Interview with Jared Hillman


Jared Hillman is a very busy young actor.  If he’s not busy working on a procedural drama like NCIS Los Angeles, he is busy writing, directing and producing an award winning short film that is currently making the film festival rounds.  We had a chance to ask Jared about his short film Tandem and also his time spend on set with the cast and crew of NCISLA.  Let’s find out more about Jared…..

What drew you to a career in acting?

When I was a young kid, I was greatly inspired by children’s stories – from Disney classics to action cartoons.  I wanted to immerse myself in those creative, colorful worlds, and that immersion took many forms.  I enjoyed drawing, designing costumes out of home goods, shooting short films with my parents’ camcorder, and making stop-motion animation with action figures and Legos.  Simple playtime evolved into a real passion, and when I learned it could be the basis of a career, I knew that was for me. 

What’s a day in the life like for a working actor like yourself?

It’s a tricky question, because an actual schedule is quite hard to predict.  Some days are built around a full shoot (which can start at dawn and finish late at night).  Other days are built around an audition, which typically lasts only a few minutes… but there’s a lot of preparation to do beforehand.  And many days give an actor no specific task, so it’s important to fill that time with one’s own creative projects – for me, it’s writing, making short films, painting, hiking, and volunteering.  If an audition comes up for the next day, it’s time to drop everything and dive in.  

You have been in some very popular television series and a widely received movie (The Social Network)…. what other areas of the entertainment industry would you like to spend more time perusing?

I love when I get the opportunity to be a part of any project as an actor.  It’s definitely a full-time pursuit.  But I also studied film production at the University of Southern California, so I’ve had interests in writing and directing for a long time, too.  It all ties into telling stories, inventing new characters or worlds, and by doing so, entertaining people.  

How did you enjoy your time spend on the set of NCIS Los Angeles?  Can you tell us about your character?….Who did you work with on screen?…Can you share with us any stories about your time on set? 

NCIS: Los Angeles was a terrific experience, and the entire team was friendly and welcoming.  As far as cast, I worked primarily with Daniela, and I found her to be a very warm, down-to-earth, intelligent actor.  In fact, the entire cast seems to get along like old friends and truly enjoy their work together; there’s a lot of laughter between takes.  It’s no surprise, considering their great onscreen chemistry every week.  Also, the director of this episode was James Whitmore, Jr., who not only directs a lot of the episodes and therefore has a familiar shorthand with the cast, but he’s also an accomplished actor in his own right and creates a trusting, nurturing environment for good work. 


How do you prepare for a procedural show like this?

When I first get the material for a new role, I make sure to read it thoroughly and begin finding my own personal similarities with the character and situation.  Each role has some element that hooks into my real life, and the rest is extrapolation.  For example, on NCIS:LA, my character is an impressionable student looking for guidance, and that’s a foundation I know from experience.  So, immediately I start to understand what my character’s daily life looks like, who the key figures are, etc.  While the specific events my character experiences are fictional, the underlying emotions parallel my own.   A lot of the preparation is figuring out what memories from my own past trigger the strongest and most appropriate responses to the scripted words.

Congratulations on your Hollywood Discovery Award for best short film for Tandem.  How did your involvement come about and how did you enjoy being involved in so many different areas of making the short (writer, director, and producer)?

Thank you!  I’m really excited about this.  Tandem is a short film that I spearheaded with a good friend and partner of mine, Matthew Helfgott.  We’ve collaborated on various projects over the years, through screenwriting and commercial directing, and we wanted to go deeper into narrative filmmaking.  We sought to make a short that felt like a theatrical feature with high production value, and yet brought a distinct dynamic not before seen.  The result is Tandem, which is a buddy comedy set in the world of skydiving.  The shared duties of writing, directing, and producing were a lot of work, particularly on an indie scale when bargaining, bartering, and asking for favors are big parts of making it all happen.   In the process, we found lots of great collaborators who generously teamed up, and we hope to work with them all again.  Of particular interest to your readers: one of the casting directors is Jason Kennedy, who casts NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles with Susan Bluestein.  On our film, he and Allen Hooper found a fantastic group of actors to bring our story to life. To read more about the film, see:


What’s up next for you?

As an actor, I recently shot a new digital series called TSA America, which is a workplace comedy set at an airport security checkpoint.  It stars Misha Collins of Supernatural and Colin Ferguson of Eureka.  On the other side of the camera, I’m prepping a new short film – more of a darkly comic character study – to direct very soon.  Simultaneously, Tandem will be continuing its run on the film festival circuit, with its next screening at the upcoming San Luis Obispo Film Festival on the central coast of California, March 6-10th.  So, I plan to accompany the film there.  I encourage film fans in the area to come check it out and say hello!  More info on that can be found here:


We look forward to watching TSA America and go out and say hi to Jared at the Obispo Film Festival in March.  Thanks again to Jared Hillman for stopping by and letting us know about his time spent on the set of NCIS Los Angeles!


You can follow Jared at the following sites:

Twitter: @HillmanJared