Jon Cryer… recognize the name from somewhere? If so, I’m guessing that you would recognize him from the John Hughes film, Pretty in Pink. Pretty in Pink is his one claim to fame roll (even though he’s been in many other films, plays, and TV shows), but it’s easy to understand why people can’t get over the 80s version of him. Who couldn’t love the adorable Duckie Dale that serenades (er… or eloquently lip syncs) “Try a Little Tenderness” for Molly Ringwald, a girl he has loved since before he can remember. He’s so cute with his thin limbs and 80s hair. He’s still cute, but he doesn’t necessarily want to be known as “Duckie” anymore.
Obviously an actor's greatest ambition is to do a character that everyone remembers. By the same token, I ain't that guy any more. I have very complex feelings about it. To have so many people come up to you and say they remember you from this nice little movie - it feels oddly ... I wouldn't say trivial, but sort of serendipitous. Sort of like, isn't life weird to be known for that.
However, it is fame, no?… He’s not bitter
. “It's great to be recognized. It means I still have enough hair to be recognized as Duckie, and that makes me happy
. It also means I've been moisturizing enough,” but something tells me he has being a little sarcastic
. Come to think of it… I think he was being very sarcastic. But it is fame. He’s down to earth enough to face the facts—he will always be Duckie.
(On a side note, every single interview I read while researching Jon had the name “Duckie” in it… “Jon Cryer: Actor, writer, producer, 'Duckie'”, “Cryer (Duckie!) and his best friend…”, and so on)
So, Mr. Cryer, was born in New York City on April 16, 1965. His father, David Cryer, was apparently an actor back in the day, and his mother, Gretchen Cryer, was a writer, songwriter, and actress. You could say the acting bug was in his genes. He has always wanted to be an actor, and at the age of four, he appeared in a commercial with his mother. He hasn’t stopped acting since. He began stage acting when he was in junior high school, and he continued acting in high school. He went to the Bronx High School of Science but transferred to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England during his senior year. Even though he is mainly known for his movies, it should be noted that he stared in the Broadway productions of Torch Song Trilogy and Brighton Beach Memoirs.
In 1984, he was in No Small Affair with Demi Moore. It’s an O.K. 1980’s film, but nothing to get too excited over, but maybe that’s just my anti-Demi bias speaking out of turn. Pretty in Pink came two years later, follwed by Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home, Hiding Out, and Superman IV (as the “neo” guy). The 90’s brought more work, but nothing major. He was the laughable Jim “Wash Out” Pfaffenbach in Hot Shots!. He was also in The Pompatus of Love, an amusing little flick that contemplates love (and the meaning of lyrics).
He also had a TV show on FOX called “Getting Personal” with Vivica A. Fox. It was a typical situation comedy that got too old too fast. I remember watching a few episodes (for Jon), but… eh. It was alright, but no Seinfeld. Vivica desribed it as, "It's all about how your workplace carries into your personal life, and sometimes it gets a little too personal.” Yes, a cliché comedy. How unfortunate. I hear that it got better over time, but still… nobody watched. Let’s see… Friday nights. I was probably watching TGIF or some other crap like that. Jon had this to say about “Getting Personal”:
It is actually really fun. By the end of the last season we realized that we wanted to do a sex farce more than we wanted to do the workplace comedy thing. So we sort of turned it into this very randy, very adult show. And it's fun. It's really fun to do a show that I actually laugh at.
The problem is we're on Friday nights and not many adults are home on Friday nights, so right now we're kind of the best-kept secret in television… You can't do television shows caring whether or not the network picks you up. You can only do them enjoying the work, because if you're always on pins and needles about whether you'll be picked up, you'll lose your mind. I learned that the hard way. That's one of the reasons I've been active in doing independent films and especially starting to write, because you always feel like you've got something going on and you always feels like you've got a project that supersedes what you're dealing with right at that moment, and that has really helped me retain my sanity.
Thanks for the nice segue, Jon! He has also dabbled very successfully in the writing/producing of indie films. He teamed up with Richard Schenkman, a newcomer to the business, to create Went to Coney Island on a Mission From God... Be Back By Five (Cryer as co-writer, actor and producer and Schenkman as co-writer and director). The plot revolves around two men looking for a childhood friend rumored to be living homeless on Coney Island. The story is based off of some of Cryer’s real-life experiences. One was of a friend with a heavy drinking problem that summoned Cryer to Coney Island late one night. The other was of Cryer and a friend finding a childhood acquaintance living homeless in Central Park.
The production was quite complicated, like any independent film on a low budget. Cryer and his partner had to pay off carnies on Coney Island to turn down their loud music (luckily Cryer could help with his full bank account). They also had to sneak their filming crew into a subway car for a scene that was filmed without a permit. Cryer, a man used to the biz and following rules, was quite nervous. "I was petrified the whole time. Richard was fine about it, he was sure that the worst that would happen is some cops would show up and say, 'Get the hell out of here,' and we'd jump on another train. But our director of photography was sure they'd actually take the camera."
In the end, some critics openly embraced the film while others thought it was worth renting but not worth seeing in the theatre. Independent festivals loved it, and it won an independent film award from the Blockbuster people.
Despite being confused as Duckie and his acting struggles, Jon Cryer is a very happy man. He likes the struggles; they prove he’s working. In between films, he acts in off-Broadway plays and on stage in London. He is also writing another script and hopes to direct in the future. He likes his work, and he thinks of it as work. In short, he doesn’t expect special treatment, and his periodic fame makes him moderately uncomfortable. “I've never been in rehab or had any kind of drug or alcohol problem. I sometimes wish I had, so I could have something to discuss on the talk shows" (People Magazine, September 23, 1991).