‘I see it first and then I make it happen’— Thomas Q. Jones

Theo Rossi (Luke Cage), Gabrielle Dennis (Luke Cage), Thomas Q. Jones
(courtesy photo)

Thomas Q. Jones stepped into the role as an actor after he retired from football, leaving a mark as one of the 25 leading rushers in NFL history and a member of the 10,000 yards club. Even as a young man growing up in Big Stone Gap, Va. the University of Virginia graduate was always thinking ahead, moving his life forward.

In 2015, Jones made folks sit up and take notice in his role as the friends with benefits (Cutty Buddy) in Being Mary Jane.  Later, he stepped into a recurring role in the Netflix series “Luke Cage” having been personally chosen by the executive producer. Cheo Coker. And then the acting roles started pouring in.

This may not be the move one would expect for a retired NFL player but looking at the rise of his new career, it’s clear that his choices are moving him closer to the proverbial field goal.

“I focus on the next thing and I keep moving,” says Jones, adding. “Set life, it’s a beautiful life and I really love what I do.”

Taking control in his new creative space includes stepping in as an executive producer, a role he relished in helping to raise the funds for “A Violent Man” a story about an MMA fighter who gets accused of murder. He endeavors were successful. The film, directed by Matthew Berkowitz, will be released next month on VOD.

In the thriller, Jones plays Ty, an unknown MMA fighter who beats the undefeated champ at a local gym. Suddenly he becomes the underdog champion of the world with an important title fight on the horizon, but when the female reporter covering the story is found dead, Ty becomes the murder suspect. A blackout, a dead body, and incriminating circumstances place him squarely in the center of a riveting mystery.

The Los Angeles Sentinel caught up with the very busy and inspiring Thomas Q. Jones and here’s what he had to share about ambition, planning, and life.

Los Angeles Sentinel:  Thank you for taking the time to chat with us about “A Violent Man” and are you … a violent man?

Thomas Q. Jones: (laughing) Absolutely not. I’m acting.

LAS: Where do you call home?
TQJ: Atlanta. Atlanta has changed a lot. When I first got started [in acting] everyone was telling me that I had to live in Los Angeles or New York. In New York, for example, you might have 8 thousand actors auditioning for one role. That’s not the case in Atlanta and I  wanted to create opportunities for myself here [Atlanta].  I had a plan. It didn’t just happen. It was a numbers game. The more auditions that you have, the more chances you have to book. Once the casting agents knew the could trust me, the work came in. I’m definitely about the work and having a plan.

LAS: Acting is a big jump from playing professional football in the NFL or are they?

TQJ: Great question. In acting, there is training involved depending on the role. That’s like football but to be clear, for me,  acting is probably harder for me since I’ve been doing it for such a short period of time. Football, I started that at the age of eight.  So the world of acting is foreign and I admit that sometimes I think, ‘Am I really doing this?’ but like football, I plan to leave a legacy.

LAS: Preach!  Before we jump into talking about “A Violent Man”, and we will let’s chop it up about the Showtime limited series Escape at Dannemora with Benicio Del Toro and Patricia Arquette, who just took home a Golden Globe for her role in this series.

TQJ:  I love great actors and learning from them. It was a great thrill to work with such a great cast. Patricia [Arquette] won the Golden Globe Award  [Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Limited Series]. And you know, Benicio [Del Toro] is a really nice guy.  He and I have several scenes together and he would turn to me and ask ‘Michael, what do you think about this scene?’ and I am thinking you’re Benicio Del Toro and you’re asking me?  Working on this series really opened up my palette to a lot more things now.

A scene from ‘A Violent Man movie’ starring Thomas Q. Jones (courtesy photo)

LAS: What does that mean, to open up your palette in the context of acting?

TQJ: It means that I have a plan to go to the next level. I attended the Golden Globe red carpet, in LA, (ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA), and I got a sense of what the next level is. Now, I am working on that plan to get ‘there’ and to stay ‘there’.  First, you have to see it. Then you have to believe it.  Then I plan it out and then I start working as if it’s already happened.

LAS: I think I just heard the headline for this story somewhere!

TQJ: You have to put it out into the universe.

LAS: Can you edit it down a bit for me?

TQJ:  First, I see it and then I make it happen.


“A Violent Man” will be available on VOD in February, 2019.