As a young child growing up in Bladensburg MD, all J. August Richards ever wanted to be was an actor. Even then, the only thing better then being an actor to the little boy was to be a superhero. Well, today he has accomplished both of those goals. Playing Deathlok on Marvel® Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has given Richards the chance to play a superhero, and a super-villain and a dad, in the first season of the show alone. We can only image what will happen in the upcoming second season.
At the ripe old age of two, Richards’ parents would put him up on stage everywhere they went to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The applauses and recognition certainly fed into his drive to be an actor. Richards went from the Pledge of Allegiance, to a preforming arts high school, where he honed his talents and applied to only one university. The University of Southern California accepted him to their acting program, offering him scholarships and grants to help him get through school.
His mother, hoping her son would pick a more practical course of study, encourage Richards to go into law. While at University Richards took a Law 101 course, his teacher would spend much of class going back and forth debating with Richards. This prompted his teacher make Richards an offer of going into law when he gave up on acting. Richards never took him up directly on the offer, but went on to play more then one role as an attorney. It probably wasn’t want his mother or teacher had in mind, but even they can’t argue with success.
Angel, one of the roles where his character, Gunn, played an attorney for evil, Richards speaks fondly of the role. “Angel was a challenge, forcing the characters to change almost daily, in turn forcing the actors to grow and stretch with them.” Joss Whedon, the creator of Angel, was a huge influence in Richards’ career. He speaks fondly of the days working with Whedon on Angel and now again working with him on S.H.I.E.L.D. “It’s great to meet my fans and have the parents remember me as Gunn, while the kids know me as Deathlok.” Angel may have ended over ten years ago, but the show is still alive and well in syndication,
creating new fans everyday.
Richards loves any role that challenges his ability to act. “I did a musical one time where I had to learn to tap dance in the six weeks of rehearsal and I did.” He has physical confidence in his body and believes if someone else does it, he can do it. He tries to do as many of his own stunts as he can. “I do them, because I enjoy it,” says Richards.
When ask if he had any hidden talents, Richards says he considers himself to be a good dancer and musician. He has written and recorded songs that he has released on YouTube. He actually posted one of them, so he probably can’t consider his musical side a hidden talent anymore.
Being part of Marvel has been a real-life experience. “I got the part in a matter of two days. The minute I heard Joss was doing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I knew I wanted to be a part of it.” Deathlok is a character he has always loved. He is very different from Richards, but there is a deep connection there. “Working with Joss is just beyond a dream.” Deathlok takes two hours a day to get into costume and a half hour to get out.
Richards will be in town for the Albuquerque Comic Expo. “I love Albuquerque, I would love to retire there,” says Richards. He fell in love with New Mexico when he was in college about fifteen years ago. They toured many high schools, doing a musical about chemistry. He rapped about the scientific theory, but claims not to remember a single word about it.
Richards would like to leave a legacy behind that he was a great friend, a good relative, and the person that makes peoples day a little brighter.
When Richards decided to be an actor at such a young age, neither he, nor his parents, knew what to expect from this endeavor. Iconic roles in shows such as Angel and Marvel® Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., to guest star roles in a number of exciting shows, to rocking out on YouTube, Richards’ career has been full and ever-changing. He has no current plans for what comes next, but a quick look at his track record, it’s sure to be another great role his fans can sink their teeth into.