Jonathan Banks

Crazies, Bad Guys, and Frank McPike

Biography: Early Roles

 (All quotes are from JB. Codes link to bibliography of interviews.)

Stage Manager
After JB's daughter Joanna was born, he moved to Chicago to be near her (WT88) (CT89) where he lied about his experience to get a job as stage manager for a production of Hair. (CT89) He went to Australia with the troupe, and spent two years there. (WT88) He directed Hair in Auckland, New Zealand, Jesus Christ Superstar in Sydney and Grease in Melbourne. (WT88)

New York
Around 1973 he returned to the US to get back to acting. "The acting was a passion. I always believed in myself as an actor." He went to New York, and found no acting jobs for thirteen months. That left him to "sit in a room and eat too much and drink too much and shoot pool until 4 o'clock in the morning." (WT88) "I wasn't doing anything. I was moving furniture. I was staying up too late and drinking too much and just kind of destroying myself." (CT89)

In 1974, he finally landed a bit part in a regional touring company of A Little Night Music because his girlfriend was in it. "I was grateful for the job, and at the same time it was an ego-crusher... I thought, if I'm ever so lucky to work, I'm never gonna put it in a time frame because there's some good actor out there who has gone longer... Somebody else has had it harder and been unemployed longer." (CT89)

In the mid-70s he moved to Los Angeles, (WT88) and began acting in television shows and movies. During this period, he was the only non-convict in a play at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island, near San Pedro, and taught dramatics to a group of sixty inmates. (WT88) "I'd have guards coming up to me and say that at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., they'd find guys in the bathroom memorizing their lines. A guy got out and he was a really good actor, so I set up an audition." Unfortunately, before the audition, the man was accused of robbing an auto parts store. (TVG88)

Crazies and Bad Guys
He had small roles as marines, a cabby, and a newspaperman, among others, but in 1977 he got a part that shaped his career. "Any actor will tell you that playing villains is a lot more fun than playing heroes. And it all began for me back in 1977 in the TV movie The Night They Took Miss Beautiful. Victoria Principal was the heroine and I played a crazed, drunken kidnapper. That part set a pattern for me for the next 10 years." (UP87) "From that I think a lot of people saw I could play crazies and bad guys. So I did." By the time he was 32, in 1979, parts began to roll in. (CT89)

GO TO: Early Years University Early Roles Bad Guys Wiseguy Since Wiseguy

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Page last updated:Thu, Jun 28, 2001