Daytime Emmy winner Jake Hunter, who can currently be seen starring in Amazon Prime series “Class Act”, started his career as a baseball player before transitioning into modelling and ultimately, acting. The actor, best known for hi award-winning turn in the series “The Bay” as ‘EJ Perrone’, would son win parts in the likes of “Law & Order: SUV”, “Open”, “My Crazy Sex”, “Appland”, and “Killer Waves”. In addition to “Class Act”, Hunter will soon be seen in the film “The Comeback Trail” opposite Robert De Niro, Zach Braff and Tommy Lee Jones.
“Class Act” follows the stories of several young artists who attend a bizarre acting class and have big dreams of making it in Hollywood. Hunter, who wrote and produced the series, stars as ‘Stephano Luciano’ alongside Eric Roberts, Rachele Brooke Smith, Ben McDonnell and Meredith Jackson. The first season is currently available on Amazon Prime Video.
From baseball to modelling to acting. That’s an amazing run, sir! Which one of those things did you aspire to be as a kid?
Thank you so much. Baseball was the only things I aspired to do as a kid. In 5th grade, I did a mandatory audition for our school play though and was given one line. Then the day before we went on, the music teacher/director Ms. Hannah cut my line out and I was just an extra! That was as involved as I got industry wise when I was younger.
And now, do you prefer to act or produce? Does your love of one supersede the other?
I much prefer to act. That’s my passion and what I love to do. I’m only started producing because people weren’t going to make projects for me so I had to learn to make them for myself. What I do like about producing is being able to be in on the post production process and getting input on how the final product turns out. Nothing compares to the feeling I get when I perform though.
What was the first project you produced, and performed in?
The first project I produced and performed in was a short film called “Face Off”. I got out here and knew I needed to create and didn’t want to sit around waiting, so I wrote a project to showcase a role I would do best in. At the time I just finished my baseball career so I decided to play an athlete. I played a boxer who had an injury and was trying to be there for his family. After, I immediately got booked for The Killers movie video “the man” because they thought I was a real boxer. It’s funny how work leads to more work.
I imagine it helped that you were on one of their top soaps (“The Bay”), when you pitched “Class Act” to Amazon Prime? How much did that pre-existing relationship come in handy?
That relationship definitely helped. I learned how to really produce a show from working on “The Bay” and how I could get something off the ground. So already having worked with Amazon and my prior experience in producing a show were the factors that helped me be able to create “Class Act”. I’m very grateful to all the people involved with the show and Amazon for making it happen!
I imagine the concept is based on your own plight as an actor and storyteller. Just how much?
The concept is based on my life but we added different characters in there and elevated some of the situations. This was another scenario where no one was going to make something for me so I had to create to keep working on projects I was excited about. I don’t consider myself a writer so I try to stick to what I know, and that ended up being my story.
Is there a lot or a little of Jake in Stéphano?
There is a little Stephano in myself. The character is essentially me when I got here. When I arrived to LA one of my goals was to be the best actor, and I dealt with obstacles along the way just like my character did. The only thing that’s not Jake is the relationships. The just Stephano!
Are any incidents in the show based on events that have occurred in your life?
Yes, a lot of it’s loosely based around what my life was like but I did really sleep in my truck when I got here. I would just cruise around when I first got here and sleep by the water sometimes which was cool because where I’m from in upstate New York, I wasn’t used to being able to be by the beach all the time.
You’re working with a legend, Oscar nominee Eric Roberts. What have you learnt working with Eric?
The biggest thing I learned from Eric is that staying present and exploring to find real moments as an actor is key. He didn’t just do what’s on the page, he made the page come to life. He also had fun while he was on set too, cracking jokes, and having a good time. Which was a good reminder to while we are there to work, we can enjoy what we’re doing as well.
And from Eric to Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones. What can you tell us about your role in “The Comeback Trail”?
“The Comeback Trail” was amazing to work on. I had a smaller role, but all my scenes were with De Niro. I’m kind of the delivery boy and do all the work they don’t want to do. When I was filming with De Niro during my last scene of the shoot, we created an organic moment during the scene. He came up to me after the take and said “you got good instincts” and patted me on the back. It was pretty surreal. I’m not sure how many of my scenes will make the cut but getting to learn from people like De Niro, and Tommy Lee Jones is something I’ll never forget.
Can I ask about a 2nd season of “Class Act”? What might we expect?
We’re still discussing what will happen in the second season right now but there’s a few hints I can drop. You can expect less relationship drama and more out of the classroom into the life of what being an artist in LA is really about!
Photo Credit : Brian Jamie