Jeff Holman is an actor who has had his name on the credits of some of the biggest shows and movies in recent years. From shows like Silicon Valley, to Grey’s Anatomy, if you have watched scripted television over the past few years, you will have seen his face.
Things are not slowing down for his career. With Holman taking on roles in Being the Ricardos, Yellowjackets, and the new series Minx things are only heating up. With the Yellowjackets season final amassing 1.3 million viewers across platforms, and Being the Ricardos receiving three nominations, he clearly knows how to pick the right projects. Taking time out of his busy schedule, Jeff Holman took some time to discuss his career, some of his favourite roles, and how acting is truly a dream come true.
CGMagazine: What got you into acting, and what really sparked your passion for the craft?
Jeff Holman: Well, in the first grade we did a production of Noah Builds an Arc, and every kid in the class had to make a paper mache animal, and I was always into art, but not so much into crafts. So I asked if there was any role that doesn’t have to make a paper mache animal? And they’re like “Yeah, Noah, and one caveat is Noah has to sing a song in front of the whole school and all the parents.”
Okay I’ll go sing it in front of everyone. I totally expected to be terrified and nervous on the stage, but once I got out there and started doing my little song, a little spark ignited inside me, and I just knew right then and there that that’s what I wanted to do.
CGMagazine: Now, you’ve been on massive shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Jane the Virgin, Silicon Valley, Yellowjackets , and Being the Ricardos. What are some of your favourite roles and characters you’ve played?
Jeff Holman: I love that role in Parks and Recreation. It started out as just a one line co-star, but during one of the takes, Amy Poehler started doing improv with me, and so I’m well versed in improv. I just kept doing improv straight back with her, and we kept it going for like five or six minutes. Then finally, the director calls cut, and the whole crew and cast break. Then the director came over and said to me, “We’re gonna give you some more lines,” and that one line co-star turned into a guest star that was nine lines, which was awesome. That was one of my favourite characters.
I love the character in Grey’s Anatomy because even though that’s such a dramatic show, my character is the comic relief basically. And I got to work with Debbie Allen, who’s one of my heroes from childhood. I used to watch that show Fame. She was just so iconic in my life. The fact that I got to work with her was amazing. It’s like Aaron Sorkin in this latest movie, I mean, just the concept of getting to meet Aaron Sorkin blows me away. But him actually saying okay, “you are the best person for this role, and now I’m going to direct you”, it was incredible. It was nothing short of magical.
CGMagazine: The I Love Lucy show is such an iconic staple of classic television. How did you prepare for that role, and how did you figure out how to bring this character to life?
Jeff Holman: Well, I have loved the I love Lucy show since I was a little kid. I used to watch it every day after school. That was probably one of those times when I thought that comedy might be my thing. I think I could do this, maybe. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do this? That could possibly be the start of my dream of doing comedy. Although I was already intimately familiar with the show itself, I didn’t know a lot of the behind the scenes stuff and that gave me the urge to know more. I also researched Lucille Ball.
She was actually a Chesterfield girl back in New York. She sold Chesterfield cigarettes from the tray with it wrapped around her neck. And she was a lifelong Chesterfield smoker. In fact, there’s a scene where I’m begging her “Could you please smoke one of the seven brands that Philip Morris makes?” Then I also researched the Philip Morris company, and interesting note, since that time they’ve acquired Chesterfield as well.
CGMagazine:I know there’s probably a lot of people that look at your career and say, I want to do that too. Is there any advice you can give to new and aspiring actors that do want to stake it out in Hollywood?
Jeff Holman: Absolutely. Never give up. I used to deliver packages as a career when I first got to LA and I used to deliver to a bunch of stars, and I’d always ask them, “Hey, got a tip for someone early on in the business?” And they would say, “Just never give up.” Kyle McLaughlin said “It’s a game of attrition, and he who quits first loses.” What Gabriel Byrne said to me was encouraging “You know, one of the toughest things is seeing friends succeed and yet you haven’t broken through. Then you just have to know that it is gonna happen and so don’t stress out about it.” He was absolutely correct.
Another thing I’d say is just never look at a break and think, “why is my agent sending me on this, I’m not even right for this”, because if the casting director’s calling you in, they think you can buck it. Like that on time in Better Things. I was a guest star on Better Things and the role they were looking for was a sixty-year-old native, New Orleans speaker, but I’ve never been to Louisiana. I usually play characters in their forties, so I was like what? But I ended up booking that, and so I’d say just never give up and believe in yourself no matter what.
CGMagazine: What was it like to be in Yellowjackets, especially with it now being such a major show?
Jeff Holman: Oh, it was incredible. I did the pilot two years ago in Los Angeles and then the pandemic hit and I wonder whatever happened to that. I never heard anything, I guess they never went through with that. After two years later they called my agent, and they’re like, “Hey, you wanna fly him up to Canada and do some more episodes.” I said excitedly, “Oh, right on.”
That’s basically it, they flew me up to Vancouver and put me up in a nice hotel, and, of course, I had to be there early. I was actually the first actor who worked on the show who didn’t have to quarantine for two weeks. Canada changed the quarantine rules right before, so I only had to be there for five days at a time, but still, I was just sitting there for five days in Vancouver hanging out. It was so cool.
CGMagazine: Now I’m sure that everyone in the world wants to have any inside scoops on what season two is going to be like, do you have anything you could tell us?
Jeff Holman: I don’t. To tell you the truth, they haven’t even gone into the writer’s room yet.
Jeff Holman: I read a story that the producer said that they’re going to meet with the writers in the middle of January. So I guess even the producer doesn’t even know where the writers want to take it, so it’s completely open now.
CGMagazine: And you’re going to be back in season two?
Jeff Holman: I hope so, my character didn’t die, so I definitely can’t wait. At the end when they clapped me out, I said to them “Hey, I’m available for more work in the future,” and they’re like “Oh yeah, we definitely want more Randy.” So I’m trying to get the hashtag going more Randy Walsh.
CGMagazine: There are definitely a lot of jumping off points from where season one left off.
Jeff Holman: Yes, and the cool thing is, every time they bring me back, my part is twice as big as the last time. So in the pilot lines, the next episode I had like six lines and the next episode I had 12.
CGMagazine: Awesome, thank you so much. I look forward to seeing all you do. Being the Ricardos is currently on Amazon Prime and Yellowjackets is currently on Showtime.
Jeff Holman: I’ve got one more thing to plug, sorry. Minx on HBO Max is coming out in the next month or two, and I’m going to be on that one as well.