Interview: John Marshall Jones Talks ‘Paradise Lost’, Producing, and ‘Smart Guy’ Legacy – Exclusive
John Marshall Jones can next be seen starring in Paradise Lost on Spectrum Originals. John takes on the role of Uncle Ronny opposite Josh Hartnett and Nick Nolte in the gothic mystery thriller series. Growing up in the 90s, John also represented the perfectly balanced and well-rounded character of Floyd Henderson on ABC’s Smart Guy; a series that still resonates with viewers who grew up watching the family comedy.
We spoke to John about how it feels to be a part of a series that fans still talk about decades later, what viewers can expect from Paradise Lost, tackling producing in addition to acting, and what fans can look forward to from him next.
Read on for our exclusive interview with John Marshall Jones below:
What would you say initially motivated you to pursue acting as a career? Was there anyone who influenced or inspired you?
When I was at Northwestern University (way back in the 80’s), I was about to drop out of school when another student asked me to audition for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!”. It was the most fun I’d ever had. I booked the role of “Schroeder” and never looked back. I guess I should thank her…and Sidney Poitier (he influenced me a little bit as well).
Can you tell us a little about your role in Paradise Lost and what attracted you to the project?
Uncle Ronny represents the racial injustice of our larger society. Framed for a crime he didn’t commit and judged by a jury not of his peers. Happens every day. And it’s a story we have to keep telling until we can correct it. Truth is, justice ain’t always just.
This series is described as “complex and compelling.” What would you say viewers can expect from the episodes?
Paradise Lost is a classic Southern Gothic suspense thriller set in a corrupt small town in rural Mississippi. Think for a moment of all the corruption you’ve heard of where there is darkness, swamps, voodoo, adultery, social injustice and murder. Then add Nick Nolte (as the corrupter) and Josh Hartnett (as the innocent). Then get some popcorn and settle in. It’s gonna be a wild ride!
You will also be taking on the role of co-executive producer for In The Cut on Bounce TV Network. How has that experience been for you? What do you enjoy most about producing? Is there anything you prefer about that experience when comparing it to your responsibilities as an actor?
Producing is a whole different animal. As an actor, you see things through a specific lens. Everything is about your process or your character. As a producer you have to see the entire project; how many scenes will be shot that day, which locations, what’s for lunch and when, are you going into overtime, who’s not getting along and how does that effect the production…it’s a lot. I prefer acting. It’s cleaner. Simpler.
We’ve all had a bit more time on our hands lately as we spend more time indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic. How are you coping and passing the time?
Spending it with family. Staying close to home. In a way, it’s given us a chance to reconnect emotionally. Everyone was so busy that we were getting out of touch. Thankfully, everyone is healthy.
Last month, I actually chose to binge every episode of Smart Guy on Disney+. The series still holds up and is just as funny to me now as it was when I was watching in the 90s. How does it feel to be a part of something that still resonates with fans all these years later?
I get a lot of satisfaction from Smart Guy. Every day some young man in his thirties approaches to tell me that he didn’t have a dad at home and Floyd Henderson was the dad he wished he had. That kind of influence can’t be over stated. It’s rare to do something in Hollywood that effects people in that way. I’m very proud of that.
Finally, what else are you working on? What can your fans look forward to from you next?
Of course they can see me now on Paradise Lost (SPECTRUM), on 50 States of Fright (QUIBI), and on season 2 of For All Mankind (APPLE TV+).
Thank you so much to John Marshall Jones for taking the time to answer some questions for us!
Be sure to check out Paradise Lost currently streaming on Spectrum Originals.
You can also view his community service efforts at KappaLeague.TV