Rodney L. Jones III may be young but he is already getting to know Hollywood’s greatest stars. He is currently a series regular on season 4 of Fargo. The critically acclaimed show stars Chris Rock. And Rodney plays Chris Rock’s traded son, Satchel Cannon. But that’s not all! Rodney will also star in Jordan Peele’s upcoming horror film Candyman in 2021. He’s previously appeared in shows like Lovecraft Country and Chicago Fire. Check out our interview with Rodney L. Jones III to learn about his exciting career!
Young Entertainment Mag: How did you get started in acting?
Rodney L. Jones III: I started out as a kid model. When I was 4 years old, I was modeling in a live news segment when I saw myself on the monitor. I started posing, and I wouldn’t leave the screen! That’s when people started suggesting that I get into acting. I moved on to doing theatre in summer camps, and later I began performing in regional theatre productions. That’s where I really got to understand what acting really was all about and when I decided it was something that I loved and want to continue doing. As I progressed, I fell into the wonderful world of on camera acting, and here we are!
YEM: Are there any actors or performances that inspired you to become an actor?
Rodney L. Jones III: Some actors that have inspired me to keep going are Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Samuel Jackson because of the characters they’ve played and how well they portrayed them.
YEM: Tell is about your character Satchel Cannon in Fargo.
Rodney L. Jones III: Satchel is the youngest son of crime boss Loy Cannon (played by Chris Rock), who is traded to an Italian crime family as a means to keep peace during a time where war is looming. He’s a kid who has been thrust into being a part of his father’s crime business without even having a choice as to whether he wants to or not. In the first episode, you can see that he was angry with his father for being forced to do this, but he ultimately accepts it.
YEM: Fargo deals with racism in the 1950s. How does it reflect the racism we’ve seen in 2020?
Rodney L. Jones III: Racism in the 1950s reflects racism now because some of the same issues then are present now. Police brutality, discrimination, and inequality still exist. People of color, whether they’re innocent or not, are being affected more than others. It’s crucial that change happens. People need to focus on caring for each other so that everyone can have a chance at a better life.
YEM: Satchel is caught up in the middle of gang tension and he also faces racism and brutality. How does experiencing those struggles affect Satchel?
Rodney L. Jones III: Satchel starts this installment of Fargo as a pretty innocent kid slightly unaware of all of the dangers around him because he had a good family life at home. While being with the Fadda family, he’s treated poorly and made to feel less than. It definitely makes him passive and anxious. Towards the end of the season, he’s looking over his shoulder at every turn. In the end, Satchel has to decide between being a helpless kid on his own or fend for himself and stay alive. Through his journey, you see him continually being mistreated, and instead of it breaking him down he in time becomes empowered. It makes him tougher and more aware, which he has to be if he wants to survive.
YEM: You have roles in Lovecraft Country and Candyman both of which also have themes addressing systemic racism in American history. Why do you think it’s important to represent these issues in stories?
Rodney L. Jones III: Movies often reflect real life in different ways. It is important to present these issues in stories because they make people aware of what’s going on in the world, whether it has affected them or not. Racism is frightening, and for people that have experienced it, it can feel like being in a horror movie. Representing these topics on screen gives a strong voice to those who haven’t been heard.
YEM: What was it like working with Jason Schwartzman and Ben Whishaw in Fargo?
Rodney L. Jones III: Jason and Ben were like my best buddies on set. Jason is really funny and also really kind. We had fun playing games in between filming, and whenever we had scenes together he was really considerate about letting me know what to expect if his character had to be nasty towards Satchel. Rabbi was like a father figure to Satchel on screen, and Ben was the same to me off screen. He always looked out for me and was a great person to talk to. When we wrapped production of Fargo, I gifted him a musical Chicago snow globe, and he gave me a typewriter because he knew I had always wanted one.
YEM: What is it like to have been cast in such big projects like Candyman and Fargo?
Rodney L. Jones III: It was mind blowing! I believe in myself and my talent, but to have casting executives at big networks and creators like Noah Hawley, Nia DaCosta, and Jordan Peele all say they believe in me, too, was a real honor.
YEM: What have you learned from your experiences on set?
Rodney L. Jones III: One thing I learned from being on set is to be observant and open to learning new things because you learn something new every day no matter how much of an expert you are. Two other things I learned were how to chop wood with Ben Wishaw in a deleted Fargo scene and to always bring some quiet games to set to play with in between scenes.
YEM: What’s your favorite part of working as an actor?
Rodney L. Jones III: My favorite part of acting is that you can play a variety of characters with tons of different backgrounds in various scenarios, and that’s something that I really enjoy. It’s fun!
YEM: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Rodney L. Jones III: In my spare time, I enjoy building Lego sets, watching Star Wars over and over, playing Star Wars video games, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, fencing, and playing with lightsabers.