The Gonz Show: Jonathan Tucker extended

Where in Boston are you from?

Charlestown. I call it the People’s Republican of Charlestown. It’s undergone a lot of gentrification since I was a kid, but it’s always been an amazingly dynamic place. I remember having my lemonade stand knocked over and…

Wait. You actually had a lemonade stand?

Sure, absolutely. You have no idea what a money maker that was. When I got too old to do it, I’d send my younger sister out there. We’d make it all cute–set up teddy bears and offer a senior citizen discount.

So you’re starring in a new series for NBC called The Black Donnellys. It’s a gritty Irish mob series, yest?

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. For my character, Tommy, he’s a young man who is 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. It’s like when the hockey team won in 1980, some of them were from Charlestown. When they came back home, something like six people came to greet them after. That was it. Now how is that? It wasn’t that people weren’t thrilled, but there was a little jealousy over those kids who did get out and who made good. If you read Common Ground, that’s a tough subject—people don’t want to talk about the ones who get out or who just want to get out.

Do you know much about the real Black Donnellys?

Not too much, no.

They were a family stuck in the middle of a Catholic/Protestant war in Ireland in the mid 1800s and moved to Canada, where the feud followed them. Don’t you think the real Donnellys would be pissed that this show takes place in Hell’s Kitchen, where there’s been great gentrification? Right now, it’s a bunch of cheesedick actors living there…er, uh, no offense…

[Ignores my jab.] The show is more about New York and it shoots in New York. It’s based on the Hell’s kitchen neighborhood, but it isn’t exactly the neighborhood–more about what it was like before the gentrification, more of a fictionalized neighborhood. We can’t shoot in Hell’s Kitchen. Because of the sky scrapers and what you said, it’s not gritty there, so we shoot in Queens and Spanish Harlem and Brooklyn.

You know the real Black Donnellys were slaughtered, right? Your character, Tom, was killed by what historians believe to be 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.

Tell me about Tommy Donnelly. He sounds like a tough cat who gets in some scraps.

My character evolves throughout the show. He’s a tough kid. He’s always been a tough kid, but he’s trying to avoid that violence. He knows it won’t lead him to be anything successful, but sometimes in life you can’t avoid things.

Is it true you were in the Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker?”

Yes. For five or six years.

Tommy doesn’t seem like a tights kinda guy. Does that mean you have to give yourself an ass-kicking?

Ballet is one of the more difficult rigors that I’ve ever done. The Ballet 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.

Speaking of nutcrackers…Craig, your publicist shit all over your hometown magazine. He was saying that we took too long to get back to him about you.

Let me tell you, there are so many wonderful publications in Boston. Whatever he did, I’m glad we’re on the phone right now.

You appeared in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon, right?


Do you ever play that game with random people?

Oh, sure.

If I was you, I’d play just so I could win in one move. Someone would say “Robert De Niro,” and I’d say “me!” and win. I bet you could get a lot of chicks that way. Or dudes. Whichever. I don’t judge.

[Ignores me, keeps going.] If you open that book [Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon], he wrote the forward about the game, and in it he says he just ended up finishing working with four young actors—he’s talking about Sleepers. So, you know, I’m not trying to act so much as help him make that game popular.