Date of publishing: 25th
Jeremy Raymond is a rare talent with a unique character.
A professional film and TV actor and musician, he
brings an array
of talents to every performance. Born and raised in
Cranbrook BC. Jeremy started his career in theater
at a very young age. Throughout high school he performed
in plays, musicals, street theatre, improv shows,
and even a vaudeville act. After high school he moved
to Edmonton, where he studied music at Grant MacEwan
College and majored in Vocal Performance. His first
foray into the world of feature film was with the
Showtime movie "The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie",
opposite Gena Rowlands and Kevin Zegers. He played
one of Mrs. Ritchie’s handicapped sons, Stanley
Ritchie and the role earned him a Gemini nomination
for Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Program or
mini-series. Riding high on success Jeremy moved to
Vancouver and began working steadily. He appeared
in SyFy’s Alice, HUB’s R.L. Stine’s
The Haunting Hour and the ABC Family series Kyle XY
where he was challenged to play the role of a mental
patient with autism. Jeremy appeared in the films
A Problem with Fear, Growing Up Julianne and the indie
film Karma Inc. before meeting with JJ Abrams in 2012.
Having seen some of his previous work JJ Abrams brought
Jeremy in for a meeting which resulted in Jeremy being
offered a featured role in the Star Trek sequel Star
Trek Into Darkness.
Gilles Nuytens: Hello
and nice to meet you! So, you've been involved in
the arts since you were very young, how did it all
Jeremy Raymond: I was about five
years old and the company my mom worked at was having
a Christmas party where they put up a little play
– The Night Before Christmas. When the teenager
playing Santa got stage fright and wouldn’t
go on, I told them to give me the suit. Of course
I was too small, so his mom ended up playing the part
instead. Been at it ever since.
Nuytens: What do
you like so much about acting?
Jeremy Raymond: I love telling stories,
as any of my friends who have heard me spin an amusing
anecdote into an epic saga will agree. As an actor
you get to contribute to telling much larger and (hopefully)
more engaging stories than you could on your own.
Plus you get the opportunity to see the world through
the eyes of a different character. And I’ve
learned some important lessons about life from doing
that. Namely that my own perspective is just that
– my perspective.
Gilles Nuytens: Theatre
and film/TV, what do you enjoy the most in each?
Jeremy Raymond: The great thing about
film is that the exploration and experimentation happens
on camera, so if magic happens there’s a record
of it. Whereas with theatre, if a truly great moment
happens in rehearsal, the audience doesn’t get
to see it. I love the fact that film is a safe place
to explore and fall on your face with no real consequences.
But I also love that high-wire feeling of being in
front of a live audience. It’s a contradiction,
but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Oh, and
it’s nice to have people clap for you in theatre.
You miss that sometimes in film.
Gilles Nuytens: You've
worked with Metallica, how was this experience, how
are they to work with?
Jeremy Raymond: I never actually
got to work with the guys in the band, but the director
Nimrod Antal was great to work with. Besides having
an amazing first name, he had a lot of love for making
movies and for the material he was working with. We
talked about being Metallica fans growing up and about
how that inner-child was going bananas getting to
work on a Metallica film. He said it was a similar
situation when he worked on Predators a few years
ago, and I certainly felt a healthy dose of that working
on Star Trek.
Gilles Nuytens: We
all learn everyday, so what's the most important thing
you've learned lately, acting-related?
Jeremy Raymond: Keeping things simple
is something I am constantly forgetting to do, but
it’s also one of the most effective things I
can do. I like to do a lot of homework and preparation
for roles, and I get a lot out of doing it, but when
the camera roles you need to put all that stuff aside
and really deal with the person in front of you. It’s
a point that an acting teacher named Uta Hagen made
years ago: if you had a play being performed with
the most skilled actors in the world, wearing beautiful
costumes and playing in front of elegant sets, and
then you put a cat on stage, the audience would all
watch the cat because the cat is the only one experiencing
it for the first time. So I guess I’m trying
to be more like the cat.
Nuytens: What is
the role you most preferred to play to date, the best
one, the one that most marked you?
Jeremy Raymond: It’s a cliché
answer, but my favorite role is always the next one.
I’ve had some very good fortune in my career
thus far, and I’ve been proud of the work I’ve
done, but it’s all about the hunt for me –
trying to uncover and understand a new character or
story – so once the film’s in the can,
I’ve already moved on.
Gilles Nuytens: What
are you the most proud of about what you've accomplished
so far in your career?
Jeremy Raymond: The fact that I’m
still in it, and that I still love what I do. I’ve
been doing this professionally for over a decade now
and there have been tough times where I was struggling
to find answers to questions like, “Is this
really what I want to do with my life?” and
“Why am I doing this?” but finding meaningful
answers to those questions has not just made me a
better actor, but I think a better person as well.
Gilles Nuytens: In
your daily life, what is the most challenging thing?
Jeremy Raymond: Finding balance between
all the things I want to do, and those things I need
to do. Music is also a big part of my life, so finding
time to satisfy both my music and acting muses is
tough enough, but then I complicate things by adding
other passions and pursuits. And I’m not very
good at half-measures, so when I get into something,
I dive in with both feet. Then add to that the everyday
life stuff that we all need to take care of (e.g.
bills, grocery shopping, planning and executing elaborate
jokes on our closest friends), and my days get really
full really fast.
Gilles Nuytens: It
must have been very hard to play "Stanley Ritchie"
in "The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie", how did
you prepare for that role?
Jeremy Raymond: Yeah, that one was
especially terrifying because it was my first big
movie, and I knew that I would be working with legends
like Gena Rowlands and James Caan, so I wanted to
do a good job. But luckily I had some personal experience
to draw from for my role. When I was a kid, my dad
worked for the Ministry of Mental Health and there
were a number of amazing mentally handicapped men
he worked with. I knew them as “The Guys”
and they were sort of like uncles to me. Even though
I would mimic or do impressions of anybody else I
saw (whether in real life or on TV) I never mimicked
The Guys; I think I knew back then that it would have
been disrespectful. So when the time came to create
the character of Stanley Ritchie, I not only had a
lot of first-hand inspiration, but also a deep desire
to present something that was honest and respectful.
Nuytens: How much
did you enjoy/know Star Trek before being a part of
Jeremy Raymond: I grew up watching
the original series with my dad, so that’s the
Star Trek I’ve always connected to the most.
Then I saw bits and pieces of every other version
that was made (but only bits and pieces as we did
not have cable growing up). I remember when the Voyager
series came out, I was excited because I could finally
get in on the ground floor with a series. For a while
it was cool to have a show that I had to tune in to
each week to get the next part of the story. Nowadays
I’m way too impatient for that, and before I
get into any show, I have to know that there’s
a full season on DVD that I can plow through.
Gilles Nuytens: How
was the whole experience working on that movie?
Jeremy Raymond: Amazing. Surreal.
Intensely demanding, but hugely satisfying. Unfortunately
I can’t be more explicit about my experiences
at this time because it would ruin some surprises
for fans and I don’t want to do that. Also,
I’m pretty sure JJ Abrams has a team of elite
ninja assassins standing by that would take me down
if I said too much.
Gilles Nuytens: What
did you enjoy the most being in Star Trek?
Jeremy Raymond: Again, I have to
tread carefully here, but I would say that I loved
the collaboration. I had the opportunity to work with
some of the greatest talents working in movies today
and what impressed me was just how passionate all
of these people were about their jobs. Aside from
JJ Abrams, of course, you had giants like costume
designer Michael Kaplan, creature designer Neville
Page, and special effects master David Anderson all
bringing their A-game and that was incredibly inspiring
as an actor. If you don’t recognize their names
then check them out; chances are they had a hand in
creating many of the movies you love. And the thing
I enjoyed the least about it was having to keep it
a secret for so long. I mean, I know I can’t
say much now, but for a while I couldn’t even
tell people that I was in it. In retrospect, I’m
very surprised my head didn’t pop.
Gilles Nuytens: What's
your best memory from Star Trek?
Jeremy Raymond: The LA premiere was
an amazing experience. It was held in the Dolby Theater
(formerly the Kodak Theater) where they’ve held
the Oscars, and they had closed of an entire block
of Hollywood Boulevard and brought in some bleachers
to accommodate the thousands of fans who came out.
And then finally seeing the full film was stellar.
On set I had taken pains to not learn anything about
the story that I didn’t need to know in order
to do my job. There were even a few times when I had
been invited to watch some scenes that I wasn’t
in being filmed and I politely turned them down. I
was happy to hang out on set between setups, but once
they started rolling I got out of there because I
wanted to be surprised when I saw the movie. Once
I saw it, I was glad that I did it that way. Seriously,
it’s a great movie. And I’m sure I’d
be enthusiastically recommending it to people even
if I wasn’t in it.
Nuytens: Could you
share some nice or funny anecdotes from the sets of
Jeremy Raymond: I do have a handful
of stories from set, but regrettably they all fall
well inside of my non-disclosure agreement. So my
lips are sealed. Remember those assassins I was telling
Gilles Nuytens: How
did you get to first meet JJ Abrams and what was it
like to sit down with the legend for the first time?
Jeremy Raymond: When JJ Abram’s
people first called me about the possibility of being
a part of the Star Trek sequel he was doing, I was
blown away. But as excited as I was, there was still
a part of me that thought this whole thing must be
an elaborate practical joke (I’ve played a few
good ones on my friends, so I’d certainly have
it coming), and it wasn’t until I was sitting
down with the man himself that I fully realized it
was legit. I also remember there being a tremendous
amount of candy in his office. We had our first meeting
seated at couches around this coffee table that was
covered with all of these cool vases, and those vases
were teaming with every sort of candy imaginable.
On any other day, my sweet tooth might’ve taken
over, but as it was I had other things on my mind.
Gilles Nuytens: What
kind of person is JJ Abrams to work with?
Jeremy Raymond: He’s amazing
to work with. He has this unquenchable enthusiasm
and excitement that you can feel whenever you watch
one of his movies, and that’s largely because
everybody on-set is being infused by that energy every
day. One aspect that I was truly impressed by was
his ability to focus on one thing at a time. Even
though there may be hundreds or thousands of things
that need his attention, when he’s talking to
you, he really talks to you. And listens. He’s
one of the best listeners I’ve ever worked with.
Gilles Nuytens: What
was your experience working with so much green screen?
Jeremy Raymond: Actually there was
a lot less green screen than people might think. JJ
tends to favor practical effects whenever possible,
and then uses CGI to enhance that. As an actor, it’s
great because there’s a lot more that you can
tangibly play with and interact with.
Nuytens: JJ Abrams
is also set to direct the new Star Wars movie, after
your work experience with him, would you consider
auditioning for this one?
Jeremy Raymond: Of course. I may
have watched Star Trek as a child, but I played Star
Wars. I had found this old fishing rod handle that
served as my lightsaber for many years, and I can
remember seriously trying to cultivate my force powers
for a little while. So it would really be a dream
come true (although they would probably have to add
my force powers in post, because I never did get too
far with that). But really, I’m not going to
worry too much about it. You can see from his films
that JJ Abrams has a great sense for casting, so if
there’s something in Star Wars that’s
right for me, then he knows where to find me. And
if I don’t hear from him, then there probably
wasn’t the right role.
Gilles Nuytens: A
free question to you. Ask "yourself" a question
as if you were the interviewer (something that you'd
like someone would ask you), and answer it :)
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle in
your acting career?
A: I’ve got a unique look and that was something
that I really struggled with early on in my career.
I wanted to be thought of as a chameleon and so I
had a tough time accepting that I didn’t look
like everyone else. In a visual world like the film
industry, it has been something of a double-edged
sword that has prevented me from going out for a lot
of roles, but the older I get the more I appreciate
the fact that I stand out from a lot of other actors.
And taking ownership of that fact has allowed that
sword to start cutting the other way for me, and opening
up paths in my career that would not be open to more
conventional looking actors.