Jonathan Taylor Thomas Life Story
Magazine: Teen Beat magazine
Date: October, 1995
On a beautiful day - September 8 1981, the blue eyed, blonde-haired baby boy was greeted with love and joy by his 3-year old brother, Joel, when he came home from the hospital to their home in suburban Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
It was the typical American life for the young family. Claudine was a social worker and mother and Stephen was an industrial sales manager. Their days were filled with activities around the house and the kids' schools. But the family made a major changes when Jonathan was 4 1/2 years old. They moved clear across the country to Sacramento, California. After a number of people commented on how adorable little Jonathan was, Claudine brought him to a modeling agent and he was soon appearing in fashion and print add in the Sacramento and San Francisco area. Soon the lure of the show biz capitol, Los Angeles, beckoned and when Jonathan was 8 years old he landed a Buger King commercial. That experience was "pretty cool" Jonathan recalls. "I asked my mom and got signed up for acting lessons. I just thought the whole idea of being on TV, being recognized and having a good time was interesting."
It was also around this time that Jonathan, his brother and his mom moved to Los Angeles in order to be more available to the movie and TV industry. Jonathan's dad remained in Northern California and, unfortunately, in 1991, he and Claudine divorced. It was up to Claudine to be super parent and for two red-blooded, active young boys and help guide and protect her youngster in the up-and-down life of show business. It was evident pretty quickly that Claudine would have her hands full. Almost immediately casting directors started calling about Jonathan. His first big break was his role of Kevin Brady on the short-lived TV series The Bradys. Soon after that series was canceled. Jonathan changed his professional name to Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Of course, it's hard to lead a normal life when you are a regular on the most popular TV show in America! Jonathan found this out when he joined the cast of ABC's Home Improvement as the middle son, Randy. Though his mom is usually at his side and on the set, Jonathan admits that he doesn't get to spend as much time as he'd like with Joel. "He's in High School," Jonathan explains. "He's a cool guy.. Joel' really, really smart, not a nerd, though. He's always writing these reports for Honors Biology, and I have no clue what he is saying. We get along alright, but (we don't get to hang out a lot) because I get home after work and I go to my room and I do my home work. And his High School program is very, very difficult, so he basically gets home and goes and does the same thing... We do play basketball. He's an increadible basketball player, also. Sometimes, we'll play a game of b-ball. Joel kills me. He just dunks over me everytime."
Claudine tried to keep things running smoothly, "I work hard to keep Jonathan a normal kid," she says. "Tim Allen (Jonathan's TV dad) is a big help. He keeps an eye on him and takes special interest. Tim knows that Jonathan's dad and I are divorced and his dad, who lives in Sacramento, doesn't see him a lot. Tim keeps Jonathan's head from swelling. If he sees an ego flaring, he playfully teases Jonathan."
Of course, at home, Claudine has her own way of keeping things in perspective too. "I still have my chores to do," Jonathan says. "I still have to make my bed, vacuum the pool and clean the cat litter box."
Best known for his role of Randy on Home Improvement, Jonathan, who also has become known as JTT, says of his alter ego: "I think I am similar to Randy. We're both fun-loving and like to have a good time. Randy sometimes goes a little too far, he's a wise guy. That's his personality and I am (not?) like that. But I do like to make people laugh."
Of course, Jonathan has done a lot more than play Randy on Home Improvement! He was the voice of Simba in The Lion King, Disney's biggest blockbuster of all time! "It was fun," recalls Jonathan. "I loved it. It's a whole different concept because you read lines in a room with nobody in it.. it's kind of cool because you don't have to rely on any other people to get their lines right - it's all you!" The Lion King isn't the only time that Jonathan did a voice for an animated film. He's lent his voice to Ivy Cottage - "where I play a real nasty guy," Spot the dog - "A series of videos for very young kids," and The Itsy Bitsy Spider, a cartoon series on the USA Network.
Then there is Jonathan's feature film credits. His first major film, Man of the House, was co-stared with Chevy Chase and Farrah Fawcett. Jonathan has followed that up with the up comming films, The Adventures of Tom Saywer and Pinocchio. As soon as Home Improvement went on hiatus this past spring, Jonathan headed down to Huntsville, Alabama, to film Tom Sawyer. "I really wanted to do this film," Jonathan said just before he left for location shooting. "Tom and i are not exactly alike, I have to challenge myself as far as acting. The film takes place in 1845... Tom Sawyer was rambunctious back then, people were very reserved and he stuck out like a sore thumb. I think it's cool doing a period piece. That's part of why it was appealing to me - the costumes and where we were filming it. I think it will give me a good idea of what it was like to live back then.
Obvously, at my age 13 - almost 14! Jonathan is still building his resumer. He's having the time of his life right now and explains that he loves each new challenge that comes along. "I really want to continue to do stuff that's different," he says. "I need to do stuff that is different to become a well-rounded actor."
But acting isn't the only show biz goal. "Directing I think would be my ultimate goal," he confesses. "I find the behind-the-camera aspect of the business more interesting. Don't get me wrong. I'm having a great time acting, but I think that after years and years acting I'd get sick of it. In fifty years, I don't want to be asked "What have you done all your life?" - and only be able to answer, I've been acting."
Whew, with all that going on, what does Jonathan do to relax? After all he's still a kid, and has to let off some steam, to play, to hang out. Well, don't worry about it - Jonathan makes sure that he has some time to just be himself. First of all he is a real sports nut. "I was on a soccer team called the Shockers," Jonathan says. "Our record was really good, but I don't get to play as much as I'd like."
Basketball is another release for Jonathan. "We get to play during the rec time on the set, which is for an hour every day," the young actor says. Even TV mom, Patricia Richardson gets involved in the sports from time to time on the set-even if she doesn't want to! "I mean, it's a dangerous set to walk across," she laughs. Especially now that Jonathan has taken us Rollerblading! Of course, Jonathan's favorite R&R activity is Fishing and Camping. "When I go camping and fishing, I just let myself go." Jonathan admits.
When Jonathan isn't in the great outdoors, you can usually find him reading a book in front of his computer checking out the CD-ROM offerings. "I like Wolfenstein," he says. "It is like you're a soldier in World War 2 and your fighting Nazis... I still like traditional reading, but I also like sitting at the computer and opening up a book. I've got Encarta, an encyclopedia on CD-ROM that I use when I'm writing reports."
Well, it looks like Jonathan has been able to enjoy all aspects of his life from acting to fooling around with his Apple Computer! That's a kid whose life story needs no improvement - wouldn't you agree?
Thanks to Susan for sending this interview.