BEFORE THE SCENE with Jerry Ferrara

Post image for <FONT COLOR=A30062>BEFORE THE SCENE</FONT> with Jerry Ferrara

by AJ Buckley on May 10, 2010

Before the Scene is where we all start. In a small town with our families. In front of a mirror with our friends. The days spent sleeping on a couch. The nights working at a bar. Living with the unknown and surrounded by uncertainty. It’s about the times that define us. It’s about the darkness just before the limelight.
Jerry Ferrara began studying theater in college, where he was inspired by a teacher to pursue a career in acting. An agent he met at a talent showcase encouraged him to move to Los Angeles, where he quickly landed his first role on “King Of Queens.” Other television parts soon followed. Jerry was then cast in the independent feature “Cross Bronx” which premiered at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. Jerry is now well known for his role as Turtle in HBO’s “Entourage”.
Q: What made you want to become an actor?
A: Acting for me was always my way of not growing up. It’s a way to keep playing make-believe, which everyone does as a kid. Through acting, you can still play, but also be a functioning adult (kind of). My love of movies and TV also had a giant influence. My grandfather, who was a reserved kind of guy, used to always watch the Sunday matinees on TV. It was very cool to see him react to a movie in ways that I never saw from him. So I always thought, “If movies can get that kind of reaction from Grandpa then maybe I should try to be in movies.” Corny, but true.

Q: What was your biggest fear?
A: Like most, my initial “biggest fear” was never getting the chance to do what I love. It’s a tough line of work. The “biggest fear” took a turn when I achieved some success. It turned into a “don’t blow it” kind of fear. I used to have a dream that was scary: I was back in Brooklyn, everything exactly the same as it was before I left, down to the apartment I grew up in. I woke up in my childhood bedroom and my whole experience in L.A. was just a dream. I hadn’t made the move, stayed back in New York, and dreamed up all the great moments I’ve had for the last ten years in L.A. A shrink could have a field day with that one.

Q: What was your lowest point?
A: Honestly, I have never had a true low point. Even if I wasn’t getting jobs or succeeding, the thought that any day could be MY day got me through. [Maybe] my first and only Christmas ever away from NYC and my family. Didn’t have the money for a plane ticket. If I had mentioned this to any family member they would not have blinked, and I would have been on a plane the next day. Maybe it was pride, or a tiny bit of shame, but that was not an option. I think I said that there was a big audition coming up and I needed to stay in L.A. Needless to say, I haven’t missed a Christmas since.

Q: What kept you from walking away?
A: Walking away was NEVER an option! For one simple reason: I had to know. Walking away would be like benching yourself in the biggest game of your life just because you may lose. There’s always a chance of losing. People (myself included) lose all the time. It’s a part of life and a part of growing up. One thing is for sure, though: if you don’t even put your uniform on and show up, you for sure will never win. I was never afraid to play. Maybe you can tell, but everything is a sports metaphor to me. 

Q: Who was your closest ally?
A: I’m lucky. I have had so many that I could never just name one sole person. So I’ll leave it at that. It’s actually what I think has made “Entourage” work. The show could have easily been called “Allies.” Having a person or persons to count on is huge. The biggest thing about it, though, is you have to be someone else’s [ally] in order to have your own.

Q: What were you doing the morning before the audition that changed your life?
A: Well, after my third anxiety attack, I was making sure I had my lines down and was as prepared as I could be. That being said, everything goes out the window once you get in that room. Nothing you planned out ends up being the way it goes down. The other thing was Doug Ellin, our show creator, was always a little concerned I looked too young. So I was doing my best to look old. Let’s just say I didn’t shave for a month. 

Q: What were the words that kept you going?
A: “It’s acting, not rocket science.” Pretty simple. I would tell myself that a lot. Just a reminder to not get in my own way, and not to overthink anything. Always take your career seriously, but in the same breath, it’s not life or death. It’s what I chose to do. 

Q: How have you changed?
A: I’ve had people close to me say, “You haven’t changed in a bit. Same old Jerry.” Which always makes me happy to hear. If I had to pick out my biggest change, it would have to be responsibility. I never wanted any, and always tried to avoid it at all costs when I was younger. Just turning thirty has made me actually want responsibility. I can handle so much more than I could in the past. Whether it’s work related or just the normal day-to-day life routine…bring it on. That being said, I will still always and forever complain about it.

Q: What words do you have to inspire others?
A: I don’t know how inspiring this will be, but it has given me courage in certain scary situations. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Because it’s only a mistake if you do it again. If you learn from it the first time and don’t do it again, then it’s probably a valuable lesson you needed to learn.
Over the past five years AJ Buckley has starred as Adam Ross on the hit TV show “CSI:NY.” Originally from Dublin, Ireland, he has spent the past ten years in Los Angeles, California, acting and writing. Buckley’s latest project, “Skateland,” is currently screening in the film festival circuit. He is also currently writing and starring in the web series “GhostFacers” for Warner Brothers, which can be seen at