Jon Lee Brody is an actor and Martial Artist (he is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do) with a dual degree in Accounting and Finance. Jon was accepted for admissions to prestigious law schools like Harvard and Northwestern, but he instead chose to go against the grain and pursue his other childhood dream: acting. He didn’t wait long to buy a one way ticket to Los Angeles, and since then he hasn’t looked back. You can see him TODAY in the giant summer blockbuster sequel to Star Trek – Into Darkness. We talk about his various projects and what lies ahead in his career in this exclusive interview. Read below for the full Q&A…
You have done work on TV series, films, wrote, directed, the list goes on. What was your journey like to become so multi disciplined in so many areas?
JLB: Well, when I first started, I was focused on acting. I definitely had a passion for all aspects of filmmaking but I knew that I had to take things one step at a time. Sometimes people try to learn everything at once and that very seldom works out. I knew that I had to make sure my acting was on point, and I am still a perfectionist when it comes down to it. Then as my career progressed, I started to explore editing. The editing started when I was cutting together demo reels. And then I started applying what I learned on various movie sets to directing. That entire time, I was learning how to write screenplays. I was always a pretty creative writer, but screenplays are a different animal. But like I said, all of these things came to me one step at a time. The journey has been great. I’m still learning and when it comes down it, I’ll always be learning. I think as my career goes on, I want to keep improving and keep learning new things.
You stated you were a big fan of Good Will Hunting and Titanic. It seems dramas and well written films initially motivated you to get into the business. How has your body of work thus far correlated to the types of projects that inspired you years ago?
JLB: You’ve certainly done your homework! I’m impressed [laughs]! I saw both of those movies when I was in junior high. And that is when I truly fell in love with cinema as an art. Up until then, movies were just a fun thing to do with friends. But it was after seeing those movies that I started to appreciate the art of filmmaking. I’m not sure if my being a fan dictates the kind of projects I take on, but they are definitely two movies that I look to for inspiration.
As an multi-racial actor, do you find it a struggle to interact with casting directors based on your Korean ethnicity? Has this situation decreased due to your resume building over the years?
JLB: Casting has actually been pretty good to me and I’ve had a chance to play a variety of roles. I’m very grateful for that.
You’re very tall and you are passionate about sports. Down the line, could we possibly see you take the leading role in a Jeremy Lin bio pic? Would that be of interest to you?
JLB: I do love basketball. Jeremy is a guy who I admire. He had an uphill battle just getting to the NBA. And then another uphill battle to stay in the NBA. And those battles will continue. As far as playing him in a movie, that’s a tough one to answer. Ultimately, it’s not up to me. But if the director and producers thought I was the right fit then sure. But the most important thing is that his story would be told right.
Of course you are in the big summer blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness. What could you tell us about your character?
JLB: I play a Star Fleet Security Officer. Not much I can say other than I am a redshirt. I’m sure any Trekkie knows what that means…[laughs]!
Interestingly enough, the producers’ background on the film is in TV, which means there’s always a last-minute possibility of changing story, dialogue, character points, action beats, etc. Having worked in TV as well, were you able to adept a bit better on-set to how things operated?
JLB: Well, there’s that possibility on any set. Because things can change on set and you have to be prepared for that. My improv training helps because that keeps you on your toes just in case something doesn’t go as planned. I always make sure I’m well prepared for my roles no matter how big or small, because any change at that point is a cakewalk.
Moving forward in your career what kind of actor would you like to become. I can see you acting alongside Meryl Streep but at the same time blowing up a building in a new Expendables film. Which route would you prefer as an actor without getting pigeonholed?
JLB: That’s very nice of you to say! Thank you! First and foremost, I just want to make sure I’m the best actor possible. I want to make sure that what I do comes off as authentic and real. As far as what kind of roles, I do love action or superhero movies. But I also love comedy and drams. I guess I’d like to be able to dabble into lots of genres. I’ve gotten more into directing lately and I actually would like to explore deeper into that realm.
You have a chance to put your moves to work in ‘Hurricane Kid’. What is the status of that film?
JLB: We actually haven’t shot ‘Hurricane Kid’ yet. It was put on hold but we are back up and running. We did a full rewrite of the script and decided to not shoot in 3D. Can’t say too much about it at this point but all of the changes are definitely for the better!
What are some of your favorite Asian films or anime?
JLB: Like anyone, I love ‘Old Boy’. You can’t go wrong. But one of my favorite Korean movies is ‘Bittersweet Life‘ with Byung-Hun Lee (GI Joe) or ‘The Man From Nowhere‘. Those are movies that everyone should definitely see! As far as anime, I do like ‘Akira‘ and there’s this anime movie called ‘Princess Mononoke‘ that I really liked. I haven’t seen it in years but I remember liking it very much.
Lastly, what advice do you have for any budding actor out there that wants to pay his dues and earn respect?
JLB: 9 out 10 times you will be rejected. And that 1 other time, you’ll got a 50/50 chance at best. But it really helps to just have a positive attitude every time you step into that audition room. You also can’t make quitting an option. If you truly want this and truly love it, you’ll find a way to sustain it. But at the core of it all, you gotta just keep working hard. And even after you get that booking, you gotta keep working harder. Sometimes people get a role and they get complacent. But in actuality, the higher you climb that ladder, the harder you have to work. When you’re on top of the hill, everyone wants to knock you off. It’s tough work getting up to the top, but it’s even tougher to stay there.