City Journal: The Gonz Show Jonathan Tucker

John Gonzalez chats up the fresh-faced TV star about his childhood among Irish toughs and (even tougher?) dance coaches.

After toiling in minor TV roles and the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 23-year-old Jonathan Tucker is looking for his breakout in NBC’s The Black Donnellys, a New York gangster drama set to debut this spring.

Where in Boston are you from? Charlestown. I call it the People’s Republic of Charlestown. It’s undergone a lot of gentrification since I was a kid. It wasn’t always that way. I remember having my lemonade stand knocked over and…

Wait. You actually had a lemonade stand? Sure, absolutely. You have no idea what a moneymaker that was.

The Black Donnellys is getting a lot of attention. It’s a gritty Irish mob series, yes? If we finish this project and people only see it as a gangster project, then we’ve failed. It’s really about relationships and a neighborhood that’s changing, and about taking care of our own. My character, Tommy, he’s a young man who’s fighting against the inevitable and fighting against something that he’s worked so hard not to become. He’s trying to get out. It’s the same as in Charlestown.

You know the real Black Donnellys were slaughtered, right? Your character, Tommy, was killed by what historians believe was a “crude farming instrument” or club. Sounds like your guy is screwed. If my character dies, at least he dies on a show created by [Academy Award winner] Paul Haggis.

You were in Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for several years—Tommy doesn’t seem like a tights kinda guy. Ballet is one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done. The instructors are some of the most intimidating people I’ve met.

Are you serious right now? Let me give you some advice: Never tell anyone else what you just said. I am serious. They were petrifying. I’m telling you.