James Rudolph is the pen name of Hollywood denizen, writer and actor James Mathers, who has written two new e-books, Cindy Eyes and Henry & Dad. Mathers was born and raised in Seattle Washington and attended the University of Washington and Southwestern University Law School. He began his career as an actor and playwright in the 70s in San Francisco, moved to New York in the 80s to continue to work in TV, film and theater.
HR: Tell us a little about your books and what was the inspiration for them?
JR: “Henry & Dad” is based on a one-act play I wrote, inspired by a conversation I had with my son a few years earlier. The play was produced a couple of times, did well, and then the one-act turned into the novel. The hero, Henry, a construction worker finds his girlfriend pregnant and missing and has to reconcile with his alcoholic father in order to solve the mystery surrounding her disappearance. It’s a fast-paced novel. An e-book to open up at LAX and by the time you get to Denver, you’ll be at the last page.
“Cindy’s Eyes” is the story of Ray, a Hollywood taxi driver in the early seventies, and his remarkable fares. Ray falls for one of his fares, Cindy, a porno queen, and tries to drag her out of the hell she’s in. They try to make it but she’s a victim of her addictions and slides back into the life. Ray follows. This book has all the action of Hollywood in the early seventies – sex, drugs, rock and roll.
I actually did drive a cab in Hollywood in 1969 – up and down the boulevard, and these stories are a composite of some of the great fares I had. People open up in the back seat of a taxi cab especially at night, and they tell stories that they wouldn’t tell anyone else because they know the cab driver doesn’t give a fuck. These stories prompted the character of Ray, a great flawed hero who is looking for himself actually, as he drives his yellow sarcophagus through the night.
HR: What are you working on now?
JR: I’m finishing my third novel, “Gold Cup”, about the famous after hour’s coffee shop that used to be on the corner of Hollywood and Las Palmas, it’s gone now, but it was where everybody congregated – cabbies, hookers, all the people of the night.
HR: What is “Gold Cup” about?
JR: In “Gold Cup” Ray again recounts memorable fares, and falls for a biker chick named Mabel. Yes, that is her name. Mabel is the “property” of Fang, the leader of the local One-Percenters, a violent spin-off of the Hell’s Angels. “Gold Cup” deals with Ray’s adventure with them and his love for Mabel, the looker from the Valley. The book should be available for download by Christmas.
HR: Your bio says that you attended law school, what made you change your focus to show business?
JR: Well, I went to law school at night here in Los Angeles at Southwestern for a couple of years, then I graduated from Beverly College of Law which later became Whittier Law School, I believe. While I was there, I learned to have an appreciation for case law – stories that have happened to real people – and the stories fascinated me. I loved law school and was a good student, but during that time I was also starting to write and sell low-budget scripts, short stories and essays. Basically I was lured into show business by going to law school and driving a cab.
HR: What did you do in San Francisco before the move to New York and what was the attraction to go first to the Big Apple instead of coming to Hollywood?
In San Francisco, I actually joined the life of the theater. In acting, like in writing, you create a character and that’s what turns me on. I met my wife in San Francisco, and she and I built a couple of lofts – I was working as an actor in theater, commercials and movies and she worked as a graphic designer – but there was always the lure of the big city so we checked out the scene in both New York and LA, finally deciding to pack up, move to New York and become New Yorkers. We lived in lower Manhattan for almost ten years, where I worked as an actor, did theater, TV, movies. It was fine life – exciting.
HR: You have a website, what are you promoting on it?
JR: Oh, the studio44hollywood.com site is all of the projects and capabilities we have, my wife Dallas and I, including graphic design, writing and web projects we are producing. Now we’ve gone into this new world of publishing, and that’s on the web site. It shows the books we’ve done so far. It’s quite a process – writing the books, formatting, designing the covers, and also designing the websites including this one and our book sites, henryanddad.com and cindyseyes.com. We are offering these services to others as well.
HR: The Zombie Radio Show sounds very interesting…tell us about that?
JR: I started writing with my partner, Craig Sabin, a web series which is a radio show satire based upon the “zombie apocalypse” which stuck New York in 2013. New Yorkers find themselves faced with zombies lurching about trying to eat their brains. I’m Jimmy Rudolph, the radio show host who bring you jazz in the middle of the night, reports traffic updates, news and announces zombie outbreaks. We now have over seventy hilarious and edgy two- to five-minute episodes produced and up on zombieradioshow.com
HR: You have a unique style of writing, how did you develop it?
JR: Mostly playwriting. In playwriting you have the ordinary world and the characters populating that ordinary world. Playwriting helped me develop dialogue skills, because it requires that the story be told by the actor, who interprets the words, and presents them to you through behavior. So rather than just writing expositional paragraph after paragraph, I try to have more dialogue, more action, and let the reader imagine the location, the setting as the characters describe them. That’s where the fast action and fast pace comes from. Language is changing today. Short form content is replacing long form. I’m just trying to stay ahead of the wave, on the leading edge, but it ain’t easy.
HR: I understand you are a working actor. What are some of your recent roles and do you have anything coming up we should look for on TV or in the movies?
JR: I keep fairly busy acting. I’ve got some commercials running and a TV pilot coming out with Jon Voight, Leiv Schreiber and Elliot Gould. I’m also in the movie “7500”, a teen horror thriller on a plane, directed by “The Grudge” director, Tak Shimizu, where I play the old guy on the flight from LAX to Tokyo and then, well…horror happens. This will be released soon. In a recent Hyundai spot I’m a CEO riding in a Genesis with my minion. I have a heart attack and the driver shocks me back to life with the seat belt. It’s a funny spot and played on the Super Bowl and the Oscars. And I did a “Got Milk” spot and some other stuff – I just try to keep busy. That’s the name of the game.
HR: You have a Writer’s Group that meets at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City, how did that get started and is it more for support or networking?
JR: That’s “The Writers Group”. My wife and I arrived here in LA from New York in 1990, got a sweet little house in the hills and thought we had it made, but soon found ourselves strangers in a strange land, and work was hard to find. So we got together with some other friends, writer and actors, from New York and began bringing them up to our house on Wednesday nights to read the work we’d all been doing – plays, short stories, screenplays, prose, poetry – and give ourselves positive feedback. Then that became a weekly thing – Wednesday night – from seven to ten. Eventually we moved to a theater over Jerry’s Deli, and then to NoHo for a while, then we found a permanent home at the Two Roads Theater in Studio City. We’ve been doing this now for 22 years and the output has been prodigious. The Writers Group has been a stimulus for all of us all these years.
It’s motivating, it’s community, it’s supportive and it’s networking – networking is the job of everyone in our industry – it’s the woof and warp of the industry.
HR: What is next for James Rudolph?
JR: Writing my third book, “Gold Cup” – That’s going to be a schlepp – I‘m only about half way through and I’m on the rotation at the Writers Group now and I’m going to have to start bringing in pages and let the group give me their feedback – which is always challenging to the writer. But it’s very good to get that kind of feedback because the writer’s skin needs to thicken up. You’ll need it if you ever get your screenplay into a studio, as Dallas and I did with a couple of pieces, one which we optioned with Fox Searchlight, and did a rewrite. We would sit in meetings with the suits and listen to them change our beloved screenplay into something almost unrecognizable. But you have to sit there and you have to address the notes, even if they are insulting, and not run screaming from the room. Anyway, right now I’m concentrating on finishing “Gold Cup”.
HR: Thanks for talking with us.