Monday, November 15, 2010

Interview with... J. David Shanks

From Cold Case, to The Shield, and including the Barbershop movies, I'm sure there's been a project you've enjoyed which has involved J. David Shanks.

I caught up with J. David Shanks recently, and here's what he had to say.

1. What was it like working on The Shield?

I felt like a student who had won a scholarship to one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Shawn Ryan is perhaps one of the most prolific producers in the industry and the fact that he and his team thought enough of me as an actor to allow me to work on the show for a couple of seasons really boosted my confidence. Working with Michael Chiklis and Walton Gogins was like having a front row seat in a Master's Acting class. Working on The Shield with such consummate professionals inspired me to go to film school. Learning the entire process has made me a much smarter actor with a greater appreciation for the collaborative effort involved in any project; television or film.

2. How was your experience with Cold Case in comparison to The Shield?

Cold Case was the very first job I booked in Los Angeles. We arrived in July of 2004 and I got the call that I had landed the role in late October of the same year. Needless to say, I was really nervous and wanted to be perfect. I placed a great deal of pressure on myself that James Whitmore Jr., the director of this particular episode could sense. He pulled me to the side and said, “David, you got the job and it is yours for the duration of this shoot. Relax and have fun with this character. I cast you out of all the folks that auditioned because you understood this guy. Give me what you did in the audition and let's have some fun”. From that moment on, we partied. It was an awesome experience.

3. How did you get involved in Barbershop?

I was a theater major at Columbia College in Chicago when George Tillman Jr. came to speak to the student body. He announced that he and Bob Teitel, who were both alumni of Columbia were coming back to Chicago to shoot a film called Barbershop. I immediately contacted my agent and bugged her relentlessly for an audition. I auditioned just before Christmas and had put it out of my mind not having heard anything after the New Year and got a call in late January that I had landed the role. That was my very first major motion picture and allowed me to join the Screen Actor's Guild. It was an incredible moment.

4. What was it like to come back for the sequel?

It felt like a family reunion. The cast had such a great time making the first film that we literally picked up the fun and games where we wrapped . Barbershop was a beautiful first “Hollywood” experience for me.

5. Can you please tell us a bit about your work as a writer?

I mentioned that I attended film school. I've always wanted to create characters that would challenge me as an actor and I'm pretty impatient at times so waiting for auditions that fit the bill wasn't an option. I've written 3 feature length screenplays, several short films; three of which I've produced and directed and am presently in negotiations to write my first feature length screenplay that will move immediately into production. Keep your fingers crossed for me. The trailers for the shorts I've written can be found on my website, or on

I want to thank J. David Shanks for his time with this interview.
I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did conducting it, and please be sure to check out J. David Shanks' upcoming projects.

Until next time.

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