“It’s one thing to play an outright bad guy who murders people, but to play a normal guy and for him to be as unlikable as he can be in this show… It’s scary.” – Jeremy Jordan
After making his name in musicals and on TV’s Smash and Supergirl, Tony Award-nominated actor Jeremy Jordan is currently appearing in his first play on Broadway, the original drama American Son. In the production Jordan portrays a young police officer from South Florida who is working at the police station when a tragic police shooting happens. Speaking with Billboard, Jordan goes into detail about getting into character, his return to Broadway and how his portrayal changed since rehearsals.
Regarding how he ended up cast in the play, Jordan reveals, “I came back from Vancouver after wrapping up my third season of Supergirl on the CW. My agent called me and said that he was going to send me a script, and the producers were interested in casting me. I read it and was lucky enough to get the part without having to go through a whole, crazy audition process. The second I read it I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was laying in bed and saw the script and opened it to just browse through. A hour and a half later, I’m still reading it and unable to breathe.”
Since the character Jordan plays is a rookie police officer, he didn’t feel the need to do too much research to play the part. He says, “This role didn’t require a lot of research because I know this guy and guys like this. I only did a little of research on police officers; my character is so green and kind of a newbie that I didn’t want to get too deep into it. It’s really just about observing life around you. For this process — just walking around New York City, there’s something to see every day, and look at it through the lens of the play. It helps you to see the world in a different light. I’ll go and watch people or police officers for a few minutes and see how they react to certain things.”
Part of what makes the process of getting into character easier is that Jordan can recognize what he has in common with his character. He points out, “He’s different than me of course, but there are similarities too — and those are the things that are startling to realize at times. You try to grasp the heart and goodness of your character, or what they would perceive to be good.”
Once the play, which also stars Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale, began performances, Jordan realized that his perception of the character differed from the way audiences perceived him — and that made the process more difficult for him. He explains:
It’s been a struggle in terms of how I grapple with him. When we first started doing the show, I tried to understand him and was okay with him. But when we started performances, and I was getting people’s reactions to him, I was like, “Oh yeah, I forgot about all of this.” I was trying to be real and play it honestly and not worry about that sort of thing. It’s hard to go out on stage and be the kind of person someone looks at like that. It’s one thing to play an outright bad guy who murders people, but to play a normal guy and for him to be as unlikable as he can be in this show… It’s scary. It feels very real and very connected to real life and people sometimes have a hard time drawing a distinction between a character and actor.