Jason R. Moore – Concentration Is Key
Words + Interview By Tyrone Davis
Jason R. Moore is an actor and producer most known for his roles in the films “A Lonely Place for Dying” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, as well as Marvel’s “The Punisher” where he stars as Curtis Hoyle. I really enjoyed speaking with this brother. We discussed how he prepared for the role of Curtis Hoyle, PTSD and the importance of concentration as an actor. “The Punisher” is available on Netflix.
Lol, I had to binge watch “The Punisher”, man. For a couple of months, I had been saying that I was going to catch up on Netflix’s Marvel series during the gap of time between “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Captain Marvel”. I just started watching “The Punisher” a few days ago and I’ve already finished season one and about eight episodes of season two so far.
Oh damn. You were busy then, man. Lol.
Oh, man. I got through it in about three days and made it make sense, lol. Let’s talk a little bit about you and how you came up. You’re from Jamaica originally, right?
Yes. I was born in Jamaica but I grew up in Albany, NY. I came from a big family with four siblings (two brothers and two sisters). I always wondered why my parents (coming from the Caribbean) would find a place like Albany, New York, which was so cold and the opposite in climate. I wasn’t into the arts, growing up. I knew I was interested in filming, cameras and things like that but there never really was a hard focus on it. It was always sports, growing up. So, in college years when you have to figure out what you want to do with your life was when I decided to do the acting thing. I wanted to learn how to really do it so I went to school for it and made sure I went to a solid school which is Purchase College.
They have a really good acting program there and I really had to learn how to do it so that is where I grew that. I met great people there and made solid connections and it set down a solid foundation in terms of how I approach the work. The body of reading we had to do was very helpful till this day and also the plays that we did. We started out on stage, did plays and figured out how to develop a character and be believable on camera. We started off like Daniel in The Karate Kid when you don’t really understand what the teacher is teaching you because it is so basic, lol. I remember sitting in our first year class and we had to stare at an orange, lol.
I mean, I don’t know what the purpose of staring at an orange is about but later on in life you get it, right? It was all about concentration, which is really important in acting. Here is how it applies to me. When you’re on a film set with a bunch of people running around, talking over here, doing this and that and then you have bills to pay, you’ve got the world behind you as well and all that can distract you from achieving a scene and making it work, especially if it’s an emotional scene. You have to focus and be able to concentrate on bringing up some of these emotions that require much concentration. So, that lesson kind of made sense to me later on.
So after Purchase (College), I went out there and tried to get things done professionally. I started with the soap operas and big co-stars and things like that. This is all in New York. I had a pretty good run while I was in New York with shows like As The World Turns, Guiding Light, and One Life To Live and then moved up to prime time like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Unusuals and a couple of others. Then I got my first movie, which was a Disney movie called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. All this was happening in New York. That’s how my journey started and it’s on going. I don’t want to make it seem like this thing was a cakewalk because it wasn’t. That’s pretty much the reason why I am where I am today.
Right. How did you land the role of Curtis Hoyle in the Marvel/Netflix series, “The Punisher” and what was that experience like when you first got the call or the email?
It’s like any other standard audition, you know? Usually for comic book shows, for secrecy purposes, they don’t tell you what it is. It has like a code name so I didn’t know it was going to be for The Punisher when I first auditioned. It’s not until you are highly considered that they actually tell you. So, when I found out it was The Punisher, I was like “What? You gotta be kidding me?” because I always dug it and I felt like Daredevil, along with all of those other Marvel shows on Netflix as well as The Punisher could only live on Netflix because of the history of the comic book, you know? That is the only way they can do it right.
So, needless to say I was extremely excited when that happened almost to a point where I was making myself nervous. I quickly got over that and then I sent them a tape, which was my creation of Curtis Hoyle and they loved it. They called me in, I met the director for the first 2 episodes, the show runner, Steve S. DeKnight and Jeph Loeb, who is the executive producer over there at Marvel and the rest is history.
I got the call and they said, “Hey, they want to make an offer.” And I was like, “Yes.” When that happened, it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders because you work so hard for that moment and again, those moments didn’t come easy but when you do get a contract role, that is what we all are our here working for as actors. A contract role is significant. It’s like a life changing thing. So, when I got that call it was like a relief. I was like, “Yes, about time!” because it took about 10 years for it to happen. So, it was long time coming. After doing that, it was time to approach creating this character.
This character has one leg and is in the comic books as a white guy, originally. But, they didn’t consider race when casting it. It was pretty neutral so it was cool. I thought it was more important to start at the psychology level. How does this character think? What is this character feeling? This character went to war so how does that affect one’s thinking behavior, mannerisms and things like that? I started to talk to everyone that I knew who served and ask them how they felt about it and what they thought were some things that changed about them.
I started with the psyche of Curtis Hoyle and then moved over to the physical, him having one leg that was blown off. He is an amputee so now he’s walking with a prosthetic leg. I spoke to many other soldiers who have lost limbs and did my research on what that was like and there is this thing called “phantom pain” where they feel the limb still there and it’s not. It’s a constant thing that they go through and it’s one of the most unbearable things. It’s a real thing so how would that affect them psychologically?
So, once I did that and started to learn how this character would walk and if he would be cautious in movement and things like that, I realized that I didn’t know the people I had interviewed had an amputated leg until they told me or showed me. When someone has had it for a certain amount of time, they get so used to it that you can’t tell so it readjusted my physical approach to Curtis because I didn’t have to really walk with too much of a limp so sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. Those are all choices that I want to make to bring the character to life.
Earlier, you mentioned making your characters believable and I think that is one thing that you did really well in the series. Personally, I felt for Curtis and the whole show I didn’t want anything to happen to him. Lol, it got really intense at a certain point in season one and I’m like, “Man, just don’t let him die!” Lol, I’m rooting for you, man! One thing I wanted to speak with you specifically about is “loyalty”. Curtis is loyal almost to a fault. What’s your take?
Yea, there are a lot of things that Curtis says in seasons 1 and 2 that ring bells within the military community. The whole show does, but Curtis specifically because of that very thing. What I’ve come to realize is that when you go out there to war, the people to the left and right of you are the only people that have your back there. There is no one else in the world. Not your parents, brothers or sisters. These people literally have your life in their hands in that moment of battle.
The camaraderie, brotherhood and the loyalty that comes from that is tremendous because you have to trust them, trust your love and that love runs deep. That is what Curtis is. Curtis served with Frank. That loyalty is extremely important. You see part of the commentary of the show is “PTSD”. What happens when someone who has been trained to kill goes to war and comes back into society as a regular civilian? The show comments on that and when Frank, Curtis and Billy come back from war, we don’t lose it all. Part of that PTSD is maintaining that brotherhood and to a fault almost and as you’ll see in season two, part of the commentary is Billy is able to recruit former soldiers to help him do his……Oh, shit. I hope I’m not ruining it for you, lol. Billy is recruiting soldiers to help him do his bad deeds and it is easy for him because he’s a brother that served. So yeah, that loyalty is there, man. Even though Curtis doesn’t want Frank doing what he’s doing, he’s so much of a brother that he’s like, “Man, I’m going to support you no matter what.”
That’s another reason why I gravitated to your character because Curtis comes off as a stand up guy. He has his issues and I don’t think they bring them all the way out, but you can tell that he is a pretty solid individual. I actually grew up a military kid. My mother served in the Army and was enlisted until I graduated high school. So, I grew up with people from all over the world and one thing I did see a lot when I would go to the hospital (trips to the hospital for service members and their dependents were free) I would see a lot of soldiers who would have missing limbs and things of that nature. I’d see more of that in the military hospital than I would in a civilian one. In a civilian hospital, people may be sick or could even have been shot, but you don’t see a lot of situations where people have been blown up.
I used to pay attention to things like that and another thing I remember is that we used to be able to go to the gyms on the military base to work out and play basketball for free and most of the time, we’d be hooping with the G.I.s. A lot of them would disappear for months at a time and when you’d see them again like, “Where have you been?” it’d be Afghanistan or Iraq. Some of them would come back with issues and one time in particular I almost got into it with a guy who was on the court, acting out. Someone had to pull me to the side and they told me he had just gotten back from Iraq and he had actually lost his father and best friend in the same day (they were both soldiers over there at the same time). So, he came back to the states with a bunch of issues. He was still in the military but he was on his way out, via medical discharge. I’ve seen the effects of PTSD first hand.
Oh yea, that’s definitely a real thing. I’ve seen it too. My thing is, why isn’t that more of a focus in our society where we send these people off to war? I didn’t know about PTSD until later on in life but I’ve known America to be at war since we were kids. We are all aware that someone can be going through that and how do you deal with that? Like you said, someone had to pull you aside to raise your awareness like, “Yo, listen. He is going through something right now.” He probably saw his brother or soldier brother blown to smithereens or something. Anything could happen. So, how does that affect one’s psyche, right? So yeah, man. I think we should focus on it more because we have so many vets.
Yea, man. I saw him a couple of times after that and he would be off to himself but it was like at any moment, he could snap. Once I got word of his condition, it was more of a help spread the word type of situation so that if anything happened at the gym, then people would know beforehand to not take it personal, he has a thing going on and he’s getting the help that he needs. I don’t know exactly what happens after they get out of the military, but I do know that life isn’t too kind for a lot of vets who have these conditions once they’ve gotten out.
Well that is what the show comments on. Frank is suffering from PTSD, which is why he chose to take the mantle of “The Punisher” after his family is killed. That’s the comic book story.
Absolutely. All right. So, aside from acting, you’ve jumped into some other avenues. Explain what “Anthem One” is.
So, “Anthem One” is a light that we are trying to introduce to the film industry. The website is www.anthemone.com and the site tells you what it is. The reason why they came about was because we were shooting the film in New Mexico, we rented all of these big lights and plugged them into big generators and then the power went out. The power went out and we were sitting ducks because there was nothing we could do. So, the director of that film who is also a buddy of mine (Justin Evans) invented this light to solve that very problem. Suppose you don’t have enough people to man these big lights or the power to power them. He created this light that is in a small cube but pushes out a beam brighter than a 50 kilowatt Tungsten light.
The light is even and what I’m most proud of is that with our light cards, there is something called CRIs. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that in all of these natural Hollywood lights, darker skin tones don’t really come out. They don’t really reflect. In fact, lights work determined with darker skin in mind, say always calibrated with the white today. Our light produces a CRI of 98 (this is all technical stuff) and that number is the frequency that darker skin glows under in terms of natural light. So, our little light produces that frequency of light and darker skin tones just look radiant. What we are trying to do is raise awareness of that and get the word out to other producers, directors and cinematographers out there. We use our lights on darker skinned clients and actors and things like that that and we’re going off to New Mexico to shoot a film with the light completely to show the industry what these lights can do. That’s just a quick rundown of the light without getting too technical.
Oh, and then there is the cost. The cost of one of those standard Hollywood lights is like $10,000. Our light is $1,500. When you’re looking at the cost, there is just no argument. Our goal is to completely change the way films are shot in terms of budget, time and the amount of people on set. A 10-year-old girl can operate this light with no problem. You wouldn’t need a crane or three men to control it. It doesn’t get hot and so it doesn’t make any noise. It’s really cool. I invested money into that company because I believed in the product. So now we’re out here pushing the product.
That’s awesome, man. “The Punisher” has been around for awhile so I have to ask, who is your favorite version of him?
Oh, it’s (Jon) Bernthal! No question, hands down! Lol, I said before, when I read that Bernthal was going to be “The Punisher” because we saw him in season two of “Daredevil” and I heard they were making a series of it on Netflix, I thought that was perfect because I thought the other punishers were little too candy coated. They were a little too soft to me. I wanted to see a real person going through something and Bernthal brings that.
Follow Jason R. Moore on Instagram @jasonmooreofficial and on Twitter @JasonMooreENT.
Photo By Ryan West.