Film credits often will include the names of actors who played “patron No. 2” or “dead body No. 3.” Such identifiers are generally for performers who have no lines.
Veteran actor Orlando Jones was offered the script for the thriller “Til Death Do Us Part” – available now on DVD and digital platforms – where he would play “groomsman No. 4.” He knew that the name might be generic, but the role was far more textured.
“So many people never get a name. You work yourself to the bone and then don’t get paid either,” Jones says during an interview in the middle of an actor’s strike that was sanctioned by the Guild. “In this case, we thought those things would work well in creating a horror/comedy/action film.”
The lack of names for many of the characters was done to ramp up the mystery elements of what happens on a couple’s first night after their wedding where the evening is laced with gunfire. “Til Death Do Us Part” follows the grim reality that not every romance story ends with happily ever after.
After running away on her wedding day, a bride-to-be must fight for survival against her former fiancé and his seven deadly groomsmen. In the ultimate horror showdown, the groomsmen soon discover that she has no intention of going back to the life she left behind.
Jones joins Jason Patric, Cam Gigandet, Natalie Burn, Ser’Darius Blain, D.Y. Sao, Neb Chupin and Pancho Moler in the cast of the film directed by Timothy Woodward Jr.
The film is the latest in a lengthy resume of TV and film jobs for Jones. Other acting jobs for him have included “Abbott Elementary,” “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” “American Gods,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Drumline.” He was a big part of a promotional campaign for 7-UP that included his being filmed on a freeway in Fresno.
His role in “Til Death Do Us Part” lives in a mysterious world. Despite the script not even giving him a name, Jones built a backstory for the character as he has done with every role he has played.
“For me, it helps a lot in making a character who is more multi-dimensional. Making a character who fits into a lot of little things,” Jones says. “In this case, you have this academy, you have this group of assassins.
“We thought it would be more interesting to create a double antagonist structure where you have the best man who is an antagonist and as the groomsman, I become a second antagonist in the film.”
Jones found that having two major bad guys made the film less linear and gave it a more unique structure. That fit perfectly with the mysterious nature that permeates every aspect of the movie. Jones was drawn to being part of the movie because the approach came across as very fresh to him.
One big area where the film flips the script is with having the toughest person in the wedding party be the bride. Jones has seen plenty of plenty of films with females as the central character, but they often end up coming across as weak. He calls Natalie Burn a truly tough action hero.
“She is physically gifted as both an actress and as a stunt person,” Jones says. “So, there is that component. I think there is also a component of the story in a way that is stylized and fresh.
“The characters are discovering things along the way and you are discovering things with them.”
“Til Death Do Us Part” gave Jones a chance to play with a lot of different genres. That fits his entire career where he has gone from drama to comedy and back to drama again.
His approach for selecting roles he wants to pursue starts with whether the creative team is trying to do something different. He absolutely found that with “Til Death Do Us Part.” He found Woodward had an eye for bending the obvious into something different.
“Character wise, I literally try to look for characters that fit my unique skill set,” Jones says. “I like to create characters who are multi-dimensional. If you are going to give me a lot of money and put me in this cookie cutter and make me do the thing that we have seen 50 times, you can get these rookies to do that. It is not interesting to me.” There is a reason that the character Jones plays in “Til Death Do Us Part” has no real name. Many acting jobs he has had over the years were characters with names. Just for the record, Jones started his career on the TV series “Herman’s Head” playing a character known only as “Cop.”