Jonathan Fredrick ’01, who moved to Los Angeles shortly after graduation, may have finally gotten the break he needs in the acting world – a nice role on a three-night television event showcasing the most famous of family feuds.
Fredrick plays the besotted Jefferson McCoy in the much-anticipated History Channel miniseries, “Hatfields & McCoys,” which premieres at 9 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, May 28-30.
Billed as a “true American story,” the miniseries documents how the legendary feud nearly caused a war between Kentucky and West Virginia. Fredrick – as a native of Huntington, WV, and an alumnus of a Kentucky school (Georgetown College) – finds it fitting that this is his “first significant TV role.” He also found filming in remote Romania, especially in the Carpathian Mountains, “eerily similar” to his home state.
“They cast this with eye for quality – even for the smallest roles,” said Fredrick, who doesn’t get decent “face time” until near the end of the first night. But, just look at some of the stars who will be sharing the screen: Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Mare Winningham and Tom Berenger! (Berenger and Fredrick will attend a private screening at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, according to a Huntington Herald-Dispatch story.)
Jefferson (Fredrick’s character) is a child in most of the first episode when his father (Harmon) becomes the first victim of the feud in 1865. “The second night I’m in it quite a bit with my sister (Nancy, played by Jena Malone),” Fredrick said. “(Jefferson) is half-drunk most of the time and too cowardly to seek revenge.”
Jonathan Fredrick came to GC as a baseball player in ’97, but after trolling left- and center-field for two years he began to go in a different direction. A Communication Arts major (Sociology minor), he took all of George McGee’s theatre classes. “Then, I knew I wanted to act,” he said. “But, I didn’t know that I could.”
All it took was a word of encouragement from his professor. “After I did a monologue from ‘Hamlet,’ George came up and said I should consider doing Shakespeare in the Park,” he recalled. “That’s the first validation I’d ever gotten!”
George McGee continued to be this major influence in Fredrick’s life, setting up an internship with Hollywood talent manager Billy Miller (GC Class of ’76) after his junior year. “That gave me a foot in L.A.,” he said.
Fredrick said he’s been “stubborn or stupid – or both” during the past decade of stereotypical jobs for wannabee-actors such as waiting tables, landscaping and working security at movie premieres.
He actually does have some experience on the other end of the camera. The past several summers he’s been post-production coordinator for CBS’s “Big Brother” television series. A short he did, “The Scenic Route,” won Best Comedy at The Five-Second Film Festival and he has another being edited now entitled “Love in Our Time.”
But, Jonathan Fredrick is really hoping – with “Hatfields & McCoys” – that NOW is the time for him, his wife Chandra and their 18-month-old son Charlie. “I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this,” said the actor, who’d rather be served champagne at “The Oscars” next time than being the server again.