'The Rookie': Richard T Jones got into acting after his college professor threatened him with bad grades

Richard T Jones, whose character, Sergeant Wade Grey, in the ABC cop drama 'The Rookie' is much disliked, talks about his nearly three decades of acting

                            'The Rookie': Richard T Jones got into acting after his college professor threatened him with bad grades

The ABC's latest cop drama 'The Rookie,' debuted on October 16, with a total viewership of 5.4 million, and it's safe to guess not many liked Sergeant Wade Grey. As an antagonist to the hero of the show, John Nolan, played by Nathan Fillion, Richard T Jones almost immediately qualified as a character we would like to dislike.

As Meaww sat down for an exclusive interview with Jones, he had absolutely no dirt to spill on Fillion and his on-screen character. So, before the world comes to hate the much-dedicated and tough Grey, let us look at the actor who plays him and his journey to bagging the role opposite Fillion.

Born in Japan, the 46-year-old actor has been in the film and TV industry for over two decades. He is also the son of Clarence Jones, a professional baseball player and hitting instructor for the Cleveland Indians. Jones could have easily opted for sports, given his brother Clarence Jones Jr., is into basketball, but, as he was preparing to be a lawyer, his professor saw that Jones had a gift for acting, so he "blackmailed," him into auditioning for a play. Since then, there has been no looking back for Jones.

As we caught up with the 'Judging Amy' star, it was a rather busy family day with his relatives coming over for brunch, but that is "just an average day in the Jones' house," he said. In the above-mentioned link, you can read Jones' interview on playing Grey in 'The Rookie,' and here you can read about the actor himself, who said he wouldn't have life any other way.

Your acting career in television and films dates back to 1993. In your long career, you've played a lot of detective and cop roles. How is this different from other similar roles you have portrayed in the past?

This particular role of Sergeant Wade Grey is very different from other roles I've played in the past. Although there are similarities, I am trying to play him with a different type of strength. More of a caring father as he fathered these young officers. He might have the same job in the same city, but you find qualities that are different in this particular character, because he is a little more caring. Although it does not look that way.

What is your life mantra? How do you keep up in the industry and excel at it?

I try to walk into the set with joy. Of course, you have your ups and downs, but I believe in the joy of the lord.

Actor Richard T. Jones of 'Wisdom of the Crowd' speaks onstage during the CBS portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour at CBS Studio Center on August 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Actor Richard T. Jones of 'Wisdom of the Crowd' speaks onstage during the CBS portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour at CBS Studio Center on August 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.


Can you tell us how you ventured into acting and your experience in the industry?

I was fortunate to get into acting because of a professor of mine in college. I was planning to be a lawyer. I used to party a little bit too much in college and so I had to take an acting class thinking how hard can it be. Professor saw something in me and he was like, "hey you are really good at this, did you ever think about auditioning for plays?" I said no. Then he kinda blackmailed me, actually, said I talk a lot in his class, (which I did) so he threatened me saying "you could easily get a B or a D." I was like "really?" So, he blackmailed me into auditioning, so I auditioned and I ended up doing a play, and I knew that was going to be my life at that point on.

The journey has been amazing, I am a believer in god and Jesus Christ. I believe you find your way because god has a path for you and when you step into that path, he opens his doors that no man can shut and this is what I've understood. The door opened and I couldn't shut, so the path has been long and of course, there are ups and downs, but I met my wife, we have 4 beautiful children.

I've been one of the actors fortunate to only act. I never was a waiter, I never had a job outside of it. It's been nothing but a blessing to see the changes and be in the industry for 30 years now, almost. It's amazing to see we are still around and we are still doing this thing and we have a heart to do. There has been challenges, but you gotta keep persevering and understand that there is a finish line. I cannot imagine my life without it. I've been with my wife for 22 years and I can't imagine my life without her now. I can't imagine what my life was before her.


Given that your father is a famous baseball coach, did you ever consider a career in baseball?

No. It's funny I grew up with baseball. My sport was football, my older brother plays basketball as an international pro, but my sport was football my whole life, so I never wanted to be a baseball player. I never was interested in the game. Even when he was the coach, I never enjoyed watching baseball. When the world series aired, I was like "eh."

What was your family's reaction when you decided to pursue acting?

My mom cried. She said "oh no," and my dad was like, "Hey I get it son, but you should do sports," because the school I went to knew I played football. I gave it up after high school. They always convinced me to join the team so my father was determined I should pursue football, like Burt Reynolds and O.J. Simpson, at that time. I was like "nah I am just going to do acting" and he was like "ugh okay."

When my dad went out to pursue baseball from a little town in Ohio, nobody had made it out from his little town then. So, when he got on a bus and said, "Hey I am going to California, and I am going to try from the Dodgers," no one believed him. So, he understood my desire and did not give me as much flack as my mom did. I just broke her heart, until I played a lawyer. I played a lawyer three times in my life.


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Which one?

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Tell us about your favorite role?

It's not always about the role as much as it is about people. I've come to find out that the experiences you have with people you film with, is way more important than the role. I always look at the experiences. I love 'Horizon,' and 'The Wood,' at the start of my career. It was wonderful working with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in 'Collateral.' 

I can't name one role better than the other, but one of the funnest roles I had, was to guest star in 'NYPD Blue,' as a homeless transit guy. I did 'NYPD Blue' for 5 years and I had a blast. Hollywood has a hard time putting you in those roles because they want you to have the same role that you were set up in, but, of course, actors want to do something complete opposite. You always like playing the bad guy because it's always more fun and a little more crazy.

What other genre of acting would you like to explore?

We went to a Shakespeare fest the other day and I haven't done Shakespeare since college. So, I would love to type into Othello, maybe a remake of that. I also love musicals, but I can't sing, so, I can never do one. Oh, and also, getting more into Sci-fi with a Terminator on television.