Get To Know 'The Newsroom's' Fresh Face Joel Johnstone
When The Newsroom viewers first met Joel Johnstone, his character was keeping Jim Harper from getting on the Romney campaign's media bus. Rest assured, the actor is much nicer, and much more endearing, than the staffer he plays on TV.
For one, he didn't even think he'd make the cut for the hit HBO show. He told BFTV that the first thought that went through his mind when he found out about his Newsroom tryout was, "'I'm never gonna get it.' It was my favorite show before I went and auditioned. I got the email for the audition, and I showed my girlfriend, and I couldn't believe it.
"I've been a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin since I was 16," he continued, "when my high school did A Few Good Men and I got cast as [Daniel] Kaffee, the Tom Cruise role. I just fell in love with that writing, and I became a big fan of Sports Night and The West Wing."
Proving himself wrong, Joel snagged the part of Cameron, the Romney staffer who initially snubs Jim when he arrives to join the campaign, and "it went really well. It was a dream come true," he enthused. "I can say that working with John [Gallagher] and Grace [Gummer], they're immensely talented actors that I feel so lucky to be around, and they're so much fun. They're just unbelievably funny. I've never had a better time."
As for working with Sorkin, "I can't say enough good things about him," he told us. "There is a musicality to [his writing], and there's a timing to it that is more precise than just about anything else. But all of it is very honest. All of it is accessible as an actor. I just think it's truly, truly a piece of art every time he gives it to you, because there is such music and precision."
The actor appears to have found a new home at HBO, as he's working on more than one project airing on the pay cabler. "I had the unbelievable great fortune of being cast on two HBO shows within 48 hours of each other," he revealed. "[There's] another show called Getting On, which is an adaptation of a comedy from the BBC. It just got picked up and I go back to work next week. That's another knockout show by HBO. It stars Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), Niecy Nash (Reno 911), and Alex Borstein (Family Guy)." Getting On, which focuses on a trio of nurses in a geriatric ward, has a six-episode order from the network, but no premiere date has been announced yet.
That means Joel has some time to focus on his passion outside of work: sports. "I'm a huge baseball nut," he confided. "I grew up in Milwaukee [so] I'm a huge Brewers fan, and I also follow the Yankees. I'll watch any player that's exciting no matter what team you're on. I've recently become a runner; I'm determined to run a marathon."
Indeed, he can talk about sports as easily as he can about his acting gigs, and he can dish about both with enthusiasm and a sense of humor. Talk to him for more than a few minutes, and you get the sense that he's just happy to be doing what he does, and enjoying what he loves. He doesn't speak about wanting to become a star, and he takes his beloved baseball team's struggles in stride.
But when it comes to his professional resume, Joel's learned that it's important to be comfortable in one's own skin before you go trying on any character. "The thing that I've realized that you kind of have to go through your head is 'Where am I in this?' There's only so much you can mold and bend and shape yourself to a part. I look for something within the ballpark of my personality," he explained.
He also likes balance in his roles. "I will always try and find a little bit of humor in drama and a little bit of drama in comedy," he continued. "All really, really smart writers do that. When I see that, it's a gift. I really appreciate it because I think actors can really use that and make strong choices out of that."
Given that he defied his own expectations to work with one of TV's best writers on one of its most outstanding shows, it's clear that Joel is making some excellent choices in his career. Between his talent, and his winning personality, we'd welcome him on our bus.
You can watch Joel in new episodes of The Newsroom, airing Sunday nights on HBO - and also follow him on Twitter (@JoelSJohnstone) to keep up with what he does next.
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