Interviews / TV

Jonathan Neil Alexander Peers Into “Cabinet of Curiosities”

Jonathan Neil Alexander is always ready to jump on the unexpected. Perhaps that’s the reason he has such extensive training in comedy. “There’s a level of spontaneity that comedy requires that makes the scene feel fresh and alive,” he says. “I also somehow think that comedy training improves any dramatic work I have to do and vice versa. They kind of inform each other as much as they inform themselves; some of my favorite dramatic performances are from standout comedic actors, and I think there’s a reason for that – a kind of fearless, consistent exploration for the truth that comedy really demands. I also grew up around a family of storytellers and there’s always got to be a laugh in a story. It’s an unwritten code.” He had an opportunity to really flex those muscles working alongside Whose Line legend Colin Mochrie. “I actually worked with Colin on a new show on OUTtv called Sloppy Jones. Working with Colin on Sloppy Jones was fantastic. He is a great example of always keeping things fresh. I mean, he’s the godfather of improv and all he ever did his entire career was keep it fresh. It’s really something to watch him with perceivably no effort just throw anything into the scene and watch it land. He also acted as an executive producer on the show and when we had sessions in the writers room he was always super open to any of the ideas floated – he’s a yes-and guy.” 

In contrast, Jonathan’s most recent gig is a very serious matter. “Cabinet of Curiosities is a Horror-Anthology series coming out October 25th on Netflix. Each episode features an entirely different world with a unique cast and director, all from the mind of Oscar winner and creative genius Guillermo Del Toro. I think what Guillermo does differently with the horror genre is come from a place of compassion and curiosity (pun not really intended). He subverts horror tropes in ways that expand our understanding of the genre. He has a way of examining the other – the ones we are all scared of, or the characters that are often judged or misunderstood. He transports the audience into their world and eventually we’re able to learn from them and understand more about ourselves – it’s the peak of filmmaking as an art in my humble opinion. Film as an act of empathy.” Doyle is a deeply complex man. “Keith Thomas (Firestarter) directed our episode. It stars Ben Barnes and Crispin Glover. I play a guy named Doyle. Keith and I talked for an hour over Zoom when I got the role about how the idea of privilege, class and ‘fitting in’ shaped the world of the story. We went deep into Doyle’s relationship to all of those things and how he was kind of ‘in between worlds’ – I think that’s what inspired the characters’ curiosity and observant nature. Working with some of the most seasoned actors and creators in the business was a pretty big honor. I feel pretty grateful to get to be part of the project and I’m super excited to see what the other episodes look and feel like! Starting October 25th on Netflix – two episodes of the eight episode series will be released each day.” 

Music is the key to Jonathan immersing himself in a new role. “The first thing I do when I get a job is make a playlist. Music has always been a big presence in my life, playing it or listening to it. I always get these embarrassingly high numbers for that year end Spotify wrapped thing – music is always on, always. So that helps, the script is a Bible, and one of my favorite parts of the process is talking to the creative team or director about what they understood from the script. It’s kind of a similar process across the board on my end really for dramatic roles or comedy – that being said the costume department, the hair and makeup team – they are all so important to me to have those final elements help land the character in my body. Collaborating will never not be fun to me.” True to form, he is enamored by the unpredictability of his career. “I’m excited to be in between worlds. Variety is what I find most thrilling about the job right now. I start shooting next week on a job that’s very different from everything we’ve talked about today, and I think as long as each job is different from the last, I’ll be a happy camper.” While he may never know what’s around the corner, success certainly is! 

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Jonathan Neil Alexander Peers Into “Cabinet of Curiosities.” Photo Credit: Kyle Kirkwood.