Just a shot away: Chasing the Hollywood dream

October 2014 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, People
Hunter Jackson graduated from Silverton High School in 2005.

Hunter Jackson graduated from Silverton High School in 2005. Submitted Photo.

By Brenna Wiegand

With 23 years of acting under his belt, Hunter figured he knew something about the entertainment industry. That is, until he moved to Hollywood.

Hunter Brier-Roeschlaub, a 2005 Silverton High School graduate raised near Scotts Mills, began acting at the age of 5 in Northwest Children’s Theatre and Oregon Children’s Theatre productions. His first role was Roo in Winnie the Pooh and with each year he got better roles – Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Peter in Peter Pan. Nevertheless, Hunter didn’t always go willingly, but his mom kept taking him.

“I think what I saw is that he had a certain spark that came alive when he was onstage; he had personality that came through and a certain confidence that was more grown up than you would expect for a child that age – or anybody; it’s hard to get yourself up there in front of people,” Hunter’s mother January Roeschlaub said. “…when he was in high school he wanted to play sports and I thought, ‘Well that’s that,’ you know, but he decided he was going to try the acting thing and did some stuff up here and worked with a coach, and I think he’s really glad he went to California.”

At 22, he changed his name to Hunter Jackson – “It’s my middle name – and it just has a better ring to it than Brier-Roeschlaub” – and moved to Hollywood.

That year he landed an appearance in the first Twilight film and the subsequent film as part of a flashback sequence.

Over the next few years he appeared in some lesser known TV series, short films and independent projects. He saw more action in 2012, winning parts in Grimm and Castle, and in 2013 was cast as an Afghanistan war veteran in the series Perception.

That was last year. He hasn’t booked a job in more than a year,.

“Well, there was the Hallmark film where I got left on the cutting room floor,” he said. “It’s just such a tough business.”

Experience has taught him that landing a role is really a day-in and-day-out struggle waiting for the big break. He understands acting is an industry and like any other business, it comes down to what gives the Hollywood executives’ project the best probability of being financially successful.

Hunter Jackson played a guy not to mess with in NBC’s Grimm. Submitted Photo.

Hunter Jackson played a guy not to mess with in NBC’s Grimm. Submitted Photo.

“Unfortunately, it’s not always about talent; it’s about popularity, visibility and being recognizable – and it can get very political,” Hunter said.

He thinks there’s a misconception of how glamorous the Hollywood lifestyle can be.

“If you go three or four blocks from Hollywood, it just becomes a dive in a lot of regards,” Hunter said. “I went to an awards show with a buddy who’s been on a series for a period of time. He’s walking the red carpet and then he leaves and goes back to a one-bedroom apartment and a Honda.”

“When you’re working, the money’s great, but you’re not always working … I’ve been lucky enough the last couple years to be supporting myself fully on acting – that’s a success in and of itself. I live in a three-bedroom townhouse with two other roommates, know what I mean? I’m not living the ‘Hollywood lifestyle,’” he said.

“Hollywood revolves around the business aspect with an emphasis on the networking,” he said.

“…it is imperative to be diligent and dedicated to your craft; your art.”

The thoughtful young actor added “There’s no such thing as luck; it’s preparation meets opportunity. …You’re always one day away.”

Hunter knows a woman who hadn’t worked in a long time as an actress. Her agent dropped her.

To give an idea just how crazy the acting world can be, Hunter said, the next thing he knew she was booked a supporting role in the forthcoming Jurassic Park sequel.

Hunter has come to appreciate the sacrifices his parents, January Roeschlaub and Robert Brier, made in order to bring up  he and his brother Jordan in rural Scotts Mills. They  worked hard to give them opportunities for cultural enrichment.

“I think that helped ground me, and I’m grateful for it now,” he said. January routinely spent four hours a day on the road between work, taking him to rehearsals in Portland and back for Little League games. His dad has been an unflagging supporter, too.

Now 28, Hunter realizes such doggedness is required of him if he’s to reach his goals. He continuously takes acting, voice and related classes, works out and keeps showing up for auditions.

“You’ve got to stay sharp and keep honing your craft and keep punching in until you get your 10,000 hours,” Hunter said. “I want to say something with my work; that’s when acting becomes purposeful. It brings you to a higher level of consciousness and that‘s what any art form ought to do. The real actors move you; they inspire you; there’s a difference between watching Gossip Girls and watching Daniel Day-Lewis or a Michael Fassbender film.

“You’re going to be working and not working and working and not working until you reach a certain echelon … but until then it’s tooth and nail – especially after 2009; there’s a reason you have movie stars who are now doing television,” he said.

“With Silicon Valley and Hollywood slowly coming together, you’re seeing a changing of the guard within the industry, which is exciting and terrifying at the same time. It’s not going to be the same Tom Cruise, Will Smith careers of the 1990s. They’re moving away from the star system; it’s going to be more ensemble based.”

He’s been extremely close to landing a role in some “really worthy projects.”

“That’s probably the hardest part as an actor; when it’s down to just you and one other guy and you don’t book it – because you’ve already spent that money in your mind before you even got it.”

It can get under your skin if you let it, he said. But you can’t shut down.

“We’re professional feelers … and if you don’t go there, you don’t get the job,” he said. “You have to be secure enough with who you are that you can show sides of the human condition rarely seen by people outside of those closest to you.

“I think what happens, a lot of people have the near-misses or the failures and then just give up, but he seems more intense,” January said. “He does acting every day.”

“There are days when you just don’t want to do it, but you’ve got to push through and go out and shine as bright as you possibly can and smile at everyone when smiling is the hardest thing to do,” he said. “I act because I cannot fathom myself doing anything else; every other job just sounds excruciatingly miserable to me.

“When I was filming Perception we were way out in Simi Valley at a sandstone quarry in the desert – it was 90-plus degrees and I was in full combat gear just being baked in the sun,” Hunter said. “I’m laying on the ground, covered in dirt, drenched in perspiration just looking up at the cumulus clouds and blue sky and I was so at peace. ‘I am getting paid to do this’ – a pinch-yourself moment.”

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