Articles + Interviews

Kevin L. Johnson

Interviewed by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Our first #SundaySpotlight for August is Jakob’s interview with Ozark star Kevin L. Johnson, who plays Sam Dermody in the Netflix show. Johnson talks about his career, Hollywood horror stories, working with Jason Bateman, and confirms whether or not he will be returning for season 2!

 


 

JLB: First of all Kevin, would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?

KLJ: Sure thing! Hi everyone! I’m Kevin. I live in Atlanta, GA. I grew up in Lake Wylie, SC and I went to Clemson University. 

JLB: Tell me about your journey to becoming an actor? Is acting something that’s always been in your blood, a lifelong ambition?

KLJ: I fell in love with acting in college.  I wanted to try something different and break out of my shell.  Auditioned for my first play. I didn’t get cast but I did do tech work because I was very interested in seeing how things worked.  I signed up for classes in college and I got cast in the big musical of the year.  After I graduated from college, I moved to Charlotte, NC and got headshots done, signed up for classes and got my first agent.  

JLB: Every performer has an audition horror story, right? So what’s your worst experience in an audition?

KLJ: I would have to say I was auditioning for a movie a year or so ago.  I asked the casting directors who would be my reader for my eyeline etc.  One of the casting directors did not take that very well and said “First off, we’re not readers we’re casting directors.” Obviously I didn’t mean it the way he thought but he took it as an insult.  So a little tip, never “call” a casting director a “reader” 

JLB: Most people will recognise you as Sam Dermody, from the Netflix hit series Ozark – which is bloody fantastic – but how did this part come about?

KLJ: Thanks! I got an audition from my agent back in 2016.  I saw the breakdown for the character: affable, real estate agent in the Ozarks who loves his dog.  I thought “Wow! This is right up my wheelhouse” So, I felt good about audition but then I heard they were going with someone older.  On my way to another audition, I got a call from my agent and he said “They want to book your for Sam in Ozark” The rest is history!

JLB: I’ve seen a lot of interaction between the cast and crew from Ozark on social media, and it seems like you all got on really well. What was the atmosphere like when you guys were shooting?

KLJ: Everybody is great! We all support each other on and off set! For some of us, it’s the biggest role we’ve booked.  It’s been great to see all the success for everyone from the top down!

JLB: Jason Bateman, who we all primarily associate with being a comedy actor, took on directorial duties for much of season 1. How was he to work with as a director?

KLJ: Jason was great! He didn’t direct me in any episodes for season 2 but he was my first director in season 1.  He has a great eye for acting.  He’s good at letting the actor do what the actor is there to do but he also has a vision.  So it’s no surprise he was nominated for Best Director at the Emmy’s this year.

JLB: With season 2 just around the corner, what can fans expect from this next instalment? And will we see Sam Dermody returning to our screens?

KLJ: I will be back!  As for season 2 I can’t give anything away BUT I will say that season 2 is going to be even more intense then the first.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

JLB: What else does Kevin Johnson have in the pipeline for the future? Where do you hope to be in 5 years time, say?

KLJ: I have some possible projects coming up down the pipeline but nothing that I can divulge…yet.  In 5 years I would like to be a working on a show as a series regular and supporting/lead in films.  I have made great strides since I started around 10 years ago.  It’s all about pushing forward and telling yourself that every “no” is closer to a “yes”  Winning the room (casting director) is something you always strive for.  

JLB: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring actors and actresses out there who are hoping to break in to the industry?

KLJ: Yes! Brian Cranston is a great actor and has great advice.  When you go into an audition you’re not going in there to GET a job you’re going in there to DO a job.  If you have that mindset then you’ll go far!

JLB: And finally, the big question. Pineapple on a pizza – where do you stand on this heated debate?

KLJ: Love pineapple on pizza! Sweet with savory count me in! 

 


 

Thank you again to Kevin for agreeing to be interviewed, and we look forward to seeing more of him in the future!

 

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