BOSTON. Jed Kraznow “had a good run,” in his words, as a loveable teenager appearing in several direct-to-video gross-out films that appealed primarily to the all-important adolescent male demographic, including “I Saw You Scratch Yourself” and “Farthammer II.” “I was living the dream,” he says wistfully. “Making more than my dad and only 16 years old.”
Jed in “The Curse of Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease.”
All that ended when his voice changed and he became a post-adolescent schlub with a beer gut and facial hair. “My agent told me I could expect to wait tables for a decade,” he recalls, shaking his head. “I was too sinister-looking for ingenue roles, and not creepy enough to play a heavy in noir films like Sterling Hayden.”
Sterling Hayden: Always the bad guy.
But his agent, Maury Wilbur, had a “Eureka” moment one day working out on the treadmill at his health club, his cell phone glued to his ear. “The manager came over and told me cell phone use was permitted only in designated areas, and I noticed other people giving me the hairy eyeball,” Wilbur says. “I decided then and there to see if I could cast Jed as the bad guy in health club videos.”
Hey–wipe down your machine!
After a screen test Jed was cast as the guy who doesn’t wipe down his machine in a pilot episode, a part that he says was “no sweat.” “I never really got the whole concept,” he says of the notices to clean exercise machines after use that are posted in health clubs. “If my perspiration was unhealthy, I’d be sick all the time.”
“You gonna give somebody else a chance at the elliptical anytime soon?”
Jed used that initial hit as a springboard to a video in which he’s the obnoxious guy who talks on his cell phone in a locker room, then to what he considers the “Citizen Kane” of his oeuvre: a short in which he hogs an “elliptical” exercise machine for more than 20 minutes even though several people are waiting to use it.
“You are such a freaking sweat hog.”
“It really called forth all my talents as an actor,” he says. “Physical and emotive skills, improvisational dialogue as I tell whining extras that I’ve got a Platinum membership–the whole kit and caboodle.”
“It wasn’t easy climbing to the top, but that’s what the Stairmaster is for!”
Jed says he’s positioning himself for a potential Oscar when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally recognizes Health Club Videos as a separate category at the Academy Awards next February. “The competition will be tough,” he notes cautiously, “but I think I’ve got a shot at the Best Supporting Actor in a Non-Pilates Role.”
Available in print and Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Boston Baroques.”