"It''s a small, wonderful part." Doing it became a memorable experience. Jack met with Pat Trammel's former teammates, widow and others to prepare for the role.
He walked off the redeye flight onto the film's Atlanta location to find he'd be playing his death scene with Gary Busey on his first work day. "That was 7 1/2 hours of dying."
"We had cold water and glycerine sprayed on us to look like perspiration. It had to be cold water, otherwise it would have steamed. And we all chewed ice between takes to keep our breath from steaming on camera." Brr!
On his character, Mac Harper: "In the show I play a Marine....special forces, Mr. Everything, GI Joe, knows all about weapons, all about martial arts, interrogation; you name it, he does it. The only problem is, he's kind of a rebel, kind of a bad boy."
"It's an action/intrigue show with a lot of comedy and romance. I play special Marine forces agent Mac Harper - like a Green Beret. He's a super soldier and he can do practically anything. He'll go on special missions to break out prisoners of war and generally take dangerous assignments. There is a big stunt with helicopters and stuff like that. Real action-packed.
"Mac is incorrigible. He doesn't listen to his sergeant and he likes to do things his own way - a rather unorthodox way, I might add. Eventually they kick him out because he won't straighten up, but before they do, he models in an advertisement for the Marines."
This is where the plot takes an interesting turn. "Modeling agencies spot him, send him around the world and he becomes real successful. He's still sort of a bad boy though. Then the CIA figures they can use this guy - he travels all over, he's got a great cover and knows all the ropes. The CIA assigns actress Jennifer O'Neill, a big time photographer, as a contact and they work together as a spy team." "He doesn't really want to be a model, but figures what the hell - they give him free tickets to Europe and he gets to meet all these lovely ladies."
"The entire intention is to play the guy loose, with more of a sense of humor. Mac Harper is a cross between Hawkeye Pierce, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Mr. Magoo and Superman."
Now THIS is a tasty prospect! Thanks for the visual, Voyager G!
Where does the romance fit in? "I'm always hanging out with the girls in the series."
"Jennifer and I don't have a romantic relationship - we're friends, but there is the slightest hint..."
He voices his disappointment in the show. "I'm telling you how I think the show should be, and that ain't necessarily how the show turns out. I consider myself phenomenally fortunate, but I kind of hoped for more creatively."
On describing Cover Up's content: He has reservations about the amount of violence in Cover Up and other TV shows, but says he sees nothing wrong with the hot, sexy scenes in films because, he says, they reflect reality. "People get very passionate sometimes. It happens, so it's appropriate. Whether the actions are good or bad is something each person has to decide. But movies and literature and the arts help people to make those evaluations, those moral decisions. I don't think ignoring the subject is the answer; you can if you want to - you don't have to go to sexually frank movies - but I don't think it's healthy to close your eyes completely."
"There are so many people who don't know about sex and passion between people, and what it is they go through and if it's okay to make noise or not. Or what if you fall off the bed? All these things that really happen. Why not show that? There are a lot of people who don't know, and what the hell, that's what the arts are for, seeing other people's life in perspective, seeing what the world is about. And sex is a big part of being alive."
On the sexual content of the show: "Exploitation is part of commercial television. I realize that. We're not doing Chekhov."
On the sense of humor of the show: "Yes! I wouldn't do it otherwise. I can't take it too seriously. There are alot of shows that are similar to Hart to Hart - Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King; They basically depend on the scripts...it depends on the story. The stories have to be different, the situations have to be different.
The camera dotes lovingly on him in a white tux, in jungle fatigues, in high fashion or in bare-chested splendor.
In short, it's the kind of show that could make him a sex symbol. "I'll give it a try and see what happens. I may like it." He can be glamorous, physical, witty or taciturn.
He could also spend all day running around the studio in fatigues, doing jungle warfare scenes for the opening credits. For a kid who loved parades, pageantry and make-believe, it was a joy. "I loved doing that. It was just plain fun.
"There is a lot of action sequences. I enjoy doing that stuff.
GI Joe only WISHES he looked this good!
On the critics attacking Cover Up: "Yep. They are just attacking me from all sides," Jack grins. "I say fuck 'em. I'm not concerned with the erroneous opinions of the press."
On how the press quotes him: "They asked me, 'Have you ever had an affair with Joan Collins?' And I said, 'No.' So they write it as 'He said no, not too convincingly, with a sly smile on his face.' So then they ask me if I'm gay and I reply, 'No.' And they write, 'He blurts out: My God, no, I'm not gay!'" Jack shakes his head in disbelief. "That's not how I said those things. Journalists want to come up with a good article. If you have to lie to do that, too bad. All kinds of that shit happens to me, so I don't care anymore. I can't do anything about it."
On the press: "I did 200 interviews in Phoenix at the CBS convention. People fired questions at me at this big news conference, rude and sarcastic shit like, 'Do you feel like a jerk having your shirt off?' I need to do those interviews, but I won't take much abuse from them. I said, 'No, you should feel like a jerk asking me that question.' I'm not intimidated by them at all."
On his brief modeling career: "If people know you're a model, then they really figure you can't walk and chew gum at the same time."
"If you're going to be a model, you should obviously expect to be chosen for how you look. If a person is going for a job as a piano player, he will undoubtedly be selected because he's a good piano player.
To be insulted because people don't appreciate the fact that you might also be a whiz at physics is absurd. If you want credit for your intelligence or sensitivity or something else about you as a person, you'll have to get it in some other area of your life. It's ridiculous to expect it from a job."
Okay, I know these are screen caps from The Making of a Male Model, and not Jack's official modeling career, but damnit, they're adorable. So let's enjoy them! These are more like it:
On his interest in acting: "I always had fun in the plays in grammar school and junior high. And then in high school, I did all the musicals. My teacher in high school inspired me a lot, and I always had fun doing the shows at school. It just seems to me that whatever you have the most fun doing in life, you should try it first. If it doesn't work out, then go for your second choice. So I'm trying this first."
On being an actor in on a formula TV show: He admits he's something of a commodity, like a new brand of coffee. "Sure, but so is Tom Selleck, and I think he's real good in some of his Magnum scenes. Sure, there's a danger of becoming just a product, but you can get beyond that if you have talent and are willing to work on it. Look at Paul Newman-he had his shirt off in Hud. So did Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate. That beefcake, hunk thing has been going on for years and it's no big deal. Look at Harrison Ford. The guy's very rakish. He's got that hat, the beard, the whip; he's got his shirt all open. It's not that different. Raiders and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are not loaded with dialogue, but there's plenty of opportunity for him to do some good acting."
On his work ethic: "I am passionately strict. I am a perfectionist." "I'm real fired up," he shrugs, adding that small talk bores him and idle chitchat sends him running. He is tough and judgmental toward himself and others. "Given the opportunity, I'll fire people as fast as I can for incompetence, myself included. I have high standards, although I don't live up to them a lot. I still get disappointed with myself."
On how he views himself and his career: "Am I pushy? A bit. And idealistic and naive? Yes, a bit. But not totally. Is it worth it? God yes. I'm having a great time!"
People endowed with the attributes Jon-Erik has can become the most manipulative of all, dominating others by the sheer power of personality. "What is manipulation? What is good politics? What is striving to make something better? Manipulation has such a negative connotation so in that sense I don't manipulate. Manipulation can be positive. Forthrightness that is positively motivated should be encouraged."
On being content with his career: "I'm not content at all. My managers tell me I will never be satisfied. And that might be the truth. I have an ambitious personality. I want my roles to be better. I want to do as much quality work as I can."
On stardom: "I don't have any perverted desire about fame. I don't think about it much. What I think about all the time is the quality of my work - I have a lot of anxiety about that. I'm real unhappy with a lot of things about Cover Up, but I'm sure that a lot of people at Exxon are unhappy with the way the company is run. Or the corner drugstore. But I'm wildly appreciative to be here."
"It happened really quick. I was real fortunate with that. I had been doing a few plays. I was Johnny Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance and Billy Bigelow in Carousel."
On meeting his manager Bob LeMond: "I was working cleaning apartments and the guy whose apartment I was cleaning happened to know Bob LeMond. Evidently this guy saw a lot of talent in the way I cleaned venetian blinds."
On roles he'd like: "I'd like to do a rock musical film with fast cars, romance and lots of comedy."
"We love tragic heroes. I love Rocky, I love that kind of film and that kind of character that fights to win but doesn't."
"I want to do films about real people. I don't want to be a superhero."
On the Industry of Hollywood: "This industry is filled with good looking, out of work actors. You've got to go on thousands of interviews and contact and endless parade of agents to get into the business. If you're not willing to put in the effort, you might as well get into some other line of work because you're going to be miserable, disappointed and very hungry."
"You know, it's so hard to get work in this industry; I guess if I couldn't back it up, if I couldn't follow the sex symbol image with good quality work, then yes, being a sex symbol would bother me. But I think I can offer good quality work...Besides, I like the idea of having my poster up in a girl's bedroom. It's flattering!" And it's good to look at, too!
On his future as an actor: I worry about not being a great actor. I'd hate to die young and never have made Grapes of Wrath. Life goes by so fast...I just don't want to miss out on anything.
On getting into being a director: "...The job of an actor is so dependent on the script, on the words you got. The camera, you should never really notice it, but the camera; it can move the story a lot or it can do nothing. Music is so important, and lighting, and script...you have to create the mood. I like a little input; at the same time you try to get the best people who know more than you and let them do their work. I like to participate a little bit but I don't want to participate to the point of hurting the production. It at any time my suggestion is wrong you have to depend on those people to be forthright and to say, "Shut the hell up!"
On learning how to deal with shooting scenes out of sequence: "Even though you're not acting in the order of the events, you just get it going somehow. You'd better have read your script and know what you're doing to get into it. When we were filming my first movie, The Bear, for instance - I play quarterback for Bear Bryant, the legendary football coach - the first thing we shot was my dying scene."
On how he enjoys acting on TV versus on stage: "I just think you should do what you want in life that you enjoy the most and I never had more fun than when we were doing plays." He enjoyed the closeness of the people he worked with on productions in high school and summer stock, that special camaraderie that would develop while working on a play. He doesn't find it quite the same at his current level. "This is kind of big business now and it's not quite the same. It's not as pure. It's not as close to the people you work with. You have contracts, and you have contract squabbles.
When we were doing Voyagers! I was the only adult on the show and the kid only worked three hours a day because of child labor laws: he'd go to class three hours, an hour of recreation and an hour lunch, eight hours and that left three hours to work. He'd be gone by eleven in the morning. He'd still be there but he was in class or something and so we had the guest people come in and I'd meet people for four days."
Each guest role was done in three or four days of the eight days shoot required to finish the show, consolidating it as much as possible. "These are the people you work with. I only met them for four days and they're gone! Then we'd start a new show and new people came in. It wasn't the same, we weren't all together, I didn't work with them all the time. And a lot of the crew is so much older than I am, in their forties and fifties and sixties...." Another thing he discovered on Voyagers! was the habit of reading the ratings on Monday morning to see how the show was doing, however, he does enjoy doing a series: "It's great fun!" he says.
On James Dean: "Jimmy was the best actor on the screen for those few brief years. I would like to be half as good as he was someday."
On Joan Collins: "She's fun to work with and has a whole lot of personality and energy."
On Meeno Peluce: "He's a great kid! We spend a lot of time together. Our relationship works out so well because it's affectionate. Like in Voyagers, with a little antagonism too.
One day Meeno and I were out at the beach playing football, and there were a lot of people at the beach that day. He said something to me that was exactly what Jeffrey would say. I yelled at him that I had to go to the bathroom and for him to watch my pants because I had about $50 in my pocket. He dropped his football and yelled back to me, 'Why don't you say it a little bit louder, you jerk, so everybody can hear?'"He did admire Meeno's work a lot. "He makes it (acting) so easy: he's real aware."
On Jennifer O'Neill (Cover Up): They asked if Jack thought Jennifer would prefer to work with Tom Selleck, or if he'd prefer to work with Loni Anderson: "She would certainly like to work with Selleck," Jack says with a grin.
"As for me, there are other actresses this show might work well with, but I'm happy just the way it is."
"I knew Jennifer's work and admired it. Other women had been proposed for the part, but I was part of the show from the beginning of the first script, and from the start I wanted Jennifer for the role. We're comfortable on camera together."
On his role in the movie: "I spend a lot of time with my shirt off, and in bed."
On the sexy scenes: "There's a lot you can imply. Acting's a game. You can yell and scream and do love scenes and not mean it or feel guilty for it. It's your job.
On the story: "The story is foremost a love story about ordering your values and your priorities." "Tyler does like the success and the money, but he really wants to go back to his farm and ranch and live his life quietly."
On his character: He identified with his character quite a bit. "He knows from the start what he wants, what's important to him. He's down to earth and doesn't like the gloss and phoniness of New York and L.A."
"Tyler and I are alike in a lot of ways. Tyler is a real good boy. He's naive about the parties and high-class restaurants, and he's reluctant about all of his success." "Tyler is a romantic. The first time he realizes that he is really in love with Kay, he feels like 'Wow! This is it. This is real important.'"
On his audition for the movie: "There was Joan, all dressed up in a green dress, high heels, earrings, the makeup, the hair and stuff. She said, 'Hi. I'm Joan Collins.' I said, 'I know.' We had about five scenes to do and Joan got right into it. We were sitting on the couch, kissing in front of about 25 people from the studio. I thought, 'Wow, this is really weird! Holly-wood!'"
On working with Joan: "I was trying to be really kind of cool and slick. Hey, no big deal. But really I'm going, 'Wow! Sh*t!' During one scene, I said: 'Joan, I really don't think you should get up on that line.' She said, 'Good God, darling, you're a director too! I have an idea: Why don't you do your part and I'll do mine!' And I said, 'We could try that!'"
On rumors of a romance with Joan: "So we all got in the limousine. I was in my tux, and the cameras were going like crazy. Joan smiled and said, 'We're going to be in the papers.' Boom! Next week, cover!
"I like her - she's a nice lady and everything - but she's a whole lot older. I'm getting a lot of publicity out of being seen with her, but at the same time she gets a certain degree of notoriety for hanging out with a young guy."
What happened after he was cast as the role of Tyler Burnett: "We drove around Beverly Hills and bought $9,000 worth of clothes for the show. That was a lot of fun - trying on all the fancy clothes!"
On his torso receiving it's fullest exposure in the movie: "It was very exploitative, and I'd protest. They said 'So what? Take your shirt off.'" He did, and became a star.
Male Model had sky high ratings and a topless Hexum poster caught on.
"I didn't really appreciate waltzing around with my shirt off the whole time," Jack says ruefully, "But the film did my career a heck of a lot of good. I had my shirt off all the time, in stupid scenes where it made no sense. But I had no choice. I'd argue about it, and the bottom line would be, we'd call Aaron Spelling and he'd say, 'I know what I'm doing. You'll see, it will be a hot movie'.""I didn't get the show because they liked my work in Voyagers! or think I'm such a super actor. Male Model got such high ratings and the posters they put out sold so well - CBS and 20th Century Fox think I'm going to make money for them."
On Bogg: "I like Phineas’ character - part macho, part vulnerable-he's really a lot like me."
On Voyagers! cancellation: "I saw 30 million people in 41 cities, but it didn't work." The cancellation didn't surprise him and he reflects, "It's probably the best thing that happened - it gave me the opportunity to do this (Male Model) and other things." He got cast in The Making of a Male Model six weeks after the axe fell. "I have nothing to complain about," he says, adding confidently, "I want to work a lot and I'm sure I will."
He identified with his haracter, Phineas Bogg: "I'm like him in a way. He's young, vulnerable, pseudo macho, the sort of guy who wants to do the right thing."
On Voyagers! being a good experience for him: "When I first shot Voyagers! I had no idea what was going on and I have to admit, I lied my head off to get by. I didn't even know what a close-up was. The camera was there and I'd say, 'What are we doing?' and Meeno Peluce would answer, 'We're doing a close-up, idiot.' He's unbelievable - I still see him now and then."
Describing the show: "It's a great break and lots and lots of fun." He describes Meeno Peluce's role as "witty and street smart" while his character "bumbles a lot...tries to pick up girls and doesn't get them!
What did Jack have to say about his personal life? Why not read about it HERE!