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Actor Ty Granderson Jones Gives a New Meaning to “Keeping up with the Jones’s.”

Actor Ty Granderson Jones is an anomaly. He does not fit into one category or a particular stereotypical “Hollywood Box.” Nonetheless, most of his roles over the years have been Latin. But questions have always been– Is he African-American? Is he Latino? What is he? Jones is  African-American, French-American {Creole…New Orleans style, Latino-American, and Irish-American.

Growing up in New Orleans’ French Quarter Creole culture with his Father’s side being Creole. Jones’s great-grandfather, migrated from Paris; fell in love with a beautiful French Quarter Creole woman Jones’s great-grandmother and they married in St. Louis Cathedral at the turn of last century. They were the first interracial couple to marry in St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans’ Jackson Square. The prestigious and oldest Cathedral in America amidst a racist, southern environment. They migrated to Tampa, Florida for his great-grandfather’s business ventures. He was a Cigar Maker and Co-Founder of the famous, “Have-a-Tampa Cigars” established in Tampa’s historic Cuban district of Ybor City. Jones’s grandmother married an African-American self-made Entrepreneur who could be seen running with Nat Turner. He worked for icons Lauren Bacall and Cab Calloway.

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Ty Granderson Jones’s was born in Tampa, FL. His father ultimately became one of Florida’s most noted Political Activist who marched with MLK and brought home icons to dinner including, Shirley Chisholm, Julian Bond, Barbara Jordan, James Brown, and Solomon Burke. Growing up in a melting pot culture of Creole, Cuban, Italian and Jamaican colloquial environments and cultures on the west coast of Florida in Tampa, it is the flavor that Jones exposes in many of his fictional, narrative screenplays.

As a kid, Jones father promoted concerts with Dionne Warwick and he was at one-time the highest-paid Radio Jazz Disc Jockey in the country. One of his uncles managed both the late Marvin Gaye and James Brown, and two of his other uncles were jazz icons, the late Nat and Cannonball Adderly.

Jones reminisces of his dad taking him and his Uncle Nat Adderly to New York City during one summer when he was little and hanging out in the Greenroom at the famous jazz club “The Village Vanguard. “ We were surrounded by cigarette smoke and icons like Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Dexter Gordon,” says, Jones. “I did not have a clue then, but retrospectively– Just WOW! “So the “Entertainer Bug” was already intoxicating me.” “

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Jones loved watching movies. His grandfather would babysit him and would put a pile of thick blankets next to his recliner for him to sit and lie on. They would just chill, eat ice cream and watch movie after movie. They were mostly the old B&W movies that you see on Turner Classic Movies cable today. He watched Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson in movies like Key Largo, The Roaring 20’s, and Public Enemy. His father would quiz him on movies and the names of stars. He knew acting somehow was his calling. He began to study and watch foreign films from Japanese cinema with directors like Akira Kurosawa to Italian Cinema with Directors like Bernardo Bertolucci to Federico Fellini. Later, as an aspiring professional Actor, his influences were and still are Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and the Cohen Brothers.

Jones went to  Florida A&M University and Florida State University as a Co-op Student majoring in Theatre Arts. He did many plays and discovered his love for performing. He recalls that one day a little guy by the name of Lee Strasberg along with another Theatre Icon by the name of Harold Clurman came to Florida State University to do a series of workshops. At the time he didn’t have a clue who they were or what the Actors Studio was about. He decided to attend their workshops. 8 hours later, Jones was walking across campus and he saw Lee Strasberg standing in front of the Fine Arts Building with a suitcase waiting for a cab to the airport for his flight back to NYC. Jones with ernest stopped and poked his finger in his chest and told him “When I graduate, I’m coming to NYC to see you at the Actors Studio.” He stared into his eyes {two little guys eye to eye} and he responded, “Be sure to do that young man.”

After graduating, Jones made good on his promise to Strasberg and found his way to NYC. He waited at the Actors Studio for Lee Strasberg every day for weeks until he showed up. During those days Strasberg was working in a couple of films including the “The Godfather II” with his premiere pupils Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro while spending most of his time in Los Angeles. Jones finally caught up to Strasberg. “He remembered me and invited me into a special class to audit and possibly audition. I did a piece– a monologue and another great icon was standing in the back of the room; great American Director Alan Schneider. He was sneaking over from Julliard. He was head of the Julliard Acting Program.” Schneider invited him to a workshop of an ethnic version and vision he had for Samuel Becketts’ “Waiting for Godot”; in which Jones played the role of “Lucky” during the Civil War. It halted because Schneider left NYC and Julliard and headed to La Jolla, California to develop an MFA program in Directing at the University of California, San Diego. He recommended that Jones attend the MFA in Acting Program. Schneider flies to audition for the then Chair of the UCSD School of Theatre, Michael Addison. Elated, Jones was accepted into the MFA in Acting Program with a full-fellowship. He left NYC and landed in La Jolla, California at the University of California, San Diego. Jones’s class built the La Jolla Playhouse, wherefore they workshop the plays that are Broadway bound.

Jones has since done over 80 plays from Off-Broadway to Repertory Theatre including the Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory Theatre where he did Richard Sheridan’s period classic “The School for Scandal” Directed by Paul Marcus, son of Playwright Frank Marcus, and later working with the late Playwright August Wilson in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” with the late, great Roscoe Lee Browne.

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Jones gravitates to dramatic roles that are emotional and dark. He considers himself an Actor’s Actor who is a Reactor. “I love reacting. I’m a counter puncher fighter. I’m not one of these actors like Steve Buscemi who can learn the Holy Bible and just spew it off and make it sound interesting {laughing}. I know my limits, although I will attempt to spew off the bible if given a chance. But for me, it is not about words and the dialogue, but the emotion; life and contemplation happening in between the dialogue.” “I love exploring the dark side of humanity on all levels as both an Actor and Filmmaker. I love dark humor.”

Jones recalls earlier in his career, because of his stature of being a small guy, the film & television industry pushing him towards being the little funny guy, all comedy roles. He pushed back. “ I didn’t want to be the little funny guy. I was recurring on television shows including, “Webster” playing his music teacher Lorenzo, and I even starred in a submarine comedy spoof film for Warner Brothers with the great Bill Pullman. A film called “Going Under” and that is just what it did, it went under.”

Jones may be recognized for his role of “Blade” in the film, “Con Air.” Although he has mixed emotions about it to this day. When he originally read for the film, he was being considered for one of the leads, “Baby O” the sidekick of Nicolas Cage, but it ultimately was played by his long-time friend, Mykelti Williamson Director Simon West saw Jones’s tape selected him as the character “Blade.” “Originally, the concept was a Convict version of the old Jim Brown classic “The Dirty Dozen”, but Jerry Bruckheimer was having issues with the script or somebody was.” “Next thing was that the story was being altered and my lines and many of the cast members’ lines started getting hacked and cut.” “I was so depressed because the 90 million dollar budget, Jerry Bruckheimer action film “Con Air” was to be a turning heads moment for me and my career.” “Even John Malkovich {Cyrus the Virus} felt bad for me and he started giving me some of his lines, and ultimately even those lines ended up on the cutting room floor.” “I ended up on-screen with a lot of running and shooting, hemming and hawing, and laughing throughout the film and maybe 3 lines, not only to be discovered until the premiere in Las Vegas.” But “Con Air” all-in-all was one of the greatest gigs ever.” “We all made a lot of money.”

http://tygrandersonjones.com/

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0429402/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Ty Official Acting Reels:

https://vimeo.com/74682221

https://vimeo.com/85412207

 

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6 comments

  1. I’m a big fan of con air and I don’t remember this actor. Was he an extra? May I also inquire why if he was so sought after and had all his lines stolen hasn’t he appeared in anything else I’ve ever seen 🤷🏽‍♂️ don’t be bitter, man – I heard they are making con air 2 next year and you may be able to get a line this time 🕺🏿

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  2. I saw that guy from the Mayans in person once. He wasn’t very tall. That must make Jones very small like 5.0 (in that pic in the article Jones only comes up to his shoulder). I don’t know much about film making I just enjoy watching them but is it possible he was overlooked because of this?

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  3. His size has nothing to do with his ability. That was a rediculous question. And no he was not an extra in con air. He’s producing his own movies now. I saw him once in a play in LA and he was quite dynamic. His only downfall I would say is that he tries to be too big on screen. It works on the stage but not in movies. Actors have to tone it down to make the transition and unfortunately some of them cannot. Does not mean they’re not good actors, they simply need to stay in their forum. His name used to be Tyrone.

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  4. John Malkovich gave him some of his lines? Sounds a little fishy. With movies like this they bring on a bunch of guys who are glorified extras and give them maybe one line, kind of like the nurse who says “the doctor will see you now,” or the sleeping vagabond who points as say, “he went that way.” Sounds to me like he thinks he’s bigger than the project. In tentpole movies everybody who’s not the star is a basic prop. And I doubt he was ever considered for the Mykelti role. This is why actors get a bad rap.

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  5. You’re an amazing actor Ty. Continue your journey and this interview has definitely given me insight on why. I wish you nothing but the best. Stay blessed my friend!!

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  6. The only thing he’s missing is a hat that says “know actor” and drive around in a car like Dennis woodruff with his name and phone number written all over it “please hire me” “look down I’m right here”

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