Roger R. Cross, Jamaican actor with a major roll on the Fox drama '24'.
Andre Robbinson, Staff Reporter
JAMAICA CONTINUES to make its mark on the world stage and screen, this time in the form of Roger R. Cross in the hit Fox drama series, 24. Cross plays Curtis Manning, chief tactical agent at the Counter-Terrorism Unit at the Pentagon.
Cross, who is from Christiana, Manchester, remembers Jamaica as a wonderful place. "Growing up in Jamaica, it was beautiful," Cross told The Sunday Gleaner. "We had a big family. There were about four of us kids but five or six other cousins. My grandmother basically took care of things. It was a nice time."
His mother worked at the Grand Cayman Airport and during that time she travelled to Canada where she was offered employment. This caused the family to migrate to Vancouver when Roger Cross was 11. "She thought she would get over here and give the kids an opportunity to excel in life," he said.
"My family, which includes my cousin Paul and friend/brother Brian, is extremely important to me. I also have a wonderful group of very close friends with whom we take trips, play cards and generally take care of each other. I'm a lucky man," he said in a quote on his website.
FIRST AEROPLANE RIDE
Cross graduated from high school with honours and earned a degree in Aviation and General Studies from Trinity Western University, with the intention of being a pilot. "Coming from Jamaica to Canada was my first aeroplane ride and the captain allowed me to go into the cockpit to see how it all worked. I remember thinking 'I want to do this'. And, thankfully, I was able to accomplish that goal," he said.
According to Cross, the stock market crash in 1987, dubbed Black Monday, resulted in a lack of jobs for young pilots. Cross resorted to doing charter flying work. It was while waiting for a flying job that Cross became an occasional film stunt man.
"I always acted in church plays and really enjoyed it, but it was never considered it a career," he told The Sunday Gleaner. But in 1990, after doing a lot of stunt work, he enrolled at Breck Academy, where he studied acting.
Cross' big break came after he was introduced by his friend to an acting coach who was casting for The International Rescue, a World War II movie. Cross read for a role and got the part. "I'm young and would have gone for the free trip. Now they wanted to pay me to go; of course I wanted it," he said on his web page. The movie was filmed in China, Vietnam and Burma.
Cross said a defining moment came on a day off from shooting. He was dared to hop on rocks across a river instead of using the bridge, "I hit a moss covered rock, my legs went out from underneath me," Cross said. He fell and grabbed on to a rock; his friends then pulled him out of the water. Cross said he would have gone over a waterfall if he had not been stopped by a tree. "I was 21, thinking I'm bulletproof and all of a sudden you have woken up. I took things more seriously after that," he said.
After making his debut in The International Rescue, Cross did roles in The Chronicles of Riddick, Double Jeopardy, Final Destination 2 and King's Ransom. Cross also made appearances on the small screen with parts in The X Files, The 4400, Highlander and JAG.
Cross was shooting another film, The Days, when his agent called him to ask if he was interested in auditioning for 24. "I was like, of course, I love that show," he said. Cross then flew from Vancouver to Los Angles for the audition. "You get to be on a show that's not only critically acclaimed but you also watch and enjoy. Then you work with other actors who are very talented actors, so you know you are doing good work ... or they wouldn't have you here. Working with other good actors can only make me better," he said.
WORLD TRADE CENTRE
Cross is currently in his second season of 24, with one year remaining on his contract.
Cross just wrapped up work on a feature film surrounding the post-9/11 period in New York. He did a reading for the film, now entitled titled World Trade Centre,after hearing about an opening. World Trade Centre is being directed by Oliver Stone and co-stars Nicholas Cage. Cross, however, had to give up a major role as it conflicted with his 24 shooting schedule. Cross said the filmmakers still wanted him in the movies, so they offered him a less time-consuming role.
While not being able to disclose too much about the film, Cross says he plays a doctor trying to help families who were on the grounds. "They don't dwell on the attack itself. Its kinda a more terrifying story, but its also a beautiful story," he said.
He currently has a long-time girlfriend and a seven month-old son, conceived in Jamaica.
"In five years, hopefully, I'll be doing a very successful film or beyond successful show, taking care of my family and living a very nice little happy life, helping people when I can," he said.