There’s a new action movie currently in theatres and it features a New Jersey connection you might not have known! While big names (think Gerard Butler and 50 Cent) are gracing the screen in Den of Thieves, there’s also an NJ native bringing the drama to a theater near you. While you may not know his name yet, in due time you certainly will.
Ron J. Rock, who plays the character Junior, hails from the Garden State. The hard-working Englewood native, who is currently bi-coastal, is earning a name for himself on the big screen as well as the stage. Ron chatted with Best of NJ about his career trajectory and the Jersey roots that started it all.
Tell us about your childhood in NJ.
New Jersey definitely kept me out of trouble growing up. I was born in Brooklyn, but in Englewood, I grew up with my six other siblings in one house, so there was never a dull moment at home.
I had great parents who pushed me to do well in school, and even though we didn’t have much, we could all depend on each other. New Jersey was a place where I could play outside safely as a kid. It was eye-opening to be around other children who lived a totally different lifestyle than I did. I am very glad I got to see a different side of life. That was motivation.
Where did you attend school? How early did you begin acting?
At Cleveland Elementary School there was a Rosa Parks production and I played James F. Blake, the white bus driver (yes, white!) who ordered Rosa Parks out of her seat. This production led to acting classes after school and theater workshops at the Englewood Library. I did some off-Broadway plays and attended St. Joseph Regional High School, which had a Broadway acting program. After graduating high school, I did some short films and earned my BFA from the New York Film Academy. My first professional project was the short, Noah Dreams of Origami Fortunes in which I starred alongside Caleb McLaughlan, who currently plays Lucas in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things.
Tell us about your role in Den of Thieves.
‘Junior’ is a federal reserve banker working in the count room. So I count millions of dollars as my day job and become suspicious of missing money during a heist. The audition process for the role was very easy, surprisingly. If you stay humble and approach people with a smile, they are more likely to be receptive to you.
You have your own production company, Rocktober Productions. Tell us what 2018 has in store for you, creatively.
I’m producing a Broadway musical called Lucifer, based on the story of the Bible through the eyes of the devil, which is very interesting. I was originally drawn to this project because I was raised as a Christian and I believe it’s important to clarify what the Bible talks about for everyone, adults and children.
It sounds serious, but it’s actually a comedy–with a bit of a dark twist–and will be a show for families to go to and learn, laugh and enjoy. Auditions will happen this spring so you will be hearing more soon! If all goes according to plan, you will be seeing this show on stage next year.
I’m also working on a TV series that’s going to focus on many issues that millennials who are trying to make a name for themselves face in this day and age.
Acting is a fun art and I believe everyone has a special artistic side to them. Acting is a way to relate to people and understand different circumstances in their lives. It’s not really about me, it’s about the people I am portraying and allows me to be able to feel and experience all different emotions and situations I wouldn’t otherwise.
For more from Ron J. Rock, follow @RonJRock on Instagram.