Memorable TV speaks to actor Jason Connery about his role in new family drama series Shoebox Zoo on release now from Roadshow Home Entertainment.
There’s a first time for everything and for Jason Connery, star of the popular 1980s television series, Robin of Sherwood, and the stage production of The Blue Room in 2002, it’s playing a dad in Shoebox Zoo.
The six foot tall son of James Bond legend Sir Sean Connery laughs when he says: “Now I’ve reached 41, I’m finally playing dads – but it’s cool. I don’t mind.” As Marnie’s father, Jason brings more than 20 years acting experience in more than 20 films to the role of the ex-pat academic and newly-widowed Ross McBride.
One thing he did flinch at though was his character’s bad dress sense. “My street cred is totally out of the window,” exclaims the designer label-loving actor, who in real life is dad to seven-year-old son Dashiell. “Have you seen how I dress in this? Although, you never know, there might be a cult following for people dressed in outdoor tops and checked shirts.”
Jason, 41, was delighted to be back on home territory for the filming of the first series of Shoebox Zoo. Most of the action was shot in a warehouse in Leith, not far from where his dad grew up. Although Jason was born in London, he spent a great deal of time in Scotland. He attended Prince Charles’ old school, Gordonstoun, in the north of Scotland for four years and, a few years ago, he bought a house in Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, so the Scottish accent he shows off in Shoebox Zoo was effortless.
“I always felt an affinity with Scotland but I thought I would end up further north than the Borders. But I really love it there, there’s something about that beautiful undulating countryside which is unique in the world.”
Jason currently divides his time between his home in the Borders and Los Angeles, where son Dashiell, named after a character in the Maltese Falcon, lives with his mother, Jason’s ex-wife, actress Mia Sara. The couple share custody of their son and Jason is clearly a devoted father.
“I’m sure he’ll love the story of Shoebox Zoo which is one of the reasons I wanted to do it. It has such a magical quality.” Jason is also full of praise for his young co-star, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, whom he describes as ‘amazing’. “I have acted with a lot of kids before in Robin of Sherwood, but she is incredible, very natural.” He continues: “She has been filming every day and a lot of it has been the digital animation stuff , which in effect is acting with nothing; just the voices of Rik Mayall, Alan Cumming, Simon Callow and Siobhan Redmond. You have good voices to work with but it is bizarre looking at nothing.”
Jason describes his character Ross as being a normal guy who is thrown into a difficult situation following the death of his young wife.
“Ross is originally from Edinburgh but went to live in Denver for 13 years. He is an academic, a Special Collections Curator, and one of the reasons he is drawn to the second hand shop in Edinburgh, where Marnie finds the Shoebox Zoo, is his need to find a first edition.”
Although Jason admits that the animation side of Shoebox Zoo is fascinating, his character is not party to it and stays very much in the real world. Jason explains: “When Marnie starts to act strangely, Ross thinks his daughter is going through a nervous breakdown because her mother has just died. “But hopefully throughout Shoebox Zoo you’ll witness the growth of the relationship between father and daughter. I am not involved in this whole other magical world, the animals keep running past me, and I don’t have a clue.”