When the producers of Copperhead signed Josh Cruddas, they probably did not realize they were getting someone with so many talents. A 21-year-old up-and-coming actor of many different mediums like theater, radio, television, and film, as well as writing music, the Canadian-born Cruddas now finds himself involved in the biggest project of his young career, fresh off a performance in the critically acclaimed Discovery Channel production Titanic: The Aftermath. For his latest venture, in Ron Maxwell’s Civil War epic, he plays the character of Jimmy, through which the story is told. I had the pleasure of speaking to Josh about his filming experiences so far, and he elaborated on his role, acting method, and much more in our interview below!
GC: What can you tell us about your character in Copperhead?
JC: I play the role of Jimmy, who is an orphaned farmhand who lives with the Beech family. At the beginning of the film, he’s still trying to find where he belongs in the grand scheme of things; he’s not as confident as Abner Beech or Abner’s son Jeff, but admires and respects them both to a fault. He’s fiercely loyal, quite interested in politics despite his young years, and desperately wants to see the best in people. He also has a crush on Esther, who is the daughter of Abner’s rival, Jee Hagadorn. When you watch the film, you’ll be able to see what a wonderful character arc Jimmy has and the journey he and I get to go on through the story.
GC: How did you first get involved with the project? Two weeks in, what have your filming experiences been like?
JC: Back in late February my wonderful agent sent me the sides (a selection of lines for an actor to read in an audition) for a film called “Copperhead.” Even for just having read the small amount of script I was given, I immediately wanted to play this role. I did a Skype audition with Ron and the Halifax casting director, and was told a few weeks later not to cut my hair. A month after that, I was told that I had got the role. I was beyond excited. Over two weeks in, it’s been an absolutely incredible adventure. I’ve never had such a big role in a big film like this, and I’m discovering so much about film-making, about acting, and about myself. The principal cast (especially us young ‘uns!) have bonded extremely quickly, and I’ve already made some great friends. Our leading actors are also just great to work with, as is our brilliant director Ron and all of the talented crew members.
GC: What have you done to prepare for your role?
JC: Before I did the audition, I read as much as I could of Frederic’s novel The Copperhead, which this film is based upon. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the novel is written from Jimmy’s perspective, which, as an actor, is extremely helpful because it gives hints about what the character might be feeling at any certain time. After I got the role, I read the rest of the book and brushed up on my knowledge of the American Civil War, as well as combing Bill Kauffman’s wonderful script for clues about Jimmy’s emotions, intentions and ideas.
GC: Being Canadian, did you have any knowledge/interest in the American Civil War prior to filming?
JC: I admit that I didn’t know the entire, devastating scope of the Civil War before signing on to make this movie. However, I knew that it was bloody, divisive and, in so many ways, unjust. Doing Copperhead has given me so much more knowledge about this dark time in history, and how the individual stories about communities and families are just as heartbreaking as the tales of the great battles.
GC: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, like how you first got interested in acting and about other projects you have been in.
JC: I’m a 21 year-old Canadian actor who started off hosting a kids radio show at age 6 and have loved being in and around the entertainment industry for as long as I can remember. In terms of catching the “acting” bug, I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends who, when I was little, would offer opportunities to be in plays around the Halifax area. I got my first professional role as Kurt in The Sound of Music at Neptune (a regional theatre in Canada), and kept working in theater and in independent, short films until I entered Dalhousie University’s Acting Programme. While I was at Dal, my agent sent me in for some screen auditions and I was lucky enough to land roles in HBO Canada’s Call Me Fitz and Discovery Channel’s Titanic: The Aftermath. I also write music for short films in Canada and Los Angeles. Working on Copperhead has already changed my life, and I hope everyone enjoys watching what will be an amazing film just as much as I’ve enjoyed making it!
I would like to thank Josh for taking the time in the middle of his busy shooting schedule to conduct this interview! I wish him much luck and for him to have lots of fun as production wraps up over the next few weeks. Once filming is complete, Josh has agreed to do another interview to talk about his overall experiences, and I am really looking forward to that! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook to catch his latest updates!
And of course, please visit the special page we have dedicated on the blog for this film, and remember to check it out for the latest Copperhead information!