John Stewart is not only on his way to becoming the next Latino pop superstar along with his non-Latin bandmate Madeleine Kaye from Juliana, but is already an acknowledged celebrity in the film industry. Stewart became the most sought after stuntman in Hollywood after breaking a record for a 16 story fall while on fire, and the movie “The Fall Guy” was fashioned after him. Stewart also directed or worked on The Power Rangers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Action USA, Serpico, Major League, The Fall Guy, and others.
Currently Stewart is the founder of the Latin band called Juliana who has just released “Tu Sabor,” a lively and effervescent Latin dance song and video. I shared questions and answers with John regarding his careers and his future projects.
What Drives You?
I like to work and learn new things as I feel that it is not good to sit idle. I got a taste of playing to a live audience when I wrote some songs with one of the singers from American Idol. We got to do some shows with Big & Rich and a few others playing to really large crowds, and feeling that energy on stage was unlike anything I had ever felt before working on a movie set. It’s a different rush, you’re in front of a camera and it is not exciting like playing in front of a live audience.
What made you to decide to do Latin pop songs having no Latin background whatsoever ?
I was in Mexico many years ago, and I heard an incredible female Latin singer on the radio, and I thought it was the sexiest music I had ever heard. That was ten years ago, and ever since that incident I have been playing with Latin melodies in my head and when I pick up my guitar and start playing, the rhythms just start flowing out of me. Watching the Latin Music Awards earlier this year, I heard a lot of computer generated beats and sounds, and that is when I decided to start writing and recording some songs with a real band.
You’re a director, actor, stuntman, producer, songwriter, musician, is there anything that you still wish to do that you haven’t done yet?
I’ve been very fortunate to reach my goals in life, as being a stuntman was all that I ever wanted to do growing up. Everything else has just seemed to fall in place. I did not plan all of the wonderful things that I have been involved with, but I am grateful to be where I am in my life and career. I would like to be able to do things to give back to the world similar to the way Bon Jovi is giving back with his restaurants and feeding the poor. I would like to be able to help people on that level, I believe everyone should be able to live life without missing a meal.
After jumping from 16 floors while on fire, what promoted you to take your stuntman talents to the next level of directing?
I didn’t plan on directing, it happened by accident. I was working as a stuntman doing a lot of action scenes for HBO in the eighties, and the directors were not good at filming actions scenes. They started consulting with me which led to having me direct the scenes, which eventually led to me directing entire movies. When I was recovering from a broken back, I wrote my first script “Action USA,” that was made into a movie. Then i wrote several others that were also made into movies, and that is what led to me working on the extremely popular kids show The Power Rangers.
Do you have an ultimate stage fantasy for Juliana?
I would like to open up for Shakira on tour around the world, and then play the Latin Music Awards while being nominated for best song. I Dream Big, LOL.
What advice would you give to the young John Stewart if you knew everything that you know now?
Wow, times have changed so much since I started in the eighties. It’s a whole different ball game now, with all this technology, I would say whatever your trying to do, don’t ever give up. If you want it bad enough, you will get there sooner or later if you keep working on it. I always wrote scripts and music for myself and if other people liked it, that was great. If they didn’t like it that was okay too. The same with working as a stuntman. I always tried to dream up bigger and better stunts then they were doing at the time, but now with CGI anything is possible. When I started, we did everything for real, we did not have computer generated stunts like you have today, everything you saw actually happened, and the stuntman were the ones who risked their lives to do it. What you saw was what you got. It’s very different today.
Watch “Tu Sabor” by Juliana here:
The official website for Juliana may be found at https://www.JulianaMusic.com
Interview by Eileen Shapiro