WEST BOYLSTON – Jim Ford has never been a bartender, but now he can say he “plays one on TV.”
The West Boylston-born actor’s latest role is on episode 10 of the second season of “Wu Tang: An American Saga.” In the episode, Ford plays the bartender. When one of the main characters “is acting up, we have some words,” Ford said, adding that “maybe a little fight breaks out after.”
The show is on Hulu and the episode premiered on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The Emmy-nominated show is based on the true story of the Wu-Tang Clan (hip-hop group). Set in early ’90s New York at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, the show tracks the group’s formation and rapid rise to fame. Inspired by the vision of Bobby Diggs, who strives to unite a dozen young, black men that are torn between music and crime, but eventually rise to become the unlikeliest of American success stories.
“The show is in its second season and and doing really well,” Ford said.
“I find it interesting that I have been cast as waiters and bartenders over the years in many film and TV shows, but I have never actually been one,” Ford said. “I was very fortunate to get a lot of commercials early on and those paid my bills for years until I got steady work in film and TV. I never really had any other job.”
The pandemic is still affecting the entertainment industry, he added.
“There are no in-person auditions and haven’t been for over a year. I have been reading for parts via Zoom meetings and the casting directors are in their living room or kitchen. It’s kind of hysterical, but I like it as I don’t have to drive all the way to Brooklyn or Manhattan and look for parking,” he said.
Ford has auditioned for NFL commercials.
“They are big spots, but they are real quick to read for. So I love doing those at home in my underwear, rather than drive all the way into the city,” he said.
While Ford said his agent usually gets him roles, the “Wu-Tang” role came from a stunt coordinator.
“There was some physical stuff happening to the role and he knew I could act, too, so Kevin Rogers – whom I have worked with a few times over the years – passed my picture on to the casting office- Emily Fleischer, casting. He said: ‘Hey this guy can do both.’ She still wanted me to audition, so she sent me the sides and asked me to to do a self tape.
“Self tape auditions tend to be annoying because you don’t get any notes or feedback, you just read it once or twice, send it in and then go wait by the phone,” Ford added. “In person, or Zoom, castings they can talk to you and they may ask you to try it a little differently. You have a better chance with those. With a self tape, you just send it in and often you never hear from them.
“With this, I sent it in and they called back the next day saying I had the part,” he said.
He worked in Bayonne, N.J., after a fitting and a few more COVID tests. The part took one day to film.
“I was definitely familiar with the group’s music growing up, but I had no idea how interesting their story and unexpected rise to success was,” Ford said. “It’s a really well made biopic piece.”
You can catch Ford on some other projects. He has been working on season 12 of “Blue Bloods” (“I did a big stunt for one scene involving a car hit”) and been doing some chase scenes for the TV show “FBI.”
He also has a part of the TBS show, “The Last O.G.,” now in season 4, with Tracy Morgan of SNL fame.
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