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.