If you haven’t heard the name Jeff Skowron, that’s about to change. Jeff has been cast in the sequel to 2003’s “Bad Santa,” staring Billy Bob Thornton. Jeff plays Dorfman. A security guard who will stop at nothing to prevent Willie and company from scamming a charity.
Starting in theater, Jeff has entertained audiences in plays such as “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “High Society,” and “The Boy from Oz,” in which he created the role of Chris Bell.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeff. To see what we talked about keep reading.
Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Well, I grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, graduated from Penn State and moved right to New York City. I got to do a bunch of Broadway shows, TV, and film, and in 2006 I got involved with a very talented group of people who were creating one of the first popular internet sitcoms, “The Burg,” which was about Williamsburg hipsters. One of the writers/cast members of the show was a guy I grew up with, Matt Yeager, and he and I decided to do a show about people from western PA called “Greg and Donny”. The network IFC ended up buying the show and giving us a development deal and that’s what brought me to LA.
Were you a fan of the original Bad Santa?
I’m a huge fan. That’s part of what was so surreal about being cast in the sequel. Not only is this my first major role in a big feature, but I’m doing scenes with Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox). I know these characters. I’m a fan of these characters. And here I am joking around with them on camera, creating a new BAD SANTA character, and being paid for it. I was very aware of how cool it all was.
You play a security guard who’s willing to do anything to thwart Willie and his crew from scamming a charity. How much fun was this role for you?
(laughs) It was right up my alley. The original description was that he “thinks he’s Magnum P.I., but he’s more like Barney Fife”. When I first auditioned, I knew I had to be specific. I asked the casting director Lisa Beach, who happens to also be from western PA, if I could try making him from there, and using the regional accent. It was a risk because the studio and director could have dismissed it as weird. But weeks later I was told I was actually in the running to book it. I was up against some famous names and if they didn’t have to go that route, I stood a good chance. Then on Christmas Eve, I got an email asking if my passport was up to date because I may be flying to Montreal to begin shooting. It was the best Christmas ever.
What was it like working with Billy Bob Thornton?
That was a dream come true. He’s one of the best actors we have. I’ve been a big BBT fan since “Sling Blade.” On top of that, he’s one of the coolest, calmest, most down to earth and kind actors I’ve worked with.
How did you get into acting?
I was a competitive break dancer as a kid. With my sister, who is now a lawyer. Yep. My dad used to get refrigerator boxes from Sears and cut them open so I could practice on our patio. Luckily, that led me to getting involved in theater, and I started working professionally in that area at age 12.
You’ve also done theater around the country. What are the different challenges between theater work and screen work?
I think with theater you really have the luxury of long rehearsals, and finding the character through that period. Plus you get to go through the character’s story arc in sequence every night. In film and TV, you’re usually shooting out of order, with little rehearsal. So I have to really keep track of where my character is and what has and hasn’t happened at that point in the script when we’re filming. It’s a different kind of focus, and it’s exhilarating.
You created the role of Chris Bell in the play “The Boy From Oz,” starring Hugh Jackman. What is your process for creating characters?
I love creating characters; I think it’s one of the things I do best. I like to try things out and experiment. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with some directors who recognize that and encourage that. Our BS2 director, Mark Waters, supported me every step of the way which is a great way to work.
We at TNWU all have something nerdy/geeky about us. What is something nerdy or geeky about you?
I’ve read every book I could find on the alien abduction phenomenon. (laughs) It’s been awhile, and I miss those. Maybe I’ll start reading some of them again.