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Welcome to the Award Shows Gallery      
So who is Johnny Strong? In one word, he's indescribable. As a child, he got started in the entertainment industry by modeling cowboy clothes for a television show. He then got involved with music, signing with RCA Records. After releasing one album with his band Fly, Johnny decided to go back to acting. You might have seen him in Get Carter, The Fast and The Furious, or Blackhawk Down.
Not only is he a talented actor and musician, Johnny's also an artist and has been doing martial arts since the age of 7. Though his movies have been successful, Johnny hasn't forgotten his love for music. He is currently in the process of producing 2 albums. When asked which he preferred more, music or acting, Johnny explained that he couldn't choose between the two and that he was in the process of combining them. "One of my goals in life is to be able to make a film and do the soundtrack and act in it. For the past two years I've been slowly kind of putting together a story, co-writing a story, writing the score for it as well."

Q: What bands are you influenced by?

Johnny:: You know, I think the first cassette I ever bought was uh the Beastie Boys. Not their first record, but their first big album…Licensed to Ill. From that it was from Hendrix to Zepplin to you know, Jane's Addiction. My whole philosophy on music is, I love all music, as long as it is good, you know? A long time ago I used to say, "Oh, I hate country music…" but then I realized, there's good music in every form, and there's bad music in every form.

Q: What albums are you currently listening to?

Johnny:: I'm waiting for the new Rage Against the Machine Civilian album. And I got the new Wu-Tang album…it's really cool… And listening to the Nas Jay-Z beef record. They have this whole kinda thing going on right now. I think that, as a musician, I've been so involved uh since I was 13 years old, from just recording and writing my own music, that I sort of don't get a chance to listen to radio a lot, or go keep up with the popular music but I have a friend who works at a record company who will send me a box of CD's of people with new records out. That's how I keep up with the Joneses and everything.

Q: I understand you went on tour with your band Fly. What was that like?

Johnny:: It was great, it was great. We toured with The Deftones, we toured with another band The Skeletons and Fishbone. We went all the way up to Vancouver, and back down. Went down to San Diego, and we had a couple things in Texas we did, a couple things in New York, east coast. I mean, it was just demanding, you know? I mean when you play in front of that many people, there's nothing like that.

Q: Like Adrenaline?

Johnny:: Oh yeah. I mean, it's…you know, like… you truly know music if you stop all the music and it's just silent, in a huge place, with lots of people. That's just a powerful, powerful feeling.

Q: Switching to movies for a second... I caught Blackhawk Down the other day and I was wondering how do you prepare a role like that, where you're portraying an actual person rather then a fictional character? Is there any particular acting method you used?

Johnny:: Well when you go into a project like that, you kind of…basically for me, I look at it as you're playing two people in one sitting. There's two people within a soldier. There's the soldier who's been trained to cut off his personality, from his soldiering, or his business. And then there's the person themselves, without the rifle, without the boots, without the gear, that they are with their family, their wife, their kids. So the first half of that, the soldier half, I did a lot of physical training, weapons handling …. And tactical training and then Delta operative weekend details. The personal aspect of the human being that I'm playing, the guy who was…you know…liked *this* for breakfast, you know… kisses his wife or tells her that he loves her in *this* way. I did a lot of research on the net trying to talk to anybody I could that knew Randy(Shughart). Leif Van Orsdale, the guy who I did a lot of the weapons training and the tactical training with, was friends with Shugart and (Gary) Gordon… And so what ended up happening was that I went to Morocco, and I spent a lot of time with Leif just sort of asking you know, "So what was he like? Was he like this?" or "How was he like in a conversation, like one-on-one, how was he with people?" I sort of tried to pull whatever I could from people that knew him. Leif just was absolutely willing to help me. He sort of gave me this information and then, when I met the other actor who played Gary, Nikolaj Waldau, me and him just kind of, sort of bonded, hung out together, played tennis, go get a cup of coffee, and talk about our stuff... sort of creating that bond that Gary and Randy had, as being competitive buddies.

Q: It seemed like everyone in the theater was just blown away. And the movie really focused on the ensemble cast, rather than just the big names, like Josh Hartnett.

Johnny:: Well normally you wouldn't see that in a Hollywood, or Bruckheimer, film. The group of actors that sort of really bonded with some of the Deltas…Bill Fichtner, Eric Bana, myself, Nikolaj, Kim Coates and Jason Hildebrandt. We all kind of realized, and had the same feeling was, this is a movie that an audience can sit through and and experience what it is like, like warfare. Rather than, being a war movie with war stories. Ridley really captured the idea of what if 150 Rangers roped down out of helicopters and start coming at you. You won't see anybody's faces. You know, you see Rangers, guns and camouflage… And he really captured that. I think just makes the movie… it just suspends the disbelief beyond other films.

Q: You walk out of the theater just having the utmost respect for soldiers...

Johnny:: Exactly. It was funny…I did a interview in Morocco and one of the questions they asked was "What do you want people to take away from the movie?" My answer was… "I want you to realize that…one of the reasons that they can go and get a Jamba Juice, go to work, go to lunch, pick up the dry cleaning, go home, watch their favorite tv show…the things that they normally love to do, is because *these* guys get up, get on helicopters, train, go into battle, risk their lives…. to protect those freedoms….that's what I really want people to take away from the movie, more than anything. A true appreciation for… "Thank God we have those guys."

Q: Did Blackhawk Down change your feelings about war?

Johnny:: Well, I'll tell you this. The whole creepy thing about being in Black Hawk Down… About two years ago, I was at home watching the History Channel, and a show called Suicide Mission. And they did a six minute segment on these two Delta snipers that went after a downed helicopter pilot. And stayed there until they basically ran out of ammunition and were just run over. And…when I watched what had happened... I don't know if it was God or the universe or whatever energy it was, but it heard me. Because when I saw that, I said, "That's what I need to do." And two years later, I wind up in Morocco, playing one of these guys. It was *very* surreal. It was just *so* amazing. So amazing, and gratifying. I got an e-mail from the guy I trained with, and he said he talked to a lot of the the guys that were there, and the widows of some of the men that died and said that…all of them, really said how great a job myself, and my friend Nick did, in playing Randy and Gary. So, hearing that from the people that knew these guys, and worked with these guys… It's beyond anybody saying, "Oh wow, you were so great…" You know what I mean? It just made me feel *so* good. 'Cause…that was my most important thing, is…this guy is a *real* guy. He did one of the most heroic things I've ever heard about in my entire life. And I just wanted to make it perfect.

Q: What was driving a Nissan Skyline like for The Fast and The Furious?

Johnny:: You know, the first day was… "Okay, I want you to drive as *fast* as you can going towards the camera, and make a right! Okay?" "Yeah, no problem. Where's my car?" "Right over there." And I walk over and it's backwards. You know, so I gotta reteach myself how to drive stick in about…two minutes. So, I go… "You know, would you mind if I just take it around the block?" So I jump in, and I start her up, take her out a little bit… It takes a *lot* of getting used to. Because, *everything* is different. It's a motor skill, and motor skills are muscle memory. You know what I mean? After you do something so long for, a certain period, it comes easy for you. So this is all backwards, and I jump in, I'm panicking so, I didn't even get the chance to take her around the block, I just got about…you know, halfway around the block and they said, "Woah, woah, woah…okay, you're ready?" And I hear on the walkie-talkie in the car, "Rolling! Rolling!" I'm like… "Oh, my God… Come *on*!" So I just jumped on it, made it happen and…then it turned out, I just loved it…I loved it. I wanted to get one, but then Paul(Walker) said he was gonna get one, and I was like, "I can't get the same kind of car as Paul…"

Q: You know, that's what I was gonna ask, did anybody, after that, want like a ten second car?

Johnny:: Oh, absolutely! I know Frankie Muniz from Malcom in the Middle bought the Jetta. . And Paul bought a Skyline. I'm not sure if he got mine or one of the ones I was using… But yeah, he has a Skyline. But that's it, nobody else got anything.

Q: I think a lot of people enjoyed the movie because of the fact that they wanted to do it too.

Johnny:: I saw this movie! I was *in* the movie, but I saw it, and after you hear those engines that loud and that power, you're just like…wow, I wanna get out there and you know, rip around for a little while. I was in Morocco for five months for Blackhawk, and then Fast and the Furious was released the week I got back… I saw Fast and the Furious that week, and I own a '69 Mustang… my, sort of, sports car. And I got that, I threw a couple thousand dollars into it, started racing that thing.

So you can sit back and watch one of your movies? Like The Fast and The Furious as if you weren't part of the filming?
Johnny: Yeah, I can do that. It's pretty easy to do that because I create the character, and Leon becomes his own entity. The way I look at characters is, it's kinda like if you think back to you know, two years ago, and sort of repeat the past. And it's different from sort of…how would be *now*… But that's sort of what playing characters is like. You sort of adopt your look, your mannerisms, the way you answer questions… And I became Leon in that period of time. You know, if people called, instead of getting me, they'd get "Yo, what's up, dawg?" They'd get Leon. That's really cool because you sort of revisit yourself as that person.

So I hear you're a dog person. What kind of dogs do you have?
Johnny: I've got a boxer/Dalmatian mix, he's black…boxer face, white spots on his belly, you know. And a pit bull. The funny thing is, my cat got sick, I brought her into the vet, and there was this big bulletin board with like, 150 dogs' faces on it. And I had this one dog, that was my boy Hondo. And he didn't have anybody to hang out with. So I saw this dog face, out of 150 dog faces. And it was the most beautiful dog I've ever seen. And so I called the number. The woman had a pit bull, and she was a homeless dog that she had picked up in Las Vegas. And she and her husband basically didn't trust her anymore. So they thought, oh, she's getting older, she was a puppy when they found her but now she's getting older, she's a pit bull… They didn't really trust her, and they said, you know, you gotta be able to trust a dog like that. And I said, okay, I'll meet her. Next day, went to the park, met the dog, fell in *love* with this dog. Like instantly she started listening to me instead of the owners, and I just was like, I couldn't believe it!

So you had to have her, huh?
Johnny: Oh yeah. It was like…I wasn't leaving without her. It was just some weird thing like, here's the dog. And you know, I'm telling you, I haven't had one single problem with her, thank God.

So how many pets do you actually have?
Johnny: I have 2 dogs and 2 cats. I grew up with animals, basically. I've had a crow, I've had a goat, I've had crawfish in the hot tub… I love animals. I mean, if there was a way I could go protect, you know like elephants and rhinos…I would. That's why I want to make money. 'Cause that's what lasts, what money gives you. You know, to help things that don't have money.

So how famous do you want to be?
Johnny: (laughs) How famous do I want to be... Uhm, well you know, I'll tell you what. I have turned down a lot of things which could have made me a lot more famous than I am today. Which…probably could have… I would have been playing Josh Hartnett's role. The reason why I turned those things down that would've led to that was…or to bigger roles like that, was because my goal is not to be a movie star. If that happens, that happens and so be it. My goal is to create characters and films that people not only like but maybe could identify with and also go "Oh, remember that guy that was in…" And for me, it's better to have the audience go "Aw, man, that guy was great," or you know, "I liked that character," rather than saying , "Okay, yeah fine I'll do this shitty movie but I'll be the lead in it." But how famous do I want to be? Uhm… Who knows, you know? I want to be as famous as the universe has planned. If it has planned that I never make another movie after Blackhawk and I go to Iceland to save the whales or whatever…that's what He's got for me. But if He doesn't then... I'm not going to put myself into whatever I can. I'm just looking for quality scripts, good writing, and a character that inspires people.

And he's definitly on his way. If you haven't seen them yet, go rent Get Carter and The Fast and The Furious, and check out Black Hawk Down. I can guarantee, without a doubt, that Johnny will catch your attention, capture your imagination, and never let go.

8 Random things I asked Johnny
Are you good at math?
Johnny: Absolutely! I'm a scholar. I mean, I would still be teaching at Harvard if I wasn't such a good actor.[laughs]

Do you have any tattoos?
Johnny: Absolutely! The one on my right shoulder is a chief, a warrior, surrounded by a dragon and a snake. And the dragon is my passion, and the snake is my patience. They're *always* fighting with each other. That's what it kind of represents. Sort of in a ronin, samurai... always in conflict, in battle with passion and patience. They took about 4 hours. I also have my initials on my hand. Some movies you can see them, other's you can't. I plan on getting a shark for my next tattoo. It's the only thing I'm really afraid of.

Are you into sports?
Johnny: Definitely into sports. I love basketball. But if I could make the same kind of living as doing films or music by doing boxing or martial arts, I would.

How long have you been into martial arts?
Johnny: I was seven when I started martial arts. So I did judo, that kind of stuff. And then I got into aikido, that kind of stuff. And then jujitsu came out in '93. And…that's where I was. I was just like…wow!

Who is your favorite basketball team?
Johnny: Oh, the Sixers, all the way.

Describe yourself in one word.
Johnny: One word... uh, indescribable. Is that good? That's a good one!

What's your life's passion?
Johnny: My passion is to create as much quality artistic expression product that I can put out. Music, expression of people writing for film…writing, martial arts… Everything that I can express myself with. To totally express myself in every way I can.

You kind of have all of these outs. I mean, if it wasn't for acting, you'd have martial arts and if it weren't for martial arts, you'd have music...
Johnny: And if you weren't for that, I'd be asking you if you wanted cream in your coffee.

Are you recognized?
Johnny: Yeah. It's cool, and it's weird, because, some people are like, "Hey, you, it's what's his name from this," and they go, "Yeah, cool, man! That was great!" And then, the people that *stare* at you. Who recognize you, but they're not gonna say, "Hey, I remember you from this, I loved it…" They just kind of stare at you. That's weird to me. It's like, I go on with my life, you know. I don't feel the effects of a movie coming out and so many people seeing it and then recognizing me, you know what I mean? My life hasn't changed, so I just go about my normal life, and then some people that recognize me, will just stare at me. But the ones that say, "Hey, that's cool" or "You suck" or just say something about it, that's fine.

So you prefer people to approach you?
Johnny: I'd prefer somebody, instead of staring at me, just saying, you know "Hey, what's up," but yeah, it's all good. Any adoration for work that I put out, I mean, that's why I do it, so I can express myself to a whole group of people, and they enjoy it and they laugh…I enjoy that.

*Interview from: Shellscape

New look launched
OPERATOR is currently working on a DVD and new album due out Feb. 2005.
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