The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Kamilla Shahzad, Staff Writer • May 17, 2024

On April 18 th , 2024, Le Moyne College had the privilege of hosting a special guest, acclaimed author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who delighted...

Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Mary Anne Winfield, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

I never expected to be a “senior” senior at Le Moyne College. My first introduction to the college was in the 1970’s. I was a two-year...

Theta Chi house at Colgate University
Column: Why I want to see Greek life at Le Moyne College.
Payton Hirsch, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

At Le Moyne College there is no presence of “Greek Life,” which has left many wondering why. According to Joseph Della Posta, the school’s...

Photo courtesy of Le Moyne; Images of Officer Jensen, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Hoosock posted at memorial service.
‘A True Leader and Phenomenal Teammate’: Remembering Fallen Officer, a Le Moyne Graduate
Stephen Moore and Aidan Clark May 8, 2024

The Rev. William Dolan wants you to know what the community lost when Michael Jensen, a Syracuse police officer and a Le Moyne graduate, was...

Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne  College’s History
Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne College’s History
Legende McGrath, Guest Writer • May 7, 2024

In late March, Le Moyne College, specifically the College of Arts and Sciences, received a $12 million donation provided by Le Moyne alumnus...

Persistence Into Brilliance: Le Moyne Graduate and Actor Makes Major Mark

In the world of theater, Le Moyne College graduate John Douglas Thompson is known to possess an exceptional ability to captivate audiences, effortlessly commanding the stage with his presence and talent. Thompson is a powerhouse performer, with an extraordinary range and versatility, which is portrayed through his dedication to his craft.

With an impressive body of work and a commitment to excellence, Thompson – who graduated in 1985 from Le Moyne – has firmly established himself as a prominent performer not only in the theater world but in the TV world as well.

Thompson first opened his eyes in Bath, England in the year 1964. Born to West Indian parents, he grew up in a diverse environment with a family of seven, including himself. Thompson’s family moved to Montreal, Canada from the UK when he was around two and a half years old. Around the age of 11, they moved from Canada and settled in Rochester.

He completed his high school education at a Jesuit school in Rochester and naturally decided to complete his higher education at Le Moyne College due to its Jesuit Values. Thompson studied business and marketing during his time at Le Moyne because he wanted to become a business executive.

In a recent interview, Thompson talked about his experience at Le Moyne and described it as a “good one.” There were number of people who came here from his high school so finding friendship was not an issue for Thompson. He expressed his love for philosophy, theater classes, and creative writing classes that he took during his time at Le Moyne. He enjoyed the campus life and spent a lot of his time off campus as well with his friends at Syracuse University. While he was in college, he had an internship at a Fortune 500 company called Unisys. He was placed at a permanent Job in New Haven, which led him to move there after his schooling in Syracuse.

During his time in New Haven, he decided to go on a date and watch the play “Joe’s Turner’s Come and Gone” by the famous African-American playwright August Wilson. Unfortunately, his date did not show up and Thompson was left disheartened. He decided to watch the play regardless and was mesmerized by the performances.

It was during this play, Thompson made up his mind about wanting to become an actor. His passion for acting was born in that very theater and he stuck with his decision and decided it was time for a career change. “It was such a profound experience to sit and watch a play about me—about people who look like me, about people whose stories were like mine, about people who talk like me, moved like me, who dreamt like me—it was a play about the Black experience,” he said.

Thompson pursued his passion for acting as he enrolled in a drama school in Providence, R.I. called Trinity Repertory Company. Upon his graduation, he started seeking acting jobs which took a while but eventually he found work in the theater industry, and later in TV and films.

Upon being asked, how he handled rejection in his early acting career, he replied, “…when they say “no” to me, they are not rejecting me, but instead they are saying ‘not now.’ If you take that ‘no’ as a ‘not now,’ that could mean there could be a ‘yes’ coming down the line.”

There is no such thing as rejection for Thompson.

His breakthrough came in 2009 when he took on the challenging role of Othello in a production by the Theatre for a New Audience in New York City. His portrayal of the iconic character garnered widespread critical acclaim and established him as a force to be reckoned with in the theater world.

Thompson’s ability to convey complex emotions and deliver Shakespearean dialogue with precision left audiences and critics in awe. “It was all because I got stood up on a date, I can blame it on a young lady,” laughs Thompson as he expresses gratitude for his life and career now.

Thompson mentioned his favorite plays in which he’s performed, including ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ ‘Othello,’ and ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.’ Twenty-five years later, Thompson had the opportunity to star in the very play that inspired him to become an actor, and to this day Thompson admires August Wilson for his work.

On stage, Thompson possesses a commanding presence that demands attention. With his imposing physicality, commanding voice, and magnetic charisma, he effortlessly draws the audience into the world of the characters he portrays, leaving a lasting impact.

Thompson shared recent projects that he has enjoyed, one of them being a play by Samuel Beckett called “Endgame”. Another recent film Thompson was a part of was called “Till” and provided a powerful portrayal of the events surrounding Emmett Till’s murder and subsequent trial, highlighting the profound impact it had on the nation. Thompson played the character Moses Wright and he expressed how devasting this role was for him because it was on his character’s watch that Emmett Till was taken from the house, which resulted in Wright harboring a lot of guilt within himself.

Thompson was also a part of a well-known HBO show called “Mare of Easttown.” He got a call from a casting director in New York who thought he would be a great fit for the role of the police commissioner. At the time Thompson received the call, he was on the ship Queen Mary 2, which is a luxury liner, filming a movie in the middle of the Atlantic.

He was required to send in an audition tape but due to the lack of internet on the ship he was unable to do so. As he returned from the ship, he found out that the role was still available which led him to re-audition. His character in the show is very close to Mare, and his job is to be there for her, and be her caregiver.

“It was interesting they wrote a character who was sensitive to needs of the people that work for him,” said Thompson as he expressed his interest in this take of this particular archetype of police chief. Thompson mentioned that in order to prepare for specific roles, he usually draws inspiration from different family members of his own. For the role of the police chief, he drew 75% of the inspiration from his father and 25% of inspiration from his mother. He expressed how wonderful it was working with the rest of the cast, especially Kate Winslet.

“Winslet was also a producer on the show, and she was wonderful at being there for people, she was always around, always assisting and helping,” said Thompson. Winslet is truly her authentic self at all times, according to Thompson, which encouraged him to give his best.

John Douglas Thompson’s extraordinary talent, versatility, and dedication have firmly established him as one of the most respected and influential actors in the theater world today. From commanding Shakespearean roles to engaging in contemporary performances, the Le Moyne graduate’s ability to breathe life into diverse characters is unmatched and a testament to his artistic prowess.

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