The first thing one notices about 23-year old Hollywood actor Jesse Bradford is his own sense of self-assuredness. The Connecticut-born star of Stephen Soderbergh’s underrated King Of The Hill, as well as Bring It On and the forthcoming family action pic Clockstoppers, not only loves to act, but confesses to having an urgent need to step behind the camera, sooner than later.
“I want to direct, absolutely,” Bradford says. “Who doesn’t?” The difference is, the actor plans on doing something about it, and recalls having paid close attention to the goings-on in the course of a production, even as a youngster in 1990’s Presumed Innocent, as well as the likes of William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries and the forthcoming Swimfan, for Aussie director John Polson. “I’ve been watching and learning for a long time,” Bradford says. “I remember the moment when I figured out what I wanted to do: When I was working on a movie called Presumed Innocent and I was standing behind Alan Pakula. I guess I was hovering and he said, ‘Come on, watch the monitor with me!’ And I just felt like it was such a cool vantage point, such a cool position to have. He was bossing people around and I thought, ‘I want to boss people around.’ “
Meanwhile, Bradford was on another big set for Star Trek’s veteran actor/director Jonathan Frakes in the sci-fi actioner Clockstoppers. Here he plays the son of a geek scientist who helped develop a mechanism that speeds up any target that it hits to 25 times their normal speed, effectively making it seem to that person like time is standing still. When dad is kidnapped, it’s up to Jesse and his new Venezuelan girlfriend to save the day. Despite being far from the teen he portrays in the film, Bradford is honest about why it was an important film to be a part of. “Coming off Bring It On, I think this was a good business move, because it had some good people behind, studios and money behind it, and they wanted me to be ‘the guy’.” Bradford says. Bradford has been around long enough to the point where he has been able to put the audition mill behind him. In the case of Clockstoppers, “they had a short list of people they wanted for this, and I was one of them”, he explains, matter-of-factly. “I then got to meet with Frakes and [producer] Gale Anne Hurd, did a screen test, all of which went well.
Despite being older than the character he plays in Clockstoppers, Bradford says that it was pretty easy tapping into the mindset of a teenager, “because I don’t feel that I’ve changed THAT much since then. I don’t want to keep doing that kind of role forever, however.” Bradford has concerns about being pigeon-holed following the target audiences of both Bring it On and Clockstoppers “Because I by no means want that to be the only thing that I can do from now on, the only thing that people are willing to see me as, or believe me in, or associate me with.”
In Clockstoppers, Bradford got to work with special effects director Jonathan Frakes, director of two Star Trek films. “Frakes is fantastic. The Sci-fi thing didn’t really matter. Him already being an actor makes a big difference. If you’ve got a little experience on camera you know what it’s like and it’s easier to convey to another actor what you want. He’s a class act and a really cool guy,” Bradford enthuses.
Next up for Jesse is a far cry from his spate of teen roles, and he couldn’t be happier with the change of pace. “It’s an amazing film, I think, very eerie, and director John Polson is another crazy Aussie with a wild imagination. It’s still set in high school, but its R-rating will expose me to another kind of audience.”