Some kids grow up idolizing their silver screen heros, whether it be John Wayne or Tom Cruise, dreaming of one day being able to get in on the action themselves. John Shockley has put his passion for acting to the test and is actually realizing that dream.
Even though hitting the big time with a big-budget movie is his aim, he didn’t grow up with the dream of being an actor. In fact, he approaches the business in a very business-like manner.
Growing up in Lincoln County, the son of a welder and a homemaker, Shockley took a shot at modeling when he was about 18. He says it was easy money and fun. Photographer Gustavol Alfaro saw something in Shockley’s personality and urged him to go into acting.
Shockley took his word for it. He took a role in “Memorabilia,” a movie written and directed by two local friends. Although the part will always hold a special place in his heart, Shockley says it’s far from his favorite. “I was just too young. And I didn’t realize what acting really was.”
But the role gave him a taste that fired up his passion.
Obtaining the tools
An established, renown photographer, Alfaro went the extra mile and hooked Shockley up with some major contacts. It worked. Seven movies and a booking agent later, Shockley surmises why he prefers acting over modeling.
“Acting requires more, to me,” Shockley says. “You have to learn the role, study the history of the situation. I just feel acting is more of a mental contribution.”
But he admits there were certain looks he couldn’t get down as a model. “But for some reason, it’s easy for me to become a different person.”
Shockley changed his theater major while at Eastern Kentucky University and obtained a business marketing degree, graduating with a 3.7 grade-point average.
“I talked to a lot of professional actors who helped me make that decision,” he says.
He wanted to be able to look at his acting career from a business standpoint and not just as an actor.
The big screen
In “Bad Blood: The Hatfields and McCoys,” released this year, Shockley plays Junior McCoy — a mentally slow 20-year-old. He says the original, historically-accurate part called for a 15-year-old, but the director called him after his audition and said the part would be re-written to accommodate Shockley.
“It’s not my favorite role, but I took it for resume-building. When you work with Christian Slater, Jeff Fahey, Tim Abell ... you can only become better. The trick is to be lucky enough to get to work with people who are way better than you. Then you soak everything up and learn from them.”
Shockley talks about how Abell took him under his wing on and off the movie set, giving Shockley “a ton of help. He’s a big actor, and really took the time out to work with me.”
Go out and get it