JT Neal stars as Jacob in the new comedy series Bless This Mess. The ABC breakout hit, which premiered in April, is already making an impression with viewers thanks to a strong comedic cast that includes Dax Shepard, Lake Bell, Ed Begley Jr., and Pam Grier. Pop City Life spoke with JT about working alongside these comedy titans, as well as what viewers can expect from upcoming episodes.
Read on for our exclusive interview with JT Neal below.
What motivated you to initially pursue acting as your career?
JT Neal: I did my first play when I was in middle school. I fell in love with it, and from then on I knew it was what I wanted to do. I didn’t come from a family that was familiar with the entertainment industry, so the first few years were a bit of a learning experience for my parents and myself. I’m eternally grateful for my parents for taking that time to learn with me and for giving me every opportunity to succeed.
Was there anyone who influenced or inspired you?
I was told early on that I reminded people of Jerry Lewis. I loved being goofy, and I was always very drawn to physical comedians. I watched every episode of The Martin and Lewis Show and I would say that I definitely tried to copy Jerry’s style. He’s probably one of my earliest inspirations.
We hear you also enjoy music and playing the guitar. Did you ever consider incorporating music into your career as well?
I would love to be able to incorporate music into my career! Music was a huge part of my childhood, and I have been playing guitar for years. Ideally, I would get to play a role that incorporates music. I have always wanted to play Elvis Presley, so hopefully that will be my musical role.
Can you tell us about playing Jacob in the new ABC series Bless This Mess and what viewers can expect from him as a character?
Jacob is such a special character. I rarely get to play roles where the character is so sweet and kind-hearted, so when I do, it’s wonderful. You can expect Jacob to find the joy in every situation. There’s not much that gets to him and that’s a really nice change of pace.
Do you do anything special to prepare for the role of Jacob?
Thankfully the set is so lively and energetic, so it doesn’t take much to tap into Jacob’s sense of excitement. Everyone I work with is hilarious, so I’m usually already smiling when they call action, which is perfect for Jacob.
Would you say you are similar to your character at all?
Yeah; I’d say, like him, I’m generally very optimistic! Although I would like to have Jacob’s ability to not care about what others think so much. That would make everything so much easier.
Bless This Mess features an impressive group of actors including Lake Bell, Dax Shepard, Pam Grier, and Ed Begley Jr. How has the experience been working alongside them?
It’s been surreal. I honestly can’t believe I’m a part of this cast. I’m working with some of the greats. They have so much knowledge and wisdom that I find myself just sitting there listening to them share stories. It’s a level of greatness and experience that I used to dream about having access to.
What can viewers expect from the new episodes? What are you most excited for them to see?
I think what excites me the most is seeing Mike and Rio come into their own. They’re not farmers and they’re completely out of their element, but you get to see them blossom into their own versions of what this new life looks like. I love a good triumphant story.
We hear you’re also into philanthropy! Can you talk about your work with Share A Meal and why it was important for you to get involved?
Yeah, Share A Meal is a very special organization. My girlfriend and I found them through a friend of ours, and when we started going, it completely changed our views on a lot of things. Here in Los Angeles, homelessness is an epidemic. Share A Meal allowed us a really unique view into this world that people often turn away from. We get to meet these incredible people in their own environment, on their terms, free from judgment. We’re delivering fresh meals, but you quickly realize that it’s not even about that. The food is just a vehicle for us to meet them and talk to them and hear their stories. I am so thankful for Share A Meal and what they’re doing to help out other human beings.
And finally, what else are you working on? What can your fans look forward to from you next?
I have two projects coming out on Netflix in the next month: Malibu Rescue the movie, followed by Malibu Rescue the series. It’s a super-fun story created by two of my dear friends, Scott Thomas and Jed Elinoff. I also did a film a little while ago called Life in a Year with Jaden Smith and Cara Delevingne. I can’t wait for the world to see it.
Thanks so much to JT Neal for chatting with us!
Don’t forget to tune in to Bless This Mess every Tuesday on ABC.