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April 5, 2013

Can’t say no to G.I. Joe

Local toy store owner lands role in new blockbuster film.

Indianapolis — Todd Jordan loves G.I. Joe action figures. Like, loves G.I. Joe action figures.

He started collecting them as a kid and never stopped. Now the 35-year-old owns and sells one of the largest collections of the iconic 1980s toy in the Midwest at his store, Kokomo Toys and Collectibles, which he opened in 2010 with his wife Amber on East Morgan Street.

So when Jordan found out in 2011 he landed a part in the new movie “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” he was totally floored.

“I’m a huge fan of everything ‘Joe,’ so this was a dream come true,” he said in an email interview. “I grew up with these toys, and even now as an adult they are something I enjoy sharing with my own son.”

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” opened March 28 and raked in an estimated $41.2 million over the three-day weekend, making it the second biggest money-making Easter-debut movie in history.

Jordan said he spent two days filming in 2011 near Baton Rogue, La., where he played a reporter/photographer during a White House news conference. Although it was a non-speaking background role, he said it offered him his first chance to perform in a movie — and a big-budget blockbuster at that.

“I never thought of myself being in movies when I was younger,” he said. “However, I do enjoy the entertainment industry, and I’m a big fan of movies. So when I was given the opportunity, I couldn’t say no to G.I. Joe.”

Jordan said he got hooked up with the gig through a friend in New Orleans who’s been in several films. He put Jordan in touch with his casting agent, who got him into the movie. He said the whole process was a lot easier than he thought it would be.

“I always enjoyed drama in high school, but never saw myself as an actor, and I still don’t,” Jordan said. “But if the opportunity comes knocking, I’ll answer the door. Who wouldn’t?”

Jordan described his two days on set as hot and busy.

“Did I say hot? I tell you what, Louisiana heat is brutal in the summer,” he said.

The filming days went like this: Jordan arrived in the morning at the crew parking area and checked in with his casting director. After parking and passing the security checkpoint, he would head to the wardrobe tent to get his makeup and hair done. While waiting there, he could go get a free breakfast in the food area.

Then a 15-passenger van would pick up the crew and shuttle them out to the actual set, where they’d hang out in an air-conditioned tent until filming began and help themselves to a huge selection of free food and drinks.

“You couldn’t get a bag of cashews, but an entire can of them. Like those big ones at the grocery store,” he said. “It was pretty freaking awesome. There were these food and water depots throughout the entire location.”

From the tent, Jordan reported to the director, and filming began.

He said the director shot each scene he was in six times — three times at different angles, and three rehearsals for each angle. Between each take and rehearsal, the film crew would adjust and move things around and get everything perfect.

“Between shoots, you would just stand there and wait,” Jordan said. “However, there were water boys, makeup people, and people with hand fans and towels fixing your makeup and clothes. The main actors of course had their typical Hollywood chairs with their names on them and a small army of assistants doing everything for them. Like kings. But even with us, there was always someone asking if you needed anything.”

When they were ready for the rehearsal or the actual filming to begin, someone would yell, “Quiet on the set,” he said.

“It was funny, because it would repeat all through out the location all the way back to the entrance from various people,” Jordan said. “It was pretty funny, but it got dead quiet.”

After filming, the crew packed back into the van and headed to their vehicles.

“It was very friendly and loose,” he said, describing the filming process. “Like a bunch of friends getting together. You could really tell everyone was happy and pleased with the atmosphere and how everything was going.”

One thing Jordan said he found interesting was each crew member had a G.I. Joe action figure either hanging from their access pass or taped to their walkie talkie.

“I really thought that was awesome,” he said.

Jordan said he was in shoots with actor Jonathan Pryce, who starred in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and the James Bond flick “Tomorrow Never Dies.” In the G.I. Joe movie, he plays the U.S. president.

During lunch breaks, he said he had a chance to joke around with Pryce, who he described as an “amazing actor and a great person in real life.” He also met actor Matt Gerald, who stars in a number of popular TV series, and had time to shoot the breeze with director Jon Chu.

“I was like a kid with a $100 in a toy store,” he said. “It was certainly an amazing experience, something I will not soon forget. I was honored and humbled to be a part of not just a great movie and work with so many talented people, but to also be part of a franchise like G.I. Joe that I love and believe in.”

The whole experience created an acting itch in Jordan, who said he plans to try to land roles in the new Captain America and Transformer films.

“I’d love to have a principle speaking role in a major film or TV series one day, but I’m happy where I am in life,” he said. “... But don’t ever ask me to leave Kokomo for Hollywood, because I love my city and I would never leave here. I was born and raised in Kokomo, and there is no better place to live, work and raise our children.”

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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