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Welcome to the Award Shows
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
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
Q: What albums are you currently
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
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,
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
Q: You walk out of the theater just
having the utmost respect for
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Who is your favorite basketball
Johnny: Oh, the Sixers, all the
Describe yourself in one word.
Johnny: One word... uh,
indescribable. Is that good? That's a
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
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
So you prefer people to approach
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.
currently working on a DVD and new album due
out Feb. 2005.
Help us get the word out on
Johnny's new band, OPERATOR.
Stay tuned for upcoming details.