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Jonathan Lipnicki on His Roles in Indie Films: ‘It Feels Like Family’

Jonathan Lipnicki is an actor who has been working in the business since he was a child in the mid-1990s. Currently cast in a number of films, we asked him his latest films. Here’s what he had to say.

Hello Jonathan and thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Most probably know you from your debut with Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire and in the Stuart Little films, but you’ve been very busy since. It’s good to see a child actor continue as successfully as you have. This is an obvious question but one I’m really interested to ask you about; how was it growing up in this business?

I have amazing parents, so my time growing up in the business was split with going to public school throughout my whole scholastic career and playing youth league sports.

Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki, Renée Zellweger–Jerry Maguire, 1996 © TriStar Pictures

Actors have always lived in a fishbowl of sorts, but even more so now with social media and our ever-widening celebrity-obsessed culture. Having grown up as an actor while the internet grew itself, it generating greater and greater exposure to celebrities, has this been a challenge for you, especially considering your high profile start?

Yeah, many facets of social media really bug me, people can be so mean! It was especially tough during puberty, it’s really tough when you feel like you are being kicked while you are already down. Its best to just drown out the negative noise by focusing on the positive responses you get from fans.

You’ve worked a lot in television over the years, though now we’re seeing you quite a bit in film with many more in production. What’s that transition been like?

I’m still really in that transition right now, and to be honest it has been pretty difficult, but the best things in life worth doing are tremendously difficult.

Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki (second from left)Pitching Tents, 2017 © Meritage Pictures

You’ve had a string of pretty cool Indie films of late, of which I’ve had the chance to review several, including Circus Kane, Altitude, Boone: The Bounty Hunter and Pitching Tents. These have been pretty diverse roles, from horror to comedy and I’ve really enjoyed watching you work. Is there a genre of films you find yourself drawn to?

I’m not really drawn to a specific genre, I am just open minded and drawn to specific characters and storylines. I would really like to be on a TV series next.

Independent films are reaching more and more audiences these days. What do you like about working with these filmmakers and with smaller studios?

I like indie movies, because it feels like a family. You are all there because you truly want to be there, nobody is there just to collect a paycheck. Everyone is working towards a specific goal, and you don’t have the resources that big budget movies do, so it’s a great bonding experience for cast and crew.

You are clearly having a lot of fun with Circus Kane, where you get a little physical in a gory horror story. Care to share some thoughts on that experience? Did any of that character have a little of you in it?

I had a lot of fun on that one because I was working with some really awesome people and it was non-stop action the whole time. I was most excited to do that fight scene, because they let me collaborate on that and show what I can do with my marital arts background.

I want to talk about Pitching Tents a bit. It’s a sort of coming of age teen-sex comedy with a genuine heart that I kind of connected with. Tell us about your character Scott. Did you have any freedom to develop Scott on your own.  I ask because the film has a real improvisational feel to it.

READ MORE: Our Full Review of Jonathan Lipnicki‘s Indie Comedy Pitching Tents

Scott was originally quite different, but the whole team and especially the director Jacob Cooney was really amazing about letting me change a few things. Jacob is now a friend of mine, he is an amazing guy to work with. I think Scott is really a straight-laced guy who still likes to have fun with his friends even though they might lack some of the maturity he has. 

The film has you outside a lot with an ensemble cast, much of the story taking place around a weekend party in the woods. What was that like?

Working outdoors is a challenge for various logistical reasons, but at times it really felt like I was at summer camp with my friends. It was a great experience, even if I did end up totally covered in bug bites.

Jonathan Lipnicki
Pitching Tents, 2017 © Meritage Pictures–Courtesy Sweeny Photography

As mentioned, you’re very busy. Could you tell us maybe about some upcoming projects you’ve got releasing?

I just had a recurring role in a series on Verizon go90 called Mr. Student Body President, which just premiered recently on their streaming service. I have a christmas movie called A Second Chance, in post production and I am working on developing some more projects as well as auditioning and training in martial arts.

Our site dedicates a lot of content to discussing important moments in film, writing about their influence and impact on cinema. I’m wondering, are there any moments in your own movies, or any movie for that matter, that you especially like?

The cinematography in the opening sequence of Donnie Darko, changed how I thought about introducing characters in a movie. Its beautiful how you learn so much about the characters with no dialogue.

Thank you so much for talking with us. Best of luck with your continuing success and I hope our paths cross again soon. (Feel free to close this with any comments of your own)

Thanks so much.

Pitching Tents is now available on VOD, Digital and DVD including iTunes (here) and Amazon (here)

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