Today’s profile is that of none other than Jeff Berndt, who plays our hero, Jack Fitch.
Jeff Berndt as Jack Fitch
1) Hi, Jeff! Where was it you caught the “acting bug,” and what keeps you interested in it?
I did my first play in my freshman year at EMU. It was Shakepeare’s Loves’ Labours’ Lost. I didn’t think I had what it took to be an actor, but I tried out on a dare from my friend Mike Rackov. What the hey, the director decided to take a chance on a new kid with no experience. Worst decision ever, ‘cos I was right: I didn’t have what it took to be an actor. Opening night went fine until the final scene, when I totally blanked on a line. Let’s just say that I didn’t recover very well. I felt awful about it, but my fellow actors were very kind to me. The next night we did it all again, but this time there were no mess-ups.
When I was a kid, I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. When you’re an actor, you can try out all kinds of different identities. Sometimes you have to learn new skills like tap dancing or fencing. Every time you do a new show, you meet new people, and they can become lifelong friends. Plus, when you do a really good job, you can make people laugh, cry, cheer, and forget about their own problems for a while. That’s a wonderful thing to be able to do.
2) What has been your most enjoyable acting assignment to date, and why?
It’s cliche, but it’s hard to decide what my favorite role has been. On stage, I’d have to say the role of the Emperor in Amadeus was my favorite. He says some incredibly stupid things, and all the other characters have to pretend he’s just said something profound–sometimes it was really hard to keep from cracking a smile when the house would break out laughing. On screen, I’d have to say it was the role of Erol in the locally produced InZer0 series. (You can see some of the episodes on YouTube.) It was a voice-over character with no on-screen avatar and I was rarely on set with the other actors. As you can imagine, it was quite a learning experience. Of course, I’m having a lot of fun as Jack Fitch, too. I really like the way the character is kind of the opposite of the James Bond type suave, tough-guy spy. He’s trying to balance his role as a clandestine agent with that of a nurturing father to his daughter and of mentor to his students. There’s going to be some interesting character development there. I can’t wait to see how it all comes out.
3) Do you have any particular upcoming plans? Anything you’re looking forward to?
Upcoming plans? Well, when I’m not pretending to be other people. I’m a technical writer, which is how I pay the bills, but I also have a few creative irons in the fire–I’m shopping a kids’ book around, I’ve got a couple short films written that I’d like to shoot someday, and I’m a partner in a chocolate business called Sweet Steam. We’re only selling face-to-face at the moment, but once we’ve got our license taken care of, we’ll be able to ship our products all over the country!
4) Finally, what kind of ambitions do you have, acting or otherwise? How will you know that you’ve “succeeded?”
As for acting ambitions, I have a few roles I’d love to play onstage, but mainly I want to try new things. I’d love to play a villain someday, for example. In everyday life, well, the main thing is I want to be the best dad I can be. If my sons grow up to be good, kind, strong, happy adults who still occasionally call their mom and me, that’s what I call success.
Meanwhile, the hour’s getting late. and the calendars are waiting for your pre-orders to give us a “hand up” so that we can put them out. Remember, before August, it’s possible to reserve your Special Dates on the calendar, which not only gives you your own sponsored date, but also helps us pay for the project! Please help us get this started.