By: Amrie Cunningham [My Take on TV]
You guys know I love Greek – any chance I get to talk about the show, I jump on it. Jacob Zachar (Rusty Cartwright) was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about his character, his show and how he’s bringing the funk back to California!
I love the show – immediately hooked on it from the first episode.
Jacob Zachar: Thank you very much.
How did Rusty happen for you?
I moved out here from Chicago to LA. I started getting some auditions and Greek came up. I actually auditioned for the role that Clark had (Dale) first. They ended up switching me around and asking me if I wanted to read for Rusty and one thing led to the next, and I ended up getting Rusty. It kind of appealed to me a little bit more. I feel Dale’s more of a character, far out kind of role, and this part of Rusty’s like a Boy Scout, traditional type of guy. I had a lot of things that I related to, so I think it came a lot easier actually.
My next question actually was going to be how much like Rusty are you?
I grew up in Boy Scouts, and I grew up in Chicago proper, and ended up trying to keep the same ideals that I live with, as far as family, went to an all-boys catholic high school and trying to be a good guy. So coming out to Los Angeles, having a whole life imitates art thing. I try to keep going like a more innocent person moving out here, and that tends to relate to the character I guess.
Is it a fun set to work on?
Everyone’s around the same age, and we go out together, like occasionally after work. We try to be supportive of each other’s careers individually as much as we work together on the show. We’re lucky enough to have work especially in the city. Knowing that, we want to make this a piece that will last for a period of time.
I really enjoy how the Casey and Rusty relationship has grown this season – do you have siblings that you can draw on the sibling relationship?
I grew up as the oldest of 3 sons, I have 2 younger brothers. The person I looked up to was my dad I guess. I kind of look to Spencer, because she has a younger sister. To try to go in the shoes of my younger brother is pretty fun. I call on my little brother, ask if I ever had trouble or strange situations I encounter with the script, try to do as best I can playing the youngest so it’s kind of the opposite of me, according to my life.
What’s coming up on the show?
We have our parents coming. So you’re going to see kind of how the past, the house that me and Casey grew up in. And as far as our relationship goes with our parents. Me and Clark (Dale) are gonna go out on a double date on Monday. [laughs] You’re going to see him and I try to get some ladies. They manage to put us in situations, let us use our imaginations in how we want to play them. We’re continuing to get really good scripts and they’re throwing us in good situations.
Are Calvin and Rusty going to be okay?
I don’t really know yet [laughs]. Hopefully, we will be. I know, you know, as your best friend you’re going to go through some scuffles early on, I guess. Conflicting interests. I think we’re both good enough guys deep down that we can work something out.
What would you like to see happen for Rusty?
I never sit down with the writers or the creator too much, but, in my mind, going anywhere, moving anywhere new to you, you really delve into what kind of person you want to become. Moving from Chicago and being on my own, you kind of look at your life in a different perspective. I guess with Rusty, I maybe want to see him having a little conflicts and really getting where he wants to be in college. If you go on this really set plan like Rusty is to be a scientist, but after the people you meet, and new experiences that you have, you can see a whole change of personality. I would like to bring as much diversity to the character as possible, I don’t want to seem too formulated.
How did acting start for you? Was there a moment?
I started in theatre in grade school, and I think what was the biggest thing to me that sort of inspired me was the performance aspect of being in front of people and having people cheer for you and support you is something I love to see. I also liked growing up, when you have some depressing times, like any high school kid would, being someone else on stage or on film is what was really inspiring. You can finally take a few hours out of your own life and be somebody you make up. I think that’s what ultimately excited me was trying to be someone else.
Are there any other TV shows that you watch when you get downtime?
As far as TV shows go, I like the grittier dramas. I like watching The Wire on HBO, The Shield. I like the actors on The Wire especially. I like very specific comedies, like Curb Your Enthusiasm. I love Larry David and how he writes. As far as TV goes, that’s kind of it. There isn’t too much out there that grabs my attention too much.
I read about Superfly TNT, your band. Is that something you’re doing now, or something for downtime?
That’s something that am starting when I get the days off from Greek. It’s going to be a pretty cool project. 2 of my friends from Chicago actually moved out here. We’ve been playing together for 7 or 8 years. We all have a lot of experience in our own instruments. To have your friends hanging out like 3000 miles west of where you grew up, it’s great. We’re bringing a lot of soul to the city, I guess. Like blues, and funk that Chicago has….I’m the singer.
If you had to pick your top 5 songs right now, what would they be?
Top 5 songs are like “Get Your Mojo Working” by Muddy Waters. That’s a big one. Zeppelin, “Good Times Bad Times.” I gotta look through my records. I’m still listening to vinyls over here. Anything Zeppelin and Muddy Waters. “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.” I think those, not really cheesy, but those soul inspired songs. Sort of in some hip-hop today. There’s not too many people playing that old funk style, so we’re going to get back to that.
What else besides Greek and the band is coming up for you?
It’s not too much. It’s good to have a day job with Greek, especially in LA, being part of all these actors out here. I guess that’s life right now, when you think you get offered everything you could possibly have and you still are longing for more. I’m trying to stay creatively inspired in some way. I go out and support local art shows and a lot of music. I skateboard a lot, I go to the beach. I just try to get out a lot.
Is there anything else you want fans to know or that you want to say?
Thank you for watching the show. It’s still early on in the college life of all these characters, so I think the show is going to go a lot of places so I think it’s going to continue for a while and I thank you for watching it.
We hope it goes on for a while!
Monday night, we’re going to be at the Paley Center. They’re going to screen our episode on Monday, and we’re going to discuss.
Hopefully some of our readers out there can get to the center and see the screening.
It will be a chance for people to ask us questions in person!
Don’t forget to tune into the latest episode on Monday night, and any of the LA readers –tickets are still available for the Greek event at the Paley Center. Report back to us what you learn!