Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.

Cross. Clinch. Choke. Swing for the fences. All terms from the sport of MMA, which actor Jonathan Tucker knows well as one of the stars of DirecTV’s character-driven show Kingdom, all about the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Tucker plays Jay Kulina, a troubled kid who is a fighter and an addict; his depiction of the complex character is often disturbing but endlessly compelling. From the good guy in Parenthood to the bad guy in Hannibal, Tucker is known for throwing himself into his work and having the ability to transform his physical appearance; he lost thirty pounds in a matter of weeks for his role in Kingdom. When he is not working on his double leg takedown, Tucker is the founder of the Pegasus Fund, which takes top-performing students in under-served communities and sends them to summer camp to help them prepare for the the private secondary schools they hope to attend. The Overhead Compartment went a few rounds with the highly talented Tucker in search of a unanimous decision about his intense workouts, his crazy diet and his life.

The Overhead Compartment with Jonathan Tucker begins now….

OC: You play an intense, high-energy character that is an MMA fighter. How did you prepare physically?

JT: Strict diet, mentally-intense weight lifting, boxing, yoga, and Alexander Technique sessions which involves animal work. With the right dialogue, you can fool an audience into thinking you’re a doctor or a lawyer, but the character and body are wedded for a role like Jay on “Kingdom”.

OC: What kind of diet do you follow to help maintain your appearance?

JT: Butter coffee in the morning (https://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-make-your-coffee-bulletproof-and-your-morning-too/)
Whey protein isolate (http://www.mullinswhey.com/)
Cold pressed juices

OC: How did you lose 30 pounds in a matter of weeks?

JT: You know the drill: eat a lot less, never cheat, and keep up the fitness. It’s a battle of will.

OC: Would you ever want to have an MMA fight for real?

JT: Not a chance.

OC: How about preparing mentally for the role?

JT: It’s all mental, even the body work. I dive deep with a Jungian acting coach named John Markland and we build real, dynamic characters together. It’s exciting, taxing work — we rarely, if ever, read scenes aloud.

OC: What does your wife think of the crazy character her husband plays on the screen?

JT: She’s my most ardent supporter and most passionate collaborator. She sculpts Jay’s journey as much as anybody.

OC: How do people react when they recognize you from the show?

JT: Everyone has a friend whose loyalty knows no bounds. People see me and Jay in that positive light. Also, I find myself declining more drug offers these days.

OC: Nick Jonas plays your brother in Kingdom. Have you had the experience of seeing a group of young girls reacting to him?

JT: Yes. He’s been handling fans with aplomb for over a decade now. That kid is a real professional.

OC: You wrote a song for his album, how did that come about?

JT: Right place. Right time. What … are you mad I went pop?

OC: You did ballet as a child, do you still dance today?

JT: I don’t, but it made me appreciate how the connection between the body and the spirit is critical for actors.

OC: At weddings perhaps?

JT: Obviously. I get down at nuptial celebrations.

OC: What was the most interesting city your work has ever taken you to?

JT: Pittsburgh. On ice or grass we’ll still kick Cleveland’s ass. Feel the Pittsburgh steel.

OC: What did you do during your downtime?

JT: I’m happiest in the living room of my 1927 home in Los Angeles reading.

OC: You live in Los Angeles, top three favorite restaurants?

JT: Aliki’s Greek Taverna, Al Wazir Chicken and Hunan Cafe

OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:

JT: The New York Times, the New Yorker or the New York review of books and a Boston Red Sox hat.

Jonathan Tucker, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!