Fans of hit shows "Pretty Little Liars" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" may recognize Brandon Jones as a small-town golden boy or a mole woman's guilt-ridden love interest from an even smaller town -- but his latest character has bigger dreams.
The 27-year-old actor stars in the political drama, "Courting Des Moines," as an Ivy League-educated, aspiring politician who interns for a congresswoman seeking a presidential nomination.
We sat down with Jones to talk about the film, which was released during the actual 2016 Iowa caucus, his roles on "Pretty Little Liars" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and why he's a "weird actor."
How did you get involved with "Courting Des Moines?"
I got involved with "Courting Des Moines" through Catherine Urbanek, who I did a little short with prior, which is how we knew each other. She called me one day with the script, and I kind of fell in love with it.
Do you consider yourself plugged into politics or was this a new experience for you?
It was a totally new experience for me. Even after doing the movie, I try to stay out of politics, especially lately, politics has been a circus. I try to stay out of it, keep my opinoins to myself. But the film did teach me a lot. I learned a lot about the caucus and the process.
Do you watch any political shows, like "House of Cards" or "Veep?"
Something not a lot of people know about me is that I hardly watch any TV at all. I'm the weird actor who doesn't watch television all that much. I watch documentaries, and that's pretty much it. That and cartoons ... I like "Family Guy," I like "American Dad." "The Simpsons" has always been my favorite show.
You were on "Pretty Little Liars" for four seasons -- what was that experience like?
Honestly, completely life-changing. It's so cool to see actually how big the fanbase is. I was in Mexico last week, and there were people who would come up to me in Mexico, who didn't even speak English, to say hello because they recognized me from the show. It's completely a game-changer for me. It's changed the way I look at work. It's changed the way I look at auditioning because I learned so much from the girls working with them.
If you could have exited the show in one, big blowout way, how would you have liked it to happen?
I would have to do something that would mess with the fans' heads. I mean just being 'A' would have been great. That would have been like the No. 1 thing if I had to choose.Things would have been different. Things would have been good.
You are also featured on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," which has such an amazing roster of wild characters. Who's your favorite?
Titus! I love Titus. The best thing about Titus is that that's him. He's not acting whatsoever. He's so funny and outrageous, and when I first met him he was exactly like Titus on the show.
Do you have any memorable backstage moments?
There's one memorable moment that happened recently. When I went and shot the upcoming season of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," I got called to do something, so I left my dressing room for a minute and when I came back, walking down the hall, I heard a piano playing, and I heard someone singing, and I walked in, and Jeff Goldblum is in my dressing room singing and playing the piano. And so I sat down and was serenaded by Jeff Goldblum for an hour. I don't think I'll ever forget that.
If you could be on any show, past or present, what would it be?
I would have loved to be on "Friends" I think because it's one of those huge legendary shows that even now if I work with someone, and if I see they did a guest star on "Friends" in the '90s, I get so excited, and I almost get a little starstruck by seeing them again beacuse they were on "Friends." I would have loved to do at least a guest star on that.
Which "friend" do you most identify with?
Joey, 100 percent Joey.
What's your dream role in the future? Who would you love to work with?
Dream role would definitely be some kind of bad guy. In general, I'm kind of happy-go-lucky, smiling all the time, so to be able to go to work and play something like that would be really cool. I have always, always, always had a minor cliché celebrity man crush on Brad Pitt. I've always loved his work, I've loved his movies and his career and his family. I think I kind of aspire to have something like that in the future.
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