Jack Noseworthy is more than just a familiar face in the world of entertainment. A triple threat, delivers inspired performances time and time again in roles ranging from the stage to television to the silver screen. It is his incredible range and strong work ethic, which have earned him the reputation for being one of the most respected, versatile and captivating actors in the industry. He first burst onto the pop culture landscape as the lead on MTV’s first scripted series, “Dead At 21.” However, this truly gifted actor’s journey began many years before as part of the choir in his local church. It was here where he developed an interest in performing, which lead him to earning a BFA from The Boston Conservatory and an amazing career in the crafts. As one of the hardest working men in show business, he shows no signs of slowing down! In 2013, has completed the features “Julia,” “Needlestick” and “Tio Papi”, which are all scheduled for release in 2014. Currently, he is starring in “Camelot” at The Glimmerglass Festival and will play Elliot in “Two Point Oh” Jeff Jackson’s new play at 59E59th St, as well as narrating the Christopher Wheeldon Ballet, “Carnival Of The Animals” for NYCB. If that weren’t enough, he has tackled one of the biggest roles of his career, starring opposite Rob Lowe, in the National Geographic Movie “Killing Kennedy” which makes it’s debut this Fall. Jason Price of Icon Vs. icon recently sat down with Jack Noseworthy to discuss his inspirations, his amazingly diverse body of work, his upcoming portrayal of Bobby Kennedy and much, much more!
Let’s go back to the beginning! How did you get started on your journey in the entertainment industry?
I started singing in my church choir around the time I was four years old. They would put on plays, a Christmas show and a Spring show. I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t in rehearsal for a show, from the time I was four years old! I always knew that this is what I wanted to do. I continued all through school and eventually, when it came time to go to college, I went to college for theater and dance at the Boston Conservatory and graduated with my degree in 1987.
What was it about acting that intrigued you and made you pursue it as a career?
Early on, I think I was really inspired by wanting to perform. I really liked entertaining people. In retrospect, I know I liked — the ability to make people, think, cry or laugh and have that sort of communication with an audience. Of course, when I was young, it was mostly on stage, so it was all live. Ultimately, learning how to navigate that to film and television so you still feel you are communicating something, feeling something or going on a journey with a group of people. I think that is really what got me — a need to want to tell stories, be part of them and grow as a unit or collective group.
What has kept you inspired through the years and is there a specific area you look to for inspiration these days?
It’s funny, I find inspiration in many different places. I live in New York City, so when you step out your front door, life is at your fingertips! I get inspired by lots of different things. I can be inspired by architecture or seeing the art exhibits at Madison Square Park as I walk through. You can walk through with your head down and headphones up and not pay attention or stop and smell the roses for a second! So, I do get inspired by simple things every day that some people might think are mundane. However, I am also very inspired by my friends. My friends are very talented directors, choreographers, actors, singers and dancers. I think one of the things that inspires me is anybody’s zest for life and willingness to grow. That is a big part of my inspiration, keeping people around me that are constantly challenging themselves! As far as art, music, dance and theater, I go to the theater quite a lot. Two nights ago, I went to see a production of “Pippin” on Broadway. It was so good! Every single element came together in such a powerful way! I had played Pippin at the Paper Mill Playhouse ten years ago, so to see this production come into fruition so successfully was enormously satisfying, as far as inspiration goes. Then there are actors whose performances I see. If I go to a movie, I might be inspired by the production design, the camera shots or how it all comes together. I can compartmentalize gaining inspiration from different areas.
You have so many projects going on and they very so much. One of those projects I find very exciting. Tell us about “Killing Kennedy” and how you initially got involved.
I had read the script and I really thought it was fantastic! It reads like a thriller and, obviously, we know the outcome of this story but Kelly Masterson has written such a tight script based on Bill O’Reilly’s book. I am from Massachusetts originally, my family is still there, and I felt such a kinship to Robert Kennedy after I read it, the part I play. He is so tough and has no ego, in a sense. He frequently said “I don’t care if people like me as long as they like Jack.” There was something really powerful about him being able to put his own needs and journey aside for the success of Jack, his family and also looking for the approval of his father. When I read it, I knew I could bring something special to it. Fortunately, the powers that be felt the same way about me! I am very proud of this project. Everyone involved from the project knew from the first day of shooting that this was really special. On set, we all felt an incredible feeling of generosity toward each other. Each actor Ginnifer [Goodwin], Rob [Lowe], Michelle [Trachtenberg] and Will [Rothhaar] had done a lot of research and took to our parts like a fish to water. It was great to be on set and know that everybody was as committed and believed as much in the project as you did as an individual.
What type of research did you do for the role of Bobby Kennedy and how did you go about bringing the character to life?
There is so much information out there for The Kennedys. I could still be doing research because there is just so much out there! The main source of information I took from is the Evan Thomas biography about Bobby, “Robert Kennedy: His Life.” I watched a documentary The American Experience put out called “RFK”. It is about ninety minutes long and it did a little bit more than skim the surface of the major events in his life, which for me, were filled in by the Evan Thomas biography. I drew my visual images, my physical and my vocal requirements from the documentary and filled in the dots with the Evan Thomas biography. I really learned a lot about him. You know, I am an actor, so I am not doing an impersonation, I am trying to embody a role with as much of myself as I can and then you have to start skewing it towards playing a character. You try to pull as much out of yourself as you can that it is applicable to the character and then take the homework and information and rely on the costume director, the makeup designer and everyone to help you bring this character to life. That is really how I developed it.
Looking back on this project, what do you consider the biggest challenge from an acting standpoint?
Ultimately, I think the biggest challenge is to be as honest and truthful to this much beloved person in our history. That was really challenging because the Kennedys are our royalty, in a sense. People feel such an ownership to them. I definitely felt my biggest challenge was to be respectful, stay truthful to the script and play my themes as honestly as I can but also be respectful to how Bobby was and create a portrait of him that maybe, if I am lucky, someone in his family might say “Yeah! That was a good portrayal.” Mostly the biggest challenge was staying honest to a historical character.
As I said, you have many irons in the fire. What can you tell us about the other projects we should be on the lookout for?
Aside from “Killing Kennedy,” I did a film called “Julia” that I really, really like. It is a small movie directed by a South African director by the name of Matthew Brown. I would say it is an emotional thriller. [POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD]I play a psychiatrist that helps many, but specifically Julia, come to terms with a personal tragedy. She gets gang raped at the top of the movie and I am her psychiatrist, who has an unconventional way to help with her deal with her trauma. I take her on as a client and guide her through her journey in getting over the traumatic event that happened to her. My character is teaching her to not let people have power over her, so she can take back her power. Ultimately, what happens is that I end up having power over her, so she kills me at the end of the movie because I have so much power over her! [laughs] It is a really interesting script and it is shot by this Icelandic DP by the name of Bergsteinn [Björgúlfsson]. I think it is a really interesting, creative and sexy movie. It is great to play a part I felt was in a lot of ways far from who I am, yet to be able to draw on some of the similar experiences I mentioned earlier to create something so different. The part was originally written for a guy who was sixty-five or seventy years old. I knew I could do something with it! I sorta took that part away from someone who is older than me! [laughs] But I am happy to and excited to do it!
That leads me to my next question. Since you have had such an interesting career, full of great roles, what do you find yourself looking for when it comes to roles these days? Is there still some ground you are anxious to cover in the short term?
It’s funny, I feel like I am definitely having the start of a second act right now. I think some of the things I am responding to, fortunately people are responding to me. So much of what we do has to do with who we are and bringing our experience and our life to it. I am in a really great place in my life right now, so I feel like that is why some of these parts are coming my way. I don’t know, I am actually in the middle of a production of “Camelot” right now. It is a special production of “Camelot” with Nathan Gunn, who is a huge opera singer. It has thirteen performances and I have five left. I am playing the bad guy in that. His name is Mordred and he is in the second act. He comes in reeks havoc. He is the bastard son of King Arthur, who causes a lot of problems and leaves the stage. It is a phenomenal role and no one remembers the character. I come on, I do two big numbers, chew up the scenery and I just love it! There is something about playing bad guys that is interesting to me because I think I have an ability to empathize with them and try to humanize them. Any part, being a good guy or a bad guy, that allows me to bring some truth to it interests me. I am always looking for projects where the character has something I can do that makes it different or brings it to life. I may not know it right away but if there is something about the character I feel I can work through something by working on this part, it intrigues me. There is a lot of satisfaction in taking on something you are afraid of.
I have another project coming up called “Two Point Oh,” which is an off-Broadway play at 59E59 (59 East 59th Street) in September and October. I am playing a software giant who gets killed but sort of replicates his spirit within the software and keeps his relationship with his wife and tries to take over his company again. My whole part takes place behind a video monitor. The script is very dense and it is very challenging. I am an enormously physical person, so when I am stage, I use a lot of my body to help tell the story. The idea that I am doing this very thin, intellectual play, behind a monitor in a live theater is so frightening to me! That is going to be a real challenge and my biggest challenge this year!
I know you also recently worked on a web pilot, as well. What can you tell us about the project?
I did. I did this web pilot called “In Plain View” and it was really fun! I played a tough Boston cop, who is uncovering a corrupt police commissioner. I did that with a guy by the name of Manny Perez. He played the other cop. It was a lot of fun. It is funny that I got to use my Boston accent for “Killing Kennedy” and the tough Boston Cop in “In Plain View”. It just feels like so many as aspects of what I do, seem to be so available to me to utilize my experience, my education and my life. It is just a really good time right now!
Is the digital, self-released, DIY medium something you can see yourself doing more of in the future?
I will tell ya, when it was brought to my attention, I jumped at the opportunity because it is new media. I think things are changing so quickly, for example, this year Netflix has a nomination and then there are all of the cable shows with online content. I think new media is something like the unknown, so I jumped at the chance! First of all, it was a great part and a really good bit. Then the fact that it was a web pilot and it debuts a web series, is really cool because I don’t know what that is going to become. I would jump at the chance to do it again because who knows where this medium is going, right?! You sorta want to be on the boat and not left at the dock!
Absolutely and it seems like a great fit for an actor like yourself who is always open to experimentation and pursuing new creative outlets.
Yeah, I have always felt like it is a really long career. When I was younger and on MTV, things were happening the way they are supposed to happen for a young guy. I think I enjoyed that because I was having success, both personal and financial, at the time. There is something now, which I even thought then which is “It’s a long career.” At this point, when I am at a launching pad for what is coming next, truly understand that it is a long career and the opportunities being given to me right now, I certainly appreciate because I have been able to maintain a successful, interesting and creative career to this point. You really don’t take anything for granted, ya just don’t! You are so grateful to have opportunities to be creative!
I am sure many people look to you as an inspiration, especially young actors who can really appreciate your career path. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to someone looking to pursue a career in the industry in today’s climate?
I have to say, you can’t beat getting an education! The best piece of advice I could give anybody is to not be in a hurry. You can’t beat getting a good education. People are so quick to want to be a star but I think talent always prevails. I think people should understand the difference between wanting to be a star or wanting to be a celebrity and wanting to be an actor and having a craft. It is no different than being a plumber! In order to learn a craft, you go to school, you learn how to do it, use the tools you get and then, hopefully, if you trust that and get a proper education, that’s what teaches you and the other things will come. I would caution anyone to think, “I want to be famous.” That is not interesting to me. The advice I would give to anyone is to understand what your goals are and go forward with the trust you can make that happen as long as you continue to believe in yourself. There will be some adversity but when it comes up, if you believe in the goal and set your sights on it, ultimately, you will be able to make choices that will guide you down the right path!
Terrific advice! Thank you so much for your time today, Jack! I look forward to talking with you again soon about your other upcoming projects!
Thank you so much! I really appreciate it, Jason! Talk to you later!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.