Johnny Strong | Actor & Film Director, Blackhawk Down, Warhorse One | Talk4 #077 - - LouisSkupien

Louis Skupien and Johnny Strong

In this episode we spoke with Johnny about his acting career, directing Warhorse One, getting the role for Blackhawk Down, advise for upcoming actors and more!


Who Is Johnny Strong?

👉🏻 Johnny Strong is an enigmatic American artist. Johnny's career as an artist has touched various forms of expression; An Actor, Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Painter, Writer, Director, Composer, and Martial Artist. Johnny's Film credits include; Get Carter, The Fast and Furious, Black Hawk Down, to Sinners and Saints, Daylight's End, and Warhorse One.




00:00 Talk4 EP 077 intro by Louis Skupien

00:24 Who is Johnny Strong?

01:13 How did Johnny Strong get into acting?

03:40 Getting the role for Blackhawk Down

22:12 Directing Warhorse One

28:00 Biggest lessons learned from film directing

34:00 Warhorse one release and promotion!




This episode is available to listen to on all platforms by clicking the link below or visiting the @talk4podcast Instagram Page, following the link in bio and choosing any of your favourite platforms!





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🌍 Johnny Strong’s Links:

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hey what's up guys good morning good afternoon good evening and welcome to episode 77 of talk four the quickfire podcast where we ask four great questions to unique and interesting people behind the mic today is your host Louis Skupien that's me and let me introduce our special guest for today Johnny strong who's going to be answering our questions today Johnny welcome aboard the talk 4 podcast man please say hi to the Fine people listening and just give us a quick rundown of who you are and what you do before I shoot a few questions

um thanks for having me on Louie I appreciate it um I'm Johnny strong um I I guess I'd consider myself a gorilla artist um make music and movies and all sorts of stuff steel um different things like that awesome man yeah I've seen some of the stuff that you're doing and obviously uh you've got your uh your movie coming out soon which I had I got a chance to have a look at really good stuff you're perfect for the role of a of a Navy SEAL that's 100 sure and yeah I've seen a bit about the music so you've got a you've got a few very cool things going but um if you're ready I'd love to um wind back the clocks and just kick off question one so um how did you actually get into acting in the first place and how did you secure your first role I think that's a good place to start

um my um my family was in the movie business um so um they've been working with um Studios and all that kind of stuff before I was born and uh when I was a kid like I think my first job was when I was five years old I modeled um kids um western clothing on like a morning television shows you know like you know those I I don't know if they still have them now I don't watch television much um but they had these like good morning LA or whatever it was you know back in the day um and so I modeled kids clothing and I did auditions for you know different roles and movies and all that kind of stuff as a kid and so that's really what um got me started in um the movie business as an actor um and then um and then uh I sort of I had a one situation with one audition um I don't know if I should say what movie it was but it was a massive movie and I remember I was sitting with a director and a you know the casting and everybody in the room and uh they said you know before we even did the scene they said well you know Johnny uh do you want to be in the movie and uh I said no I don't want to be in this movie because I didn't really understand what it was I was still really young you know and I guess kind of nervous at that point so um so I got out of it for a while but then um after I dropped out of high school I um I picked up my first kind of real job as a young adult in a television show called America's Most Wanted where they hunt down fugitives and stuff like that and um that kind of set me on my uh Adult Career of um as an actor you know in in movies and stuff nice I mean obviously since then it's been a pretty impressive portfolio now you've gone into sort of like the directing role and stuff so you've clearly had a very profound career and kind of climbed the ladder to that point so really interesting but obviously kind of when you search your name up and stuff and they'll be the things I've kind of seen about you straight away notice that you're you obviously had a very good role in Black Hawk Down absolutely a legendary movie so um as a military fan myself and obviously as a fan of the movie too I'd love to know just um can you tell me how you came to get that role in particular for Blackhawk Down and how did that experience change your career going forwards

well in retrospect I look back at just about everything in my life as um and I address it in my film that I just wrote and directed and starred in The War Horse one I kind of interjected my own um sort of kind of um philosophy in life that I don't know if it's um fate Destiny or the hand of God which sort of guides us along our journey but the role of Randy shugart was um magical in so many ways for me um

so if you go back they made a film called Pearl Harbor and I remember I'd say one of the best if not the best casting directors in Hollywood Bonnie Timmerman at the time was casting that film and Jerry Bruckheimer is producing it and um I remember I they called me in and I met with Bonnie and I read the um the script and I told her uh I don't really like the script but if I do um if I would do it or play A Part I'd like this other part of this um character and she said no Ben Affleck is playing that part so that's not but the other roles and I said yeah I'm not I'm not really interested in and she uh she did her best to try to convince me that I should um do it you know I went down uh downstairs in the offices of Jerry's place and and they had this this giant um like a 3D model of Pearl Harbor and the boats and all this kind of stuff and she was kind of telling me all the kind of stuff that they were going to do for the movie right and I was pretty adamant that I didn't I didn't like the script but um which is not a dig on anybody I just wasn't my personal taste um and uh we sat in her office for a while and and and talked and she realized that I wasn't really going to budge on my feelings on that and she said well I'll tell you what I'm making of I'm I'm casting a film soon with uh Ridley Scott directing and you'd be great in that movie and I said okay great awesome love you great to see you and I went about my business um and then I'm gonna I'm trying to make this as concise for you as possible I don't want to just chew your ear off um but one day I was working out in my living room with this weight vest I got and it was kicking my ass because it was a brand new weight vest and I was doing pull-ups and push-ups and body weight stuff yes they do and uh yeah right um and my television was on in the background and um it just so happened to be on a the History Channel at the time and and there was a television show called I I think it was called Deadliest Missions or something like that I don't remember the exact title um but I wasn't watching it it was just on in the background so I could hear it while I was training you know and um and it started to play it was like these little vignetted stories of these Deadliest Missions and it was like deadliest sniper missions and it talked about these um two snipers that were volunteered to go into um rescue these downed helicopter Pilots and and sort of set up a perimeter and protect them and I was listening to this while I was working out and it got to the end about um what they did and it was so moving to me I um started crying I I was like move like deeply moved and I can't tell you what it was but I I it was like a magical feeling and I said I need to do that in the movie like I could do that I could show that you know yeah um I can't a lot of people like when you say things like that sometimes they go ah yeah whatever whatever like this was a [ __ ] magical moment in my life and uh I knew it like I felt it in my spirit so anyways uh and that was just that had nothing to do with Bonnie or anybody or movie stuff or anything it was just this moment in my life where I was like that's that's what I'm gonna do that there's something there I don't know what it is but I felt it and so wow cut two years later I'm doing other movies you know and um I'm actually and this is a side story is I'm on a set of the Fast and the Furious and um I just shot this little um sequence where I'm telling this one kid that he's gonna go race a car or something like that and so I was like okay you know dude and I was like okay great and they're like go back to your trailer and we got some other stuff for you later on so I'm walking back to my trailer and Vin Diesel is sitting in his um

um on the steps of his trailer and he says Johnny and I'm like what's up man and he's like have you read this script and I said you know uh what script is it English is called Blackhawk Down and he's like you'd be great for this movie and I was like no I haven't heard about it he's like yeah yes Jerry brookheimer I was like okay cool man whatever you know and I went back to my trailer and I um I got home and I called my manager and uh I was like uh sorry if my phone goes off um I called my manager and I said there's a movie called Black Hawk Down I had no idea what it was but it's about like the army or something like look into it so my manager looks into it and then um eventually gets back to me and says uh uh Johnny we have Bonnie's casting this and I didn't put it together that this was the movie she talked about uh like a year or two years prior or whenever it was timing wise um and so they sent me what's called I don't know if you know in acting they they like give us they're called sides and it's basically like scenes that you read as a character right and so um so they sent me him right and I was reading these breakdowns and they come Sometimes they come with a breakdown of like this is who's directing it this is producing it you know like kind of like what the story's about synopsis all this kind of stuff and I read it and I read through the characters and it was like Sergeant so and so this guy this guy and then it had like some Delta sniper operators you know and I was reading those description I was like yeah that's what I want to do but it was like so I wasn't paying attention really you know at the time um I was just like oh yeah that's right that's what I want to do I'll you know one of these Delta guys right so um but the scene that they wanted me to read was of this young Ranger uh who's like an 18 year old who's shot in a femorial artery and wounded and bleeding out and so this is a scene where um and the young man that actually got this character and played that part in the film did such an amazing job um but I remember I called my manager said no man I don't want to read for this part I want there's another part that Delta sniper or I think that's a cool part you know and um he goes uh nah everybody's reading for this you got to read for this so I go in to see Bonnie to try to sum it up for you I going to see Bonnie and uh I haven't planned out that I'm gonna read it like a Delta operator um like a seasoned guy that's been a part of the unit and been through like the the most grueling selection in the world like that's like the unit the Delta guys it's like an ongoing selection like sometimes with like Green Berets or seals you go through like a process and then you're in like Delta's like it's a constant selection um uh so anyways um so I was like that's how I'm gonna read it how this guy is wounded uh Bleeding Out and so I read the scene with Bonnie and and she knew what I was doing and she said well John she said Johnny you know um he's 18. he's talking about tell my mom I did a great job you know he's really worried about this he's panicked you know and I was like yeah yeah okay cool let's do it again and I did it the exact same way I just did it like what I my the way I perceived a Delta guy would do it you know yeah and if you hear a lawnmower in the back that's my [ __ ] neighbor um so um and she knew what I was doing she knew it and she goes are you sure that's the way you want to I was like I'm exactly sure this way I want to do it I love you Bonnie thank you and uh I went about my business and um and literally weeks later um I got a phone call do you have your passport are you ready to travel I was like what for um you got this role you got this role in uh film Blackhawk Down and I had forgotten about it and I said send me the breakdown tell me what role it is and they sent me one page of a breakdown and it had two parts one was Randall sugar and one was Gary Gordon and I read the um description of the character and my mind instantly returned to being in my living room working out and seeing that or listening to that History Channel show yeah and it was like an instant connection and and it was like the hair just stood up on my body and I was like it was I don't know if it's fate Destiny or the hand of God to be honest with you um but it was one of those things if not all those things and um such an absolute honor to be able to portray him in a film and sort of immortalize him on the screen wow but yeah so sorry so I didn't mean to blabber on but I'm not very it's a very important story you know because you know a lot of times in in movies Lou you you don't get an opportunity and maybe we can talk about that on another question or something but and the you know there's this old adage of um we have two lives right the first life you live um however you live it and then the second life you live is when you realize you only get one and um when I was younger it was like as an actor you're doing movies and stuff and it's just about oh I got a job and this and that and and rarely you get the opportunity to do things that have meaning you know um

and that was one of them so I'm so proud of that film and uh and what a great opportunity wow I mean that that is just awesome how that ties it and you're right I mean it's just an amazing amazing coincidence how that's all panned out but yeah I mean I can tell I mean there must be something so so special to you but you know something I'm observing here just kind of as you're talking and obviously kind of looking at the roles you've had in the past a lot of that's kind of based around the military and obviously war horse won very military based and you know the stuff that you're talking about here suggests heavily that you're a big kind of military fans and just interested like what's your kind of connection or the passion for the military stuff and where does that stem from and is that so just something you've always been really really interested in

um you know the thing is two things number one I gotta correct you there's no such thing as coincidence um that's a way for human beings to pass off what's happening in the spiritual realm of why things are connected we call it coincidence like that because you know if we really took the time to try to connect the dots it would be much more confusing and as a species we don't want to be confused you know we have this desire to understand things you know and figure things out and identify things so there is no such thing as coincidence the second thing is I don't know if I'd call myself a fan of the military you know um I think War uh is probably the worst thing we can um engage in in this existence um violence is uh brutal so but what it is I I'd say I you know there was a point in my life where I almost um joined the military um but I got a call about a film called The Fast and Furious um and it like uh you know the intersections of life sometimes that fate Destiny thing happens gotta pick your door yeah and I ended up and man I just picked that door um but the whole time you know I've been training like you know um you know on any given day of the week you would come to my house and I'd be in my backyard in my the bottom of my pool with weights um you know doing um dive training and [ __ ] so um I've always I don't know what it is I've always just I like the cut the concept of like it's a two-part thing I think if um I'm kind of unprepared to answer that question but if I had to answer it on the spot I'd say it's a two-part thing number one is adversity um doing things that make you uncomfortable and um and pushing yourself mentally physically and spiritually to um levels of growth and progress I think that's something that I I'm drawn to um and the other thing is commitment one of the things that I relate to a lot of times a lot of my friends are ex-military um and a lot of my friends are xsf guys as well and it's this level of like commitment where it's like Do or Die and I'm An All or Nothing kind of guy uh myself you know um if I'm gonna train like you know my normal life right I've been doing I'm a third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I've been doing it for 25 years wow um I'll do it I'll do it till I'm dead I'm committed to um you know the things that I commit to it's all or nothing you know um so in that regard I think that's where I relate and there's something there's something different in in that world and and what I really wanted to touch on in in War Horse was um individuals that will go above and beyond um you know the difference uh between the average and the above average in um stressful situations is the above average

um will have that moment of courage or bravery that the the average or below average would say ah [ __ ] that I'm not going out there there's bullets everywhere you know yeah um where where these guys whether whether it be natural you know as part of who they are and I think that has some something to do with it not just the training because I I know people that train that aren't that don't have that in them there's something unique and special there and I also think that there's this kind of strange epigenetic thing that at least for me that what what's the calling um why do you um submit yourself to that kind of um overcoming of stress and adversity and and um you know I often say to the guys that I train and teach I say you know maybe that's something deep within our DNA you know standing on a hillside across a valley of other guys standing on the hillside with Spears and shields you know looking at each other going yeah we're gonna go take these guys skulls home you know um there's something about that you know um I don't know what it is but um I relate to it I like that that's that's a really good answer and um well look if we we we're talking about war horse one now then so this is interesting because obviously you've taken a kind of a move towards directing now War Horse one which is going it's coming out in a June 3rd by what I'm considering what I can see here so obviously most of your work has been in acting in the past but in this case it took a lot of new responsibility and a vital role on top of the acting in the movie so what was it like for you finding your footing with directing and how did you approach manage to piece together all the moving parts that come with directing a movie

um or two things June 30th it's in theaters and then um on July 4th it's on digital and video on demand um the film comes out as far as directing is concerned to be honest it all everything creative comes from the same well it's water from the same well or the same spring you know um whether I'm writing something or painting something or drawing something or playing an instrument or doing Jiu Jitsu or directing or pointing a camera or doing whatever it all comes from a creative artistic standpoint you know um I don't separate it and I have friends that are directors that you know that's all they do there is no other outlet for them you know um for me I I don't I don't label one thing to be like it's just like it's no difference of directing a movie then um playing the guitar or fighting or drawing or whatever you know it's all the same thing to me so um there's no there's not been no real jump for me you know it's a natural and and that's always what I've wanted to do um and you can always tell me to shut up if uh if I go too long on a question but um I remember when I was a young man sitting in a movie theater and I went to go see Raiders of the Lost Ark and I looked up at the screen and saw Harrison as Indiana Jones and I thought that's what I want to do in a movie I want to make movies because in my mind Harrison's a lead guy and he made the movie you know um and then as I got older I got into the to the acting side of it and I remember the first couple projects I worked on I was like onset is the actor and I'm like okay here's my idea this is what I want to do I'm going to do this and I remember like the director being like nah man you just stand there see that little X on the floor you stand there you hit your mark you say you're lying and try to do it quickly and I remember thinking what the [ __ ] I was like this is terrible I don't want to do this you know and then um and then I realized like after working on a couple smaller projects that the film like movies are are really a director's medium um and I was as a teenager I remember thinking man this sucks I love making music I like acting I like writing I like I have these great ideas I know what I want the camera to do and I remember thinking man there's no place for me in this world because everything is compartmentalized this guy has to do this and this guy has to do this and then one day

um I was getting into older films you know like um they had these movie theaters in Los Angeles where you can go see these old black and white movies from the 20s and 30s and stuff right and I remember I went I went to go see um a movie called The Kid and um one of my favorite movies of all time and I thought Chaplin and and Coogan were just outstanding the chemistry was amazing I loved the writing I loved this the storyline I loved everything about it and then at the end of the film I saw the credits and it was like starring Charlie Chaplin directed by Charlie Chaplin written by Charlie Chaplin and I I was I was stunned I was like you're I didn't know you were allowed to do that and so that's been my goal the whole time you know and um and it's sort of miraculous in a way that my first film in a lot of ways resembles the kid the movie The Kid about this guy who's unfortunately um put in the situation as the um protector of this little kid um and uh you know writing directing starring scoring and doing just about everything on the movie

um including making people food on set um you know to me that's what that's what it should be you know that's the way I envisioned making movies was like you do everything you know wow fair enough I mean it's a hell of a hell of a lot of stuff to do but like you said I mean you seem to have really found your foot in there and you've come out with a really fantastic end product um and obviously a lot of experience gained from doing that I'm sure as well I mean even either way no matter how well you found your footing it's a new experience I'm sure you've uh taken a lot away from it so just last question then um how do you feel your style and work is going to evolve now going forward um what have been some of the biggest takeaways from your first directing role and as well do you want to stick to kind of a military theme in the future or would you like to broaden the Spectrum in future projects

oh that's a um it's a big question um you know I'll tell you what um

to me it's one of the um

you know movies are interesting because um if you don't like I do it my way and independently if you're doing it with a studio system you're kind of at the mercy of what um what other people want you to make and a lot of times in that type of setting you have people that are making creative decisions that shouldn't be making creative decisions so um I really enjoy not being hindered by outside uh influence and just being able to write and create and make the films and the stories that I want to make um I'm actually I just finished writing the sequel to War Horse one um which will follow the main character um again I wouldn't say it's very military driven other than and even you know the thing about war horse one is um it doesn't it's not it's sort of like circumstantial that that the main character is in the military like um you could tell the same story um if the guy was a firefighter or a policeman or a janitor you know whatever it might be you know um you can tell the same story but just different in a different way um and that's the thing a lot of military films like if it's about like the Navy Seals then the movies about the Navy SEALS or the TV shows about the Navy Seals you know for me it's not really that that's kind of circumstantial um although I you know it's kind of like um you know it's a natural fit I I don't know if you um got that in the movie but it at least for me I feel like um this is the best thing I've ever done as far as any of my work is concerned you know like um and not that a movie is better than another movie but as far as my personal achievement of you know my thing is like trying to strip away all the affectation of outside influence and be as authentic as possible with the material you know and um and I feel like you know with this film it's I was able to achieve that um as clearly as I've ever been able to do anything you know what I mean um and so I don't know if it'll be military I mean I I'd love to make a film about anything you know um as long as it's meaningful I think in my life at this point all I want to do is make things that are meaningful you know that people can um experience and walk away from and uh you know like this film is one of the most magical things is um I was able to sit some people I know down and on multiple occasions you know and I look over while there's something that moves me in the film you know and I look over and they're in tears watching the movie and I think it's one of those things that is so uniquely special about film um which is Visual and audio and then this third element this Trinity right this third element of those things together in that magic that's created by that and um I'm fascinated by it and I and that's what I want to continue to do um absolutely you know something I've been talking with some of the guests about recently over like the last few episodes something that's come up quite a bit is that when you look at the kind of the involvements and stuff with like Ai and everything nowadays and you see these kind of like music musicians and stuff kind of turning towards generated stuff it really kills the heart and soul of creation human creation stuff it's horrible how that happens but you have these musicians and you have these artists you know you look at the generated art nowadays but you know it's never going to be quite what a painter is it's never going to be quite what someone can make from the guitar as a musician I'm sure you know about this but when you look at this kind of a thing too it's so important to have something like a movie which is Art it is Art and you need to have that Vision in there you need to have that Persona and from you what you've done here is really fantastic because you've definitely kept true to yourself and you've really kept that authenticity like you said in this movie so really it's a display of just not just a movie but it's also a display of human creativity and it's something that's really come from you not just like a whole plethora of teams and AI things just to make it something that's super profitable so really really nice to see someone creating now in this industry where it's become so saturated down someone who's staying really true to these kind of these these morals and these standards so it's great to see um but obviously four questions done and I'm sure loads of people now would love to go and see this movie so it is time before we wrap this up for what I love to call the Shameless plug so Johnny just feel free to take a minute and promote War Horse one where can we find it and and also your social media and just anything you want people to take a look at

um War Horse one um is a very special film and it is going to be in theaters uh June 30th um it's being released by uh welgo USA fantastic company that I've been so blessed to work with family run to known um and uh then it will be on digital and VOD on July 4th Independence Day um which I think is really appropriate yeah um as far as plugs are concerned

social media is cancer in a lot of ways so I'd say avoid that at all costs um but if you're gonna be on there I would follow the operator films uh War Horse one page um I've got a page on there but you don't need to follow that um and other than that um the last thing I want to say is um this life is so incredibly short

live it with meaning strong words to finish off with absolutely and uh yeah Johnny thank you so much for joining me today for the talk full podcast it's been an absolute pleasure having you on and uh thanks for sharing the movie I really enjoyed it I can't wait to see how the reaction is to it for sure thanks Lily I appreciate it no worries and thank you guys for listening this has been episode 77 and if you'd like to listen to the past episodes go and have a look at our Channel and if you'd like to listen in for the future ones make sure to hit that subscribe button and spread some love by leaving a like and a comment signing off for now and fights on

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