THELONIOUS "T.J." JOHNSON as he appeared on the cover of a magazine.
There'll be plenty of chances to see 'TJ'
By Jeanne Sager
NEW YORK CITY November 23, 2007 It’s a start.
A whole day’s shooting will probably amount to a now you see him, now you don’t moment for Thelonious “TJ” Johnson on next week’s episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent (CI).
“You probably blink, and you’ll miss me,” the aspiring actor said with a laugh.
But for Johnson, it’s another domino that’s fallen in the right line.
Eight years ago, he left his childhood home in North Branch to pursue an acting career.
He’s hit his hurdles along the way, but the all-new CI episode set to air on the show’s new home, cable network USA, is proof positive he’s back on track.
“Things are fantastic,” Johnson said in a phone interview this week.
He spent an entire day shooting for CI, cast as the quarterback on a football team that’s being investigated in the alleged rape of a stripper who performed at a team party.
Following the common Law and Order path, the episode takes a headline and creates a story this one a take-off on the lacrosse team scandal at Duke University in Durham, NC.
Johnson’s part was miniscule, he admitted.
Cast as the quarterback, he wasn’t given lines for the part. But as the “players” ran plays, Johnson was instructed to “act like a quarterback.”
“You know, do the hike thing, yell at people for not blocking and stuff,” he explained.
Johnson, who played football from seventh grade through his sophomore year at Delaware Valley, got into the spirit, calling out mock plays.
“I’ll be the guy doing all the yelling in the background,” he said with a laugh, “number 13.”
The day’s shooting could feature heavily in the show or not.
Previews currently on the USA rotation show the team in the background of a confrontation between the coach and CI detectives Mike Logan (played by Chris Noth) and Nola Falacci (actress Alicia Witt).
“It was fun to play some football again,” Johnson said.
But he’s more excited about his upcoming spot on the soaps his second.
Last fall, he appeared in three scenes of “All My Children,” essentially as eye candy.
This Dec. 26, he’ll have an honest-to-goodness role in “One Life to Live.”
His character’s got a name… and lines!
Rick, a masseuse, is called in to ease the troubles of one of the ABC afternoon standby’s actresses.
The actress he worked with was “awesome,” Johnson said.
She shared stories of working with James Dean before the celebrated rebel without a cause died an early death.
Johnson got a taste of taking on a character for national television his first speaking role besides work he’s done in short films.
The two shows will give people back home a chance to see him on screen for at least a few moments, but coming February they’ll see him in heavy rotation in an Old Spice commercial.
“It’s going to be quite hilarious,” Johnson revealed. “Let’s just say there’s a wind machine and oil involved it will give people plenty to laugh at.”
Old Spice will begin its promotion around Feb. 11, airing the spots in markets across the country.
Meanwhile, Johnson is busy with auditions.
He continues to model, he said, but “that’s just a paycheck.”
He’s boarded the acting train, and he’s riding it to the end.
“Everything is popping off now,” he said. “It’s just fantastic.”
To keep up with Johnson, check out his Website, www.tjjohnson.com or sign up as his friend on Myspace at www.myspace.com/ theloniousjohnson.