AR: It’s a massive privilege to have your come talk with me. For anyone who isn’t familiar with you could you please tell us a little about yourself?
JW: Thank you for taking the time to interview me! I appreciate the opportunity!
I was born in Scarborough, Ontario to Italian and English immigrants and was raised with two brothers. At the age of 13, I started studying karate and then began to receive belts as a teenager when I switched to Tae Kwon Do. I also decided to pursue acting and ended up getting accepted to Ryerson University for the theatre program at the age of 20.
AR: You are an accomplished martial artist in Tae Kwon Do and won some tournaments?
JW: I won the North American Open as a yellow belt around the age 15. It was quite a rush at that age!
AR: Your first big role was in the series Night Heat in 1985; how did the opportunity in the show come your way?
JW: I was getting ready to film The Boy In Blue with Nicolas Cage and was called in to audition for Night Heat. They didn’t have a script so it was a meet-and-greet instead. I told the producer Sonny Grosso about a story with my brother and me. We stopped a mugging in Hell’s Kitchen and he was so impressed by the story and I guess the way that I told it, that he pushed for me to get the role. I was filming The Boy In Blue during the day and Night Heat at night. I was exhausted but very grateful.
AR: After the show finished, you teamed up with Cynthia Rothrock for your debut martial arts actioner, Martial Law 2: Undercover! It was a great film. You were thrown in a movie with Cynthia Rothrock who was already established in the Action genre, yet you helmed the movie and drove the story! Was that daunting you at the time?
JW: Cynthia was much more established in the action genre and I was established as a TV star so the two of us played off each other’s strengths. We had good chemistry together; I was lucky to get to work with Cynthia on my action film debut.
AR: I am sure after Martial Law 2 all sorts of offers were coming your way, but your next movie was Mission Of Justice, which features a classic scene, the stick fight — is it true you only had 45mins of training?
JW: Yes, it’s true — 45 minutes of training and that’s it! I learned over the years that it’s all about the other fighter reacting to you, how they sell the punch or kick and how you respond. Burt Richardson and his students were fantastic and it was a great opportunity to learn a new skill.
AR: It has circled for awhile this was meant to be the third Martial Law movie?
JW: I had not heard that.
AR: In 1992 you starred in Deadly Bet where you not only did your martial arts but you showed us what a great actor you were. Was the character of Angelo your main reason for taking this movie? As the character isn’t exactly a hero, is he a very flawed guy that lets his ego get the better of him.
JW: I have always been drawn to scripts with fleshed-out, interesting characters. Angelo seemed to be a sympathetic character to me – a man in love and willing to do anything to prove it.
AR: After Deadly Bet you made the very popular action classic, Martial Outlaw. You were in incredible shape in this movie, did you hit the weights harder in prep for the role?
JW: I had a trainer and worked out at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach. My regimen was pretty grueling – I was there in the morning for 1 1/2 hours and then at Gold’s in Hollywood in the afternoon for 1 1/2 hours with one hour of weights and 30 min of cardio. I did this for 3 months and I followed a strict diet of mostly chicken and rice. I didn’t drink milk, I had no bread, no fruit, and no dairy products.
AR: Your action career was in full throttle you had such greats like No Exit, The Killing Machine and Open Fire, The Donor, Street Law and Last Man Standing, was this a career path down the action based route something you were getting tired of doing?
JW: It’s any actors dream to be in demand and to get to choose what you want to do. I was the “guy who could act and do martial arts” back then and I really looked for scripts that had first a good story and then great action. Not the other way around.
AR: After the movie ‘When The Bullet Hits The Bone’ you didn’t headline any more action movies and took co-star roles, a memorable role of the co-star era for me was the two Universal Soldier movies made for TV starring Matt Battaliga and Burt Reynolds! What drew you to this franchise/project?
JW: I was excited about the opportunity to work with Burt Reynolds and Gary Busey back in my hometown, Toronto. Then I was offered The Undertakers Wedding which was a romantic comedy with Adrien Brody.
AR: You may have left the action genre behind but you kept busy in shows like 24, Sons Of Anarchy, JAG, The Wire, The Night Of and you had a prominent role in Lizzie Borden. It seems you were drawn back to where it began with TV series? Would that be because there is no type casting and you get to broaden and use all your acting ability?
JW: Whether it is the action genre, dramatic films, or TV, I am always drawn to the quality of the project. I also care about who is directing because I need to trust them and be willing to bear it all for them.
AR: You made quite the impact with your short movie ‘Behind Bars.” It seemed like a passion project, very personal and meaningful to you. You wrote and directed it. Does Kidd Brock mirror Jeff Wincott?
JW: I just celebrated 17 years clean and sober and wanted to write a film about addiction from the perspective of someone who has experienced it (as well as the consequences). The short is satirical in a lot of ways but in the case of Kidd in Behind Bars, he was powerless over an addictive substance and destroyed his life to get more and more of it.
AR: With action hero ensembles and many action stars hitting up comebacks, can we expect to see Mr. Jeff Wincott comeback kicking ass and not even taking names? Maybe Martial Outlaw 2?
JW: If the right script came along I would certainly consider it!
AR: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell me about?
JW: Three feature films I did were just released – one is called Bolden and that is currently in theatres. #LIKE is another which is currently hitting the festival circuit. It’s NY Premiere is at the Brooklyn Film Festival on June 1st. I also just completed a comedy called Kringle Time and that will be released in 2020.
I’ve also been producing and starring in my own projects. At the end of last year, I co-produced with my wife and starred in a short film about behavior modification called Ping Pong Pigeons (she wrote and directed it.) It has already won Best American Short Film at a recent festival and has been an official selection at a number of other festivals nationally and internationally. We are currently producing another short called Platitudes that will shoot June and July of this year starring myself, Nina Kaczorowski, and Delaney Blanton. Next summer, we hope to shoot a feature called Changing Charlie in which I would star. It is set in Queens.
AR: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you the best of luck in your career, I’m always following your work and seeing what your up to and look forward to your next project!
JW: Thanks for taking the time! I appreciate your interest!