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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Star of ABC's new Whodunnit?  Gildart Jackson talks about episode four of Whodunnit? as well as his work on Charmed, Early Edition and his film YOU (2009)...

TV STORE ONLINE:  We had a new episode last night!

JACKSON:   Indeed we did...  What did you think?

TV STORE ONLINE:  I loved it!   You know the thing that I love most about ABC's Whodunnit? [2013] is the fact that it blurs that line between reality and episodic television...

JACKSON:  Yeah for sure.

TV STORE ONLINE:   We had that mountain lion in the house too....What was that whole experience like being there to do that?

JACKSON:  It was a lot of fun, and it was quite scary.  That mountain lion was bloody big.   There were multiple trainers there and the chaps with the electric wires to keep it from running around.   I had no idea how big a mountain lion was until I saw it standing there across from me in that kitchen!

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you try to feed it?

JACKSON:  I didn't.  I know better than that. (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:  How is the show doing?  Are you getting good feedback?

JACKSON:  Well everyone who's stopped me in the street about it has been very complimentary.  We're building an audience, the ratings are going up, we are being received well by everyone.   Just the other day I was stopped by a fan of the show who had not only see every episode, but had just recently bought Anthony Zuiker's book about the show.  I recorded the audio book for that.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Yesterday I read some of Anthony Zuiker's book on WhoDunnit?,  which gives us the back story for your character "Giles"......Is that back story something similar to what you would've envisioned for Giles in the beginning as the actor behind him?

JACKSON:  No, it wasn't.   I didn't really have an understanding of how Giles would keep on coming back until Anthony Zuiker explained it to me.  Giles's back story is all revealed in the new book. People should go out and get it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Why do you think that reality television has such a grip on American television audiences?

JACKSON:   I don't really know...Does it really have more of a grip on audiences than episodic television, video games, or music?  I'd say not.  What it offers is something new to audiences and I think that's why people are watching.  It's  still somewhat new as a medium and that's exciting to people. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   What kind of spoilers can you give us for the rest of this season?

JACKSON:   I can tell you that it will be scintillatingly exciting!  I can tell you that the final episode, where the killer is revealed and the contestant who walks away with $250,000 dollars...That was just astonishing to be a part of.  I was flabbergasted by it.   I can't tell you what's going to happen, but I can say that the rest of the season is well worth the ride!

TV STORE ONLINE:  What would you say if I told you that I think that you're the killer?

JACKSON:  I'd say..."You're very good aren't you.  You're good at this."    And if you told me that you thought that "Geno" is the killer, I'd say, "You're very good at this aren't you." (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:   I'm loving your outfits in each episode...It was great to see you in that sort of Ernest Hemingway safari hunter outfit in last night's episode....

JACKSON:  Yeah that funny. Sadly we had to cut out the bit where I alluded to it in the episode.  I hope it played all right or made sense why I was wearing that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Oh course.....It was great to see you come out carrying that rifle to take care of that mountain lion...Giles obviously has his own style and finesse so it's not surprising that he'd be wearing all different kinds of outfits for the occasion.

JACKSON:  Yeah, he loves to get dressed for the occasion.  The next episode he gets dressed up as a cowboy and the next episode takes us out of the house and onto the grounds. The next episode is a great one and I hope that the fans enjoy it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really love that film that you wrote called YOU (2009)...

JACKSON:  Thanks very much.  That film is one that is very near and dear to my heart.   As you know Melora Hardin is my wife and while I wrote it, she directed it.  It was really a labor of love for us and of course our kids are in it and my in-laws are in it as well. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really love how you've structured the film too.  What was your inspiration and process for writing it in the first place?

JACKSON:   It was a strange process.  My wife and I had just had our first baby and I had just gotten hired to write for a television series up in Vancouver, Canada, and I was going to be up there for a while.    Our daughter was only about four or five months old at the time and I really didn't want to leave them and go to Canada.   When I got there...As I was sitting there I started to feel really lonely.  So I sat down in my hotel room and just started to write.  Fortunately I don't really know what it's like to lose your partner, but I think the germ that was really running through my brain at that time was, "What if Melora my wife wasn't here to go on the journey with me and our family? How terrifying that would be. What if I had to do it alone?"   Subsequently I've talked to people who have told me that I'm not alone in this nightmarish thought.  

So YOU was really a love-letter to my wife.   I wrote it in about two or three days then I sent it off to my wife and she read it, liked it, and told me that we should make it.   Then with Melora directing it...She has made it a love letter to me.

Gildart Jackson in YOU (2009)
TV STORE ONLINE:  You also had a role in that Orson Welles / George Hickenlooper film from 1999 called THE BIG BRASS BRING.  What was that whole experience like for you?

JACKSON:   I think that was maybe my first job.  I was doing The Seagull, the Chekhov play in Hollywood and one day I was in my dressing room and there was a knock on my door.  It was a very Hollywood moment.  So I opened the door and there was George Hickenlooper.  He had told me that he had seen me in the play and that he had a role for me in his new film which was based on an Orson Welles screenplay.   I didn't believe him at first.   Then George and I became friends and we got to know each other a bit and he cast me in the film and I have a couple of scenes with Irene Jacob.  It was a fun experience.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Recently I just took a look at a couple episodes on YouTube of that British cartoon series that you wrote for in the mid '90s called Action Man (1993-95)...How did that opportunity come to fruition?

JACKSON:  Well before being an actor I was a lawyer.  When I quit my job I decided that I'd like to write, and at the time I had a friend who worked for DiC Entertainment.  I wrote them a spec script and I showed it to them and they asked me if I'd like to write an episode of the show.   I know that on IMDb it says that I wrote several Action Man episodes but I really can't remember if I wrote that many to be honest.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What kind of advice can you give to young screenwriters who are just started out...After all, you just sort of jumped in and went after it...

JACKSON:  Well for what it's worth....My advice would be to just do it.   Just do it and do it as much as you can.   I really think that the most satisfying moments for me have come when I've worked on something that I was very passionate about.   Find a subject that you really care about and don't worry about trying to write something that you think might be the next blockbuster film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a huge fan of actor Kyle Chandler....You had a great role on the 4th Season of his show Early Edition [1996-2000].  What was that experience like for you?

JACKSON:   That was great.  We shot that in Chicago.  I played a man that gets him the newspaper.  The producers and Kyle had liked very much what I had done and they had asked me to come back in a bigger role in the next season but it got canceled. (Laughing)   

TV STORE ONLINE:   I really loved the first film, but I'm still scratching my head about the second one...I have to ask you about ATLAS SHRUGGED PART II (2012)...

JACKSON:  It was just another gig.  I went in for an audition for that. I had to play a guy that gets tossed around inside of a train car.

TV STORE ONLINE:    Then what about your work on Charmed (1998-2006)...I have to admit that I wasn't someone who watched Charmed when it was on television, but looking at your work on the show for the first time this past week I really liked what I saw...What was the whole experience like for you?

JACKSON:  Well you don't necessarily fall straight into the demographic that was watching Charmed when it was on...I usually get stopped on the street by a twenty-six year old girl who recognizes me as "Gideon" from the show, who had watched it when she had a wild color in her hair as a teenager.    That show was a huge hit. Especially with the girls.  My character Gideon was supposedly evil but I always told people that he was a charming fellow.   It was fun to do.  I got to ham it up as a wizard who taught at a magic school.  I worked opposite with a great actor named Billy Drago and he was just wonderfully intense.  Every time we got to do something together  I was just exhausted afterward. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  In that first episode of Charmed...Your character is thrown around a room by a young man.  Do you like doing your own stunt work?

JACKSON:  I do.  I can't remember now if I did my own stunt work on Charmed but I did on a episode of Las Vegas [2003-2008] that I did with James Caan.  It was a very early episode of the series, and I was playing "King Arthur" and there was a scene where my character had to dive into a pool at Mandalay Bay and get this Excalibur sword.   As the stunt man was planning  it out, I started to look at it and I told the director, "I can do this. I'm a good swimmer."    But I misjudged the height of the dive and when I went to do it I didn't dive head first, I ended up going in sort of feet first and we ended up having to do it a couple times to get it right.

I made a documentary in Peru also where I went deep into the Amazon jungle with a film crew. We went six or seven weeks deep into the jungle and that was pretty intense also.   It's a film called THE LOST TRAIL and we started to shoot it exactly where Werner Herzog shot his film FITZCARRALDO (1982).   We actually encountered a tribe that had never seen Westerners before.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  What can we see next from you?

JACKSON: Well, I'm about to record a new audio book.  Anthony Zuiker has written another book about WhoDunnit? that I'm about to read.  That will be on Audible.com soon.   Keep watching the show on ABC because the more people that watch it the better chances we have of doing another season and I'd really love to do that.

For more with Gildart Jackson please visit his official website HERE:

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