Interview: JACOB ZACHAR from GREEK on ABC Family

Jacob Zachar

Last week, we got the chance to take part in a conference call with JACOB ZACHAR who plays Rusty on ABC Family’s GREEK.

Jacob Zachar talked about what’s in store for Rusty, how he first got into acting, some of his future projects, his musical influences, and much more.

(Daemon’s TV questions are in blue)

The show looks like it’s a lot of fun to do. Can you talk about what’s been your best experience so far in filming or in actually doing the show?

Jacod Zachar: Yes. You know, just meeting everybody for the first time and remembering how we were for the first table read for the pilot and just the journey that everyone has been on individually and to where we’re at now. We all have our individual careers in mind, but the overall experience that I really appreciate is that everyone is working together to help each other individually, but also by making this show itself amazing too, because it’s definitely the roots of where we’re going to go from here. Everyone is on the same plane personality wise and career wise. I think in that sense it’s been a great experience because you can bring such an ensemble of diversity together, especially when everyone is in their prime age of 21 and 25. And especially being in Los Angeles, there are a lot of temptations and being able to go to work everyday together is a great thing.

Daemon’s TV: What is in store for Rusty this new season?

JR: Rusty is—well he just got back from break and his first girlfriend has just broken off and he is in a little depressed state right now. So you’re going to see him coping around trying to start new relationships and try and get back in order with school as far as the classes go.
You’re going to see his friendship with Calvin bloom a little better because they’re going to start noticing their own differences together. You’re going to see a lot of stuff with Calvin. You’re going to see Rusty hanging out with more of the pledges this time around. I think more fraternity stuff with him also. So he has got a lot of open story lines. I think we’re going to leave all the love stuff for the older kids. But maybe he’ll surprise you by the end of the episodes in there.

Since both you and your character are from—grew up in Chicago, I was wondering what you pull in about how you grew up in Chicago into your character.

JR: Yes. I guess the first thing I had on my mind when I was reading it was Boy Scouts and along with that stereotype comes a lot of morality, values and some sort of traditional feelings that some people don’t have these days. So I think in that sense I got Rusty coming from Chicago, being in the Midwest, you have more of a family sense, a more sincere character. He doesn’t have the East Coast, West Coast stereotype along with him. In that way he will be accepted by anybody’s opinions because he’s just a very honest person.

Are at all like Rusty in real life or did you have to start from scratch in developing the character, or get inspiration from someplace else?

JR: Yes. I think deep down I am pretty similar to Rusty, and as cool as I try to act, I think it will only help the character or presents itself because it’s definitely not going—I know it’s the correct way I try to do it. But, yes, I find a lot of similarities between the situations he gets himself in as far as I do too. My favorite episode is the sport thing. As awkward as I may have looked playing sports, I love it. Performing the hockey episode is one of my favorites, for example.

Could you ever see yourself in real life being a part of a fraternity?

JR: Yes. I think I would, actually, if I had gone to, maybe, an out-of-state school where I really didn’t really know anybody. I was always very outgoing but honestly I could probably see myself going to more of like the Omega Kai fraternity. I guess more like the formal and Kai fraternity. I don’t know, I’m more like streamlined with rules myself and I like to have bigger guidelines than have more party atmospheres. But while I’m at work I get to explore the other side of the personality.

Daemon’s TV: How did you get into acting?

JR: It started a long time ago. I started off by doing theater and taking a couple years just learning the basics of everything. The main reason I wanted to start was just when you’re at a certain age when you’re not really being accepted by a lot of people around you, you tend to try to figure things out with why aren’t you being accepted if you’re just as far as your opinions go. Acting allowed me to get up in front of people and perform a different person and not be myself for an hour and half to two hours onstage. Thinking back, that’s probably back in sixth or seventh grade and now I’m 21 going on 22. To see where that original mentality blossomed to now is just amazing in my eyes. I started way back when, when I didn’t really know which direction I wanted to go so I just stuck with it.

Last night we saw Rusty pushing Cappie to get the idea of getting back together with Casey back in his head. So now with Rusty’s love life on the racks, is Casey going to be a project for him?

JR: Yes. That was one of the funny lines that I like you’re trying to flip out your sister. Yes, I—yes, Rusty is on the rocks. The first episode that you guys saw last night, it’s rough, man. Everyone’s in a really rough boat right now and yes, you’re going to see Rusty trying to maybe forget about the love stuff, like I said, and maybe just be supportive of the older kids for now. He’s got—I think Rusty needs to have a little fun before he starts getting stuck in those love triangles.

Are you still with your band, Megaband?

JR: No. That was a band I was in in Chicago and I’m actually—if I get some time off from work, the next project I’m starting is another band. It’s going to be a funk band. So when we get some shows coming around—the name right now is called Superfly TNT. So if I get some dates for some shows maybe I can send some invites out to everybody, if you’re in the mood to dance, drink, punk and funk. Yes, I don’t know. If you come out to the show though I’ll let you guys know what happens with that.

Could you talk about some of the projects that you have going on outside of “Greek”?

JR: Oh, right, right, right. Well I shot two independent films when I lived in Chicago about a year and a half ago before I moved out here. One was called “Drunk Boat.” It’s a Mr. Mudd Production who did “Ghost World” and “Art School Confidential” and “Juno.” It’s still in post production. It’s been about two or three years since we shot that. It was with John Malkovich and John Goodman. It was a very independent Indy script. I really don’t know any dates on that one.

With the independent world it’s kind of hard just with financing. It’s not as simple as being in a big budget movie. There are a lot of people who have a say in what direction they want the film to go in. Ultimately it comes down to the writer and if he’s happy or not with the final product. So I think the movie is on the rocks right now.

And the other one, “Little Big Top,” is pretty close to coming out. We were trying to get a premiere at the Egyptian out here for it. I did see a screening of it and it should be in some select cities out here. It’s an all ages movie with Sid Haig from “The Devil’s Rejects.” He’s really a scary clown character in those movies but he actually opens himself up in our movie and has a little bit more heart. Richard Riehle, who has done tons of movies, he’s in “Office Space” and a few others you might know of. He is in it also. So when I get some dates I’ll let everybody know. So right now it’s “Greek” World.

Daemon’s TV: Who is your favorite character on “Greek”?

JR: My favorite character. If I wasn’t playing Rusty I would love to play Cappie. He’s a goofball. He has a lot of freedom in his character. But I think my favorite—I don’t know if you’ve seen the DVD. I did audition for Dale. That was the first original character I had gone out for. So I think my favorite is Clark Duke’s portrayal of Dale.

Who are your musical influences?

JR: Oh, man. I grew up—my mom and dad, when I was growing up listening to a lot of Zeppelin and my mom was a disco crasher. She has a lot of the Sisters, Aretha Franklin and KoKo Taylor and a lot of those groups. My dad’s more of a rock and roll, blues, country, Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin type. And growing up for me I was involved in the punk hard-core scene. I was in a lot of Black Flag, Minuteman, Oskido and DC and PC sing-along. It’s like the Huntington Beach scene. And then Megaband, I got into metal and I was in a band for a while so I was playing swing and jazz. I listen to a lot of everything. I think my next direction is going into James Brown or more of the funk, something with a nice steady beat to it.

With the college environment for the show, are there many pranks going on, on set or anything like that?

JR: Yes. I know Paul(James)’s definitely the number one person that tries to play pranks on people. I heard he put Scotty’s (Scott Michael Foster) phone number out there and Scotty had 30 to 50 voice mails in an hour or something. He put it on the Internet. So there are little pranks like that going on. But there hasn’t been anything big yet. But who knows. I’m always scheming to do something big to somebody.

Daemon’s TV: Where would you like to see Rusty go in the future?

JR: Well I think I would like to see him have a bigger conflict. I don’t know who he really wants to be as a person. I know growing up you think you’re so set in your ways but once you get set in a new environment where nobody knows you, like he is in, you do have a freedom to really decide on what direction you want to take. I want to show that conflict of not knowing what direction to take as a person. I think that’s a very important conflict to show to the people who are—especially the audience watching as a younger crowd may be experiencing that through high school or college. The choice I feel is pretty important.

What do you like to do when you’re not filming?

JR: In my off time I like to skate and go to the beach and stuff. I get a lot of sun and vitamin D from that. I put together a garden on my balcony. I didn’t buy—I guess it’s a prequel to buying an animal. I want to start small and start with a plant and if I can take care of the plants maybe I’ll work my way up to a hermit crab or something, and then maybe go up to a cat and a dog. So we’ll see. I’m starting small. I’m taking care of my plants right now.

Do you have any favorite actors who influenced you?

JR: Yes. I like a lot of the older actors. I was always a big fan of a lot of slap-stick comedy. My dad raised me on that. I like a lot of Richard Pryor, Don Knotts and Gene Wilder. I like actors like Tom Hanks who can pretty much do everything and there are just so many people out there going to so many different genres like the Second City crowd like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd and that whole crew. It’s pretty amazing. I’m in it for the long run. I like the actors who have been able to continuously do movies and not let the press and things like that hurt their career for 30 or 40 years. I think patience is the main virtue for the actors and stand-ups.

Daemon’s TV: What is the best part about being on “Greek”?

JR: The best part? Well I guess the easiest answer is to have a job. In Los Angeles it’s really rough out here and something I heard, 2% of the people who are in the unions or the Screen Actor’s Guild can actually make a living off it. And that to me to be part of something that small it definitely influences me to wake up early every day to get to work and to just keep a smile on my face everyday. The best part is just being able to do it everyday and it’s something I’ve been trying to do for a while. I only support others who want to do it themselves too. That’s probably the best part, waking up and having a family to go to at work.