John Fertitta, a veteran stage, screen, and television actor, has worked with five Academy Award-nominated directors including Gary Ross, who directed John in his latest film role portraying Judge in Free State of Jones. As John puts it, recounting his good fortune, "When you're in 'lucky town,' you never want to leave."
John Phillip Fertitta was the youngest member of a raucous Italian family. He grew up in a little A-frame house behind his father's butcher shop located on the outskirts of downtown Shreveport, Louisiana. "In those days," says John, "we Italian kids lived on top of the store, behind the store, or not too damned far from the store."
John escaped the harshness of blue collar life and the cultural conflicts of the 1960s by going to the movies, a love instilled in John by his father, Tony. Every Saturday, rain or shine, John took the streetcar to the old downtown library to read Variety and dream. In this way, he educated himself about the film industry and primed himself for success.
The movies came next. Through a series of lucky coincidences in the 1970s, John met independent film makers Jim McCullough and Charles B. Piece. Both hired John and gave him opportunities to learn film craft behind and on camera. These independent films set him firmly on his career path. Video Murders, a low-budget film directed by Jim McCullough, was John's first substantial film appearance as Lt. Delvecchio. This cult classic paved the way for John's major debut in in Mississippi Burning directed by Alan Parker. Then in 1989, John shared the screen with film icon Paul Newman when he was cast in Blaze by director Ron Shelton. The role advanced John's career to the next level.
Working in quick succession with innovative film directors Walter Hill, Robert Dornhelm, and Christopher Reeve, John began accepting roles that expanded his ability to find new places in himself. He solidified his approach and matured into an actor who understood nuance and exuded confidence. John's hard work bore fruit when iconoclastic director Lee Daniels cast John to play alongside Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron in the dark drama, The Paper Boy. This role confirmed John's prowess and screen presence when Daniels hired John, once again. This time, John worked with Academy Award-winner Forest Whittaker as Mr. Jenkins in The Butler.
John's career includes regular appearances on television-most recently in Roots and NCIS New Orleans. He continually looks forward to finding challenging roles which encourage him to reinvent himself.
Ask him any day, and John will tell you,'' I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. I really am.''
Name: John P. Fertitta
Known for: Lee Daniels' The Butler