Jack O’Connell grew up in the United Kingdom wanting to be the Red Power Ranger. It wasn’t that the star of “Money Monster” was thinking he could become an actor and portray the colorfully clad creature conqueror. He wanted to actually be the Red Power Ranger.
“I thought it was a real vocation,” O’Connell says with a smile.
He never did get his chance to slip on the red suit, but O’Connell has been able to take on a host of other challenges through his alternative decision to become an actor. His latest work has him playing Kyle Budwell, a disgruntled investor who takes over a cable financial news program in hopes of confronting the man whose company lost all of his investment because of a glitch.
George Clooney plays the host of the money program who becomes Budwell’s bomb-wearing hostage. It was good that O’Connell and Clooney got along so well during the filming, because a majority of their scenes take place on a single set giving the movie an almost play-like feel.
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“Shooting in one location for such a long, long time made a lot of things possible to us,” O’Connell says. “We had numerous TV cameras as well as film cameras. So you were never off camera.”
It wasn’t until O’Connell saw the final edit of “Money Monster” that he realized some of the scenes in the movie were captured when he didn’t know the cameras were working.
It was easy for Jack O’Connell to find the right motivation to understand how to play his character in “Money Monster.” Ambition, just like what he had to be a Power Ranger and then an actor, are what drive the character.
“He wants to better himself and his environment, and he’s been encouraged to do that all his life,” O’Connell says. “He lives in a world where we are told that if you do everything just right, it might just pay off.
“He did everything right. He’s done his research and tried to be smart about what he does.”
Once O’Connell decided he wanted to be an actor, he committed himself to all of the work needed to make it his career. When O’Connell was 8, he had an insatiable desire to be the center of attention and to make people laugh. At the end of the school year he was given an award as class clown and as a charmer. He eventually found an outlet through acting.
O’Connell, who was born in Derby, England, credits his acting career to the Labour Party, which was in control when he was young. One of the things the Labour Party did was spend a lot of money on creative arts, which opened the door for O’Connell to study acting.
Landing an acting career wasn’t easy and took sacrifices. That’s why O’Connell tells those who want to become actors to be ready for hard work, because “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” To this day, he still questions whether it has been worth all of the effort to be an actor.
O’Connell’s been a professional actor for more than a decade, but in recent years he’s been sharing the screen with many of Hollywood’s top actors. Along with Clooney and Julia Roberts in “Money Monster,” O’Connell was directed by Angelina Jolie in “Unbroken” and works alongside Judi Dench in the upcoming “Tulip Fever.”
It’s not like O’Connell decided he was only going to work with A-listers – it’s just a coincidence. He points to a list of smaller films where his co-stars would have to wait for a table at most Los Angeles restaurants rather than getting star treatment.
But, even his director on “Money Monster” is another top name in Hollywood – Jodie Foster.
“There were times perhaps when I wasn’t hitting it for her, and she would come over and ask me to do the emotion for her. She lets an actor find their way. She gives you what you need. She sets up the parameter for you to work in and talks a little about where the cameras are,” O’Connell says.