John Frederick had always been interested in movies and acting when a chance encounter after Hurricane Harvey got him started. Now he has made his major movie debut in a big way. He has a role in Tom Hanks’ “Greyhound,” about a World War II ship.
It wasn’t a big stretch for Frederick’s acting chops. He plays a Navy chief, a position he held when he retired after 20 years in the U.S. Navy.
Not only was he an actor, he served as the leader of a “Navy boot camp” for the other actors so they could learn how to play their jobs in the accurate military style.
His new career started when he met someone after Harvey who had been doing bit roles in movies and TV. The friend referred him to a casting director and soon Frederick was doing background work during shooting in Dallas. It lead to a part in December 2018 on the TV series “Disappeared.”
He talked to other actors and mentioned that he had retired from the Navy. Before long, he was getting minor appearances as a Navy captain in NCIS New Orleans with his roles filmed that city. He jokes that captain was “a big promotion” from his former job as chief.
Locally, he’s done a short film about the early days of the Spindletop Oil Field and an short independent film “Shhh,” which premiered this weekend at a festival in Lake Charles.
A friend told him about “Greyhound,” which was shooting on the USS Kidd, which is now a museum in Baton Rouge. Frederick sent a casting photo of him in his Navy dress uniform.
“They called and asked me to meet with the director (Aaron Schneider) and the director of props,” he said.
The directors asked him to stand-in for shots and questioned him about Navy terminology. Then they asked him to teach the “boot camp” aboard the USS Kidd for the others.
“I taught them how to act Navy,” he said.
He worked with Captain Dale Dye, who is a legend in the movie business. Dye is a U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam War who became an actor and military advisor. His work includes “Platoon,” “Band of Brothers,” and “Saving Private Ryan.”
Frederick said he met Tom Hanks the first day he arrived in Baton Rouge. Hanks asked questions about the ship and they would often talk between scenes.
“Greyhound” is based on the novel “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester about the captain of a destroyer that is part of a 1942 Allied convoy traveling in the Atlantic Ocean, which has Nazi U-boats threatening.
The film was set for a major theatrical release this summer, but the Covid 19 pandemic halted the premiere. Apple TV bought the movie and it is now available by pay through that online service.
Frederick isn’t the only Orange County native that can be seen in “Greyhound.” Parts of the USS Orleck, a destroyer built in Orange at the end of World War II were used in scenes. The Orleck was saved by an Orange preservation group in 2000 and later moved to Lake Charles. The ship is supposed to be moved to Jacksonville, Florida, but plans are on hold because of the pandemic.
The name John Frederick is an institution in Mauriceville. His ancestors were some of the original settlers and his late father, John Roy Frederick Sr., was known as “Mr. Mauriceville.”
John Frederick Jr. grew up there and went to LC-M High School. However, he graduated from high school in Arkansas. He said he moved there with his father after his aunt, Linda Frederick Thompson, and her husband, lawyer Marlin Thompson, were killed in a plane crash in 1988. They had been traveling to their ranch in the state and the Fredericks moved there to oversee the property.
John graduated from high school in 1991 and joined the Navy.
His wife, Tammra, also grew up in Mauriceville and is an LC-M graduate. They have four children and three grandchildren, one born two weeks ago.
Now that he’s been in a major film, Frederick has built up a resume that he hopes will attract an agent, who can get him more jobs. His name could be one to watch for as the credits go on screen.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-