You know Actor/Writer/Producer ORLANDO JONES as Detective FRANK IRVING from FOX Monday night drama, SLEEPY HOLLOW!!!
However, you also remember him from films The REPLACEMENTS, DRUMLINE, and from being the TV Spokesman for 7-UP.
When Journalist JOHN GAUDIOSI caught up with him, ORLANDO spoke on his addiction to video games, and the perils and pleasures of giant eyeglasses in this exclusive interview for PLAYBOY.
Here are some interview highlights:
How did you get here, career-wise? What’s the Orlando Jones origin story?
I was a theater actor, turned television writer, turned dramatic actor, or sketch comedy actor, turned dramatic actor. That’s been the trajectory of my career, which has really been unusual compared to virtually everybody else who was in the same categories with me. I was writing on A Different World on NBC when I was 19 years old. I wasn’t in "the comedy club." When I went in for the auditions for Mad TV or even for The Replacements, I noticed a line of comedians that were from the stand-up world and I thought, “I’m never getting this job. These guys are hilarious. Why am I here?” I called my agent going, “Dude, there are some funny guys here, why are they calling me?” But for whatever reason I’ve been able to experience some level of success, of which I’m proud of, but it’s also weird to me.
How did Mad TV help your career?
Not really at all. If you look at Mad TV as a television show, it ran for 14 years. So name somebody else from Mad TV who had a future or a television career of note that wasn’t in animation. For whatever reason Mad TV, on some level, was always seen as a stepchild of Saturday Night Live. So Saturday Night Live actors made that transition to movies, but Mad TV actors just did not translate into the feature and television world the same way. Mad TV was a great opportunity for me and I enjoyed it, but it’s funny to me that I’m back on Fox doing a one-hour drama after I helped launch the network with Mad TV.
Do you still have people that expect you to be funny having that background in comedy, or have you established yourself as a serious actor as well?
It’s funny because it depends on the individual. I started off in Liberty Heights, the Barry Levinson movie with Adrien Brody, Shane West and Ben Foster. I’ve done Drumline and Runaway Jury and The Time Machine, so for people to still be going comedy only with the amount of drama that I’ve done … it is funny to me. But I don’t take it as an insult. I just think they’re not really clear that my career has been very different then a lot of other people’s careers — meaning if we’re talking about Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, or anybody who’s in the comedy movie business, they all were former stand-up comedians. I was an actor. I only started doing stand-up three years ago. I’ve always been somebody who was a comedic actor and not from the stand-up comedy world. I think people thought I was a stand-up comedian even though they’ve never seen me on a stage before until three years ago.
You also worked on video games like Halo 2. What are your thoughts about how gaming has evolved even since then?
Gaming is so immersive. I was a gamer kid, loved it, still love it. I don’t playas much as I would like to. It’s no fun getting my ass handed to me by a 14-year-old girl from Croatia playing Call of Duty. I was like, “I am done with this. I will find your number. I will call your mama and I will cuss your mama out because I cannot say these things to you because you are a 14 year old little girl.”
How good was she at Call of Duty?
You know when you throw a grenade on the ground and it bounces up in the air, if the grenade is in the air when it explodes it clears the room. If it’s on the ground, half the explosion goes into the ground. This girl figured that out. So what she decided to do — and she told me this — was that she wasn’t going to waste her time shooting me. She would just run past and I’m chasing her trying to shoot her and every time I came even remotely come close, she would bounce a grenade off a wall and blow me out of the room. The entire game was basically me regenerating. I got off like three shots — three shots that weren’t even close. It was the most humiliating thing ever. But I love that that exists in the game world.
You said you’ve been a gamer since you were a kid. When did you notice a quantum shift in how good the games were?
I was a huge fan of Myst. That was a game changer. It was just so different than anything back then. Now you’ve got these story world games where you can almost do anything. A lot of my original early memories are of being a kid asking for quarters. Once games moved home with Pong, I’d ignore whatever my parents were doing. I had the Atari and the Nintendo 64. I got a TSR-80 and I was programming BASIC when I was a kid to make the machine turn into a keyboard or talk or whatever. So most of my memories are just like any other nerdy kid, which was you go to Radio Shack and grab a bunch of stuff and hook a bunch of circuit boards up to try and make this big cool computer to make it do cool shit. And I’m still that level of nerd.