For the first time, the So-and-So Profiles shines spotlights on two actors -- Brandy Kopp and Jon Paul Burkhart -- who are starring with David Gunning in the upcoming web series “Bitter Bartender”, launching Thursday, February 16 at 8:30pm PST on YouTube.
1. When, where and how did
you decide to become an actress?
Jon Paul Burkhart
1. When, where and how did you decide to become an actor?
I was raised in a suburb of Dallas. I sang with my Dad in church as a little kid. I started doing musicals in high school because I could sing. While I did them, I didn’t care about the acting.
I went to college and was an opera major because I was a singer. Halfway through I thought, “I don’t want to make a career out of this.”
I’d been acting just a little bit more during musicals in college. I was getting more into the acting so I finally decided to switch my major to acting and I ended up changing schools.
After college, I moved back to Dallas and started working and pretty soon was making a living as an actor in Texas. You have to do a lot of different things, but I figured if I could do that there then I could do it somewhere else.
So I moved to LA in 2007.
2. What was your first role -- professional or otherwise?
My first professional role was at this place called the Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas. All they do is popcorn dramas. They boo and can yell things, [but] the only thing you can throw is popcorn.
I got to play a really funny drunk Irish guy. It played for nine weeks and it paid crap but it was my first professional job.
Around the same time I got hired by the Shakespeare Festival to go to schools during the day and do this 45-minute show [of] famous Shakespeare scenes. We wrapped a cool, hip script around it. It was really fun and the kids really enjoyed it. We liked going to the lower income areas because they really loved us.
And it was like I was making a living. I had a day job as an actor right out of college. That was pretty cool.
3. What is your dream role or type of role?
I’d really love to play Richard Simmons [in] a biopic.
In my brain, I’ve got everything set – except for the script and the story because I don’t know anything about him. I’ve taken his class. It’s an amazing class. I burned 2000 calories in one hour. It was amazing.
It’s simply going to be called Sweat – The Richard Simmons Story. I don’t know if that’d be a dream role or just something I think that would be a really fun role.
4. What do you draw upon to find a character?
It’s different for everything. Sometimes I barely even have to look at the lines. For some TV roles, I just read the lines a few times and I’ve got it. I don’t have to do any weird actor things. I’m there.
In theatre, sometimes there’s stuff where I can just be joking and cracking up right offstage and go out on stage and be in character.
It’s different for every character. I played Amadeus once and I literally got there two hours before the show every time. I would basically go through the entire script in my dressing room as a warm-up. Out loud from memory. [It] was a great way to warm up.
I’ve done all sorts of strange stuff to make myself do strange things on stage – hurting myself, pinching myself. They say whatever it takes and sometimes it just doesn’t take that much.
5. How do you describe your style of acting?
I like to be memorized as soon as possible because you can’t really get any work done on a character until you’ve got the words in your brain. I like to memorize as much as I can without adding any character into it, which is really difficult, but then you can add so much more on top because it’s a part of you already.
Sometimes I would lean more toward the crazy, Method thing. If I’m doing a dialect, I have to stay in that dialect full-time.
I don’t have to prepare as much for roles I’m closer to as a person. I have to prepare a lot more [for] roles that are further away from me because I have to bring more that’s not real and make it believable.
6. “…And the award goes to Jon Paul Burkhart.” What would you say and who would you thank in your acceptance speech?
I’d probably be surprised.
I’ve practiced this enough. I would definitely thank God – because I’m religious. (I laugh.) Well, sometimes people make fun of that.
I made fun of the qualification.
Okay, that’s cool. I’d thank God. I’d definitely thank my parents. I’d thank my other half Mimi.
I would probably thank as many people as I probably could in the time I had. I would probably keep it short, sweet.
7. You’ve mentioned God and your faith. You’re religious. How does that affect your choice of roles or your approach to roles?
It doesn’t really. I really don’t have qualms about doing anything. I guess nudity would be something I might shy away from unless they could explain exactly to me why it’s necessary.
And if they say because it would be funny, then I would probably be okay as long as I could get a laugh -- which I think nude I probably would.
My spiritual life is personal with me. It’s my relationship with God, not mine and the rest of the world and what they think. So if I ever do anything that would go against my own personal morals and ethics, it would be between me and God and not between me and what other people think.
I’ve definitely done some things that afterwards I’ve gone, “Crap, I shouldn’t have done that.”
8. Who are your professional inspirations?
Lately, I really enjoy watching anything that Joseph Gordon-Levitt does.
I just saw 50/50.
It so good! He’s so good in it.
I love Kate Winslet. I think everyone loves Kate Winslet.
Paul Dano. I really like him. I like stuff that he brings to the table. I’ve seen him play a serial killer and I’ve seen him play a brother.
I love Vincent Price.
9. What’s next for Jon Paul Burkhart?
I was on hold for New Girl. I’m going to be on a Hallmark Channel movie in June or July -- Bulletproof Bride. There’s a lot of fighting. There’s a big fight scene in my scene. I don’t get to do any of it but I got to watch the entire scene be shot with the actors and then with their stunt doubles. It was a really, really neat experience. I’m curious to see how much of me is seen because I was just the coffee barista in the scene.
Mimi and I just made one of those Shit Shit Says videos.
And of course “Bitter Bartender”.
10. How do you respond when you tell people you’re an actor and they ask what restaurant you work at?
I actually lie a lot and tell people that I do other things. I’ve told people I was a pediatrician before. I told somebody I owned a marijuana dispensary and they thought that was awesome.
I just don’t like “Oh, what are you in right now?” or “What are you doing?” because a lot of the time we’re not doing anything and then we have to say that and it’s awful. Or you feel like you have to list everything you’ve done and you feel like you’re bragging. It’s annoying.
I’m not a big fan of that question unless people are like, “Oh, you’re an actor! That’s awesome!”
I don’t have a problem saying I’m an actor. I’ve actually never waited tables, so that’s nice. I don’t have another job right now although I definitely need one.
It’s much more fun to say I’m an actor when you’ve just worked on something or just shot something or just booked something. Even if you got a callback you’re just like, “Well, I got a callback for this, so hopefully…”
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