Jake Busey has made it a point not to rely on his famous dad’s name or help in furthering his own acting career. He could’ve taken the easy road and allowed the name Gary Busey to open doors, but instead opted to forge his own path.
“Yeah, it’s been a lifelong struggle for my own independence. And I made a big point of it in my early career not to take help from my dad or ask for any assistance or accept any of the assistance that he had offered. Sorta like Laura Croft in the new Tomb Raider, you know? I wanted to make sure I did my life on my own terms.”
Now, for the first time, he’s broken his cardinal rule. In September’s The Predator, he’ll play Sean Keyes, the son of Gary Busey’s Predator II character.
“This was the one exception in my life where I got the phone call from Shane Black, and given the circumstances of everything involved, there was just no way that I could turn it down.”
While he couldn’t say much about his part in the movie he did say his biggest disappointment was not being able to act opposite one of his favorite actresses: Yvonne Strahovski. Together we gushed about her work, though (gasp!) he had yet to see her in The Handmaid’s Tale. Fortunately, the stellar cast of The Predator also includes Sterling Brown and Olivia Wilde and that’s who he spent his time with on-set.
“I did get a chance to work with Sterling and with Olivia. Sterling is a funny guy. It’s interesting how onset dynamics can be because he was coming from a place where he knew he had Black Panther and Hotel Artemis in the can, plus he was on This is Us. He was just a happy, smiling, laughing, jovial, no care in the world kind of guy. That’s always fun to hang around someone like that. You know? We had a good time together.”
In addition to the highly anticipated The Predator, he just booked a high profile role on Season 3 of Stranger Things playing Bruce, “a journalist with questionable morals and a sick sense of humor.” Is it just me or does that sound like he could be a foe that doesn’t come from the Upside Down? I’m asking you because he wouldn’t tell me!
What I can tell you is that the Duffer brothers love of horror played in Jake’s favor while reading for the part.
“Well, I auditioned for the show with Carmen Cuba, the casting director. Then when I went and we did the table reading and I met the Duffer brothers, we had a conversation and Ross told me that in fact he and Matt had both seen The Frighteners as kids. They saw it in theaters, but they didn’t see it together. They saw it at different times. They both loved The Frighteners. They said that they were big fans of mine. That was really a surprise and really a treat to hear. You know? Apparently, the auditioning process was kinda a formality. They were glad that I was there and they were actually thanking me for being there, which really surprised the heck out of me. I’m like, you guys have got the number one show in the world and you’re thanking me for showing up?”
While he’d seen a few episodes of Stranger Things before going in for the role he didn’t really sink into the show until he was booked. Once he binged seasons one and two on Netflix he was blown away.
“I’m watching it and I’m thinking, my God, this is Goonies, this is E.T., this is Close Encounters…all these movies that were the pivotal key movies of my growing up. To be a part of that… It’s funny, I was watching it and I forgot that it was a period piece because my memories from being 12-years-old is exactly what the show looks like. That’s what everything looked like when I was 12. I know that there’s a lot of people, a lot of us Generation-Xs, who love Stranger Things because it reminds us of our childhood. I remember when The Big Chill came out and all the Baby Boomers were all excited about The Big Chill. This is kinda like The Big Chill for the Generation-Xs.”
“The story’s about a young girl who is haunted by the ghost of one of her early childhood friends who was accidentally killed in a graveyard while they were playing a Hide-and-go-seek game.”
Have you ever heard of or played Ghost in the Graveyard? Not me. Neither had Jake.
“But everyone else was like… It was as familiar to them as Monopoly or Yahtzee or water balloons. It’s this Hide-and-go-seek tag that they do in graveyards called Ghost in the Graveyard.”
I’m game! Especially after learning they actually filmed in Sleepy Hollow.
“That was really neat. There’s some witchcraft and some spirits [in the movie]. I’m the dad that has to go to battle and protect his daughter with these witches and these evil demons that are after her. It’s gonna be… from what I saw that they shot, it’s gonna be a really great looking movie.“
No word yet on when that’ll be out, but he does have a rock and roll horror movie on the horizon. You heard that right, rock and roll horror.
“It’s called Dead Ant. It’s about a group of elderly, well not elderly, middle-aged rock stars from the ’80s who decide they’re gonna make a comeback at Coachella. One of my Stranger Things castmates, Sean Astin, he’s the bass player and I’m the lead singer. We’ve got Rhys Coiro from Entourage, Leisha Hailey from The L Word and we’ve got Cameron Richardson and finally, at the end, we’ve got Tom Arnold.”
That’s the rock and roll, the horror comes in after the band takes some Peyote-type drug and then ignores some sage advice which leads to… giant ants. Yup, we’re talking classic B-movie horror of the gargantuan insect variety and it looks frickin’ hilarious. Look for yourself!
Plus, Agents of SHIELD fans will be happy to know he’ll be returning as Tony Caine aka the Candy Man for season 6.
For someone who’s been straight-up hustling for 25 years and still feels like he’s struggling to break-out, 2018 looks to be a game-changing year for Jake Busey and it couldn’t happen to a nicer or more hard-working guy.