INT: Jonathan Jackson
Growing up, there was always one movie that I would have to watch to start off any summer vacation. Much like an end of the school year tradition, it would turn into something to try and aspire to within the upcoming summer. That film was CAMP NOWHERE and it starred not only Christopher Lloyd, but a young Jonathan Jackson. Remembered more for his stint on "General Hospital: as Lucky Spencer and his role in the Mick Garris directed, Stephen King book adaptation of RIDING THE BULLET, Jackson is soft spoken and really seems to take serious consideration of his words before he says them.
He joins us while we have lunch along the river which runs through the studio. He's dressed in character still, something that's a cross between a ragamuffin and a hobo. He seems genuinely happy to get some layers of the costume off since it's about 95 degrees out and he tells us all about his character The Walker; a man who will play a crucial part in the world that Susan Cooper has created in THE DARK IS RISING.
Can you tell us what part you’re playing?
I play The Walker.
And what are you wearing? (Note: At this point Jackson has just taken a break from shooting and is still in costume)
This is about half of the costume. It's kind of a neat thing that they did. Since The Walker has been wandering for a long time, they’ve layered it with clothes from all different time periods and stuff. So this is only about maybe half or a third of the full costume.
Can you talk about what's involved with aging, because when we first meet The Walker he is ancient? What’s been involved with the makeup and hair stuff?
I mean, yeah. They changed that in the movie. In the book he's old and in the movie he becomes timeless, not aging. So when he goes through the whole experience as Hawkins, he just stays as he is.
So when we first meet you you're a regular guy?
So it's a different character arc from the book?
It is different. There are a few really significant changes, I think, from the book to the movie. The Walker basically loses his soul through his relationship with Maggie and there's a lot less tied in onscreen with Merriman and in the book there's a lot of that back story but they didn't put as much of that into the film. So it's more of an innocence and love story between the Walker and Maggie. I don't even think they actually mention Hawkins in the movie. I mean, they show flashbacks, but they don’t get as specific as to show Hawkins story.
In the movie, I guess, The Walker is a very sympathetic bad guy then? He feels he has reasons for doing what he's doing?
Yeah, I know. That's definitely one of the differences as well. In the book he seemed to make more choices towards the Dark even after he had other opportunities. In the movie he's definitely more of a sympathetic character. In a sense he was a victim, I guess, for love.
Were you familiar with the book before you came into this film?
No, I wasn't.
But you read them afterwards?
Yeah, I went out and bought the series. I read the first two. I didn't read all five, but the first two.
Did you grow hair or do you have extensions?
No I’ve been growing my hair out, and since I’ve been here I’ve just been growing it out. So it’s gotten a lot longer. It was already pretty long. (Note It should also be mentioned here that Jackson’s character of The Walker has the appearance of someone who has been living on the streets for quite some time. His appearance is disheveled and he is sporting a crust-ache that would put Pedro to shame!)
John Hodge also told us that the story of The Walker is sort of a dark side parallel to what Will is possibly going to go through. Do you see that as well?
Yeah, there is some really, really cool moments between The Walker and Will where The Walker is kind of coming from the ancient story of being used by the Light and the Dark. The Walker and Will have a connection because they're in a similar position in terms of how each side is trying to use them.
How has it been working with someone like Ian McShane or Chris Eccleston who have a certain style of acting? Does that require who is a bit newer in this game to have to concentrate more to bring your A-game to the table so that these guys don't chew you up a bit? Or do they sort of say ‘Oh he’s the American guy…’
Well the funny thing about The Walker is that he's very much on the outskirts of a lot of the scenes. He's looking in and he could've been called ‘The Stalker’ as well because there is a lot of that. So I don't really have a lot of scenes with Ian or Chris. Most of it is with Alexander and Amelia, but I mean I've been able to work with a lot of different cool people like Al Pacino and those guys. For me it's just exciting because when you work with great actors it just makes everything easier really. More so than the nerve racking aspect of it is just that they're so good at what they do that it just makes it easier.
I get the sense that you're a very internal actor. I was listening to the commentary that you did for 'Riding the Bullet' and it was really interesting listening to you because everybody is sort of going on and on, and you would have very specific answers. But I could tell that you were very deliberate in the acting choices that you make. I get the sense that a lot of the way you think is in your head; Is that the way you sort of approach this?
Every role is really different. It's kind of exploring how it's going to work. This movie has been interesting because The Walker has been on the outskirts of a lot of scenes. It's kind of been more of a partnership between me and David because it's what he's been doing with the camera and all the specific jump-cuts or slow motion stuff or whatever that I’ve had to kind of, him and I have had to really understand what each moment should be because a lot of it hasn't been the more conventional scenes between actors. So I've enjoyed working with David on that end. I guess you could say that it starts from the inside out.
You mentioned the books. Did you read the script first or the book?
I read the script first.
Were you surprised at how different they were?
I was, yeah.
Was there anything in the books that you were able to bring to the character?
There was some stuff. I really loved the way that Susan Cooper writes. There was just a lot of detailed stuff, just about how she explained things. Again, in the book he was an older man, but there were still really neat themes there that opened up things that I probably wouldn't have caught or thought about.
Does Maggie reveal herself as someone of The Dark in this?
Throughout the whole movie? The Walker basically reveals her as that. He confronts her. That's a fun scene.
How much action have you had to do in the film?
You mean like actual ‘action’ type stuff? There's no horse riding because he's The Walker. My friends have been asking me if I've been playing with swords and horses. 'No. He's the Walker. I've been doing a lot of walking.' There’s a fun and cool sequence with Will at the end where there’s a lot of action when everything starts falling apart and the water is breaking through and so there's been some of that, but there hasn't been as much.