NBC’s new drama “Ordinary Joe” stars James Wolk and envisions the life of a character as he progresses through three different career paths: as a cop, nurse, or famous musician.
“The show is ‘What if?’ premise, ”Wolk said. “What if you had made a certain career choice, and how is that drastically affecting your life? In our story, I play Joe Kimbreau and you see him the day he’s about to graduate from college and he’s facing three very different paths.
If Wolk’s life had taken a different direction, he might have gone to law school, he said. But it was, and for many audiences, one of his most memorable roles was on “Mad Men” as upbeat account manager Bob Benson, aka the guy at the front desk of “Not Great, Bob. ! ” by indignant Pete Campbell. mini-crisis.
Wolk’s credits also include “Lone Star”, “Political Animals”, “Goliath” and “Watchmen”. Asked about a defining moment in his career, he told a story about the CBS drama “Zoo,” about a global animal uprising. Wolk played the role of a zoologist who organizes safaris in Africa when the show begins.
He lasted for three seasons from 2015 to 2017. But his first day on the job was one for the dogs.
His worst moment: “I was playing a character who had spent 10 years in South Africa, and when I got the part I called my friend who is South African and I said, ‘OK I want to come with a strong South African accent. Because this guy grew up there, he’s been living there for 10 or 15 years, don’t you think he would have a South African accent? “And my friend said: ‘ Yes, of course he would. ‘
“He lives in the US now, so he put me on the phone with a bunch of his friends who he grew up with in South Africa. And I spend hours on the phone with these guys. I understand the jargon, I understand their slang, I work on the accent. I’m going all the way.
“And I go down to Louisiana, where we filmed the show. And my wife told me before the first table read, “Jimmy, did you do the South African accent at any other time, like when you read for the part or when you met someone?” And I said, ‘No.’ And she said, “Well, did they tell you you had to have a South African accent?” And I said, ‘No. No, no, no, but this guy has been living in South Africa for 10 or 15 years, you don’t understand, he has a South African accent. I’m a serious actor, I’m going to have that accent.
“So I ignored his advice and went to the table to read. And because it’s the first day, the people of the network are there, the producers are there, the screenwriters are there. I was playing the main role of the show, so I had a lot of lines. It wasn’t just a scene. So I did the whole script with a South African accent. And slang, like, “I’m from Joburg!” (Slang for Johannesburg.) I’ve been there. Every scene.
“We are finishing the table read. And then our creator-executive producer slowly walked up to me and said, “Hey. And I say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ I think: I nailed this.
“And he said, ‘So… what’s going on with your voice? And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said to me, “You kind of say certain words in a certain way.” And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m doing a South African accent.’
“And he said, ‘Yeah. Do not do that. “
– Tribune News Service