner Brothers for my wardrobe fitting and read the script for the pilot episode which would eventually turn out to be the first episode of the mini-series. I was told that I'd be working on this for three months.   I kept noticing that all of my scenes where with this character named "Ham Tyler".  Michael Ironside is the actor who played Ham Tyler.    The producers told me at the time that they really didn't know much about the actor who was playing him except that he was Canadian and that he had done a film called SCANNERS [1982].   So I went and watched SCANNERS just so I could see who I'd be working with.   On the first day of shooting in downtown Los Angeles, I went to Michael's dressing room and knocked on the door to introduce myself.  It wasn't a big thing...It was just to say a quick hello to him.   We chatted for a couple minutes is all.  Then we got called to the set.  

The first shot we did was where Michael and I shoot our machine guns at these lizard people.  In the next scene, we shot our guns at these lizards but he runs out of ammo.  He pulls his magazine from the gun and I toss him a new magazine then deliver my lines.   None of that was in the script though.  It just happened.  We had an instant chemistry and during that mini-series we become best friends.    In fact, not long after we finished shooting the V: The Mini-Series we jumped in a car together and drove across the country.   I knew V was going to be a big deal.  It's still the highest seen television mini-series of all time.

Jones as "Chris Farber" in
NBC's V: The Mini-Series
TV STORE ONLINE:  Then came the television series...I always thought that final episode of the television series that you did was really funny...That one with the funny homage to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE [1946]....

JONES:  That's right. The mini-series was great, but the television series wasn't very good.  They really botched it.   That's why it only ran for thirteen weeks.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really liked that Chris Farber character....Did you invent any sort of back story for him before that first day of shooting?

JONES:  He was a Vietnam veteran but I don't think that was very clear in the mini-series.   Back when I was playing drums for Johnny Rivers...I had went and played music with him and Ann-Margret on a tour of Vietnam.  I saw some really crazy things.  I talk about the whole experience in my book. Maybe I subconsciously used my experiences in Vietnam to help with the character but I can't be sure.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Not long after you finished up on V you were cast as the greasy breast loving biker "Big Zero" in SAVAGE DAWN (1983).  What was that experience like for you?

JONES:  Oh God...My wife calls that film SAVAGE DOG!   William Forsythe got injured on that.  There is that scene where all of the bikers have to turn on this L-Shaped street.  He dumped the motorcycle on that shot and for the rest of the movie he had a leg cast on.   What I did enjoy about working on SAVAGE DAWN was working with Richard Lynch and I was just thrilled to be working with the great character actor Leo Gordon.  He played the sheriff in the town that killed my character.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of William Forsythe...I'm a huge fan of EXTREME PREJUDICE (1986) and Walter Hill...

JONES:  I'm a huge fan of Walter Hill as well...The first day I met him...I went in for an interview and as I as leaving I turned and said to him, "Mr. Hill...I can't tell you how much I loved THE LONG RIDERS (1980).  There was just one thing wrong with it."   He got this look and he said, "It's Walter.  What was wrong with it?"  I said, "It doesn't have me in it!"  He laughed and he gave me the job in EXTREME PREJUDICE.    It was great to work with Nick Nolte and I loved working with Rip Torn on that.  I think Rip Torn is one of the greatest actors in the world.

Mickey Jones in Walter Hill's EXTREME PREJUDICE (1986)

TV STORE ONLINE:  You got to work with Rip Torn again in NADINE (1987)...

JONES:  That's right.   The day that we shot the scene where Rip's character kills me in NADINE  he said to me, "This is a great day for me because you killed me in EXTREME PREJUDICE and now I get to kill you."   

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love that great scene with you and Jeff Bridges in NADINE.  That scene where you're roughing him up in the back of the bar is wonderful.  Was something like that a result of any type of improv?

JONES:  A lot of it was done improved.   Jeff Bridges and I became good friends on NADINE.  In fact I got called in to meet with the Coen Brothers for a role in TRUE GRIT (2010).  I ran into Jeff in the hallway.  He was there for a wardrobe fitting and when it came time for me to go in and see the Coen Brothers, Jeff went in with me and read with me for them.   I didn't get the part though.  It went to someone else, but Jeff is a really great guy.  We did NADINE together, but also we did another film together called STARMAN (1984).  That was fun.  Jeff and I would hang out and play guitar together between takes.  I took him one night during STARMAN to see Leon Russell and Edgar Winter at the Austin Opera House and we ended up recording some stuff with them in there.  I've played on Jeff's recordings too that he's done since.   

Working with Kim Basinger was wonderful on NADINE too.  I got to hug and kiss her every day.  It was a difficult job but someone had to do it.   I had that problem too on THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS (2003) with Beyonce...

Jones and Cuba Gooding Jr.
TV STORE ONLINE:  Yeah, That was a great role for you in THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS...

JONES:   That was so much fun.  I had went in to audition for another part for that but I ended getting the role of the "Scooter" the piano player.   When I went in, the director had asked me, "Do you play the piano?"  I told him, "Well not really, but I can play a few songs..."  So we went over into a audition room where they had a piano and I sat down and played a couple Jerry Lee Lewis songs and he gave me the part.   About six weeks in...We were down in Atlanta, Georgia shooting that and the director got a call from the film's editor in Los Angeles and the editor had asked him if I really played piano because as he saw it...He thought I was really playing that music.  So I fooled them on that one.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you memories of working on HUNTER'S BLOOD (1986)?

Kim Delaney and Mickey Jones

JONES:  I remember the scene where Kim Delaney slams those deer antlers into my back and kills my character because I had to fall onto a mattress.   I really fell there.  It wasn't a stunt fall, I really just let go and I fell hard.  Those deer antlers were snapped into me.  They had sanded off the ends and then put a snap into my shirt so they could mount them in my back as if she'd just rammed them into me.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What about working with Kevin Costner on TIN CUP (1996)?

JONES:  He was great.  How I got...It's a fun story.  I went in to audition for that.  I knew that I wasn't going to get that role but I went in anyhow.  It eventually went to a great actor that just passed away named Dennis Burkley.    Afterward, I went up to the casting director and told her that I knew that I wasn't going to get the role but that I had the best golfing song for the movie.  I asked her if I could play it for her, and she told me to come back the next day and bring my guitar.  So I came in the next day and she videotaped me playing my song "The Double Bogey Blues".  It was a song that I had co-written and that I owned the rights too.     Once the producers heard the song they decided that they wanted it and me for the movie.  It ended up on the soundtrack and it's the only song in the movie.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   PENNY DREADFUL (2008) isn't a great film, but I love your work in it...My note here says, "Mickey falls down the hill and he shows great emotion when he's hurt."

JONES:  Right.  My character ends up with a skewer in his neck.   I liked the character.  I really liked that scene that came before that death scene in the movie, where my character is sitting there cracking jokes.   I thought that was good work.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You're often type cast as a biker or as a hillbilly.   Do you ever get frustrated with the type-casting?  I'd love to see something where you can get out and stretch your acting wings...

JONES:  I did that.  You've probably seen it, but have forgotten about it.   I did an episode of The Incredible Hulk (1978-1981) television series where I was cast as a nineteen year old kid that was mentally retarded even though I was in actually in my thirties.   It was the very first time in the series where someone came face-to-face with the Hulk on camera.   I was on the show three different times over the course of that series.  The producer, Kenneth Johnson, put me up for a Emmy that year for that, but I didn't get nominated.  Also, I did a short film with Billy Bob Thorton called THE LAST REAL COWBOYS (2000).  My wife, who I love dearly, can be my toughest critic.  She'll tell me if I suck or if I'm good in something.   She thinks that it's the best work I've ever done.   So I think it must be really good.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of type-casting....I'm a huge admirer of Michael Cimino and THE SUNCHASER (1996).  What was that experience like for you?

JONES:  That was fun.  The interior of the cafe where that scene takes place at was shot in a funky little dive bar down toward Long Beach, California.  The exterior stuff for that we shot up in the mountains in Jerome, Arizona.    I don't know if your familiar with Jerome, Arizona but it's just beautiful.  It's not far from Cottonwood, Arizona.  I almost got killed in that chase scene.  There were two things that happened.  The first thing that happened is when I throw Woody Harrelson through that window and I pull out my knife and go after him.   Then, a car comes up and runs over my character's motorcycle and Woody takes off in it.  My character and another get in this truck and take off after them.  As the truck was taking off...I barely made it into the truck.  The stuntman had taken off and I'm hanging from the truck trying to get in, and my feet are dragging onto the pavement.  Then when I get in, the door wouldn't close.  So I'm holding the door shut and I'm also leaning out of it with a shotgun firing at that car.  There was a part of the scene where we have do this horse-shoe turn and when we did it, the brake pedal on the truck went to the floor and we went out of control and we started sliding.  

We were going down a hill and we would've flipped but we hit the curve and luckily for us it stopped us.  The shotgun flew out the window and my head slammed into the channel of the door and it knocked me out cold.   Had that curve not been there we would've slid off the side of the road and fell about forty feet down a canyon.  When I woke up there was paramedic standing over me and she started to talk to me.  They wanted to take me to the hospital in Cottonwood but I told them that I didn't want to go.   After arguing with them, I ended up going to the hospital and getting some stitches.  After a couple hours I went back and finished shooting the scene.  When we were done I went up to the producers and asked them for that footage and one of them said, "Are you going to sue us?"  I told them, "No. I just want the footage for myself."

TV STORE ONLINE:  You worked on TOTAL RECALL (1990) as well...Did you suffer the now legendary stories of the entire cast getting sick from the water in Mexico City during the shoot?

JONES:  I don't know about the others on that show, but I was so sick...I was on the floor most of the time.  I was down there for ten days and we were staying in a  five star hotel.  I was brushing my teeth with bottled water.  The hotel we stayed at served us a salad and they told us that it was safe to eat, but they didn't tell us that they had washed the lettuce in the water down there.  Around day seven...I got back to the hotel and headed right to the bathroom.  I was throwing up and just praying to God to take me.  "God take me now!"  (Laughing)  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Were you on the set the day that they shot the scene with the girl with the three breasts in the bar?

JONES:  I was.  That actress was only like four foot two inches tall.   It was a prosthetic. It was a whole chest piece that they fit onto her.  At a glance those looked real.

TV STORE ONLINE:    What are your memories of working on The Dukes Of Hazzard [1979-85]?

JONES:  I was hired on for one season.  The reason that I got hired...The actor who played "Cooter" Ben Jones quit the show.  When he had started on the show, they had told him that they would be shooting in Georgia.  They shot the first few shows in Georgia then moved to Los Angeles and Ben hated it.   So he quit and I was hired on to play his cousin "B.B. Davenport".   After a few episodes Ben decided that he wanted to come back on the show so when he did they let me go but paid me for the entire season.   I really loved working on The Dukes.  I got to go to work everyday and I had my own parking spot even.

Jones as "B.B. Davenport" on
The Dukes Of Hazzard

TV STORE ONLINE:   You've played so many characters in your career.   When you go into a character...What's your process as an actor?

JONES:  That's a good question.  I'm not a method guy.   I'm just the opposite of that.  I think that I know they types of characters.  I know where he lives. I know what he eats.  I know what's going on between his ears.   I can tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy.  I try to just not think too much about it.  I think a lot of actors get into trouble because they think too much about the characters they're playing.   I really don't look at this as brain surgery but I do take pride in my work.  When I walk onto a set I know my work.  If we have to do another take it's not because of me, it's because another actor wasn't prepared.

Dukes Of Hazzard T-shirt
Available at TV STORE ONLINE
TV STORE ONLINE:  What can we see you in next?

JONES:  I just did an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia [2005-Current].   I play a guy who owns a gun shoppe and those guys come in and ridicule people who support the ownership of guns.   I tell them that they need to complete a background check and I collect their licenses.  I go out back and watch what they're doing in the store.   Then I come back out and talk to them and one of them says, "Well, that was quick."  I say, "Yeah, The No's come back faster than the Yes's."    They try to argue with me and I mention the fact that one them has a record.  One of them attacked a girl and set her on fire.  They say, "That was one small incident and she was annoying." (Laughing).   I think the episode is airing in September or October 2013.

For more with Mickey Jones please visit his official website HERE:
Check out Mickey Jones's book  HERE
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