COMING UP COMEDY
Actor JONATHAN CHASE Brings Out His Lighter Side
By Eden Herbstman
It’s often assumed that the mark of a good actor is the degree to which one is able to transform into something they are not. Take Jonathan Chase, for example. He’s portrayed a range of characters, from an assassin with a mohawk in the virtual thriller Gamer, to a news anchor in the comedy All About Steve, and most recently the 30 year old Sam with the mentality of a teenager on Tyler Perry’s Love Thy Neighbor. But even with his eclectic acting resume, it’s his own sense of identity that grounds him to his characters. Proud of his “nerdisms” and ability to let his geek flag fly, Chase is goofy, light-hearted, and keeps in touch with his comedic roots. It’s these qualities that contribute to to his professional chemistry with Tyler Perry, and the rest of his castmates. So here is a new take on what it means to be an actor: not getting lost in someone or something you are not, but remembering your sense of self through your work. For Chase, it’s knowing his natural comedic strengths.
Eden Herbstman: You’ve spent time both in NYC and Los Angeles. If you had to pick, which is the best coast?
Jonathan Chase: I got my acting chops in NYC. I was doing Shakespeare in the Park. In fact, all of the parks. I was in a troupe called Gorilla Rep, and it was truly guerrilla-style theatre. All we needed was a park and a few trees to hide behind for wardrobe changes. I love NYC, it is all heart and camaraderie. Los Angeles is beautiful, sunshine, and sexy people. You can still get great theatre here from Pasadena Playouse to the Geffan and Mark Taper Forum. It is just very spread out. I pick Los Angeles. I wouldn’t trade my backyard, herbs and veggies for anything.
EH: You starred in Gamer with Gerald Butler, and you were also the voice of Patrick Connolly in the video game L.A. Noir. Are you a gamer at heart, or were these roles coincidental?
JC: I am a gamer at heart. I played Sierra video games for P.C. as a kid. I grew up on Leisure Suit Larry and Space Quest. I never miss a Blizzcon convention. I am a huge nerd. I played World of Warcraft for years. Having said all that, I wish I was more like the badass character I portrayed in Gamer. Skinhead, mohawk, and assassin at the touch of a button. But I am a goof. I was shooting the movie in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and that town can be a little dangerous. I think most people that saw me in downtown during filming were scared of my ‘hawk.
EH: Is there a specific role you gravitate towards?
JC: I love, love, love comedy. I love to make my family, my girlfriend, and my friends laugh. I can’t help myself. When I come home from a comedy set I’m in a fantastic mood. When I come home from a drama film or television shoot it takes a while to shake off the work. I would love to be in an action trilogy though. I’ve trained like a beast with my P90X routine for three years straight. I can play the next Jewish superhero: Jewperman. I’ll throw Star of Davids at bad guys.
EH: I know you are starring in Tyler Perry’s new OWN Network comedy series Love Thy Neighbor, and also his holiday film A Madea Christmas. How did you get involved with Tyler Perry? Are you a big fan of his?
JC: Huge fan of Tyler’s. He works so hard. He is always writing, always working on the next project, and always thinking of a way to bring his career to the next level. That’s why he teamed up with OWN Network. He never rests on contentment. But he is humble, and grateful for every single crew member who collaborates on his projects. I auditioned for Tyler for Love Thy Neighbor in October via taped submission in LA. I was in Colorado getting ready to go to Aspen to a party on New Year’s Eve, and I got the phone call saying I had to be back in LA in three days to test for the role of Sam.I adore my character. I had the most freeing experience working with Tyler on the sitcom. He let me run loose, and wrote me a wonderful crazy storyline. He created an arena for me to showcase my zany taste in comedy. I can’t stress enough how this man is changing my life right now. I will never take this moment for granted, and I will use whatever comes to help others. You gotta give back.
EH: What is the most valuable advice someone has given you about acting?
JC: That I’m enough, and being me is more than enough. Sometimes you forget that you bring a ton of your personal backstory into every role. Most of the time I was trying to create a whole new personality, or idea of what producers, writers, and directors wanted. When I began to do me I really stepped into my own as an artist. It is so simple, yet so hard to remember.
EH: What can we expect from you in the next coming months?
JC: You can look for me on Love Thy Neighbor on the OWN Network. I have a great feeling about the show’s future. It is hilarious and presents a great message at it’s core. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. At the end of the year you can catch me in Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.
Jonathan Chase is an American actor born in Florida. He is currently on Tyler Perry’s Love Thy Neighbor on the OWN Network, and will be staring in Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas set for release this holiday season.
Written by Eden Herbstman
Photography by Andrea Branch for PatrickMcMullan.com
Design by Lulu Vottero