Actor Jonathan M. Woodward chats ‘Joyrider: The Documentary’

Joss Whedon fans know Jonathan M. Woodward. Born in Moscow, ID the actor is well-known for his guest roles in all three Whedon favorites “Firefly,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel.” Now Woodward is proud to be associate producer of the exciting “Joyrider: The Documentary” and will soon have his Public Radio Master’s Degree from Fordham University. “Joyrider” starts filming this week as the crew follows badass wheelchair athlete André Kajlich as he becomes the first solo hand cyclist to compete in the Race Across America.

André Kajlich of "Joyrider: The Documentary' Photo courtesy of "Joyrider"
Jonathan M. Woodward: I’m working with Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) She was Glory; the big bad. The Kickstarter is already funded. We’re very happy. The race itself is a race across America with a wheelchair athlete named Andre? He is traveling 3,069 miles in three days on a handcycle. It’s one of the most grueling races known to man. It is an unbelievably difficult thing. He’s a total machine. His legs were chopped off by a commuter train in Prague in his early 20s. He’s since become a world-class athlete, and this is going to be first handcyclist to attempt this thing. We’re lining up a crew, we’ve got Greg Grunberg as a producer, and we’ve got Bianca Kajilch who’s known from “Rules of Engagement” and “Bring it On,” so we’re all going to California. We start shooting in a week, and we’re going to be following him across the country. We are popping up in Colorado through the southern end of Colorado through Cortez, Durango, Pagosa Springs, La Veta, Trinidad, Alamosa, before we spit ourselves out into Kansas. We’re trying to make a great film about an incredibly inspiring athlete. Clare brought me in on the project about three months ago. She’ll be directing; I’m an associate producer.

CB: Are there any other projects that you can share with your fans?

JMW: I’m going to Fordham University in the fall to be a journalist and to get my Master’s Degree. It’s a Public Radio Master’s Degree, so I’m a different kind of journalist. Public media journalism is responsible to a different cohort of individuals. We’re in the public trust and we’re publicly financed. We come together to provide a level of journalism that is one of the most highly respected independent voices in journalism today. The best statistic, the number one place for the most trusted news was public radio and NPR. There are no corporate interests, it’s free from the issues of media bias and journalism bias only because it’s made up member stations coming together in cells, and each one of the member stations represents the unique outlook and local kind of culture that it comes from. It definitely represents the culture and values of the community it represents.

 
JMW: We’re about to come out with a new push. It’s a tough race to plan on. I’ll be running home base. Thanks to a sponsor we have an RV to go to eat and sleep and recuperate. I’ll be running media management and logistical planning….and I’ve got to move the crew around. We hope to get to Annapolis. How many miles has he done before? J Well let me tell you. Oh, he is totally nuts. He is a world class athlete. He first started when he was trying to redefine himself in later years. He spent some times drinking a lot. He was a double amputee: one right at the hip, and one just above the knee. There were some tough years, and then the bought a handcycle off Craig’s list and entered a marathon. Since then, he has become the Panamerican Champion in Edmonton, USA’s Paratriathlete of the year in 2012, he’s an Iron Man World Champion in Kona, and he completed the Brazil135 Ultramarathon in the mountains of Brazil a few years back. He was literally dragging his bike up behind him, using one arm to drag himself, and then he would drag the bike because of the rainstorm. He’s a machine.

 
CB: Are you a geek? What are you into? Sci-fi? Comics?

 
JMW: I’m a sci-fi guy; I like robots with laser beam eyeballs. That’s really where my heart is at (laughs). I love reading comics but it’s not what wakes me up in the middle of the night. I’ve always been a space guy. “Firefly” was truly the culmination of many, many dreams of getting to be on that. I had some fun roles as an actor, but almost always I felt like I was in a lab coat. Joss gave me that role. I got to be the guy with the gun, I got to be a rogue space guy and it was the time of my life.

 
CB: Joss does like to break out hearts. I think you’ve died all three times in your roles with him.

 
JMW: He loves killing me and I love doing it. I talk to Clare about this from time to time. It’s an incredible little mafia of people that get to put that merit badge on their life; it’s a lifelong-defining thing to have participated in one of those remarkable pieces of work. He (Joss Whedon) is one the great voices in our culture, and it’s amazing to have spent that time with him.

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