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  • Rocking Den of Thieves with Acting Conservatory Alum Ron J. Rock

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    If you have the winter doldrums this March, we’ve found the solution: watch action-packed Den of Thieves, the latest adventure from director Christian Gudegast, with a star-studded cast including heavy hitters like Gerard Butler, 50 Cent — and NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory grad Ron J. Rock.

    Rock has been busy since graduating NYFA in 2010. He is the founder of his own production company, Rocktober Productions, and along with making his feature film debut in a major action flick with A-list stars, Rock is also executive-producing upcoming Broadway musical Lucifer.

    We had a chance to hear some of the story behind Rock’s meteoric rise. Check out his interview with the NYFA Blog, below:

    Ron J. Rock via IMDB

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy? Why did you choose the Acting for Film Conservatory program?

    RJR: I’ve been a theatre actor since the third grade in New Jersey, and after high school I wanted to study acting in New York. It’s an amazing city and the people I’ve met in my NYFA program have helped me sharpen my acting skills and create my own content.

    I chose the program because it wasn’t just on-camera training: It was all the skills I need to know as an actor, taught in one program.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you most?

    RJR: I love acting because you can start to understand circumstances and perspectives through different characters. It’s important to live life and be able to relate to others. Relationships become more real.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    RJR: My favorite moments were definitely getting together with fellow students to film any idea we had. It’s a collective program of artists who are working toward the same goal, so it was a lot easier to find people to work with.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your role in Den of Thieves came about?

    RJR: I was filming a short film in Atlanta, and I came across a producer who knew who I was, and he asked me to stay and read for the character “Junior.” I was hired on the spot.

    NYFA: Shooting Den of Thieves with 50 Cent and Gerard Butler must have had some interesting moments. What surprised you most about the shoot? Any stories you’d like to share?

    RJR: What was surprising was how organized the entire production was. The energy on set was fun and kept everyone going. It was an entire community of hundreds of people making this movie amazing.  

    NYFA: For our students, what is your advice for transitioning from film school to working on a professional film set?

    RJR: Every little detail you learn in class matters when you’re on set and in front of the camera. Taking classes is very important. There is a reason why these [successful] actors are who they are. They train on their craft endlessly.

    NYFA: You’re producing a new musical, Lucifer. What drew you to this project? What is it like working behind the scenes as a theatre producer?

    RJR: I came across this project after I produced a short film of my own. It was intriguing because it is the story of the Bible through the devil’s eyes. It simplifies what the Bible is about for anyone to watch.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in terms of the work you are doing now?

    RJR: YES! The 2-year program helped me stay focused on my career, and it has paid off.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    RJR: I’d like to create a TV series about issues millennials face — love, careers, and unspoken battles we all face in this generation.

    NYFA: Anything I missed that you’d like to speak on?

    RJR: I would also like to say thank you for having me at NYFA and sticking by my side during the successes.

    Thank you Ron J. Rock for sharing your story with the NYFA Blog!

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    February 27, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1162

  • Spotlight: NYFA Alum Cast In Men In Black 3

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    Jason Liles has been a working actor since his recent graduation from the New York Film Academy Acting for Film Conservatory. The NYFA Blog was lucky to catch up with Liles, who graduated from his one-year acting program in May 2010, between filming scenes for Men in Black 3.

    Jason Liles

     “My advice for anyone considering an acting program at NYFA would be to first of all do it…”

     

    Jason, we just heard that you were cast as an alien in the new installment of Men in Black 3. How did you get the job?

    How I booked the role is quite interesting. They called me out of nowhere. I had gotten my first job being an extra last November on Boardwalk Empire. I was excited about being on a real set for the first time, but they called me the next day and told me they were sorry but they didn’t realize how tall I was (6’10”) and specifically for that scene the director didn’t want anyone over a certain height. However, they remembered my height and the first week after graduation in May, Grant Wilfley called me and said they wanted me for stand-in work for an entire episode of Royal Pains because the wrestler The Big Show was going to be on it. That was a great experience and I learned a lot about a set very quickly over a few days. About a month later I got a call from Grant Wilfley seeing if I wanted to come in and read for a part in Men In Black 3. I couldn’t believe the opportunity that had been presented to me and I was just so thankful. All my friends and family were so excited for me. It was the beginning of July when I went in, read a few lines for a camera at Grant Wilfley, and that was it. A month went by and I didn’t hear a thing so I figured I didn’t get it. Well at the end of August, almost 2 whole months later, they called me and told me that that scene I read for was cut but they still wanted me for a tall alien.

    What was the process like once you were cast?

    Over the course of the next few months I went in for 3 or 4 fittings for my head and costume. My role is a tall blue alien without any lines called Feelers. I’ve got an amazing head and matching arms I wear with an incredible costume.

    Have you gotten the opportunity to be in any key scenes?

    So far I’ve been in scenes with Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thompson, and Jemaine Clement. What’s really cool is six-time Oscar winning make up artist Rick Baker designed all the prosthetics and he is always on set. His work goes all the way back to the original Star Wars alien prosthetics. It’s an honor to get to work with such a legend and he’s such a great guy too. Wednesday December the 8th was his birthday and on set Barry (Sonnefeld, the director) surprised him on set with a cake with an alien arm coming out of the top. It was cool getting to share that experience as everyone in the cast and crew was singing Happy Birthday to him including Will, Tommy, and Emma. But what meant the most to me was at the end of the day when Rick made sure all the aliens got a big slice of cake (it wasn’t too big and there were easily over 100 people on set) for toughing it out in those prosthetics all day. When I thanked him, he thanked back me for working so hard. That meant a lot to me.

    Where else have you found work since NYFA?

    Since NYFA I did stand-in work on Royal Pains, was on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with guest star Ricky Gervais, filmed a day on a new USA show called A Legal Mind. I also played a security guard for a few days on the finale of the new FX show Lights Out, and of course my alien Feelers in Men In Black 3. Also since NYFA I’ve been working a lot on my own music. I’ve got an exciting gig opening for Jake Clemons, the nephew of the legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons in January. That will be at the Zora Art Space in Brooklyn on January 13th. I’m also flying over to Scotland and Ireland in the spring as I’ve been invited to open for Scottish musician Mick Hargan as he releases his 2nd album. Then we’re planning on coming back to NYC and possibly playing at the Irish Craic Fest downtown along with some other gigs. I’m looking to have an EP done before that to take over and sell at gigs in the UK.

    Would you recommend the same NYFA Acting Conservatory program to other students?

    I would absolutely recommend the NYFA acting program. I feel it fully prepared me for the business. It gave me all the confidence and tools I need for anything in the acting world. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about acting until I went to NYFA. You get everything you need and more. There really are too many memories to pick from. Almost every day (really almost every class) I would pick up on something new or something memorable would happen. You form a new family with your section that I just wasn’t prepared for. These people are now my best friends in the world. My advice for anyone considering an acting program at NYFA would be to first of all do it and second of all to take huge risks, PLAY every chance you get (have fun with it; it’s called “playing” a character), and work hard on everything like it’s the biggest role of your life.

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    December 15, 2010 • Acting • Views: 2873