Veteran television actor Ricky Schroder stars in the indie feature Blood Done Sign My Name, which open in theaters February 19th. Based on the Timothy Tyson novel, the film is a true-life civil rights drama set in 1970s. Set in a small town, Schroder portrays a pastor of an all-white Methodist church who tries to get his congregation to live harmoniously with the black community.
Zorianna Kit: You came aboard this project at the last minute.
Rick Schroder: When the script came in, I had to read it right away because they needed an answer that day. I'd need to be on set in North Carolina in three days. It was an immediate yes for me. You can tell good writing when you read it. It had good dialogue and good characters.
Zorianna Kit: The film is based on a true story. Did you have much prep time to play the minister?
Rick Schroder: I met the real man - Vernon Tyson - and had a few minutes to say hello. Then literally the camera was rolling and I was giving a sermon. It was sink or swim. No time to rehearse, no time to get to know anybody.
Zorianna Kit: You're 39 years old and playing a minister. That's got to be some sort of milestone in a career that began when you were just a child actor.
Rick Schroder: There have been many highlights. The Champ established a career and established who I was. Another one was Lonesome Dove. I was 18 and that took me from a boy to a man. Ten years later, NYPD Bluetook me from obscurity - because I hadn't been working a lot at that time - to an adult actor. That was my breakthrough role as an adult. Then I wrote, directed and produced my first film, Black Cloud.
Zorianna Kit: You've been on so many series from Silver Spoons to Lonesome Dove to Strong Medicine to NYPD Blue to 24. It seems like you've been always working. Did you ever feel like there was a struggle?
Ricky Schroder: There are always moments of despair when you get close to jobs and lose them at the last second. It feels like getting punched in the stomach. You feel like, 'Why do I do this?' Then you go to bed, get up the next day and forget about it. There were always moments where I'd say, 'What else can I do with my life?' But when I was 30 years old and discovered I could write - I wrote Black Cloud in six weeks - it opened up a whole new world for me.
Zorianna Kit: Is that an area you want to continue exploring?
Ricky Schroder: I feel like the best is still ahead for me. I feel like I have so much more to contribute as a writer-director that hasn't been discovered yet. That's the next decade of my life.
Zorianna Kit: You managed to avoid some of the trappings that befall so many child actors, why is that?
Ricky Schroder: I got married young. I met my wife when I was 20. I didn't have a lot of time to get in to a lot of trouble. My parents pretty much had me under their thumb until I was 17. So there was maybe two years where I went a little crazy and did what I wanted to. But I was smart enough to keep it private, not public.
Zorianna Kit: What did you indulge in?
Ricky Schroder: (laughs) You'll never know.
Zorianna Kit: If TMZ was around back then, would they have caught you doing anything?
Ricky Schroder: I think they would have focused on the kids that were really wild at that time - Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Drew Barrymore.... I would have been under the radar.
Zorianna Kit: You have four kids. Do they ever watch your old work?
Ricky Schroder: They just bought Silver Spoons, Season One on itunes and my daughter watched all 24 episodes in one month.
Zorianna Kit: What do you feel when you watch it?
Ricky Schroder: I feel cheesy when I see Silver Spoons. Some of it was funny, but some of it was just cheese! My kids love it, but I look at it and cringe.