Interview with David Griffin

David Griffin is one actor Adventures in Odyssey fans have fallen in love with for years. David served as one of Odyssey's favorite family characters, Jimmy Barclay. Jimmy Barclay and David Griffin parallel one another in that the two of them grew up together. One was living in Odyssey while the other was in the studio. After all these years, I have conducted an interview with David Griffin to give fans a taste of the man behind one of Odyssey's most beloved characters.

Actor Bio | Website

How did you start working for "Adventures in Odyssey?"

I was involved in a local community theater run by a woman who knew Steve Harris.  One day, after a rehearsal, she called a group of us kids to see her.  There was to be an audition for some kind of radio show that needed kids voices.  About a week later I went to the audition.  I had never been to a professional audition before and I really had no idea what it was I was supposed to do.  I was called into an office with a girl from my theater and we sat down at this desk that had two microphones rigged up and they handed us a script.  I said my lines.  I said thank you and I left.  Two weeks later we got the call that they wanted to use me for an episode.  That was episode #2.  The rest is history I guess.


Who is your favorite character on AIO?

Well, I assume you have to mean other than Jimmy.  Probably Whit would be my favorite, but that may have more to do with my memories of working with Hal than the actual character itself.  Whenever I would show up for a session and read the script for the first time, if I saw that Whit was in the episode I would be naturally very excited.


What was it like playing Jimmy Barclay? Do you relate to him in any way?

Playing Jimmy was a thrill.  Most of my scripts had great writing.  I always enjoyed the way that the writers approached the brother/sister relationship.  The rhythms in the dialogue were always handled in a very natural manner.  Jimmy was always put into rather imaginative situations, which I liked, and he had a habit of being a bit mischievous so it was a joy to see what each episode would bring.  He was a fun character to play!  As far as how I would relate to him, I guess I'd have to say that he was me.  In episodic writing, the writers tend to write material specifically geared for each actor.  They try to find their strengths and to stay away from their weaknesses.  I would imagine that much of what Paul and Phil came up with for Jimmy was to some extent inspired or derived from what they knew of me.  I was a sarcastic kid, so Jimmy was rather sarcastic. Etc.


What have you learned the most as you played Jimmy Barclay?

That I was a good actor.  I don't mean that to sound arrogant at all.  What I mean is, I was surrounded by the best professional talent in the industry and, as a kid, I was able to work successfully with them and to hold my own.  It showed me that I had a skill at something and if I worked hard at it I could hopefully have a career someday.  But I imagine the nature of your question is more in terms of what life lessons I learned or spiritual lessons I learned.  I think the most valuable lesson I learned in that context is that life is a constant string of mistakes and slip-ups and that if there is a greater Grace at work, all our trials and tribulations will help to shape and mold us into the people we are meant to be.  Jimmy was far from perfect, but in his mistakes he would find the right paths. . . usually with the help of much wiser people.


If you could change one thing about your acting on "Adventures in Odyssey," what would it be?

After my voice changed I had a very hard time duplicating some of the earlier work.  Also at that time in my life I was going through some very difficult personal matters.  It was harder for me to just let go and act.  As a result there is a period of time where I feel that my performances were very stiff and unnatural.  To this day I can tell the difference and I can't stand to listen to some of that work.  So, I guess I would change that.


If you were to give one piece of advice on how to act, what would you tell someone interested in being an actor?

Well, first and foremost, if you can picture yourself doing anything else for a career and being happy, then do that instead.  Acting is a very tough life and I honestly wouldn't recommend it to just anyone; it has to be your life's calling.  But, for those who do choose this life, my advice would be study, study, study.  Acting is a very complex art and there are many different approaches, styles and techniques.  The more you know. . . the more you know.  Also, learn other peripheral skills associated with that art.  Learn to write.  Learn to direct.  Learn to edit or do sound design.  Learn to produce.  The more you can do, the more value you have in a production setting.  Sometimes acting takes forever to make a living at.  But, if you have other skills in these fields, than you can almost always find work in this art form.  Remember to pay your bills first :)


What do you like and dislike about playing emotional scenes?

During a good part of my teen years I was dealing some rather severe emotional issues.  As a result there were certain emotions that I just didn't have access to.  I remember on several occasions Bob Luttrell (our engineer) would make a joke about how I was the boy that can't laugh or cry.  So, during that time scenes that were emotionally heavy tended to frighten me because I didn't think I had the range to pull it off.  Today, however, I love emotional scenes as they tend to be a good therapeutic release for me.


What was your favorite part of working with the AIO team?

The people who worked on that show were the kindest most loving people I've ever had the good fortune to work with.  I never saw anyone have an ego trip, I never heard an argument, no one ever didn't have fun.  The feeling for me was always like a family reunion.  In the end, those are the memories I cherish the most.  My experience with AIO had very little to do with the character or the stories, for me it was all about getting to see people I cared about and the laughter and great times we shared in the studio.


What aspect of the recording sessions did you like and dislike?

The smell of a recording studio and the muffled sound of the studio doors closing are sensory experiences that have permanently become a part of my DNA.  I love to record.  Let me rephrase that: I LLLLOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE to record!!!  There is nothing about the sessions I dislike.  Those sessions truly were some of the most enjoyable times of my life.  I guess the only thing I don't like is that I don't get to do it with them anymore :(


What was your reaction to finding out you would be playing your last scenes as Jimmy Barclay in "Pokenberry Falls, R.F.D."? How did you react when you were asked to come back for another appearance in "Living in the Grey"?

When I came into the studio that day and read the script for the first time I was devastated.  For me, this had always been something that set me apart from everyone else I knew.  The joy I had in doing it was now about to end.  It felt like a part of me had died and I couldn't get it back.  I had no control over it, which was very frustrating.  No one asked me about!  But, of course they didn't, because if it were up to me every episode would be all Jimmy all the time.  By that point I had been recording with AIO for 10 years.  I was 20 years old that day.  Half of my life, my identity had been wrapped up in this project.  To see it come to an end broke my heart.  I think I cried the whole way home that day.  I wouldn't get to see any of those guys again.  When I got the call about Living in the Gray my heart raced.  All those old feelings rushed back and I couldn't wait to get into the studio again.  I tried as hard as I could that day to deliver my best performance possible, mostly in the hopes that they would go "Oh yeah, this guy is pretty good at this, let's use him some more", but also so that I could walk away from the session with my head held high and a smile on my face.  It was wonderful.


What other kinds of things (job-related) do you do now?

I act.  I write.  I direct and produce.  I'm a sound engineer and musician.  I'm a DJ.  I design and set up corporate events.  I'm a juggler.  I'm a Dad.  I'm a husband.  I'm a friend.  I'm currently in the beginning stages of starting a progressive story that I'll write and that will be available on my website.  I'm involved in one documentary, three films, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I'm trying to solve all the world's problems, but it will have to wait until I solve my own.


Looking back, do you have any outstanding memories of working with the AIO team?

Far too many to describe here.  I really can't even pick just one.  But I will say that as much fun as the fans have had listening to these shows, we had much, much more fun recording them.


In conclusion, what piece of advice would you like to leave the "Adventures in Odyssey" fans who have embraced your character over the years?

First, I'd like to say to all the fans that embraced my character, thank you.  I must admit that my understanding of the audience is a bit limited and I've had very few occasions in the last 20 years to meet many of them, but I'm grateful that you all are there.  This show would never have existed without your loyal support.  I owe all the memories and experiences that I got to have to you.  You made my life richer by giving me the opportunity to do the show for as long as I did.  So, thank you, thank you, thank you!  As far as any advice I might have I would say that the key to happiness in life is simple: Live the best life you can, love the best people you can, and laugh as hard as you can!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to talk to us!




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