British actor Neil Jackson is juggling two series simultaneously! He’s just wrapped a key role in DC Universe’s Stargirl (May 18th Series Premiere). Then, he immediately transitioned into Season 3 of Amazon’s acclaimed crime thriller, Absentia (July ’20 Season Premiere). Also on the horizon is The King’s Man film prequel (September 18th).
Photo: Manfred Baumann
LASM: In this current season of your life, what are you most excited about? (You have 3 roles releasing soon, and you are multitalented.)
NJ: It’s crazy to think that I now have three huge projects coming out. And I’m wildly excited about each of them. But I’m always more of a projective person and so the thing that I am most excited about next is to direct my first feature film. I have two scripts of mine that we were looking to shoot this year before the pandemic hit. As soon as the world is allowed to co-mingle, it will be my priority to get them set up, financed and cast. I cannot wait to call “action” as director on that first day of filming.
LASM: What do you think is the biggest thing that you are learning about yourself through this unique time of quarantine and COVID happenings?
NJ: To be more patient, both with myself and others. I have a huge amount of drive. I want to wake up and get s*** done. But I’m learning that it’s okay to not have a huge check list of tasks, and that it’s also okay to not complete that list if I do have it. I’m loving having long conversations with my friends and family without any agenda. Just a conversation that isn’t squeezed in between other things but rather has no time limit. It’s so beautiful to me how, despite being in quarantine and not being able to physically see the people I love, I feel closer to them than I have ever felt. And that’s solely from giving myself and them the time.
LASM: You are an actor and musician? Tell us about that.
NJ: My first album was born out of a painful experience in LA. I had shot this incredible pilot for a new TV show. Several weeks later, I heard that the show was picked up to series. I was elated. Then I heard that the network was not bringing me back. They were recasting my role because they felt there was a lack of chemistry between me and the leading lady. I was devastated. Then, the following day, I woke to calls from friends and peers. The news was all through the trade newspapers – “Neil Jackson gets fired from NBC show.” It broke my heart. I needed to do something that helped me reclaim my creativity and so I called a music producer friend of mine in the UK and flew back to record my first album. Locking myself away in the studio for all those weeks was exactly what I needed. I didn’t have to answer to anyone about anything, and so was free to create exactly what I wanted in the way I wanted to create it. For a moment I contemplated really pursuing my music as a career, but that would require me to step aside from acting while I toured and played gigs, and that, ultimately, wasn’t something I wanted to do. Music for me now is more of a passionate hobby. But the guitar still travels with me everywhere I go.
LASM: You speak openly about depression and mental health on your social media, tell us a bit about your journey and what you would like your fans and audiences to know about you in terms of this.
NJ: I have lived with depression my whole life. Most times I am happy and upbeat and easy-going, but there are other times when that black cloud descends and life gets a little (or a lot) harder. A few years back, I was questioning the point of me maintaining my social media accounts. They didn’t really help my career and gave me a lot of anguish about needing to post or further my “brand.” And so, instead, I decided to talk candidly about my experience with depression and have more direct interaction with people who wish to talk about it. It was very freeing for me. I no longer felt disingenuous, or that there was this pressure to be light and funny. Mental health is such an important topic for me. It’s something that I have always felt was ugly or shameful and needed to be hidden, but I was wrong. Talking about it openly has helped me to deal with it in a healthier way, and also brought me in contact with some incredible people. If even in a small way, I can change the stigma surrounding depression and mental health issues and encourage people to talk about their feels and experiences without fear of rebuke, that would be such a beautiful thing.
LASM: I am a veteran and was touched by the trailer for Off Ramp. What inspired this short film? How can we see the full thing?
NJ: I used to think that homelessness was something that happened to other people. That it was never something that I would ever experience or come close to. And then I had the worst 2 years of my career. I barely worked as an actor but was too proud to look for other work. My debts mounted and mounted until I couldn’t afford rent. Luckily two dear friends of mine offered me a room in their house for a couple of months where I started to drive for Uber and get my life back in order. If it wasn’t for them I would have been living in my car, and that, by definition, is homeless. It astounded me how close I had come to something that I previously never thought even possible. I started working for a couple of charities in LA that did food and water drives for the homeless and had the most amazing conversations with men and women who found themselves living on the streets. Their stories broke my heart. I knew that I had to tell a story that told a different perspective on homelessness – a story of pain and circumstance, but also of hope. Off Ramp was that story. The fact you were touched by seeing the trailer, means so much to me. You can see the full film by visiting my website – www.neiljackson.me, or it’s available in the US and UK on Amazon Prime.
LASM: Where is home?
NJ: Vancouver is home for me now. I moved here a little over a year ago to be with my girlfriend and I love it here. I love seeing the mountains every day and walking to the beach. I love how clean the air tastes and that it’s a pedestrian city. I love just strolling with my dog and not even needing a car.
LASM: What do you love about fashion?
NJ: I love a good suit. Always have. Maybe that’s the Englishman in me, but putting on a well-tailored suit feels amazing. Sometimes me and my girlfriend will just get dressed up to go for a drink. Everyone else may be in jeans, but we’re there in Tom Ford and Prada. We may get some odd looks, but it feels good to dress up once in a while.
LASM: What would you say is your purpose or calling?
NJ: To tell stories. It’s something I have always done. Some of my earliest memories are of writing stories in note pads or telling jokes to friends. I love the magic and power of stories. One of my proudest moments was sitting in a packed cinema, watching Off Ramp during a film festival. Hearing a cinema full of people gasp and cry from a story that, only a few month before, lived only in my head, was astounding and humbling.
LASM: What is your superpower?
NJ: That I can see sadness in anyone. That may sound morose, but it actually makes me feel connected to people in such a beautiful way. That sadness is where love and romance and joy all come from. There’s a bravery in sadness and seeing it in others means that we are all connected; all the same.
LASM: Who is someone who you look up to (dead or living)?
NJ: I admire so many people, but there is a common thread that unites them – they are all people who have dared to dream. They have dared to carve their own path in life and risk failure in the process. It’s a quality that I adore.
Jackson’s television roles
Leading roles include: Make It or Break It, Upstairs Downstairs, Flash Forward, and and Steven Spielberg’s TNT fantasy drama pilot Lumen.
He has also appearanced on Westworld, Blindspot, Sleepy Hollow, The Originals, Persons of Interest, White Collar, CSI: Miami, How I Met Your Mother, and Cold Case.
Jackson, the multitalented actor (when not on the screen, writing, or producing) can often be found pursuing his other passion, music. He recently released his debut album, “The Little Things” which he also penned.