John Douglas Thompson


Q & A with John Douglas Thompson when he starred as 'Brutus Jones' in the Off-Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones, which ran at the Soho Playhouse from 15 Dec 2009 - 31 Jan 2010, following an earlier run at the Irish Repertory Theatre.

Place of birth: Bath, England.

You now live in? Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY.

Briefly tell us how you become involved with Emperor Jones?
Ciaran O'Reilly the producing director at the Irish Rep and the director of Emperor Jones asked me about it at the beginning of the summer. I told him I needed some time to think about it, and after some extensive research on O'Neill, the play itself, and it social and political history, I said yes!

Briefly tell us about the character - Brutus Jones?
I feel Brutus Jones is a disenfranchised man seeking enfranchisement by any means necessary. He is a political despot shaped by the social forces of his time: slavery, capitalism, and colonialism. He is also to me an everyman and a universal figure of mans overreaching desire for power without grace and benevolence.

Did you go to training school, if so which one?
I went to Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence, RI

Your first stage performance?
"World Do For Fraid", by Nabi Swaray, a playwright from Sierra Leone, Africa. The play was a modern day African Hamlet so to speak. The play was performed in Boston at The Boston Playwrights Center.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
During a production of "King Lear" at Yale Rep, I was back stage cracking jokes before an entrance, I was laughing at my own jokes so hard that I backed up into a radiator and burned my shoulder right before my entrance, it was a very painful scene.

What roles would you most like to play?
Practically anything in an August Wilson play, Huey in "Iceman Cometh", Hamlet, Trigorin in "The Seagull", Macbeth, the Plowman in "Death and the Plowman", Lincoln in "Topdog/Underdog. The list is longer, these are just some of the favorites.

As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, tv or film?
Enjoy all three.

Your career highlight to date.
Emperor Jones and Othello.

Who are your Favourite actors?
Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, Delroy Lindo, Merritt Janson, Simon Russell Beale, Mark Rylance, Roz Ruff, Andre de Sheilds, Juliet Rylance, Ty Jones, Alvin Epstein, Toddy Randolph, Petronia Paley, Peter Jay Fernandez, Mike Hammond, Ned Eisenberg, Christian Carmago, Jenny Mudge, Laila Robbins, Matthew Rauch.

If you hadn’t become a performer, what might you have done instead?
An executive salesperson, which is what I was before I discovered acting.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
Buddha, Nelson Mandela, Fredrick Douglas, Mother Teresa, Shirley Chisolm, Jack Johnson, Dinah Washington, Abe Lincoln, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, no questions I would just like to be in their presence and have a little chat.

Favourite after-show haunts
Une Deaux Trois.

What was the last book you read, and name some of your favourite authors?
Last book I read was "A New Earth", by Eckhart Tolle, and two of my favorite authors are Edward P. Jones and Malcolm Gladwell

What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favourite movies?
Last film was "Me and Orson Welles," and some of my favorite films are "An Education," "Gomorrah," "Hearts of Darkness," "Rainman," "Glory," and "The Great White Hope"

Favourite TV programs
The Office, Glee, and The Wire

Favourite holiday destinations
Martha's Vineyard, and Miami Beach.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
The Riverside Shakespeare, my iPod, a journal.

What are your future plans?
To be present and make a contribution.