Joshua Jackson spent his formative years working with Emilio Estevez making the Mighty Ducks trilogy. Now the Duck-men reunite for a more adult film. In Bobby, Estevez’s ensemble drama about the day of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, Jackson plays a young campaign manager.
Interview: Joshua Jackson on Bobby
“At the same time, when I was 13 years old and we were shooting the first Mighty Ducks movie, I knew nothing about what it meant to be an actor on set,” said Jackson. “I frankly didn’t know much about what it took to be an actor, period. But, he, in his humble and wise way, took all of those kids and created an environment where they could be as good as they could be also taught them how to respect their job which, at 13, you just don’t know. You think it’s playtime. It was really satisfying to me on a deep level as a man, to come back all these years later and hopefully, show that I had put those principles into practice in the way that I work.”
Estevez remained an important figure in Jackson’s life. “I spent four and a half months of every other year from 14 to 17 with him which are pretty formative years in your life. When I was in North Carolina, probably less. But, much in the way that people keep in touch with their college professors, when someone leaves an indelible mark on you like that, at a formative time in your life, you can’t help but come back to that. And, you judge your worth as a man by how those long-standing relationships live and grow with you. I think that’s how you come to know yourself. Those constants reflect who you are and where you are. Simple answer is a bit. Not a lot, but a bit.”
For Jackson, his role in Bobby is less about the campaign specifics and more about personal politics. “The specifics of it I didn’t know at all because I’d never worked inside of a campaign which is a very specific subculture actually, and, not for my character but there is a culture that does that for a living, goes from campaign to campaign. However, for this guy, he’s a true believer. It’s not just candidate du jour. He was a believer in Bobby, a believer in the message and a believer in this moment of change in American history. There was a little bit of research that had to be done. I grew up in a very politically conscious, politically active household. Politics and religion were discussed often and usually loudly at my table growing up so that idea of being able to articulate your ideas and articulate them forcefully and passionately. That wasn’t new to me but actually it was nice and a relief after playing contemporary roles, a formalism to expression, not only verbal but physical expression in that era that I found actually really endearing. It was fun to play with being buttoned-up and having the tie on and being aware of your appearance before you walk out the door and also, because these were young campaign workers, they understood that they were physically the face of Bobby before he arrived so there was a consciousness about their presentation and who they were.”
Born long after the era of Bobby Kennedy, Jackson partook in a history lesson that Estevez staged. “Emilio had put together this package of some of the footage we see in the movie, the raw CBS newsreel footage of the entire night so you could get a feel of what that ballroom was like, which is not easy footage to watch. He had put together a sampling of music and a timeline of 1968 starting from the Tet Offensive and ending in the riots in Chicago. I’m sure I learned it in school but I’m not sure it dawned on me, what a tumultuous year 1968 was in Western politics because the May Day student riots in Paris happened right after RFK was assassinated so this was a fundamentally changing year for, not just America for Western Europe as well.”
Jackson also got to dress the part. “Add to that our costume designer who is a wonderfully eccentric, brilliant woman. I’ve never had a more specific costume design I guess. Whole characters were built in this woman’s head and she was specific and, if she disagreed, she would absolutely tell you. I remember going in. It was the first time I had to articulate this. I had talked to Emilio about different things and it’s intimidating. You walk in and she’d say, ‘Where were you born?’ ‘Vancouver.’ ‘No, no, no, no. You left him at the door. Where were you born? How did you come to work for this campaign? What does Bobby mean to you? Are you a working class guy? Are you an intellectual? Are you a blue collar boy? Are you a Beantown kid? What is your association with the Kennedys? Why are you working in the Civil Rights movement?’ Really specific stuff beyond, ‘do you like French cuffs or skinny ties?’ It certainly put you on the balls of your feet. It allowed a way to articulate a character that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise and with somebody who was alive [then] and is a deeply political person, someone who had been involved and affected by this moment in time so that became illuminating. It’s good to talk things out in every aspect of life. You come to new ideas when you get a chance to talk them out and she just wouldn’t take second best for an answer.”
Bobby opens to theatres this Wednesday, November 22nd.
For the poster, trailer, synopsis, more interviews, and more movie info, go to the Bobby Movie Page.
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