Everybody knows about “Ted,” the adorably foul-mouthed teddy bear that caught movie-goers attention this past summer. One of the many highlights from the comedy was Sam Jones, best known as the blonde-haired hero in the 1980 cult film “Flash Gordon.” When John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) get to finally hang out with their movie hero, the craziest night of their life. We got the opportunity to speak with “Flash Gordon” himself, Sam Jones about his involvement with the production along with a look back at his career and what else he’s got on his plate in security and film.
Now I’m really curious about your line of work in security. Could you give us a little bit more information on it?
Sam Jones: Well, I work on a higher level of security. I started working alongside the Secret Service, the US State Department and from that for the last seven years we’ve been in San Diego doing cross-border security operations. I absolutely enjoy it, especially being in San Diego.
Yeah, San Diego is a gorgeous city. What’s the big thrill with doing that kind of work?
Sam Jones: Well I’ve been doing this my whole life. It’s always been in my nature. People that would know me would tell you that I’m very anal about safety and security. The same thing I do in Mexico is the same thing I do in San Diego or Los Angeles. I never drop my guard. It’s not that I’m paranoid, it’s just maybe I was born this way. I kind of think like a criminal, meaning that I always try to be a step ahead of their game especially since I have five children. I enjoy it. I absolutely enjoy protecting people, keeping their lives safe and keeping my family safe. I really enjoy it. I really feel like it’s a part of my assignment in life. [Laughs] And I’m not bulls–ting but I’m very good at it. There are similarities between movie making and running a security operation. It’s very, very close between the preparation, the planning, and the project itself. It’s all basically the same. It’s quite fascinating.
And how did you end up being a part of “Ted” in the first place? You haven’t done a television show or a movie in a few years.
Sam Jones: Yeah, I haven’t. Seth (MacFarlane) just called me. He called me and told me that I inspired him when he was eight or nine. Now he’s become a success, this super creative guy and then wanted me to come on board to do his movie. I was like yeah, let’s talk about, let’s read it and we’ll do it from there.
Yeah, and your scenes in the movie are hilarious. I’m curious, are you getting a sudden resurgence in popularity because of your appearance in “Ted”?
Sam Jones: Well I was already getting recognized from “Flash Gordon” and all of that. The thing that throws people off is that I don’t have the same kind of hair that I do in “Flash Gordon.” A lot of people don’t normally put two and two together. At the same time that’s how Seth wanted to do that hairstyle in the movie. He wanted the hair to look like it did 30+ years ago in “Flash Gordon.” As a matter of fact, in the script it says “Inexplicably his hair looks exactly the same it did thirty-three years ago and it’s never explained why. It just is.” It was a change compared to how my hair has been for the past twenty or so years, just a high flat top. A lot of people don’t really know that it’s me or if they know me as “Flash Gordon” then they can eventually put two and two together.
I’m curious, since you’re slightly retired from acting —
Sam Jones: Actually it’s funny that you say that. Slightly retired. Am I only sitting halfway in a rocking chair? [laughs]
Oh I didn’t mean that in a negative way. I hope I didn’t insult you!
Sam Jones: No no, not at all. It’s a funny statement, I’ve never heard that before. That’s hysterical.
I never saw myself as being retired from films. It’s just this kind of thing where if the phone’s not ringing, I’m not one to push the issue with anybody. My whole life, the more that I go after something, basically the more I fell on my face. So if they call me, then they call me, which works for me because in my life, with the failures and successes that I’ve had, the people that pursued me, I don’t exactly sit around and wait for the phone to ring. The years where I was pursued was where I had the greatest success. If I’m not, and I go ahead with a lost of haste, a lot of stress, the more I’m anxious to get back, the more of that the more likely I’ll fall on my face.
Right now I feel like the timing is right. I have a couple of projects right now in development that I was told not to talk about. This may seem as a little bit odd but I always saw myself in my twenties and thirties working as an actor. I don’t know if God showed this to me or it was just a dream I had, but I always felt that when I was in my late twenties and thirties that a lot of my work, a lot of my major work would have happened in my sixties and seventies. I always felt that way in my life. I enjoyed security work and I enjoy doing more film projects. I have some projects that I’m working on, some projects that I’m really excited about getting produced. I think I’m going to be busy in the next twenty, twenty-five years doing a lot of projects and television series.
That’s interesting because you run into a lot of people in their twenties and thirties and they’re just kind of thinking in the now so for you to have that kind of mindset when you were in your twenties and thirties is pretty cool.
Sam Jones: Well I mean I felt that what I told you what I told you, but at that time I was still thinking in the now. Really there were a lot of foolish decisions I made in those early years where I just wish I had listened, that I had surrounded myself with positive mentors rather than just kind of bare knuckle things and do things on my own. Again, I don’t blame anybody. I take responsibility for every decision I’ve ever made. It’s kind of neat now. We’re all going to make mistakes but the one thing you don’t want to do, you don’t want to be redundant. You don’t want to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Thank God I think I passed that stage. [laugh]
“Ted” is out on DVD and Blu-ray now.