“Preacher” follows the story of a preacher in a Texas town who merges with a creature that has escaped from heaven and develops the ability to make anyone do anything he says. Jodi Lynn Thomas plays Pearl, “a symbol of innocence in a world of sin.”
Jodi Lynn Thomas was born on September 20th, 1988 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of Visual and Performing Arts as an acting major. While going through school, Jodi used to play Snow White at children’s birthday parties. She also has training in tae kwan do.
Following Jodi’s graduation with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Northern Colorado, Thomas went on to work alongside Natalie Portman in “Jane’s Got A Gun”, as well as with Bella Thorne, Kyra Sedgwick and Aaron Tveit in “Big Sky.”
In 2015, Thomas starred in the short film “Duality” which won numerous awards at film festivals, including Best Horror and Best Picture at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and Best Film at The IndieFest Film Awards. Thomas was also named Best Actress at the Los Angeles Horror Film Festival, CineRockom International Film Festival and the Digitalmation Awards.
Thomas has also worked in television, with credits including Netflix’s “Longmire” and The CW’s “The Messengers”, and appeared in numerous music videos for artists like 60 Tigres, Schmidt, Jivin Scientists and Horse Thief.
Jodi took time out of her busy schedule to chat with Talk Nerdy With Us about her television roles, her upcoming films, her work in horror….and Doctor Who!
You’ve done a lot of work in horror! Is that your favorite genre?
Yes, one of them.
I found on your IMDB page a cool quote, “Often plays vulnerable characters put through emotional ringers.”
And you enjoy doing that over and over again?
(Laughs) I do, actually. It sounds like a weird confession. I enjoy it, now. I didn’t always. When I first started working in acting, it was really hard for me to get to those emotional places. I had a lot of walls that I had built. It’s hard, a lot of that stuff. When I first started I had not come to terms with a lot of stuff in my life, that’s when it was difficult. Then when I started working, I really started to get into it, around a year ago, when I started studying Chubbuck, I started really opening up my eyes and accepting things as they are in my life, everything became a lot less scary. On visiting my pain, it was heavy. But it feels like you’re visiting truth and then you let it go. It doesn’t weigh you down as much when you come to accept a lot of things.
Again, what program was it you used?
I studied the Chubbuck technique at Southwest Scene Works with Rebekah Wiggins. It’s a program here in New Mexico, and I’ve been training with her for about a year now. And I would say even with her, when I first started, it was still hard, I hadn’t gotten to where I got into those emotional roles, but now that I’ve been working with her for a year now, it doesn’t feel painful anymore. I feel like I’m doing the work and it feels good. I feel good when I go home. When you get comfortable with how it works, you can do it for longer periods of time. When I first started out doing an emotional scene I could do it two or three times, and I was done, now it feels like I could do it for hours. I don’t feel like it’s taken anything out of me.
Your bio says you are 5’1. What is it like working with actors who tower over you? How do they adjust the scene so you’re not just coming up to someone’s waist?
(Laughs) There’s a thing called an apple box! And basically, you stand on a box to level off the height with another actor. I will say there are a lot more short actors than you think. In this industry, my height has been a huge plus sometimes. When there’s a short male actor and they are looking for a female romantic interest to play opposite, they tend to look for shorter actresses to make the male actor look taller. But in Preacher, in this show, they are all taller than me, so they have tricks they pull out, apple boxes and camera angles.
Are you going to be a regular on Preacher or was it just a one-off?
I don’t think I’m really supposed to say anything…(Laughs). So all I’m going to say is, you may or may not get to see some of us again.
Did you get to do any scenes with Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun)?
I met him, I will say that much. He’s a lovely guy. Hilarious. You can’t not like him. He does not give you the option not to like him. He’s so charismatic. In the episode, the whole time he’s looking up at Ruth and his face is just so charismatic; his whole personality is. And he’s a nice guy, talented, friendly. He’s got a lot going on for him. I understand why he’s such a huge fan favorite. You can’t look at him and not love him.
I would like to talk to you a bit about horror. Do you think it is getting a revival? It’s always been a subculture within a subculture and now you see a lot more out there.
I hope so. I know some people may think it’s odd that I love horror so much but I really do, I love it. And one of the things I love about it is the fans. They make it worth it. They are just so dedicated to the art. I went to Screamfest two years ago for a horror movie we made that was an Indie, and it was just incredible. It was at The Chinese Theater. I try to check out Indie horror films all the time and they’re good. Yesterday I just saw one called The Final Girl. I don’t know if you’ve seen it; it’s more of a comedy but it had a huge horror aspect to it. It was so good.
And then there’s American Mary -I love the Soska Sisters! I met them and you know meeting them was a really good thing for me. They were so grateful. I kind of was afraid to meet them, you know they’re horror directors and in my mind I imagined them being intense, and then I met them and they were so nice and so kind and so grateful for everything. It was all about humility with them. I remember thinking if I ever become as big as I want to become, I hope I remember to be as grateful as they are. Because it makes such an impression to meet people like them, who are talented and doing what they want to be doing. It’s amazing. They were like you saw it (American Mary), and I said, yes I saw it. It’s amazing, are you kidding me?! It’s a huge comfort to me, to meet people like that, who are not about the ego.
It seems like there’s more out there now legitimatizing horror, shows like Preacher, and Penny Dreadful, it’s coming out of the subculture and becoming an accepted culture.
Yes, you have Scream Queens, American Horror Story, Scream is back on MTV, there’s just tons of horror. I told my friend the other day I auditioned for a horror show on TV, and she was like that narrows it down to one thing, and I was like, no it doesn’t! (Laughs).
Aside from working on Preacher, what’s your next project?
I just finished a film called Priceless, which will be getting a national release in October, and that one is not horror. It talks a lot about sex trafficking. It’s a powerful piece, and my character hits me close to home. I’m not a prostitute so I can’t relate in that way, but the feelings that were going on with my character and her base line, it was a difficult one for me, a very emotional one. I’m really proud of the work that everyone did on that film and I really hope that people go to see it. It’s kind of a romance too, so maybe that will bring people in. It’s a powerful piece and I really believe in it.
I see you have a lot in post production, including Biomass.
Yes, that’s a horror film.
Is that based on the game?
Yes. This is a little something I will let you in on. That film’s been done for years now, and I don’t know what’s going on because it just hasn’t come out yet I guess, I don’t know. But I look at my IMDB page occasionally to see if credits have been added and occasionally I’ll think, that’s still in post-production? It blows your mind how long these projects can take. It’s really cool though because it shows how much we have to be committed to these things. We see movies and CDs and TV popping out all the time and we forget how difficult it can be to get some of this stuff done. So it’s cool, I’m still waiting, I don’t know anything about it, like when it’s going to come out but it’s a really cool project.
That is one of the hard parts of being an actor, people want to know when things are coming out, but some of it never sees the light of day. That’s really difficult because there’s a lot of things that I don’t think a lot of people who work in the industry understand, a lot of it is post production stuff. It’s hard because you work on this and oh I did that and no one ever sees it. I don’t think people talk enough about that. All we see is what comes out and that’s what people talk about.
Our magazine is called Talk Nerdy With Us, and one of the questions we like to ask is, do you have any nerdy hobbies?
(Laughs) Oh my gosh. It’s one of those words like, I don’t want to be like – I’m such a nerd, but yes, I do have a lot of nerd hobbies that I’m a part of. I watch The Walking Dead; I love Doctor Who and collect Doctor Who stuff.
Who’s your favorite Doctor?
David Tennant. It’s always going to be David Tennant. I love the other ones, I think they’re all great but when people say The Doctor it’s the Tenth Doctor for me, it’s always David Tennant. And I collect Pop dolls, and I love Hannibal. I guess a lot of my interests are nerd interests. I don’t think of it as nerdy, it’s just an interesting thing and people should be interested in it. Technically I guess Doctor Who has always been like a nerdy thing to love, but if you watch it, it’s really good, there’s a reason why it has such a huge fan base. It blows my mind when people don’t like those things. That’s when you should really start questioning people, if you don’t like Doctor Who, what kind of person are you? (Laughs)
(Laughs) Getting back to a little more serious stuff, how was working on Longmire with Lou Diamond Phillips?
Did you have to learn any new skills, like how to ride a horse?
I learned how to shoot a gun. That was something I hadn’t done before. That was the coolest series and I’ll give you multiple reasons why. Not only are the cast and crew the nicest people ever but Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) remembered me. I had a small part, it wasn’t huge, I had a couple of lines, but I went to the wrap party months later, and he still remembers who I was. I didn’t even talk to him that much, I talked mainly to my costar who I learned to shoot guns with, it was really exciting and fun for me, it was cool. But I barely talked to Robert Taylor. When I went back he told me that before a show, he looks up all of the actors on the call sheet that he doesn’t know, and does research on them, even the small parts. And I thought, wow, that’s something. That’s admirable.Imagine how I felt, and how other actors feel going to that set, and the lead actor knows you, he’s done research on you. He knew what I was working on currently. What a true gentleman.
It taught me a lot; I believe that you do have a responsibility, when you have that big of a role, to make other people feel comfortable on set. You’re the star of the show and people do kind of follow you. If you have a bad attitude or are mean or negative, it can really put people off and the work creaks. But if you put out that respect, everyone around you is going to work that much harder and feel that much more comfortable. So it was an incredible experience on Longmire. I have to give everyone on that show props.
Have you done any stage work, live theater?
A long time ago. I stopped doing theater three years ago now, because it was really difficult for me as an actor, and it’s hard for me to pull off, especially as my passion is TV/film. It’s almost like I had to pick one or the other. I was doing a stage show three years ago and I was constantly getting called in to do auditions and then I booked something, and left the theater high and dry a little bit. We did have other people to fill in for me but it became a problem, and I don’t ever want to become a problem or create a problem. It made me realize that I couldn’t do theater anymore until I could commit to it. And I’ve been told my acting style is a little more subtle, and it really doesn’t play well on the stage. That’s not to say that in the future I wouldn’t want to do something like Hedda Gabler or Proof. Something that really calls to me. It’s definitely why I started acting, after seeing a play. It’s definitely something in my blood.
Do you have a favorite movie that you’ve done, something you are the most proud of?
I would say The Creep Behind the Camera, because that is something that I loved to work on; that role calls to mind a lot of trauma I’ve had in my life and I say that lightly because what actually happened to the real Lois is nowhere near anything that happened to me. But I could really relate to her in a lot of ways. I portrayed a real woman, who is alive today. It was the first time I’d ever played someone who was real and that could watch the film and go, no I don’t really like her performance, or yes, I love her performance. It’s horror based, but there was just so much love involved. It wasn’t a whole lot of money; everyone just felt so passionate towards this project. I feel that’s a cool thing to be a part of. We try to take someone else’s story and make something special out of it, with very little money and try to reach a larger audience , that’s just something – there are no words. That was a really great experience to be a part of.
Did the real Lois end up seeing the film?
She is in the film, she does some narrative. It will break your heart what she has to say. Overall it’s hard for me to pick favorites because I also feel strongly about Priceless because I think they both spoke to me on the same level. The characters that I worked on, it was so raw what I had to work with, with both of those characters. I appreciate that kind of work. I don’t want to do anything less. I like things that are brave, I like things that take risks, I don’t want to play it safe and I don’t think anyone wants to watch anything safe. Especially as you like horror, then you’ll really appreciate that.
I do actually appreciate that. I don’t really like hack and slash horror so much, but the stylized horror. I don’t know if you’ve seen an Australian movie called The Babadook….
…I ordered the pop-up book.
I’m so jealous!
Let’s just hang out sometime and I’ll show you my pop-up book. Something cool that’s come out since The Babadook is The Guest, and It Follows. If you loved The Babadook, you’ll love It Follows. And the Babadook, it’s more than just a horror film.
**** POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: You may want to skip to the next paragraph. **** I never in my life imagined that a horror film would make me cry. I’ve never seen a better metaphor for grief in my life.
I absolutely agree. And that’s why that movie works, why it’s so beautiful. It’s definitely horror; it just has those elements of real life added to it. I can relate on a different level; I lost my father. It’s the human condition, something that ties us all together. I love the symbolism that movie uses.
Okay, one last question, my signature question. If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask yourself?
Because I’m coming from the perspective of an actor, and they go through this all the time, I’d probably talk about the whole failure aspect of it. And not letting all of the rejection get to you because this has been a success for me, I’ve had plenty of success. But I’ve also had a lot of rejection. It seems like a lot of actors want advice, all the time – what can I do, how can I get cast – and so my question would be if I had any advice for other actors.
It’s a pretty typical question, but I think it’s important we talk to other people and let them know that they are not alone. Everybody goes through this and rejection hits people in different ways. I don’t want anyone to feel that it means they’re not good enough, because it’s not true. It’s never true. The whole thing about auditioning, it’s so scary for a lot of actors – and it’s still scary for me. But there’s something that I learned recently that I want to share: it doesn’t make you a good or bad actor whether or not you get the part. It’s not all happenstance because I think there’s a little bit more to it than that but it really is about finding the right fit for these roles.
I really feel that I was the right fit for the role I booked on this and everything else that I’ve booked has been oh yeah, this makes sense. And the things that I haven’t, even if they’ve lingered, even if it was something that I’ve really wanted, I’ve found peace with it, usually when I watch the other actor that got the role. Because it usually makes sense. I just want to remind people there’s a bigger picture to all of this and to not take it all personally because it’s not about us, it’s about the stories.